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The more you can carry yourself through the lens of evidence-based management and leadership, the more effective you're going to be, the faster you're going to get things done.

In this episode

70% of all change management efforts actually fail within organizations.

With such a high failure rate, it’s crucial to understand how to be part of that successful 30%. According to operational change expert Susan Odle, successfully implementing change requires buy-in, accountability, and clear timelines throughout the entire organization.

Susan Odle is the founder of 8020CS, a company that specializes in change management to drive growth, profitability, and efficiency. With over 25 years of global experience, Susan has helped businesses of all sizes, ranging from start-ups to $800M companies, navigate complex change and achieve tangible results in company growth, stability, and shareholder returns. In her book, “Successful Change,” Susan provides a powerful blueprint for successfully navigating the complexities of business transformation.

In episode 186, Susan discusses how to operationalize successful change to positively impact top-line revenue and bottom-line profitability in organizations. She also emphasizes the importance of evidence-based leadership and pragmatic problem-solving, offering practical advice that listeners can apply to their own teams and organizations.

Tune in to hear Susan’s actionable advice on how to help you and your team thrive in times of transformation!


Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


04:24

Avoiding analysis paralysis

11:59

The 30% success club

17:34

Leading with pragmatism, not your ego

25:51

Evidence-based management and leadership

33:21

The five-gate framework of operationalizing change

37:18

Being kind and human


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Transcript

Sue, welcome to the show.

Susan Odle  03:17

Hi Aydin. It’s great to be here. And thanks for having me on.

Aydin Mirzaee  03:19

Yeah, very excited to do this. It’s really funny once you came on the show, and I realized that you were also in the same city that I am. That almost never happens. So that’s really nice. It’s crazy.

Susan Odle  03:31

Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of stuff hiding in home offices around Ottawa just reaching out to the world every day, right?

Aydin Mirzaee  03:36

Yeah, yeah, super nice to do this. And I was saying that for all the listeners who didn’t know this, our first five episodes were actually done in person. I did go into people’s offices with equipment, flew to different cities did that sort of thing. But yeah, the other 190 or so are all virtual. But yeah, I’d love to dig in. So you’ve worked at a bunch of different companies? BDO Canada, GFI, You.i TV. Today, you’re the founder and CEO of a change management company called 8020CS. So lots of stuff for us to talk about. But maybe one of the things that we should start with is, if you remember very early on when you first started to manage or lead a team, do you remember what were some of your early mistakes, you know, things that maybe you do less of today? 

Susan Odle  04:24

Yeah, I think a big one is putting way too much detail into your plan for your team. People can waste a lot of time trying to flush out extreme detail and tactics within a plan versus focusing on what you want to accomplish in a given period of time. Because things always evolve. You know what you put on paper on day one, or in Q1? As you get out there with the team and in market, it’s going to shift it’s going to evolve. So I think too much time wasted on details versus direction and putting guardrails in place and timeline based metrics. I would say don’t over you Use your time on details just move forward and learn as you go.

Aydin Mirzaee  05:03

Oh, that’s a really interesting one. I always love it when there’s a unique lesson that people bring up. Maybe tell us a little bit more about how you came to realize that you were making that mistake? Was it you just noticed that work was wasted? Did people tell you or what were the triggers?

Susan Odle  05:21

Yeah, the trigger as well, just evidence, right? I like plans at this point in time in depth and knock documents because it forces you to be way more efficient on what you put on that slide. And it becomes more measurable. So when you spend too much time on details, and you go back, and you reflect on that. So say you’ve written your plan in q1, and you’ve got your QBR, you know, at the beginning of q2, looking back, and you can see in this detailed plan that you either didn’t get too much of it, or you’ve learned so much in that quarter that 20% of it is no longer relevant. So it’s a cost benefit analysis in terms of and I would say, you know, analysis, paralysis tends to be the problem when your plans are too detailed. So I think one of the metrics might be, how can you articulate your plan as a manager in a slide format, that’s going to distill your thinking. And then you do definitely need to push that into whether it’s a workbook spreadsheet based detail, or a document itself. But don’t start with a document, because then you’re too verbose. Really focus on the bullets of what you want to achieve. And if you can distill it up, that’s a better place to start. You can get the team moving in a direction without spending cycles on content. .

