Building a competitive corporate culture that scales as a business expands and grows, is difficult work for most leaders. A great culture is similar to a rare and precious diamond that few are able to lay their hands on. Just as with a diamond, culture is often formed or catalyzed under periods of significant pressure over extended intervals of time, and usually when goals are not met or performance/progress falters. The problem is that carbon under pressure doesn’t always yield diamonds. In the vast majority of times it yields only coal. Same is true for differing types of culture.

Aspirations of having a culture that can contribute to a business’s competitive advantage are exciting and energizing during the formulation of a strategic vision and while defining values and traits/attributes.

However, when the going gets tough after the easy decisions and big hairy audacious goals are set, this becomes the defining time for predicting future success. This is where leaders become GREAT or stay mediocre or worse. Great leaders ‘UP THEIR GAME’, during times of pressure and uncertainty. It is at this time that their true heartfelt beliefs get put to the test while the whole organization watches to take their cue.

Employees incessantly gather all sorts of data (factual, anecdotal, real and imaginary) and their own beliefs and commitment gets influenced. As these beliefs get impacted, it has a knock on effect of their behaviors and on the judgments and decisions they make. They observe and deduce which of the published or stated values pass the test under pressure and which do not and they take their cue from that.

What emerges with ‘Great Leaders’ is that the aspirational culture, becomes the real culture and is highly valuable just like a diamond.

However what happens in over 80% of the cases is that a ‘PRETEND’ culture emerges. This is the equivalent to getting coal. In these situations, leaders go into defend, justify and denial mode when the organization challenges them. Then the organization often begins to live a lie with the majority of the population acting in collusion, with a “Go Along to Get Along’ mindset.

In this regard company values are similar to teeth. You have to be true to them, or they will be false to you, delivering lots of pain and discomfort in the process.


People actually do like change !

by Patrick Hehir on February 26, 2014

Much has been written and will continue to be about the importance of change management proficiency. Proponents of certain models, methodologies or philosophies often speak of people’s resistance to change and how people do not like getting out of their comfort zone.

The thing is, I believe that we have all been drinking the ‘People don’t like change” cool aid for far too long.

PEOPLE DO LIKE CHANGE. How else can we explain phenomena’s like the following.

  • Leaving home and the safety of Mom and Dad and going off to college  (Many kids cannot wait to get away and do new stuff).
  • People beginning new relationships or ending old ones
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having kids or adopting
  • Learning to ride a bike
  • Buying a home
  • Starting a business
  • Re-locating and changing job for a better opportunity.
  • Trying a new restaurant

Many of these are big life changes that people in all societies go through. They go through them mostly by personal freewill and choice and many do it with energy and excitement. There is no shortage of uncertainty and unknowns in each of them. In fact in some cases the uncertainty can create a certain sense of anticipation, excitement and a feeling of being alive. It is funny how people orient their minds such that the visions of the positive outcomes simply dampen their negative thoughts and feelings. We are all programmed after all to pursue happiness, so we mostly select the happy outcomes.

So why do we say people don’t like change?

The answer lies in who is in control and whether a change is being pushed or sold in a manner that triggers people to feel judged, insecure and threatened.

The reality is that a lot of leaders charged with a change initiative, simply  ’want what they want” and many enter into conversations with :

  1. A belief system that people do not like change and that they will resist it straight away.
  2. A dominant selfish mindset of what is important to themselves as the highest priority.
  3. A frequent belief that “I KNOW what is good for you/us” and I don’t really want your input, I just want your compliance.

The combination of these (and maybe a few more) is sufficient to contribute to a threat response from people in the organization. This then validates the pre-existing belief system represented in point 1 above.  Then bravado management practices take over and an increase in energy is tapped to DRIVE the change. This only further heightens the threat response or defensiveness in the people involved and creates a negative causal closed loop, or self-fulfilling prophesy.

All the change models in the world (and we at BVG have one too), talk about making the case for change, having a burning platform, creating a vision and getting buy in etc and they are ALL absolutely valid.

