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April 21, 2022

152 Leading Change From The Inside Out So People Want to Follow You with Erika Andersen | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

152 Leading Change From The Inside Out So People Want to Follow You with Erika Andersen | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader
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In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Erika Andersen. Erika is the founding partner of Proteus International, which is a coaching consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness. She and her colleagues at Proteus focus on helping leaders prepare and stay prepared to face whatever the future might bring. Driven by this mission, Erika shares in the conversation how leaders can approach challenges and uncertainty by applying the change-capable mindset.

Erika Andersen is the author of 5 books, including her most recent work, Change from the Inside Out: Making You, Your Team, and Your Organization Change-Capable. In it, she discusses the approaches to learning and business-building to help leaders and organizations prepare and adapt to change. In this conversation, Erika Andersen shares how leaders and organizations can become change capable.   

Some Highlights:

- Erika Andersen on how leaders can guide their organizations with greater clarity 

- Erika shares the future skills that will be most impactful in leading organizations

- Understanding the five-step model of effective change

- Erika Andersen on the four change levers

- How leaders can better manage the future of work

Books Mentioned:

- Change from the Inside Out: Making You, Your Team, and Your Organization Change-Capable-Erika Andersen

- The Inner Game of Tennis - Tim Gallwey

- Cascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Transformational Change - Greg Satell (Listen to Greg Satell's episode on Partnering Leadership)

Connect with Erika Andersen:

Erika Andersen

Proteus International 

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:



More information and resources are available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 


Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

Mahan Tavakoli Website

Mahan Tavakoli on LinkedIn

Partnering Leadership Website


Mahan Tavakoli: 

Welcome to partnering leadership. I'm really excited this week to be welcoming Erika Anderson. Erika is the founding partner of Proteus international, which is a coaching consulting and training firm that focuses primarily on leader readiness. She is the author of five books including her most recent, Change from the Inside Out: Making You, Your Team, and Your Organization Change-Capable.

I really enjoyed this conversation because we do need to be more change capable in an environment of uncertainty, which requires a faster pace of change for us as individuals, our teams, and our organizations. 

I also enjoy hearing from you. Keep your comments. mahan@mahantavakoli.com. There's a microphone icon on partneringleadership.com. You can leave voice messages for me there. Don't forget to follow the podcast. That way you'll be sure to be notified of new releases, Tuesday conversations with magnificent change makers from the greater Washington DC DMV region and Thursday conversations with brilliant global thought leaders, primarily leadership book authors like Erika.

And when you get a chance to leave a rating and review. Apple has that function. You can scroll to the bottom of apple podcasts feed for this podcast and leave a rating and review there. Spotify has added a rating. That is toward the top of the Spotify feed with all these different podcast platforms, they have different ways of interacting, but those ratings and reviews do help more people find and benefit from these conversations. And I appreciate those of you that take the time to leave those. 

Now here's my conversation with Erika Anderson.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Erika Anderson. Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I am thrilled to have you in this conversation with me.

Erika Andersen: 

Yes. I'm really thrilled to be here. I have no doubt we're going to have a wonderful conversation.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

I can't wait to talk a little bit about your most recent book Change from the Inside Out, Making You, Your Team and Your Organization Change-Capable. But before we get to that, Erika would love to know whereabouts you grew up and how your upbringing impacted the kind of person you've become?

Erika Andersen: 

I love that question. So I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. About as exactly in the middle of the United States, as you can get it, maybe even geographically right in the middle. And my parents who were wonderful people were very interesting. They were fairly conservative, financially, but very progressive socially. They felt strongly about civil rights. They felt strongly about women's rights. They were really kind of unusual in the 60s and also they felt very strongly that the most important thing that they could give their children, the four of us, was a strong and personal moral compass. They felt like if they taught us what they considered, key, important elements of right and wrong and good, critical thinking skills, that those were the best tools they could give us. And so you might imagine how I consider that to be the core of who I am. 

