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A masterclass on how to lead organizational change

Making others see the need for change when they either can't or won't is a significant obstacle for many executives. In this episode of Toughest Call, Luc Mongeau, President and CEO of eSolutions Furniture, talks about a tough call he made in a previous leadership role: tackling a massive strategic shift that few others saw the need for.

Weeks into his position as President of Mars Canada, Luc recognized several early indicators that the company was slipping into decline. But others didn't see the situation the same way and were resistant to change. What Luc shares in this episode is a masterclass on how to lead significant organizational change.

Luc Mongeau: We had a couple of tough discussions with customers where we were able to pass pricing, and the margin started going up. But most importantly, was the energy in the building, the way people were relating to each other.

Chaz Thorne: Welcome back, or welcome to Toughest Call, a podcast for organizational leaders where we...

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A four-step process to prevent mission drift

‘Mission drift’ is a common affliction in many organizations.

It usually starts at the top and trickles down as you lose the plot of the story you and your colleagues are collectively attempting to tell about what your organization exists to do.

In his episode of the Toughest Call podcast, Rob Angel, the creator of Pictionary, talks about how staying on mission resulted in him and his partners turning down a lucrative licensing deal.

They defined their mission as “scaling the energy and fun of Pictionary” and viewed the offer in front of them as unlikely to contribute to that focus.

Given the massive dollars involved and that he was assembling the games by hand in a tiny Seattle apartment at the time, it was not easy to walk away. Though Pictionary would ultimately sell tens of millions of copies around the globe, its commercial success was not a given at the time. When faced with difficult decisions, staying ‘on mission’ is often incredibly...

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Pictionaryā€™s strategy for success: scaling fun

How can organizational leaders prevent mission drift? In this episode of Toughest Call, Rob Angel, Creator of Pictionary, talks about how staying on mission resulted in him and his partners turning down a lucrative licensing deal.

Rob originally dreamed up what would become one of the best-selling board games of all time four decades ago. The demand on the small business they created to publish the game in 1985 grew rapidly. Rob was tired of eating ramen noodles and assembling games by hand in his tiny apartment in Seattle, so they started to explore licensing to a larger games company. And after their first candidate didn't work out, they found themselves presented with an even larger opportunity.

But along with the big bucks came a big sacrifice. What Rob ultimately faced with this extremely lucrative deal was something many organizational leaders confront: How do I ensure that I'm staying true to our mission?

Rob Angel: I don't think we said a word, the three of us. We all...

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The value of a one-page plan

A leap is required whenever you start any new project, initiative, or business; you can’t possibly know everything before diving in. However, there are some simple ways to “look before you leap” to spot potential hazards with a small amount of upfront planning.

In 2010, I first discovered the concept and value of planning on a single page through the book “Business Model Generation” by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. It was in this book that the authors introduced the now well-known Business Model Canvas. 

Unlike typical text-heavy and overly tedious business plans, the Business Model Canvas represents a quick, thoughtful, and visual way to get the entire vision of a business on a single page. These features make the creation of a canvas a lot of fun. Whereas the same can seldom be said about the creation of a typical business plan.

The canvas consists of nine elements that allow you to quickly get an overview of what a business or initiative...

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How do you assess your organizationā€™s change readiness?

How do you assess your organization’s change readiness?

One of my favorite books is “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. Though it is positioned as the “onboarding bible” for executive leaders, the book also includes excellent insight into strategy formulation and implementation more broadly.

One of the frameworks Watkins puts forth is his STARS Model. In effect, the model allows you to get clear on the “lay of the land.” This clarity is essential because if you jump into proposing significant changes before doing this foundational analysis, you will likely encounter resistance from the individuals you are expecting to implement these changes.

Whether you have led your team for a while, were recently promoted or transferred internally, or are stepping into a new organization, STARS allows you to answer two key questions: 

  1. What change am I being called upon to lead?
  2. What type of leader must I be to lead this change?

STARS is an...