Aydin Mirzaee  06:37

Yeah, what’s interesting is the other effect of too much detail might be that not really giving the team the latitude to figure some stuff out on their own. And yeah, maybe makes them feel they’re micromanaged a little bit.

Susan Odle  06:52

So micromanagement, yeah, is a problem. I don’t believe in it. As a leader, whether you’re a manager or a VP, or C level, your job is to give direction. And your job is to empower your team, let them give them enough lead rope, to use your creativity and use their imagination to problem solve. That’s the best thing you can do as a leader. So you’re absolutely right, detailed your corners, he was a leader in a corners, your team. I think your measurable goals and objectives, those have to be very clear, but then let the team go and give them timelines. So you’ve got to come back by a certain point and report on progress or show me certain results, but let them be creative. 

Aydin Mirzaee  07:30

Yeah, so if there’s too much detail, you’re doing a bunch of work, things may change, the ROI is not there, and your team may feel micromanaged. So definitely, definitely a thing to try and avoid. Are there any exceptions to this? Or is it universal?

Susan Odle  07:45

Oh, I don’t think it’s universal. I think that especially in regulated industries, there’s environments that require detail. And I think every function requires details. Just how much do you want to go about that? So in business, there’s no universal rules at all. Right? I think that the skill in leadership is being open to what your current circumstances are presenting to you, right? And then how do you need to respond to that. So you may have aspects of your, of your team management, your leadership plan that do require a lot of detail, especially if there are time constraints and pressure that you’re under, you want to be maybe more specific about how that’s going to happen. But boundaries can be dangerous, even when it comes to things like details and plans. So be aware of your situation and apply the right level of detail or openness and flexibility as you can based on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Aydin Mirzaee  08:36

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So one of the things that I wanted to start by talking about is you released this new book, it’s called ‘Successful Change.’ Came out in September. And yeah, I’d love to maybe start with why did you write this book?

Susan Odle  08:52

Now that’s an interesting question. I was working for a PE firm out of the states a number of years ago, and we were doing really well, we had a lot of pressure, we have to produce 60% EBITDA quarter over quarter. And so that puts a lot of stress on an operation. And when your revenue is not tracking towards a path of producing that EBITDA, then you have tough decisions that you have to make about your operational expenditure. And so we had a QBR, where we had to make sort of the third round of some cuts that if we had a little bit more flexibility on the EBITDA, we probably could have saved some jobs. And it just made me think about I’m very good at this, but how much do I want to kind of be in this environment where you don’t have enough time to make some changes? So it made me reflect upon how can I be effective at what I do and help more companies on mass get ahead of some of the problems that result in those tough decisions. So I did some a lot of self-reflection on how have I been successful in my career over the years, getting out of tough situations, you know, growing quickly, turning around performance, those So things add that, to just kind of summarize it, I had a framework fall out of an acronym that’s part of my company name. When I flushed out that framework, I thought, okay, great. It’s a methodology. There’s about a bazillion methodologies out there, kind of boring, kind of dry. So how can I make it more engaging for the readers. So that’s when I started working on a narrative around it. That’s case study-based. So, in the book, there are seven or eight lift case studies by me that take the method and the theory and apply it to practical situations. So it’s a field guide, it’s not a narrative, it’s a field guide, that people can look at how to apply the method to problems that they have. So whether it’s a problem or an opportunity, they need to capture that then they can reflect on some case study real world case studies as a learning opportunity. So, it’s my way of helping more people than I can reach directly, either as a full-time employee in the past or through my business.

Aydin Mirzaee  10:55

So was the idea behind the book, the learnings that you had when you had to make those tough decisions and like turn things around? The idea was, Can I impart the knowledge that I’ve learned so that we don’t need to turn things around so that a lot of those tough situations don’t occur in the first place?

Susan Odle  11:13

You know what, 100%. So there’s two groups of clients that I work with. One is that they’re a larger company, they’ve scaled a bit. And they’ve done some things in the past that are now blocking their progress, or they’ve missed their number a few quarters in a row, and they’ve tried to figure out how to unblock that growth. And they’re stalled. So they need some help working through a solution, since that’s, like, the reactive type of client that I work with. The proactive are those that are scaling, and they want to get ahead of some of the operational problems that, if left to fester, can become really, really difficult to unravel at a later date. So, the approach to using the method is the same: one is proactive versus reactive.

