CIO Tomorrow – Managing Your End-Users’ Appetite for Disruption

Thai LeeThe following post was written by Thai Lee as part of the Columbus Business First’s CIO Tomorrow Conference. Ms. Lee is one of the featured speakers in the Voice America Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview aired on April 26, 2016.

As “disruption” challenges “cloud” for IT buzzword supremacy, line-of-business owners (and the end-users they manage) are hungry to deploy new “disruptive” technologies in the workplace. While CIOs are eager to support the innovation that follows disruption, most are well aware that longtime, traditional IT partners still play an irreplaceable role in keeping their network and infrastructure available and secure. Today’s CIO works in the middle of legacy IT and user-driven disruptive technology.

Working in the IT channel since 1989, SHI was born and lives in the “middle.” We currently help over 17,000 IT organizations understand all the information they need to quickly evaluate, acquire and deploy traditional, disruptive and hybrid IT solutions that meet their technical, security and business needs. Based on that experience, here are three things we have found effective IT organization do to support end-user demand of disruptive technologies:

– Manage IT Assets – all the time. IT Asset Management: it’s not just for audits anymore! Any business case for deploying disruptive technology must survive a direct comparison to both your install base and your existing volume licensing entitlements. Despite their enthusiasm to roll out a new SaaS application, line-of-business owners (Marketing, Accounting, Sales) are rarely aware of an existing contract or “shelfware” that can exist elsewhere in enterprise and possibly be re-deployed to their group. An effective IT asset management program can empower IT staffers to immediately respond with an alternative solution that may make better business sense or provide tangible cost-savings.

– Normalization of consumption billing. Utilizing today’s disruptive technology often means resolving unpredictable consumption billing, which can be confusing and time-consuming. In addition to the difficulties in budgeting for varying usage levels, difficult-to-read invoices associated with consumption billing might mean unexpected lost cycles for someone within a business unit to resolve. IT organizations that can help normalize and interpret consumption billing provide a valuable service to the business units they support.

– Communicate early and often with line-of-business owners. Much like a CIO, line-of business owners are pushed by increasingly educated end-users to deploy the latest and greatest in disruptive technologies. Scheduling regular meetings with line of business owners to understand their goals and strategies (while explaining your need to remain secure and compliant) can help eliminate a political fight down the road over “who owns what.”

Never before has such powerful technology been so readily available to every level of an organization. But by supporting the effective acquisition and consumption of disruptive technologies when it makes sense for your organization ensure control, compliance and security can remain where it belongs: with IT!

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.


Thai Lee is described by Forbes as “the modest tycoon behind America’s biggest woman-owned business” and includes Thai on their top 20 self-made women list. Ms. Lee has been the majority shareholder, President and CEO of SHI International Corp since 1989. With projected 2016 revenue of over $7 Billion, SHI International is one of the largest privately owned technology companies in North America. Under her leadership, SHI transformed from a $1 million “software-only” regional reseller into a global provider of information technology products and services. SHI provides IT procurement, IT deployment, asset management and cloud computing solutions to tens of thousands of organizations around the world.

CIO Tomorrow – Leadership is about Results that Matter

Leadership ImageThe following post was written by Dr. Dale Meyerrose as part of the Columbus Business First’s CIO Tomorrow Conference. Dr. Meyerrose is one of the featured speakers in the Voice America Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview aired on April 26, 2016.

If you were to take a “professional selfie,” what would you see? What would others see? How would the perceptions of each correlate—or not?

Many of us in the technology business built reputations on our ability to keep the IT running, perform miracles on shoe-string budgets, manage IT projects, understand enterprises and processes, and respond to emergencies. Our view of that selfie would likely reflect pride in our technical acumen and ability to deliver on many things. Important, yes. But in the macro-scheme of business, do those things really matter? Do they earn you a seat at the decision tables within your respective organizations? Do they compel the Board of Directors to seek you counsel? The evidence over many years, lo decades, is clear—they don’t!

Why don’t others, looking at that same selfie, see you as necessary for setting corporate strategy? Linked with company performance and customer satisfaction? Value your contributions as cultivating opportunities and revenue, vice as a cost center to be minimized? A crucial player in the “big” decisions over the course of time? Hmmm.

In my view, the reason is that many CIOs (and CSOs and CISOs for that matter) don’t move beyond the “plumbing” of their younger years.  Make no mistake, the plumbing has to work and work well.  However, the skills that made us good technicians and program managers early in our career, don’t translate into the talent needed to lead complex organizations in today’s demanding business world.  Consequently, I believe it critical for CIOs to differentiate what matters from what’s merely important.

  • Assigned roles and responsibilities are important, but being able to tell the “big picture” story, in a language meaningful to senior leadership is what matters.
  • Leveraging the best technology ideas is important, but execution on the chosen investments is what matters.
  • Fear-of-the-inevitable is important to consider, but the art-of-the-possible and operational success are what matters.
  • Risk and gap assessments are important, but determining the “net benefit” calculation is what matters.
  • In-sourcing and out-sourcing IT issues are important, but having the talent at the intersection of understanding both purpose and technology is what matters.

I talk to many CIOs who are frustrated by their lack of influence on major decisions made within their organizations. Many of these very capable folks have yet to realize that people relationships and determinations are more important than the technical ones. They lack the experience or orientation, to relate, in business terms, the criticality of their input. And demonstrate that it is inseparably linked with major decisions and investments—and the company’s success. Lastly, they don’t understand that strategy is more about resolve than brilliance.