And they also, this was maybe less intentional, but equally important. My mother had a deep, deep love of the language, of the English language and, talk to us about it. She used to say things like, you know what, one of my favorite words is Interstitial. I mean, she would just say these great things.And, as a result, three out of the four of her children are published authors. Isn't that fascinating?

Mahan Tavakoli: 

That is incredible.

Erika Andersen: 

Yeah. So, That's my upbringing.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

What a source of pride for your parents and your mom, especially that you are a published author. What specifically got you into the field of leadership and you've written about learning leadership?

Erika Andersen: 

I kind of stumbled into it. Almost 40 years ago, I went to work for a guy named Tim Gallway, who had written a book called the Inner Game of Tennis in the seventies. And it became a very popular book and it was really about learning. Tennis was just the metaphor, but it was about how we learn and how we get in the way of our own learning. A lot of it was about self-talk. So I worked for Tim for a few years, helping him turn his ideas into training, into IP in a way, you know, practical IP. And then I worked for a wonderful guy, Peter Block who was fantastic. That was like an On the Job. O.D. Degree. He has written books about servant leadership and about how to flawless consulting was his best. He was amazing. And I did the same thing, turned his IP into workshops. And then I worked for another company for a little while that did mostly leadership training. And this was in the eighties and I really wanted to do two things. One is, I'm old enough, you may be old enough to remember when leadership and management and teaming skills were called soft skills.

Remember that? Because nobody thought they were important, right?

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Erika, I have to tell you a lot of people still call them soft skills. That is still around.

Erika Andersen: 

Yeah, I don't hear it that much. It still bothers me, but that's the stuff you don't really need. And what I believed was true, and I think it has turned out to be true is as, even in the late eighties, as things started to flatten out organizationally and, speed up, that those skills, for leading and communicating and managing and teaming, we're going to be the most important skills.

And in fact, when I started Proteus in 1990, our initial tagline was skills for mastering the future. Cause that's what I thought these were. And then the other thing that I really wanted to do, the other reason I started Proteus is I wanted to be what has come to be called a business partner. Because at the time, all kinds of training consulting companies were like widget salesmen. "Here gimme a learning training. Here's some money." And I really wanted to collaborate with my clients to help them get clear about the future they wanted to create for themselves. And then what were they going to need to get there? And if we could help them greater, I could turn them on to other people who could help them. And so that's why I started Proteus and it turned out to be a good thing, you know, 31 years later. But I think those really hold true. Those two things.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And those future skills, Erika, are even more important now and will become more important as artificial intelligence is going to take over many of the traditional roles. It's those future skills that you were talking about that are still critical and will become even more critical in the years to come.

Erika Andersen: 

Oh, I couldn't agree more. I think that's absolutely right. Those things that are more complex, higher order, more variable because whenever we deal with other human beings, it's more variable are more difficult for artificial intelligences to do someday. Sadly, they'll be able to do them, but for now I think that's right.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Along those lines, Erika, one frustrations I have is typically when I talk to business leaders or many of my own clients. They nod their head and they agreed that those are the most critical skills in the workplace. However, when I look at their hiring practices, typically they go right for the experience. And when you check it, those skills that you talk about as future skills end up being in the bottom of what is recruited. What is said is diametrically opposed to the behaviors and practices in recruitment and in organizations. How would you suggest that leaders and organizations actually make that a practice rather than something that is just talked about in survey after survey leaders say those are the most critical skills but they are not recruiting for that.

Erika Andersen: 

I think that's exactly right. When I see that a mentor of mine used to call that espoused theory versus theory in practice. And when they change just as when anyone changes, you can believe on one level that something is intellectually true, but in your heart of hearts, it still seems, and we'll talk more about this difficult and costly and weird, it just seems strange. Even if you say you think it's the right thing. When people start doing it. When people really start hiring for those critical interpersonal skills, it's when they actually see what the rewards will be for them, for those people, for the business, when they actually see it. And when we make it easy for them, when there's a path to doing it, when we show them how to choose according to those criteria.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And that requires a change in mindset and a change with respect to practices, by the leaders. One of the things you say, Erika, is that change itself has changed. In what way did you believe change has changed?