Aydin Mirzaee  11:59

Got it. And so the other thing that you haven’t, I guess it’s a sub-headline, it’s ‘Your Guide Into the 30% Success Club.’ Right? What is that? Where does the number 30% come from?

Susan Odle  12:09

Well, 70%, statistically, 70% of all change, and I will say transformation efforts fail. It’s just it’s accepted in academia, the analyst organizations, you could go to Gartner, you can go to University of California, Berkeley’s got a really great white paper on the topic. Gartner, as well. 70% fail. So what I have been successful at, and what I’ve now documented in the book, is a method to be in the 30% Success Club. How can you break things down pragmatically and approach problem-solving with a different mindset? The book’s really about a mindset that’s very pragmatic; it really encourages you to slow down and attack problems and opportunities differently so that you can actually experience results faster. So what typically tends to happen is somebody has an opportunity or a problem, they write a plan. And the next thing they do is set objectives. And they get the team marching. You’re skipping a bunch of stuff in the middle, right? And two of the things are that leadership level is a team aligned around this opportunity, you want to go after all this problem, you want to solve it, they aligned around the things that you want to do to change. How are you measuring that? What goals? Are you setting? What’s the ROI? Does everybody buy in to that ROI? One of the examples I talked about is if you think about a leadership team of let’s say, five people, everybody puts their hand up and they say, Yep, I’m on board for that. I’ll sign up to that, but they don’t really mean it. And if you scratch below the surface of that, yes, I’m on board. Typically, you may uncover some resistance. And it’s important to listen to that resistance, understand why it’s there, and work through it before you move on to strategy before you move on to objectives. So, the model slows people down. And that slowing down and aligning leadership, aligning management teams, and securing buying is what allows you to join the 30% success club. So it’s more work, but it’s better you do more work and succeed than do less work and fail.

Aydin Mirzaee  14:17

Got it. And so I feel like this idea of successful change is very important no matter what year we’re in, or what era we’re in. But obviously, nowadays, there’s a lot of change, particularly in what’s happening in the world of AI. Many, many companies will be disrupted. And it is time for change. I think every company needs to change in some way. So I think this is relevant to everybody who’s listening. But do you have stories or examples from the book, like a case study of someone who did it well or someone who didn’t do it? Well, that can really help drive the point. Which one would you like to hear first? Let’s start with the failures. The failures are always nice to hear.

Susan Odle  14:57

Yeah, so this one is actually a heartbreaking story. Way back when I was working for a company that had an SGML programming language, and for people that don’t know what that is, it was a way for you to be able to take one instance of content, format it in such a way that you could, you could output it to HTML and to print and to CD formats from one field in a database. For example, I’m simplifying it, but we were at the top of that market. And we were competing against Perl, which was free, open source, and we had the biggest publishers in the world. And this was SGML was a precursor to XML. And at the first XML conference in the world, our CEO got up and basically said that XML was for lightweight applications, and anybody that had complex data or significant stores of data would still rely upon SGML. And so that took the wind out of our sails, a company shrunk, we all kind of left and went to different organizations, and bring this up as an example, in that we were the leading vendor, we had amazing technology. And instead of embracing XML and changing our position, right, changing how we would play in that space, it was just rebuked as saying that’s for lightweights. And now everybody knows what XML became, in terms of like a simple way to extend content. So that’s an example of seeing a change in the marketplace and not responding, not slowing down to think about how we can respond to that and still be a top player in SGML, but also now being a front-runner in XML. And so that’s an example of, you know, a failure to capture a market opportunity.

Aydin Mirzaee  16:36

Why do you think that that mistake was made?

Susan Odle  16:39

I think that, you know, again, AI is kind of parallel. It’s kind of a parallel universe, right? You know, if you think about the data maturity model, where you’ve got companies that are just trying to get to good reporting, more mature companies are leveraging predictive analytics, and really mature data companies are at the prescriptive level, it’s almost similar to that, where if in that world SGML was handling the most complex stuff up here. So, your emotional responses, why would I dumb it down? This is why a pragmatic mindset in business is really, really important, you know, versus an emotional response. So I think it’s just human nature. And our time, there was amazing, it was such a great company to work for. I don’t point fingers at the founders at all. It was just an unfortunate decision at that time. But we had an amazing team and some of the leaders that I worked with have gone on to phenomenal leadership seats and top tech companies around the world. 