Does your professional selfie look “up and out”—or “down and in?”  With almost forty years of experience in this discipline, I conclude that the former “selfie pose” is one of a successful CIO.  These are leaders that focus on the few results that matter, while leading others who take care of the myriad of other important tasks.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


Dr. Dale MeyerroseDr. Dale Meyerrose, Major General, U.S. Air Force (retired) is President of the MeyerRose Group—a cybersecurity, executive training/coaching, and eHealth technology consulting company.  He is an adjunct instructor for Carnegie Mellon University, Institute for Software Research running their Cybersecurity Leadership Certificate program. General Meyerrose, a Southwest Asia veteran, was the first Senate-confirmed, President-appointed Chief Information Officer for the Intelligence Community after over three decades of military service.

Mergers & Acquisitions: Five Key Drivers to Deliver Value

Mergers and acquisitions

Not a well understood concept here…

Today’s post is a collaboration between Maureen Metcalf, Carla Morelli and Laura Hult focusing on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and identifying key factors that drive success and failure. The post is a companion to a Voice America interview with the authors. They are seasoned veterans who have participated in many transactions and seen similar themes. This post and its companion VoiceAmerica interview provide insights and make recommendations to improve the probability of success for your next transaction, whether you are acquiring, selling or involved in the integration.

Research Indicates that Mergers and Acquisitions Often Fail to Deliver Desired Results

The Financial Times Press’ A Comprehensive Guide to Mergers & Acquisitions: Managing the Critical Success Factors Across Every Stage of the M&A Process says that though studies have historically set the rate of M&A failure at 50 percent or more, recent years have found it to be as high as 83 percent. One might conclude that executives and boards would eschew M&A as a way to achieve growth and profitability in favor of less risky alternatives, but that has not been the case. Despite the warning signs, the number and dollar value of transactions has increased every year for the last 20 years.

Failure Results from Management’s Lack of Knowledge or Unwillingness to Face Facts

“The primary reasons for failures [are] related to the fact that it is easy to buy but hard to perform an M&A. In general, many mergers and acquisitions are characterized by the lack of planning, limited synergies, differences in the management/organizational/international culture, negotiation mistakes, and difficulties in the implementation of the strategy following the choice of an incorrect integration approach on the part of the merging organizations after the agreement is signed. Most failure factors indicate a lack of knowledge among senior managers for the management tools that enable coping with the known problems of M&A.” Another management shortcoming is unwillingness to accept information that negatively impacts post-close projections, whether it be market data, synergies, or cultural challenges. Deal teams often find themselves looking for creative ways to meet expectations. Not meaning to mislead, they are still well aware that the scenarios being modeled are more than just a stretch. The post-close result often falls far short of the mark.

Human Factors are Among the Most Important to Consider

Human factors almost always have a significant impact on both a deal’s success and the amount of additional cost and effort required to recover when they were not sufficiently considered. The five human factors below differentiate successful deals:

  1. Understand the “why.” Both the buyer and the seller need a clear understanding of why they are initially engaging in the transaction (referred to as the rudder), such as ensuring the business moves forward when a founder retires. As the deal progresses, use the rudder and be open to refining the “why” as the deal unfolds, like realizing that another key motivation is the well-being of employees who helped build the company.
  2. Select an advisory team for both skill and philosophical fit. Advisors play a key role in the deal’s success, and their approach is as important as their skills are. A competent, “bulldog” attorney who takes no prisoners and is more adversarial than the buyer wants to be, for example, is likely to generate wariness and ill will on the seller’s part, eroding the trust and open communication that enables thorough diligence and comprehensive, realistic integration planning. In addition to the advisory team, engage someone to be a sounding board for critical decisions who can step back when other participants lose their objectivity.
  3. Maintain resilience. The M&A process is physically and emotionally exhausting. To ensure one has enough physical energy and mental clarity to make tough decisions, it is imperative that both buyers and sellers manage their energy and finds ways to rejuvenate. This will be different for different people, but should include making conscious choices about physical well-being, managing one’s emotional state, managing thinking (remain positive), and looking to a trusted advisor for support.
  4. Build trust among the team. Trust takes time and energy, when both are scarce. It is particularly important to create an atmosphere that allows people to constructively deal with negative information rather than “creatively” work around it. If the team is selected based on skill and mindsets that align well (similar values and overall approach), it will be able to work through most issues that arise. Addressing them quickly and openly is critical to sustaining a strong team, which is required when challenges arise – and they always do.
  5. Proactively plan and manage the integration. Value is only realized when the organizations are successfully integrated. The most successful integrations have cross-functional integration teams comprised of representatives from both organizations. In addition to keeping the team aligned via regular meetings, progress should be reported at the highest appropriate organizational level (from steering committees to boards of directors, depending on the size of the company and transaction) on a cadence that provides visibility and a forum for decision making when needed.

Managing human factors increases the likelihood of value being realized: people are complicated, and building a team that has the capacity and inclination to attend to them is a differentiator in an industry where many still focus on the technical elements of the deal.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


Maureen Metcalf, Founder and CEO of Metcalf & Associates, is an executive advisor, a speaker, coach, and the author of an award-winning book series focused on innovating how you lead. She is also on the faculty of universities in the US and Germany.

Laura Hult works as outside counsel focusing on ccorporate finance. She represents private equity funds, financial, strategic and lifestyle companies as both buyers and seller. Laura structures, negotiates and protects investment value in M&A transactions, and has represented investors and lenders at every level of the capital stack.

Carla Morelli is a leader who steers people and organizations through complex change, including global M&A transactions. She delivers business-critical results that balance structural needs with human inter-dynamics; her ability to integrate multiple perspectives and mesh the “balcony view” with a detailed understanding of what is required for an initiative to truly succeed consistently unlocks potential where other approaches have failed.