Erika Andersen: 

I start out the book with a story from my childhood. I'm old enough that television became popular when I was a little kid. So I actually remember when we got our first television I was a little kid and my siblings, and I thought it was pretty fascinating. And then 10 years later, we got our first color TV. That was the pace of change in the fifties and sixties, 10 years between innovations.

Now that level of difference, black and white to color TV happens about every 15 minutes. If you think about it, and this is one of the codes I wanted to crack when I wrote this book, why is change so hard for us? If you think about a human being's life, a hundred or 200 or 500 or a thousand years ago from the beginning to the end of that person's life, generally very little change. You think about somebody a hundred years ago, they probably grew up exactly where their parents grew up. Maybe even in the same house.

If my dad is a farmer, I'm probably going to be a farmer. If my dad is a cloth merchant, I'm probably going to be a cloth merchant. You know, if my kids will go on to be other farmers and cloth, life did not change very much. It was pretty stable. And when a change happened, it was generally a danger or a threat. It was an aberration. There's a war. There's a famine, there's a plague, there's an earthquake.

And so I feel like given that that was the cadence of life until very recently, until the last couple of generations. That's what we're wired to think that stability and sameness and the known is good and normal. And change is bad. Change is dangerous. And that what we want to do is get back to the known as quickly as possible.

Here we are in this completely different era where change, black and white to color is happening every 10 minutes in our organizations, in our personal lives, in what we can do, in how we can move. And we still have that old wiring. 

And you see it in organizations, a manager comes to his or her folks and says, “Okay, we're going to change the way we invoice our clients.” The first thing people think of is, “That's terrible. I don't know how to.” Even if it's not that big of a deal. As I observed this, I thought, well, what is that process? What actually happens when we do go through a change? 

And what we noticed, we came to call this the change chart. And what we noticed is that when a change comes at us, because we think of it as being a threat, we want to immediately know some things. And the things we want to know are very specific and very predictable. We want to know what does this mean for me. Literally, what is changing for me? We want to know why this is happening. Because our preference is generally for the status quo. We want some good reasons. Why is this happening? Why do I need to change?

And then the third thing we want to know is what will it look like when it's done? Because we have this preference for the known. We have, in fact, a lot of this is a piece of research I did when I was writing the book. A lot of psychologists now feel that fear of the unknown is our deepest fear. And I'm sure you've experienced that with people. You coach, like, walking into a metaphorical dark alley, right? So we want to know what it will look like when this change has happened.

As we're starting to try and gather that information, then the next thing that happens, and this is the heart of it. I was so thrilled when I figured this out is this mindset shift that we either do or don't make, because we start out, remember this historical wiring about change. As we're gathering this information, we start out thinking this change is going to be difficult and costly and weird. 

And difficult means I don't know how to do it. And other people are going to get in the way of me doing it. They're just going to be all kinds of obstacles. Costly, and this one's really interesting. It means making this change will take from me things that I value. And it could be simple extrinsic things like time or money, but it's more likely to be, it will take away my identity or my reputation or my relationships or my power. We think these really intrinsic, valuable things. We assume even without any data that this change is going to take some of them away. And then we're just being strange. This is not how we do things around here. We start out by thinking that. And then I noticed that when someone actually does make a change it's because their mindset shifts. They start thinking that maybe this change, instead of being difficult, costly, and weird, maybe it could be easy or at least doable, rewarding.

And normal and easy means I know how to do it. I can do this. Rewarding means it will give me more than it will take away. And the things that it gives me are personally meaningful to me. And normal in this context means I look around people who I think of as being like me, seem to be either doing this or open to doing it. And even more important people that I admire and want to emulate.

This is why it's so critical for leaders to model change. Cause that's a big way that people look to see if it's okay. It's like, are you doing it? Is it normal? And you can tell how people are thinking because it comes out of their mouth. 