Aydin Mirzaee  17:34

Yeah. So I think, I mean, this happens all the time. Right? Success begets complacency, which begets failure, right? And so part of it, this is a very common thing to happen.

Susan Odle  17:45

Yeah. 

Aydin Mirzaee  17:45

So I guess my question is, if you’re in such a place, and you’re feeling pretty confident, and then there’s this new thing that’s coming out that does feel dumbed down, how do you maybe you’re not looking at the right data source? Maybe you’re blinded, but you don’t know about it. Are there things that you can do to make it easier for you to be able to notice these types of things?

Susan Odle  18:07

Surround yourself with strong leaders who have a voice and maybe can help you be more pragmatic, I should say, as a leadership team. So, just to be frank, some companies are going to fail no matter what you do, right? At the end of the day, some founders and leaders, C suite, whatever, it doesn’t really matter, we’ll have either forward ego issues that kill a company, or subconscious ego issues that kill a company, not every company is going to succeed. Right? That’s just reality. But I think leaders who are open to checking themselves right and making sure that they’re not saying things that are problematic from a market point of view, I would encourage them to surround themselves with people who are strong enough to have a voice. And we’ll hold each other, not just the founder or CEO, but hold each other to account to take a pause, right? It’s one of those things like if you can pause, even if it’s just for a day when something crazy happens, pause, come back together as a team and have a really transparent conversation about what just happened, what’s just occurred, what should we do? Just that delay can prevent you from having an emotional statement that could affect your market permanently.

Aydin Mirzaee  19:23

Hey everyone, just a quick pause on today’s episode to tell you about a new feature that I am so excited about. We’ve been working on this one for quite a while and excited to announce it to the world. We’re calling it Meeting Guidelines. So there’s all these things that people already know they should do when they organize a meeting. So for example, you should make sure that you shouldn’t invite too many people or if you’re booking a recurring meeting, you probably want to put an end date on that meeting. Or if you’re going to invite someone to a meeting. You should probably you know if they have more than 20 hours of meetings that week, maybe be a little bit more considerate and ask Should I really invite that person to the meeting. So there’s a bunch of these sorts of things that you might even know about. But what happens somehow in larger organizations is that people forget all of these things. And so that’s why we built this feature called Meeting Guidelines. It’s super easy to use, it’s a Google Chrome extension. So if you install it, what will happen is, it will integrate with your Google Calendar. And that way, whenever anyone within your company is about to book a meeting, these Meeting Guidelines will show up and make sure that people know and take a second look at that meeting that they’re about to book and make sure that it adheres to these guidelines. So if you want to book or within your company, have a no meeting day, or if you want to make sure that every meeting has an agenda in advance before it’s booked. So all the different sorts of guidelines that you may want. And they’re all obviously highly configurable, because every company is going to be slightly different. But this is the first time that there is a way that you can get an entire organization to change their meeting behavior. It’s something that we’ve been working on for a very long time, super proud to announce it to the world. It’s called Meeting Guidelines. If you’re interested in checking it out, we’d love for you to do that and give us feedback. You can get to it by going to Fellow.app/guidelines. Again, that’s Fellow.app/Guidelines. Check it out. And let me know what you think.

Aydin Mirzaee  21:30

Yeah, it is very interesting. And there’s a lot of parallels to what’s going on in the world these days. And again, like the more successful you are, the more you may run into this situation. And so yeah, I’d love to maybe also talk about the success case study.