Weber, Yaakov; Oberg, Christina; Tabra, Shlomo. (January 2014), The M&A Paradox: Factors of Success and Failure in Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Times Press

Photo credit: Dan

The Brain of the Leader: Do We Really Say What We Think We Say?

Leader's brainThe following post is by guest Gary Weber, Subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, Institute Of Noetic Sciences, Baumann Institute, Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, Johns Hopkins, Penn State. It accompanies a Voice America Interview about how leaders can manage their thinking to improve their effectiveness. I found the conversation about how the brain actually works and how we manage our thinking versus our perception of what we are doing quite fascinating. For me, the take away was that our brain functions much differently than we were taught and by updating our understanding, we have the opportunity to reduce our stress and improve our effectiveness dramatically.

From Gary’s work: One of our great, and common (mis)conceptions is that we need “thoughts” to speak – that we “think up”, consciously, what we say before we say it.  As an experiment, take a few minutes and watch carefully what you say, and see if you do think up what you say.   Go ahead, just do it… Do we know what we’re going to say before we say it?   Or do we just hear it as it is said, and then try to see if it was a “good” thing or if we might have “misspoken”?

The quieter your internal narrative is, and the closer you watch, the easier it is to see that you have no idea what is going to be coming out when speech happens.

An excellent paper was just published in “Psychological Science” entitled “Speakers’ Acceptance of Real-Time Speech Exchange Indicates That We Use Auditory Feedback to Specify the Meaning of What We Say”, by Andreas Lind, et al., from the Swedish universities at Uppsala and Lund.

What Lind and his colleagues did was to see what would happen if someone said one word, but then heard themselves apparently speaking another word.   As Lind said “If we use auditory feedback to compare what we say with a well-specified intention, then any mismatch should be quickly detected.  But if the feedback is instead a powerful factor in a dynamic, interpretative process, then the manipulation could go undetected.”

So, if the word that was said was different from what we had mentally pre-planned to say, it would be very obvious to us. However, if we routinely have no idea what is going to be said, and only know it when we hear it spoken and then interpret it, the change to a different word will not be seen.

Thought ExperimentThe image to the left shows how this works. This is the famous Stroop effect/test, which shows you letters that spell a “color” word in the “wrong” color, i.e. it spells out “r-e-d”, but the word is colored “green”.  It takes a little concentration to do it correctly.

  • Then in “b”, you are shown “g-r-e-e-n” but it is colored “gray”, and you correctly say “gray”, but your recording of your saying “green” earlier is replayed in your headphone.
  • In “c”, you are then asked “What did you say”, and you say “green”, even though you really did say “gray”, i.e. you said what you heard, not what you actually said.

Most importantly, this did not seem “strange” to you, i.e. you really believed that you said what you heard, rather than what you actually said.  If you had premeditated and consciously said “gray”, you would have objected when you heard “green” and said “What i heard in my headphones was not what i said!”

It matters a lot exactly when the “wrong” word is heard in your headphones.  If the synchronization w/the “voice trigger” in b) was begun within 5 to 20 milliseconds after you began to speak, it was undetected more than 2/3 of the time.   The 1/3 of the “detections” are effectively less than that.  They fell into 3 categories, “certain, uncertain and possible”, with only 4% being “certain”.

For you techies, they did use a “noise cancelling” headset so that the 78 subjects wouldn’t be able to hear what they really did say.

These results were a big surprise to Lind, who put himself through the test, knowing what was going on. He felt that the speech exchanges were convincing, and said ““When you say one thing but hear yourself clearly saying something else, it’s a very powerful feeling”.

Research this compelling directly contradicts established dogma, both scientific and societal.

The question is, “However speech manifests, do we consciously pre-plan it with internal narrative?”   Speech emerges, and some functionality must be creating it, but it isn’t conscious.

Now, back to Maureen’s comments. So, what does this mean for leaders and how they work? One important take away is that as we understand the brain and how it actually works, it is important to step out of this automatic mode as much as possible and into being aware of our own thinking and actions. One way to do this is to ask yourself simple questions designed to help you gently shift from the automatic mode most leaders spend 85% of their time inhabiting and into aware mode. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you spent just 1 hour per day more aware and if you used that hour to do your highest impact work? What could you accomplish?

If you are open to an experiment, try asking yourself something like: where am I now or what am I thinking now? This is a gentle nudge to move you back to working with awareness. I tried this over the past couple of weeks and have found that I am more aware of my incessant multi-tasking in service of managing a complex role within my professional life and many family demands. My personal goal is to find the best path to accomplish my goals and make the greatest positive impact I can. If being more aware helps this process – I am all in. I wonder if it will work for you?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

photo credit: brain TZA

If Your Change Effort Failed to Deliver the Results You Wanted – Your Change Model May be Overly Simplistic

Impact Resilience

This guest post is provided by collaborator Jim Ritchie-Dunham  as a companion for the Voice America interview with Christoph Hinske focusing on How Big Change Happens in his keynote presentation to the World Green Building Council. Jim is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, a trustee of THORLO, and an adjunct faculty member at the EGADE Business School and at Harvard. In this post Jim talks about his  “theory of impact resilience.” While a theory of change focuses on how a change in an intervention will lead to a change in specific means, which will drive change in a specific social impact–in a linear model–a theory of impact resilience looks at the system of causes, effects, feedback, and stakeholders that lead some interventions to generate a much more resilient system that delivers much greater, sustained impact. This information is for leaders who have struggled to successfully implement complex change using linear models and want to better understand alternative approaches that will increase the probability to success for much needed and highly visible change projects.