When someone's making that change, they go from saying things like, “Oh, I don't know, have we really? I don't think this.” So can't we just say things like “Well, okay. Yeah, I can see how well so, is there going to be training? And, well my friend, Joe and my boss, Sally, they seem to think it's okay.” 

You can tell that their mindset is shifting. And once a person is pretty shifted toward easy rewarding, normal, then, and only then are they willing to do the new behaviors, to learn the new behaviors that the change requires and then the change can actually occur.

So all of these statistics that show that change hangs up on people, that famous statistic from McKinsey that 70% of change fails. And they say it's because of lack of management support and employee buy-in, that's what we're talking about. It's people who are still on the backside of that change aren't going well, but this is going to be difficult and costly. And I don't know, to whatever extent.  We as leaders can get better at shifting our own mindset about change and then turning and helping our people to move through that change arc, then change will be much more effective. And to a conversation you and I were having earlier, not only will change work, but it's just less wearing. It's less psychologically heavy and difficult and tiring when you're not freaking out every time a change comes.


Mahan Tavakoli: 

You mentioned a lot of elements in there, Erika. I wanted to underline a couple. One of them being that one of the frustrations typically people have is that the leaders themselves are not living the change that they're talking about. So you said the leader needs to change and that's really critical within the organization.

The other thing that I wonder about is you outlined the process, the clarity that we need around change and why it's needed. Well, one of the challenges a lot of organizations are facing is that they have to go through that cycle a lot faster. If 10 years ago they had to change payroll systems or whatever other things, once every decade. Now, almost on a weekly, monthly basis.

There's some element of change within the organization. How can they think about that clarifying change and why it's needed on a faster scale at this exponential era of change that we're going through?

Erika Andersen: 

Oh, I love that question. And as you noted, the subtitle of the book is about becoming change capable. So that means more fluent, less resistant, quicker, less painful, because of exactly what you're saying. We all know those of us who've been in organizations for a long time.

A corporate reorg used to mean they were going to pick the whole organization up. We're going to shake it and they just set it back down and then that's it. We don't have to do that again for a couple of years and that's just not. And most change processes are framed around that we're going to help you make this one change.

The five-step model that we use in organizations, part of what we're doing is hoping that it will become unconscious . Sounds weird, but you know what I mean? If you know how to drive a stick shift car. Remember the first time you were on a hill with somebody behind you? Oh, I'm just going to crash into them. And now you don't even think about it. You're probably having a conversation. 

Our hope is that by understanding change and having a simple process, that people can get fluent. So that, for instance, if I'm a leader I know that we're going to have to make a change in how we process payments, the first thing I think about is, okay, let me get really clear. First step of the model is what's the change and why it's needed. So I will make it my business to get really clear about that in my own head. And if I'm used to doing this, I can do that in 15 minutes. What exactly is the change we're making? What are the risks and rewards?

Second step is, as I said, envisioning the future state. What can I tell my people? What will it look like when it's done and why is that good for them? Now when I bring them in, I know I'm going to have to help them through their change arc about this. So when they first start out thinking it's going to be difficult, costly, and weird. I don't want to argue with them. I don't want to try and talk them out of it. I just want to listen. I just want to let them have that normal human reaction. And when I've listened down to the core, then I can say to them, okay, how could we make this easier? How could we make this more rewarding? Once the model gets kind of in your bones, then you can go through it pretty quickly. 

Now obviously I've gotten used to it. So I noticed we were having a conversation in our own company the other day, and we're making some big changes. We're changing our retirement plan at the same time. We're doing some other things. We're having a conversation, the partners in our head of finance. And I could tell she was a little bit, like I said, how are you doing Chris? And she said, “This is a lot.” And I said, yeah, it feels difficult, costly, and weird. And she goes, “Yes.” And then we just had a conversation. And she's amazing and moves through pretty quickly, but that's the thing they tell you in airplanes: put on your own mask before attempting to help others. It's critical that you make your peace with and go through your own arc about a change before you try and help other people. 