But before we ever begin a change initiative, we must begin with the simple belief that people do in fact like change, once they can have some involvement or influence in it and as long as the conversations are not ROOTED  in a self-absorbed and arrogant mindset of, I know what’s good for you.



Seattle Seahawks part III of III.. The power of personal motivation

February 13, 2014

In the final installment of this 3 part Blog relating to the Seattle Seahawk’s dominant Superbowl victory over the Denver Broncos of 43 to 8, I’d like to focus on the power of personal motivation. When Coach Pete Carroll joined Seattle in 2009 after he had found a General Manager and Owner that bought into his style [...]

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Lessons from Super Bowl 2014 part II of III… Language is a leading indicator of success!!

February 11, 2014

Life goes on as it always does. It is one week after the US Superbowl, (the biggest sporting event in the US). This year the Seattle Seahawks demolished the Denver Broncos with a score line of 43 to 8, but all the excitement and hoopla has died down, except of course for those people in the [...]

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Lessons from Super Bowl 2014 Part I of III:

February 2, 2014

America’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl has just ended. Seattle Seahawks demolished the Denver Broncos with a 43 to 8 score-line to win their first National Football League title in their 38 year history. Congratulations to them and well done! The top ranked defense held the record making top ranked offense to 8 points. [...]

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Where’s the beef?

January 28, 2013

Culture is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage and is at the root of delivering strong long-lasting business results. Many leaders under pressure, look at their business purely through a short-term evidence and measurement based lens. Remembering the Wendy’s fast food chain TV commercial of the 1980′s, it begs the question “Where’s the beef?”. Executives often [...]

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Culture on Purpose

January 9, 2013

Every company has a culture or a way of doing business.The traditional route or method for the initial formation of the culture is generally linked to the values and traits of the founder. Often times these values and traits are codified, documented and publicly displayed. They are then used to define or bring clarity to the behaviors [...]

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2013-Slow growth, shrinking margins. Now what?

January 3, 2013

Over the Christmas and New Years period I was at a few parties. (Maybe even a few too many). What was very noticeable at these gatherings was that there was three consistent topics of conversation. The Newtown Connecticut killing of 20 children and the resultant gun control debate in the US. The US fiscal cliff and the [...]

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CULTURE – the Heart and Soul of your business

December 12, 2012

For years I have been struggling to come to grips with how to explain the concept of Heart and Soul. People constantly use it yet there does not exist any great concise outline of how to explain it. What does it mean precisely when someone says that he or she represents the heart of soul [...]

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From Solve to Evolve…why problem solving alone just recreates the past

December 6, 2012

Take a look around sometime and see how much of peoples time and energy is spent talking about and engaging solely on problem solving. People dissatisfied with current situations or conditions either because they dont match current expectations or have shifted away from the prior status quo.Part of the unsettling thing for many people is that [...]

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A Day of Inter-dependence vs Independence

July 4, 2012

As a newly minted US Citizen I feel particularly more patriotic on this national holiday of July 4th. After returning from a business trip to Europe where I visited Poland during the European Soccer Championship Finals, Euro 2012, I gave witness to the palpable energy and pride as citizens of varying nations embraced and celebrated [...]

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Congressman Tim Ryan.

March 19, 2012

A few weeks ago a colleague of mine told me of a movement or group called Wisdom 2.0 that is 3 years in existence and whose charter it is, “to explore how we can live with deeper meaning and wisdom in our technology rich age” It turns out that this organization is making significant progress in [...]

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Nobody Cares !!

January 8, 2012

It’s the beginning of 2012, the world has NOT ended yet and many put on their game faces to get ready for the New Year. As people embark on their next adventure in life, I am compelled to share a perspective that many found helpful in 2011, it revolves on the premise that NOBODY CARES!!! [...]

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The Current Crisis of H.P. and the way forward !!