More and more people are looking to large-scale social change processes to leverage their impact around very complex issues. From poverty, health, education, epidemics, and inequity to water, air, green building, and renewable energy. Scaling collective impact is everywhere. I have been looking at, and engaging with many of these efforts, for two decades now. In trying to figure out how to support large-scale change, many groups are trying to become evermore strategic. As a big proponent of strategic clarity, I encourage the strategic dialog, and I encourage pathways that will support a group in getting to greater clarity about what they can do together and what will work.

In their strategic development processes, many groups now focus on developing a “theory of change.” I agree that it is far easier to learn and refine a strategy when you have a theory of what you are going to do. And, I see some inherent difficulties in the way many groups currently frame their theory of change. Hopefully a brief picture will clarify what I see as the intention and a better answer.

To start with, I see that most social-change efforts grow up around an effort that initially worked. There was an intervention and there was an impact. While not quite sure how it worked, the impact is there. We created a kitchen, and more people were fed tonight. In this experience, there is typically an implicit theory of “it just works.” We do this, and we see the impact. Usually the distance in time and space between the intervention and the impact is very low or immediate. We can see it directly. I see this as the lower-left quadrant in the 2×2 matrix below, low clarity of causality with a linear direction of causality.

This success often leads to the desire to scale the work, to get much greater impact.  To scale up the intervention often requires investment of greater capital.  Investors of this greater capital usually want to see a greater understanding of how the intervention will lead to the means that will drive the impact.  Greater investment wants to lower the risk of not understanding.  They want to see a theory of “change,” a “comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context.”  As far as I can tell, from what I see in foundation, nonprofit, and network reports and in my own conversations, most of these theories of change provide linear descriptions of how an intervention will lead to some specific means of change in a specific context that will lead to the desired social impact.  A to B to C.  I see this as the lower-right quadrant in the 2×2 matrix above, high clarity of causality with a linear direction of causality.  While this greater clarity of causality makes it much easier for the intervention leaders and the funders to test whether the intervention leads to the expected means and impacts, this linear approach to complex social issues leaves out a critical reality–feedback.

If the decisions you make today affect the decisions you can make tomorrow, then there is feedback.  A to C to A.  If the decisions you make influence others who then influence you, there is feedback.  All complex social issues contain impacts of any intervention on other stakeholders and on resources that influence the ability to continue to intervene in the future.  They all have feedback.

As the complexity of an intervention increases, like trying to feed a whole city through a large network of kitchens, most efforts seem to try to continue what they were doing before with just a lot more resources.  They use the same logic, on a bigger scale.  Lots of intervention, mixed with lots of magic, leads to lots of impact; so goes the “theory of I think.”  I think that if we just …  I see this as the upper-left quadrant in the 2×2 matrix above, low clarity of causality with a feedback direction of causality.  While the situation might be much more complex, with many more stakeholders and resources involved, I think if we just do a lot more, we will get much more impact.  It rarely works, often because of the unseen feedback effects, which is why social impact investors have moved more and more towards wanting to see something that demonstrates a greater clarity of causality.  Right now the best-in-class practice seems to be the “theory of change” I mentioned earlier.

To complete the high-level overview a theory of change provides of preconditions, pathways, and interventions to achieve the desired impact, many groups develop a complementary logic model and evaluation plan.  The logic model lays out a linear model of how the planned work with resource inputs and activities leads to the suggested outputs, outcomes, and eventual impact.  A very clean and relatively simple way to explain how to implement the theory of change.  The evaluation plan then provides measures to test the hypotheses for the different elements: the resource inputs; the activities; the outputs; the outcomes; and the impacts.  The strategy process then pulls together the theory of change, the logic model, and the evaluation plan, in a crisp, linear mapping.

Now, if (1) the social issues we face require much greater investment, influencing a greater number of stakeholders, in contexts of much greater feedback, and (2) a linear strategy based on a theory of change, logic model, and evaluation plan falls short of dealing with the feedback complexity, what do I suggest?  A “theory of impact resilience.” While a theory of change focuses on how a change in an intervention will lead to a change in specific means, which will drive change in a specific social impact–in a linear model–a theory of impact resilience looks at the system of causes, effects, feedback, and stakeholders that lead some interventions to generate a much more resilient system that delivers much greater, sustained impact.  I see this as the upper-right quadrant in the 2×2 matrix above, high clarity of causality with a feedback direction of causality.

Over the past twenty years, with many colleagues around the globe, we have developed systems-based strategic approaches to engaging multiple stakeholders around complex social issues.  There is now a whole industry of such approaches.  It turns out that it is not hard to bring together many people who are passionate about any specific social issue, find out how they each contribute different elements of the solution, and how they can work together to change the behavior of the whole system.  In the past decade alone, people have applied this kind of approach successfully on six continents to hundreds of important, complex social issues.  It only takes the will to do it, a little know-how and a few elapsed months of work.  Not decades.

So, while I applaud the desire of social impact investors to dramatically increase the clarity of causality between an intervention and a social impact, it is time that we move beyond “keep it simple,” linear models of causality to incorporate multi-stakeholder, feedback models of causality.  A theory of impact resilience, based on systems-based strategic approaches suggests how.  It provides a systemic theory, it lays out the systemic logic of how the interventions lead to shifts in the system of stakeholder responses and subsequent systemic impacts, and it provides an impact resilience scorecard of the systemic measures that indicate how the interventions are leading to systemic shifts, to greater resilience, and to scaling of the impacts.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Vibrancy: Case Study for Global Company Transformation

Vibrant Organizations - Ecosynomics FrameworkOrganizational Vibrancy is important topics. It is the topic of our interview this week (1/12/16) on the Voice America Business series. This body of work is making a great impact in pockets of organizations around the world and yet relatively unknown in others. I have personally found this model to have a great impact on several of my clients. It has helped them identify where they excel and what gets in the way of their teams bringing about the innovative solutions they say they want and need to have a thriving organization. The interview is with Jim Ritchie-Dunham, Annabel Membrillo, and  Ana Claudia Goncalves.