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How a non-profit successfully achieves strategic realignment

What does it take to bring about an organization's strategic realignment? In this episode of Toughest Call, Scott Skinner, CEO of Clean Foundation, talks about how he and his team strategically repositioned their organization to heighten its impact. Scott takes us through how he initially positioned this strategic pivot for success, and then kept it on course, during execution.

Scott Skinner: We had really great, well-educated, competent people that could take on complex projects, so I saw this, I was like, I need to apply these people to their highest and best use. So that may require a pivot.

Chaz Thorne: Welcome back, or welcome to Toughest Call, a podcast for organizational leaders where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues about career-defining decisions. I'm your host, Chaz Thorne. 

In this episode, I'm talking with the CEO of Clean Foundation, Scott Skinner, about how he and his team strategically repositioned...

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How do you navigate a toxic business relationship?

How do you navigate a toxic business relationship?

Sooner or later, we all find ourselves in a partnership, team, or company where something isn’t quite gelling.

But sometimes, that situation turns from uncomfortable to toxic when there’s a conflict in values.

In her episode of the Toughest Call podcast, Dr. Dianne Tyers, the Dean of the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development at Dalhousie University, talks about her experience confronting this situation as a partner in a consulting business. After years of cultivating clients and achieving financial success, she found herself grappling with the strain the partnership was putting on her values.

As a strategic planner, I’ve seen that organizations have no problem coming up with a list of stated values.

The challenge is that sticking to them means some very real short or medium-term pain.

Despite the enormous financial hit, Dianne stuck with her gut and her values and ended the partnership.

Though the road...

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A strategy for vetting business partnerships

How do we assess whether a partner is a good fit beyond a typical, surface-level analysis? In this episode of Toughest Call, Dr. Dianne Tyers talks about her decision to end a business partnership that would have a significant impact on her company’s revenue for several years.

Though she was an entrepreneur at the time she made this tough call, Dianne is now Dean of the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development at Dalhousie University. She shares what she learned about the importance of ensuring you share the values of an individual or organization before you enter into a partnership.

Dianne Tyers: I got to the point where I need to be true to who I am, I need to be true to the values under which I established this organization that I'm running, and I just need to make this decision.

Chaz Thorne: Welcome back, or welcome to Toughest Call, a podcast for organizational leaders where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues...

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Focus7 framework: A clear process for organizations to achieve growth goals

How do you know when it’s time to accelerate your organization’s growth?

Making the “go/no-go” decision whether to expand is something many leaders struggle with.

Though there are some extremely inspiring stories of organizations achieving amazing growth, there are many more where poorly timed or thought-out moves resulted in significant losses.

Suzie Yorke is the Founder of Love Good Fats, a snacks company that experienced unprecedented success very soon after launch. In her episode of the Toughest Call podcast, Suzie talks about the thought process she went through when she was presented with a huge growth opportunity while still a relatively new company.

If you’re facing a similar tough call on how to grow your organization, there is an excellent book that may help you with your own thought process.

Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless Expansion to Focused Growth” is written by Sanjay Khosla and Mohanbir Sawhney. I met them both while...

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Planning a career move? Three key tips for a successful strategy

Whether you’re switching jobs, changing careers, or transitioning into retirement, a few guiding principles can make all the difference in your success.

In the latest episode of The Toughest Call podcast, Rishad Tobaccowala, futurist, and author of "Restoring the Soul of Business," shares how he approached his shift into something completely different.

In this video analysis, Chaz Thorne discusses Rishad's guiding principles for a successful career move.

After 30 plus years of building a career as a leader within Publicis, the third-largest global communications group, Rishad decided it was time for him to take on a new challenge.

With the decision to leave already made, he then switched to HOW he would leave and broke that process down into three guiding principles:

  1. Consult people you trust
  2. Make an elegant exit
  3. Practice patience with yourself

Consult people you trust

Consult people in your professional network about your plans for the future. They may have done...

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