Susan Odle  21:44

Sure. So I mean, I’ve had a few of them, the one that’s closest to timing. Now, I had a couple of founders for a large services company that really needed to turn around EBITDA performance, in order to realize some of the financial returns on their plan, I’ll just leave it at a high level. And so we had a two year opportunity just back up for a second, they had a three year window to take EPA from a certain percentage up to another percentage, and there was a definite incentive to do that. The first year, it did not happen. And so they called me in and asked if I would come in and help. And so we were able to turn things around in the first six months of my engagement, where we exceeded the number in year two and year three. And the way that we did this, number one, I said, Look, if I’m going to come in, and I need to run the entire professional services team, I can’t just run the silo because we’re going to lose too much time, in terms of like negotiating back and forth. And so I brought the management team together. And I did an audit of tracing $1 through the business, from the cradle to the grave, not the top-of-the-funnel marketing, but our cost of sale to close a deal. And then what happened with that contract when it was signed, what happened after that, and we identified revenue leaks along the back end that were systemic, so they weren’t 10s of 1000s of dollars per revenue leak, they were transactional, but when you added them up, it was significant. And so we just focused on plugging those leaks. And that transformed our bottom line within six months. And so it was challenging. We had a lot of people in different functions to push back and said, you’re just creating busy work for us, you’re slowing down this process or that process. And we we really had to be strong in our commitment to what we were doing because we knew it would work. And we worked on buying along the way. And like I said, we had the leadership team, total buy in, management team 80% bought in, we lost a couple of people who didn’t believe in it, they quit. And then we had people outside of the team that were resisting it. By three months into the change, people stopped complaining because it started to become the new norm. And we saw a spike in EBITDA, and it kept on growing. And so that case studies detailed in the book, I’m very proud of that it was during a tough time in our economy. And we literally had two years to get it done. And we did by just breaking it down, focusing on where, if we plug this leak, what’s the ROI going to be on the bottom line, and then you prioritize them. And as you get through one and you go after the next one, you go after the next one. So you can’t go after everything all at the same time. You do have to focus on that prioritization and execution.

Aydin Mirzaee  24:23

You know, one question I have about this is that when you run into such a situation where you have a problem like this, and maybe it’s been ongoing for a while, does it become difficult for the people who are at that company to actually solve that problem? Because they’re so used to the way that things are? Do you almost always have to get an external party, whether it’s a fresh new hire, whether it’s you know, a consulting firm, just the ability of people to solve things like this themselves?

Susan Odle  24:49

That essentially the premise for my business is I actually believe that it’s important for staff to own the problem. Now, the team that’s in place may not have all of the skills because maybe they haven’t done it before. And so if they haven’t, maybe you’ve given the team six months and you’re not seeing the results, maybe it’s even been a year, then you should bring in external help. But I think it’s the wrong thing to do, to bring in a consultant and say, It’s your problem to solve, because then when the consultant leaves, those skills are not left behind. So I believe in, for example, bringing in someone like myself to work with the team, but they’re the RACI, an accountable person on staff that owns it. And my job is to give them the guidance and lean in and help them develop the skill. So the next time a problem comes around, they can do it on their own. I think that’s important.

Aydin Mirzaee  25:40

And what kind of things did you learn about getting the buy-in from the team to make the change? And what were the conversations like for those that didn’t end up staying with the company?

Susan Odle  25:51

Yeah, so I’m very evidence-based. So I’m not an engineer by trade or education, I’m a business person, but I’m very comfortable with technology, I can get into the weeds pretty deep. And so I think you have to lead with evidence. So when you’re trying to get buy-in at whatever level or stage of change, you should be coming to the table with evidence that you’ve thought through it, that these are the ideas that you have, and these are the results that you think you can get from it. And if you can base that off of data that’s available in the business, right and present, that it makes the conversation so much easier, you’re actually removing barriers to buy-in, and even barriers to people being defensive, when you’re having the conversation based on evidence. So I would say 100%, the more you can behave in any function in the business, at every level, the more you can carry yourself through the lens of evidence-based management and leadership, the more effective you’re going to be, the faster you’re going to get things done.

Aydin Mirzaee  26:48

And so when there is no evidence because you’re just getting started, it’s evidence about why the thing that you’re working on isn’t working and just showing numbers as to why we need to change something. 

Susan Odle  26:59

Yeah, I mean, unless you’re a startup, there’s lots of evidence. There’s your CRM data, there’s your ERP data, there’s your customer success data, there’s tons of data available that’s connected to your function in some way and your problem. I mean, if you can’t find data to support the premise for either an opportunity or a problem you’re solving, then you’re thinking up a problem that you’re wasting time on. Right? The data that when I say data, it’s just the data that you’re managing already, that brought together to answer questions is going to provide some degree of a path, or evidence or cause and effect.

Aydin Mirzaee  27:36

Right and at some level, so once you’ve proven that this is an issue, we need to do something about it, it’s important to get everybody’s attention on it. At some point, you’re going to propose a solution as an external person coming into an organization. And I guess that’s the part that also needs buy-in. And I suppose the people that left the organization were talking about they probably I assume, weren’t on board with the solution being proposed, right?