Discussion includes the following topics:
1. What is vibrancy?
2. How do agreements fit into this equation?
3. As the CEO of an international organization – what question were you looking to answer when you starting considering assessments?
4. Why the vibrancy assessment?
5. What value did you get?
6. What were the leadership qualities required to successfully implement the changes recommended to create a highly vibrant organization?

To accompany the interview, the participants provide an in depth case study for the project they discuss.

In this case study, English version or Spanish version, Annabel and Ana Claudia describe the experience of taking a group in a global financial services company on the journey to the experience of a higher level of harmonic vibrancy, through the development of new, more collaborative practices.  These practices led to demonstrable improvements in performance and outcomes.  As Annabel shares, “I am very grateful to have had a living lab that, despite the scarcity agreements and rules in its organizational structure, implemented initiatives that I had not seen in all my years of working with organizations. This was possible because the company incorporated the transformation process into the day-to-day activities of the corporate world.”

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Spiritual Intelligence: Living as Your Higher Self

SQ21 Spiritual IntelligenceToday’s post is written by Cindy Wigglesworth. This post is a companion to the Voice America show. Cindy Wigglesworth is the author of SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, a recognized expert in the field of Spiritual Intelligence, and an experienced leadership coach and corporate consultant. Her SQ21 spiritual intelligence self-assessment is a diversity-appropriate and skills-based way of discussing powerful human motivators and success factors. After working for 20 years in a Fortune 50 company in Human Resources she formed her own company in 2000 and created her multiple intelligence approach to leadership developing. Using a combination of four intelligences (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) she coaches senior executives to overcome barriers to their own career success and helps them lead their organizations to greatness.

Who are your spiritual heroes — those people you would think of as exemplary human beings? And what characteristics do you admire in them? When I ask people these questions, they cite similar characteristics time and again. We tend to admire people who have high integrity and are courageous, loving, calm, visionary, selfless, inspiring, and making a difference. Think about this for yourself. Make your own list of those you consider to be especially noble, and why. This is a great starting point for becoming an exemplar yourself. I have found that the great majority of people want to live as their noblest self. And achieving this requires understanding and developing multiple “intelligences,” including spiritual intelligence.

Spiritual intelligence is an essential component of both personal and professional development. With SQ we access the voice of our noblest self — our higher self — and let it drive our lives.

Personal and spiritual growth can no longer be viewed as a private journey we undertake in a different sphere of life than our professional endeavors. There is, in my experience, an undeniable connection between the personal and the professional, between the inner life of the self and the outer world of effectiveness and impact. In other words, your personal development changes you. And who you are ultimately determines how you lead.

We are all leaders and role models regardless of our jobs. We are leaders to our children, to our coworkers, and to everyone we interact with. Deep, authentic leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. We do the spiritual weightlifting to develop a deep inner self-awareness and compassion for the world around us. And we put in the effort required to make a difference in the world. We build the multiple intelligences we need: cognitive or mental intelligence (IQ) and the related technical skills of our craft; emotional intelligence (EQ), or good interpersonal skills; physical intelligence (PQ), or good body management; and spiritual intelligence (SQ).

Most people are familiar with the term IQ, which is our classical mental intelligence (mathematical and verbal). And more and more have heard of EQ or emotional intelligence, thanks to the pioneering work of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. PQ may not be a familiar term, but it is a foundational skill we all practice every day. Put very simply, when we don’t take care of our bodies, everything else suffers. I define PQ as “body awareness and skillful use.” A simple example of poor PQ is allowing yourself to be continually sleep-deprived. Mental, emotional, and spiritual functioning diminishes along with stamina and health.

The least familiar of these four intelligences is SQ, but I believe we may come to find that it is the most critical as we navigate the choppy waters of our current times. It builds on EQ and takes us to the next level.

I define spiritual intelligence (SQ) as: The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation. I have researched 21 measurable “skills” or “competencies” that are components of this ability. These include things like “awareness of one’s own worldview,” “complexity of inner thought,” “awareness of interconnectedness of life,” “keeping your Higher Self in charge,” and “being a wise and effective change agent.” Unlike many spiritual teachings, which can tend to seem vague or mysterious, these tangible skills can be learned through practice and developed through clearly-defined levels.

Some people argue that spirituality is innate to each one of us — something we already are, not something we develop. And I agree. We are all born as spiritual beings. But just as a child with musical ability will never be highly “musically intelligent” if she does not learn music theory and practice playing an instrument, so it is with spiritual intelligence. We must understand the basics of “spiritual theory” and practice the skills to become spiritually intelligent.

The 21 skills of SQ are not new. In fact, they are as old as the spiritual impulse in human consciousness. I arrived at this skills-based model by stepping back from the particular religious or philosophical belief systems and considering the traits that are common to spiritual exemplars yet “a step beyond” EQ or IQ.

I feel that many of us, especially leaders in organizations, have been held back by the lack of a safe, diversity-friendly way to address the skills we need to develop. We need a skills-based language to help us tap the innate drive to nobility in ourselves and then share the benefits of this growth in our workplaces and in society.