September 22, 2011

As a long time supplier, partner and customer of H.P. and a great admirer of this companies past history and success, I find it difficult to sit and watch what has been happening over the past number of years. Rather than embark on a judgemental crusade and criticize the varying leadership of the past regimes (including [...]

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Transformational Change part II..Competencies and Conditions

September 19, 2011

In continuation to the previous Blog on what transformational change is, this Blog speaks to the conditions and competencies necessary to effectively execute a transformational change. Unfortunately, more often than not, transformational change is only embarked upon as a last resort when all else has failed. It often coincides with the capitulation point where people [...]

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Transformational Change at the Corporate Enterprise:

September 15, 2011

The term transformational change signifies that something changes its essential form, properties or structure. When we apply this concept to a Corporate or business enterprise it is often accompanied with the concept of re-invention. There are various types of changes which may be viewed along the following continuum from easy to difficult:    No person [...]

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Wealth Extraction defeated Wealth Creation

August 29, 2011

The continuing conversation about the lingering great recession or the fears that another distinctly separate recession may begin soon, leaves people continuing to ask how and why did it all happen. Many are still searching for a way forward that they can trust and have confidence in. This post focuses on the US economy but [...]

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Work-Life balance is a false choice.

May 31, 2011

So many people speak about how to achieve the elusive work-life balance. In today’s world, many struggle with how to get it to work for themselves as they make choices between work obligations, family life and personal interests. I believe this leads to a FALSE choice. There is an alternate approach that is much less stressful and it is living what I call an [...]

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Culture eats strategy for lunch

May 23, 2011

Peter Drucker is credited with saying that “culture eats strategy for breakfast ” and in recent times many have adapted this phrase and replaced breakfast with lunch. Such lessons still have a long long way to go before people accept that premise in a meaningful way. The fact is that if you have the right culture, [...]

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Mulally and Ford deserve their reward

April 14, 2011

Why Mulally and Ford deserve their payday at the Ford Motor Company: It is pretty difficult NOT to notice the remarkable turnaround that has taken place at the Ford Motor Company over the past 4 to 5 years. They faced significant challenges from a liquidity perspective and they had to put their famous Ford Blue [...]

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Private Equity back to the P.R.O.M.

March 22, 2011

 Much has been written and debated about the private equity firms and the role that they play in global industry. The massive use of leverage scares many. Others say money is plentiful and cheap so why not use it. Others argue for and against their contribution to a healthy industry and whether they actually create any [...]

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Balanced Stakeholder System

January 11, 2011

I have been working tirelessly over the past two years to come up with a new set of models that can support a fresh approach to business after this recent economic crisis. I joined with a fellow warrior and thought partner  Tony Petrella. We are days away from finalising a white paper that we call

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Ford Turnaround Success

October 5, 2010

The turnaround being executed at the Ford Motor Company is beginning to get more and more attention. The transformational changes appear to be real and appear to be sustainable. They look like they could propel Ford to emerge as the US automotive company that is in the best overall shape, as the global automotive industry [...]

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Options for responding to economic downturns.

March 26, 2010

 Having studied multiple companies and observed their organizational response to the current economic crisis, we have concluded that they can be grouped into 4 categories. Take a look and let us know if this is true for your organization and what your experience is. Deny & Retreat Deny that you are out of  position, aggressively [...]

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The TWO most important questions in business

March 16, 2010

Wouldn’t it be great if life was just a little less complex?  How can we begin to do that?  Well maybe you can start here. Every business ever created runs according to how it is designed to run. There exists an established management SYSTEM for guiding how the work gets done. Sometimes it is quite sophisticated and other times [...]

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The Cancer of Corporate America

November 15, 2009

Conditional Commitment : Much has been spoken and written about the difference that commitment makes in achieving success in business and in life. In difficult economic times for business (or maybe even personal relationships), I feel that one of the greatest obstacles to progress or achieving breakthroughs, is what I call Conditional Commitment. So I [...]

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