Susan Odle  28:03

Yeah. Well, let me just give you, like, make it really evident. One of the people that left. Great guy; he was a member of the data team. And he actually came to me and said, Look, based on our historical numbers, it’s mathematically impossible to hit the targets. I guess it can’t like, I’ve got years of data that saying, This line should be growing, this one should be coming down, and the other line should be going up. And I see no evidence of that. And that’s why he left because he was relying on the numbers alone. Well, surely, if we continue to do things, exactly the way that we were doing them than he was right, it’s not that he was wrong. He just didn’t believe that we could change the way we were doing things, right? So you’re gonna lose some people. But I think transparency and conversations, like having really honest conversations with everybody appropriate to their role within the business, is what gets you through. And we maintain, I’m not sure what the number is, but it was definitely above 80% of the management layer stayed through the process till the very end.

Aydin Mirzaee  29:03

Got it. And so if you were to kind of boil it down, so you would say that the biggest mistake that people make is they don’t get the alignment and buy-in from their team. So if you do that, if you get the alignment and buy-in for your team for a big change that’s happening. Are you set? Is that the only piece of the puzzle in order to be able to succeed?

Susan Odle  29:22

No, no. So accountability, who’s RACI, and you know, you can have RACI at different levels within that team. So at an executive level, you should have a RACI at a management level, you might have multiple RACI, depending on how big the changes. So, there has to be accountability. And the second thing is timeline. Having goals without time, a time and a deadline is like having a great idea. So timelines are really important. And you know, if their stretch goals, maybe 70% of the time you’re going to hit them and maybe the other 30% they’re going to be a month or two late, maybe even occasionally a quarterly, but you’re driving towards that date is really important. And it’s it’s surprising how many organizations are not disciplined. They don’t take timelines seriously. So alignment by accountability and timeline.

Aydin Mirzaee  30:10

Got it. And this notion of operationalizing change, what does that mean? Is it basically what we just talked about in just determining the timeline and who’s accountable and getting buy-in?

Susan Odle  30:24

So no, change management is sort of a broader category of change, change management is very much like a sister to project management, they’re very closely tied. Change management is more, I want to say tactical or prescriptive, operationalizing change is transformative. And it’s more closely linked to top-line revenue growth and bottom-line profitability. So you’re systemically changing the way a company is going to function in a certain thing, that typically is going to affect more than one function, it might only affect one, but you are like permanently changing the way a company operates in a certain way. So I would say, no change management is tactical, more project based operationalizing change is transformative and helps drive growth, top line revenue and bottom line profitability. 

Aydin Mirzaee  31:14

Do you have an example or story that we could talk about that outlines why they’re different?

Susan Odle  31:20

So even within the example I gave you about the EBITDA turnaround that we needed to have happen in two years, there was one particular big process in the flow of $1 through the business that we had to turn on its head because it was taking, we had valuable resources that were not being covered by customer dollars, right. And so we needed to change that one function. Change management, so the tactical piece was, we had a PM on the project that went in, and worked with the business analysts that would go and secure resources, went in and changed how that flow happened, we actually had it built into some of the tooling that we had to allocate those resources. So identifying and saying that we’re no longer going to do this major function in this way is operationalizing the change and getting the buy-in of the organization to say we’re not going to do that anymore. Change management is a tactic of going into the tooling to make the process different. Does that make sense?

Aydin Mirzaee  32:22

Yeah, so one is definitely much more close to the ground. And the other one is more strategic.

Susan Odle  32:28

Yes. However, though, what’s critical about that is they cannot exist on two planes, right, there’s got to be an absolute connection between the strategic and the tactical, those two things have to be very much connected. So you can’t say I’m going to change the strategic thing. But actually, the operation doesn’t have the tools, people, or, or resources to actually execute on them. So that’s where I say, you know, don’t move so fast. Because if the organization can’t absorb that strategic change, then you’re, you’re done anyway. 

Aydin Mirzaee  32:58

Got it. And to tie things back to the beginning of the conversation, when we talked about focusing on the objectives and not too much on detail. How does that if we were to tie these two things together? When you’re trying to operationalize some sort of organizational change? How do you effectively do that, without getting into that, hey, we need to change this process like this, and just getting very much into the weeds. 