SQ development boils down to this: We move from immature ego-driven behaviors to more mature higher self-driven behaviors. How do we do that? We develop the ability to hear the voice of our higher self, to understand and transcend the voice of our ego, and to be guided by deep wisdom and compassion. IQ and EQ support us as we develop the skillful means to deploy our noblest intention. The ego matures and nuanced forms of more effective leadership develop. With more SQ comes less drama and more impact.

Here’s one quick tip you can practice right away: Learn to be quiet. In the stillness you can observe deeply. Notice when your body and mind are agitated. Hear the voice of your ego and its fears. Love your ego — it is valuable. But know that it is also a drama queen. It needs guidance and balance. Hold your noble heroes in mind and ask your higher self for guidance. What is the wise and compassionate action to take today in this situation? What is in the highest and best interest of all players — including me, my co-workers, friends, family, company, society, and the planet? From this quiet place, you can act with SQ.

Spiritual intelligence is critical for personal growth and authentic leadership. The community, family, global and business leaders of the future will be those who are quickest to recognize this fact and begin to measure and cultivate the skills of spiritual intelligence in themselves and their organizations.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

For more information about Cindy and her work, visit

For more by Cindy Wigglesworth, click here.

For more on spirit, click here.

Looking to 2016: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities in Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity

NexDefense FutureGuest post written by NexDefense Executives and Fellows. This is a companion to Voice America Interview with Mike Sayre, Co-founder, President and CEO of NexDefense. For leaders in a complex global environment, it is important for me to share best practices and solutions to address some of the key challenges we are facing. I believe NexDefense has created an interesting solution. I invite you to listen to Mike in his conversation as he shares his perspective on this important work and also his approach to leadership.

There has been no shortage of news, speculation and analysis of industrial control systems (ICS) cybersecurity in 2015. From projections that an attack on the United States power grid could cost the economy $1 trillion to the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers proclaiming that a “digital Pearl Harbor” is all but inevitable; the prognostications for ICS security-related risks and threats have become significantly more frequent than good news reports.

The recognition of the burgeoning threat landscape to industry in 2015 has analysts bullish on ICS cybersecurity business growth. Security analysts see dark skies ahead; yet, market analysts see opportunities lining those clouds. Both groups agree there’s an ever-growing challenge of protecting the safe and reliable operation of ICS, and recognition that cyber risk is building demand for worthwhile solutions. In fact, the research firm MarketsandMarkets recently revised its financial projections for ICS cybersecurity, now forecasting the global industry to surpass $11 billion annually by 2019.

Forecasting the future is not a science. Nevertheless, given enough data and a fairly clear trajectory, the confidence in guessing an inevitable future becomes more doable. With that being said, here are the top five ICS security trends, challenges and opportunities we see as most likely for 2016:

Demand for ICS Security Jobs will Severely Exceed Supply

For an industry already contending with an aging workforce, a gap in cybersecurity resources has led some companies to adopt new technologies, rather than people, to streamline processes, often resulting in increased risk. Continued complications of the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in industry will intensify, as will demand for a new generation of specialized workers. Filling this talent void will prove challenging as the majority of cybersecurity job seekers are not adequately trained for ICS careers and they lack the hybrid skillset necessary to serve both the IT and OT spaces. Starting in 2016, a more consistent mention by government and industry alike of STEM programs will arise as a gateway to building a new generation of ICS-competent cybersecurity workers to feed contemporary industry demands.

ICS Cybersecurity Insight Tools will Proliferate

Industry analysis continues to show that, on average, when a breach is discovered, the affected system had actually been compromised weeks and months earlier, often with few if any direct indications of compromise. The ability to efficiently monitor, visualize and analyze normal and anomalous ICS network traffic, and to detect potentially malicious activities, will continue to be sought by more owners and operators.

In 2016, a dizzying array of IT-specific cybersecurity tools will be presented to the OT world, and new ICS-specific tools created by OT experts will be expanded and introduced, too. A shortage of ICS security practitioners, coupled with the rising complexity of ICS networks, will result in new tools intended to help technicians and operators better understand, monitor and protect their systems. As a result, solutions that best address ICS-specific cybersecurity challenges, and deliver actionable intelligence, will move steps closer to becoming a permanent fixture in control systems of 2016 and beyond.

Supply Chain and System Integrators are Recognized as Vulnerable

Historically, the blame for weak ICS security was primarily directed at manufacturers, yet little attention has been given to other aspects of the supply chain. For example, machine builders and system integrators in many cases have a more active role in the security posture of an ICS. Add to this the proliferation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and risks introduced through devices supplied by new vendors and inexperienced installers, and the burden placed on owners and operators only becomes heavier. Documented ICS malware such as Havex and BlackEnergy gained foothold within control systems through the product and services channels. Combined, such attacks vectors are quite likely a sign of a new normal, highlighting the growing risks from a complex and polluted supply chain.

2016 will likely see owners and operators push back on manufacturers and suppliers and refuse to accept full accountability for cybersecurity risks to their control systems. These new market forces will push vendors to be more accountable for the security of their products, services and solutions they deliver.

‘Bug Bounty’ Program Established by Major ICS Manufacturer –

Google and other leading tech companies offer Bug Bounty programs, providing independent researcher-sanctioned opportunities to discover and disclose security vulnerabilities in browsers, mobile and general web applications in exchange for compensation and public recognition. This approach allows Google to attract the attention of some of industry’s top talent to find product weaknesses before the marketplace is affected. For Google and others like it, the program allows them to maintain a diversified security posture and proactively issue patches and updates before adversaries can exploit vulnerabilities.

While a Bug Bounty program has yet to emerge in the industrial control market, it would prove very high on opportunity and low on cost. Provided the researchers disclose vulnerabilities without publishing key details, the benefit of a Bug Bounty program to ICS is significant. It has never been more likely than now for a Bug Bounty program to be introduced by an ICS manufacturer, and there’s a real possibility 2016 could be the year it happens.

ICS Manufacturers Proactively Disclose Vulnerabilities in Products –

Many ICS manufacturers have been conservative about the proactive disclosure of vulnerabilities in their products and systems. That changed in 2015, when OSIsoft announced that it addressed 56 vulnerabilities in its PI System software. The company essentially set a precedent for a new level of transparency from an automation product manufacturer. OSIsoft’s action to self-disclose goes a step further by openly sharing insight into their cybersecurity continuous improvement processes. While their self-disclosure may not be the very first for industry, the breadth and completeness of what they released may set a new standard of care. Industry adoption of this vulnerability disclosure strategy is worth keeping an eye on in 2016. Those who embrace it will likely see positive returns including a stronger brand and reputation and even new sales from customers who realize their aging systems have reached their end of life. 

We can’t say with complete certainty that these predictions will prove true, but indications suggest that these trends are likely to gain momentum. More importantly, as 2016 approaches, the industry must recognize that cybersecurity remains a moving target that creates business growth opportunity with every challenge it brings. Without question, 2016 should see industry come together in a more cohesive way to innovate and better protect systems from threats affecting the safety and operational integrity of the systems on which society relies. We’re counting on it.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Five Core Factors that Drive Innovation Success

Innovation Today’s post was co-authored by Maureen Metcalf and Kara Rising, new member of the Metcalf & Associates coaching team. Innovation is a key differentiator for a business to thrive in this time of dramatic change. Are you experimenting with new behaviors and ideas to keep your company and skills up to date or are depreciating as a leader? Julie Anixter, the executive director of Innovation Excellence shares her insight on how she defines innovation and what steps are needed to be a successful innovating leader and company and not fall behind the times or lose value with Maureen Metcalf during a Voice America interview.

Innovation is a popular buzzword today and it’s not surprising given how important it is to a thriving business. Many professionals and leaders see innovation as a four letter word with the lens that only the truly unique and talented are able to be innovators. However, innovation is just creating something new that adds value. The truth is that as humans we are innately creative and are innovating without knowing it or labeling it as such. It is in our blood, it can be learned, it can be taught and as Julie points out it “is our birthright”. There is only one way that innovation should be intimidating and that is if you believe you are unable to learn. Innovation is more than just a word that leaders throw around, it is creativity, it is problem solving, it is curiosity and critical thinking. The people who created Uber, a multibillion dollar company currently disrupting the whole transportation business, looked around at the current taxi system and said “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could track, call and pay for a taxi all on our iPhones?” They saw the world with a critical lens to identify a need and created something from that. That’s innovation.
The question from this is, “How willing are you to try new things and keep making them work?”

  1. Failure will happen with innovation but as Thomas Edison said “I didn’t succeed, I failed a thousand times”. Look at innovation through the mind of a scientist – we are then able to celebrate not only our successes but also our failures. Each failure brings data with it that can be absorbed into the process to bring us that much closer to solving the problem. Today’s businesses don’t view failure as something to be celebrated, only because they don’t always have the time or budget to keep experimenting with things that don’t work.
  2. Well-structured data and analytics programs are critical. By gathering correct data from users and the market we can easily and more accurately predict what is more likely to be successful.
  3. Innovation demands a different mindset, one that is away from perfectionism. Google Glass is a perfect example of an idea that was experimented with but ultimately did not succeed, and it is because Google is willing to value innovation and try despite failure that makes it such an innovative and successful company.
  4. Organizational Leadership is the most important factor that dictates the success or failure of innovation. They are so inherently intertwined that neither can be successful without the other.
  5. Board support is also critical to promote a successful innovative company, they make a structural commitment to support innovation, promote diversity, expect solid data gathering, and ensure they retain innovative leaders.

Julie points out that there are many models for innovation that are being used in today’s climate, but one in particular that stands out is from Steve Coley, called H1, H2, H3 all standing for Horizon 1, Horizon 2 and Horizon 3. Each of these horizons represents a facet of your business that must be focused on to achieve growth in business. H1 being your core business, H2 being adjacencies (what opportunities do you have access to), and H3 being disrupting the field. The business that focuses exclusively on H1 and does nothing with the other horizons will not succeed, and it is those companies we see falling off the Fortune 500 list today.

For innovation to thrive in a workplace, the leader must value innovation enough to allow a space to be created for workers to be able to feel the freedom to create and express those ideas in a safe place. This requires a leader to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If an employee feels that their colleagues or leader will not value their input or will dismiss their ideas or creates a fear of failure climate, innovation will not survive and will be squelched. Leaders also have to enable a climate that can tolerate risk because innovation is inherently risky. Judith Blazer in Conversational Intelligence, talks about how when we have the ability to co-create, co-discover and collaborate we enable the release of the hormone oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and creates in us the confidence and good feeling to continue. However when we are flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone, innovation and creativity die.

Diversity is important because it allows us to enter the real world and leave the safety of our boxes to get a new viewpoint of the problem as well as new solutions. This means choosing projects that are uncomfortable and out of your skill set to create the neuro-pathways to build innovation. Julie brings up a good exercise titled “Borrowing Brilliance”. Think of your favorite innovator, Disney, Google, Virgin, Amazon… how would they run your company?