Susan Odle  33:21

So, in the method that’s in the book, there’s a five-gate framework, and it is intended to address that question that you just asked. So gate one is all about the why you’re doing this thing that you want to do. What is it you’re asking leadership to get behind and support? And why should they do it? Why should they care? And so, you need to nail that and gain alignment and buy-in from the leadership team before you move on to gate two, which is what is a measurable ROI? What’s my goal? If leadership does this? What am I going to give them back? And who is accountable for delivering that goal? Because if leadership doesn’t believe in the whew, they’re probably not going to say yes, right. So, I’m still not doing the details yet. I’ve high level I’m communicating the why you my elevator pitch is solid, I stated in ROI, they have full confidence in who’s going to be accountable. Now, I’m going to shift to a collaborative approach with my management team, which is strategy. So strategy should never be tucked down dictated, because who has to implement it managers in the frontline. So gate three is execution strategy, which should be led by management with support and buy-in from their leader. And that is when you’re going to say this is what I’m going to do. This is where I’m going to do it. This is how I’m going to do it and get buy-in again, buy-in from the management team. When you get through that now, you’re gonna get to objectives, which are your quarterly measurable outcomes that you’re going to review on a quarterly basis, and then you get to sustainability at the end. So it’s a very it’s not common cated, but do not pass go until you’ve done the work at each gate. And that will help you avoid writing a book of something. If you imagine writing objectives and gate one, then you take it to management. And they’re like, that makes no sense. We don’t even do half of that within this team. So, you want that third gate of execution to be a real collaborative effort with your management team.

Aydin Mirzaee  35:21

Yeah, and I also just want to emphasize that the things that we’re talking about, we’re talking about change management. But I think the same five-gate framework applies to basically most projects that happen within a company. So if you’re going to your manager, you’re going to the CEO, and you’re saying, Here’s my objectives. But there isn’t even alignment on what the main objective of your function is. And then you spend a whole bunch of time get into a bunch of detail level, then that’s a situation that’s going to lead to disappointment. I think, starting with the why, the who, all the things that you said apply to much more than just changing an organization.

Susan Odle  35:58

Well, edition two of this book might remove the word change management, because it’s not, you’re absolutely right, it’s not just change management. It’s even like your strategy, the method. It is not a change management framework. Aydin, it is a mindset framework. It’s how you think about what you’re going to spend your time on. You can even apply it to your personal life. If you have a really bad home situation, your marriage is terrible. You need to get out of it. You’ve been in this marriage for ten years. And it’s scary to think about how you’re going to get out of out of the situation. Well, why do you want to leave? Right? What’s your goal? Do you want to be out in six months? What’s your strategy? Well, I’ll take a year to do this and set myself up in this way. Like it literally is a mindset framework to help you think rationally and pragmatically about how to capture an opportunity, or how to solve a problem, or how to implement a plan. 

Aydin Mirzaee  36:50

Yep. This has been an awesome conversation we’ve talked about so much, starting with, obviously, change management, but extending to all aspects of life. And I like your idea of this is just a mindset and just an approach of how should I spend my time. And yeah, this has been an awesome conversation. The question that we always like to end on to is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips, tricks or words of wisdom that you would leave them with? 

Susan Odle  37:19

Be human, number one, it doesn’t matter if you’re a manager, a director, or VP, a C level. You’re gonna get so much farther if you just treat the other person sitting with you. And I always say, Sit beside your people, don’t sit across the table from them. Just treat them like another person you’re having a conversation with, be curious, learn, be open to learning, be open to understanding their position, listen, and work with them. Number one. So be human, be kind and sit beside your team, don’t be a dictator down. And then be evidence-based as much as you can. So if you have a good idea, do the work to understand, okay, how is my idea actually relevant, relevant to this business, right? And at the end of the day, a business is about growth. And eventually, it’s about profitability. So, is your idea going to help drive growth or profitability? If it is, then if it’s just a nice to have, probably don’t waste your time on it. You know, I think just be pragmatic and understand that it is a business and be human, be kind and be collaborative.

Aydin Mirzaee  38:19

It’s great advice and a great place to end it. Sue, thanks so much for doing this.

Susan Odle  38:23

It’s been a pleasure, great conversation. Thanks so much Aydin.

Aydin Mirzaee  38:27

And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at www.Fellow.app/Supermanagers. If you liked the content, be sure to rate, review, and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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