Innovation is a necessity in our fast paced global world, to make it work we must have several elements present: a strong diverse team, an inspirational vision, clear goals to reach those visions, time dedicated to accomplishing goals, financial and human resources, stimulus to innovate, political buffers to provide a safe environment for innovation, good integrators between the data and the innovators, and solid analytics. How does your business stack up? How are you innovating not only in business but also in your personal life? What have you learned from Julie today that you can apply to take your innovation to the next level?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

photo credit: Dean Meyers

What is Required to Shift from Survival to Thriving Long Term?

Leaders Guide to ThriveAbilityThis guest blog post was written by Robin Lincoln Wood. Dr Wood is a renowned strategist, futurist, communicator and agent of transformation. He has spent 3 decades working at board level with the world’s leading organizations in 35 countries on 4 continents. He is deeply skilled in designing & catalyzing major shifts in large scale systems, & in inspiring & empowering the teams that deliver them. This post is an excerpt of a paper that will be published in the Integral Leadership Review in October 2015.

Robin will be a guest on the Voice America radio show on September 29. This post is a companion to that interview.

Earth’s 7.3 billion citizens are currently consuming 1.6 planet’s worth of resources, thereby guaranteeing runaway global warming, climate change and suffering for billions in the next few decades. Such a wicked problem needs a whole new kind of leadership, capable of thinking and acting on a planetary scale while maintaining local viability. New kinds of leadership are emerging in response, capable of working from perspectives that access the highest leverage points in human, social, natural and technical systems, while integrating multiple disciplines, methods and tools for beneficial change and transformation. This post is a primer for the book “A Leader’s Guide to ThriveAbility”, details where we are (a degenerative, exclusive economy); where we need to be (a regenerative inclusive economy); the integral framework undergirding the ThriveAbility Journey, which explains how we get from here to there; and the role and kinds of leadership needed to assure a beneficial transition.

Toward a Regenerative, Inclusive Economy

Imagine a world powered by renewable energy, where all human beings thrive in resilient habitats; where businesses operate in a circular economy that regenerates natural capital, without a particle of waste, and are led by enlightened leaders whose goal is to maximize the ThriveAbility of all their stakeholders; where each individual is empowered to pursue their passion and make a living in service to others; where governance systems are transparent, effective and wise in the ways in which they deliver their services to their communities and populations; and where intercultural appreciation and insight enriches the exchanges between the diverse worldviews and cultures embraced by humankind.

Does that sound like an impossible dream, or pie in the sky? The co-creators of ThriveAbility would point out that every single one of these “pockets of the future” is currently observable in the present, right here and right now, somewhere in the world. It is just that the future is distributed unevenly, and sometimes hard to see when one is up to one’s neck in alligators and trying to drain the swamp.

  • How would this desirable future scenario of a thriving human civilization on a thriving planet convert into practical outcomes that are measurable and manageable?
  • What would such a future look like?
  • What kinds of leadership are emerging to get us there?

We can begin by describing in very big picture terms what a desirable future scenario of a thriving human civilization on a thriving planet might look like.

The Six Desiderata of ThriveAbility

Based on the pioneering work being done by hundreds of thought and practice leaders around the world[1], we have framed six desiderata by which we can measure the endpoint of the ThriveAbility Journey toward a regenerative, inclusive economy:

Sustainability: Natural Capital; Manufactured Capital

​1. A Circular, regenerative economy 

  1. Natural and man-made materials and ecosystems are regenerated through circular economic processes
  2. All impacts are managed proportionately to the carrying capacities of the multiple capitals

2. Long term resource planning for intergenerational equity

  1. Technologies, Products, Services and Businesses designed for durability to continue serving future generations
  2. Innovations are inspired by natural systems by engineers, designers, entrepreneurs and others working with the grain of nature.

Organizational: Intellectual Capital; Financial Capital

​3. A Transparent and Level global playing field that delivers True Value 

  1. Apply true accounting principles that measure true costs including externalities, and calculate true returns with full transparency
  2. Level the playing field towards renewable and regenerative industries through true taxation and incentives

​4. Strategic Decision-Making to Scale-Up to ThriveAble Sectors 

  1. Nurture multi-stakeholder collaboration to amplify and scale up positive impacts
  2. Investment decisions based on the ThriveAbility Index

Socio-Cultural: Human Capital; Social Capital

5. Holistic Education to Develop Complex Systems Thinking & Leadership

  1. New open business models for education that integrate physical wellbeing, mental depth, emotional maturity and spiritual development.
  2. Developmental pathways based on co-working and co-creation between disciplines and sectors that are aspirational and compelling for future generations

6. Governance Systems Aligned to Inclusive Stakeholder Wellbeing

  1. Radically inclusive and transparent governance structures that serve the different priorities and needs of different developmental levels
  2. Innovative structures for and approaches to interworking between governments, NGO’s, businesses and academia that focus on Stakeholder ThriveAbility.

We believe that starting from this “end of the telescope”, what is required for regenerative, inclusive business becomes obvious fairly quickly to key decision makers and stakeholders. In this sense the ThriveAbility Approach and Index act as a powerful catalyst and producer of the aspirations and the cognitive dissonance required to make transformative changes a reality.

To put it bluntly, we have no choice whether we should move from a degenerative, exclusive economic system to a regenerative, inclusive one that can ensure the thriving of our biosphere and ourselves.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

[1] In the course of researching and writing “A Leader’s Guide to ThriveAbility” we met with and/or interviewed 83 global thought leaders, executives and investors shaping the future of business, sustainability and human flourishing during late 2014 and early 2015. Since then we have engaged with a further few hundred such leaders via ThriveAbility live gatherings, ThriveAbility Think Tanks hosted by Convetit, and videoconferencing.