And then when you do that, if their initial reaction is hesitation or even fear or anxiety, that's completely normal to not make them feel bad about that or try and talk them out of it. Just listen through that until they're ready to start thinking about the future.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It takes having that empathy and understanding how the other people in the organization are facing this change. And I think that's a critical part of being able to bring everyone along to, as you say, become change capable because this is not an initiative. It is not specific to the next month, the next six months, or next year. It's going to need to be on an ongoing basis.

Now, one of the things you also mentioned, Erika, your second step is envisioned a future state. And one of the challenges that I've been hearing from leaders over the past couple of years since the pandemic is they feel there is very little clarity that they have about a future state and tremendous amount of uncertainty.

What kind of picture do you need to paint? What is that envisioning a future state that can realistically be done, but is also essential in order to be able to help change, become a part of the organization?

Erika Andersen: 

That's a great question. So what we always say to leaders is you're envisioning the future state relative to this change. So it's not the state of the world. Who knows? Way too many variables. 

But for instance, there's a story that I use that runs all the way through the book of this family jewelry company, that's making a lot of changes. And the two main changes they're making are to change their business model to include online because up until now, in the book, they've really only had in store sales and they've been having their lunch eaten by these big box, online retailers. And their own website is just like a pretty billboard. So they're changing their business model so that customers can come into the store and then go home and buy what they see online or vice versa. See something online, come and buy in the store. That is an integrated business model in store online. 

It's pretty easy to tell all the staff, the future that they hope that it will bring customers who can buy however they like, who can easily go back and forth between the two and that our internal systems will support that happening. So it'll be easy for you, the staff person, to see where a person has spotted something, to help them buy it online. That future that is a result directly. The change. You can be pretty clear about that. You're not having to tell them what the future of the whole world is going to look like, but what change will bring, what this change will bring.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It's not the description of change in general and specifically, and exactly what the organization will look like a year from now. It is with respect to the specific change initiative. This is the end state of that change initiative, which is something that has to be clearly envisioned and clearly communicated.

Erika Andersen: 

Exactly. Clearly envisioned, clearly communicated. and beneficial from the point of view of the person you're talking to. One of the things in this story that I made up, which was kind of a conflation of a lot of clients, is that the staff really cared about the customers, which is true in a lot of businesses. So to be able to say in this future. We'll be able to give the customer more of what they want. More flexibility. Do they want to be at home? Do they want to be in store? Do they want to see something online and then come in and try it on? We can make that true for them. And that's compelling.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

So through doing that, Erika, one of the things that happens, and I think this to a certain extent relates to your step three, which is building the change. There are change initiatives that impact people in a negative way, whether, from the perspective of their roles aren't needed in the organization, moving to more of an online digital platform or other changes in the organization. And, those people for valid reasons will not want that change initiative to succeed. How can leaders build the change and bring together the people to make the change process happen effectively?

Erika Andersen: 

A great question. So in step three of our model, as you said, it's called build the change. In that step, what you do usually want to change is a big change, especially, is happening organizations being thought through, by a small group, usually fairly senior people who are not actually going to be the people who are gonna manage and drive the change to the organization. 

Step three is to nominate and bring together the actual change team that people are going to be responsible for driving to the organization. We give a lot of insight into the skills and capabilities and mindset of those people to make them an effective change team in that step. Think about other stakeholders who are the, to your point, who are the other people who can get in the way of this if we don't think about how to bring them into the tent. And then you build a practical plan B.

But the critical step to what you're saying, and this, in my experience, very rarely happens in organizations is our step four, which is called lead the transition. And the first part of that, to your point, is to figure out once you've got to change plans and you know what actually you're changing. And you have the change team that's gonna be driving it. Then the first thing in step four is you figure out who is going to be most affected by this change. Which groups in the organization are the most affected? Generally, as you know, this does not happen in organizations.  

And then once you isolate those groups, you bring in some people from that group who are trustworthy, who are calm, who won't immediately run, screaming through the aisles and say to them, okay, this is what we're planning. How will this affect the people in your group? Good news, bad news? What will be the ending, what will be the beginning? And really find out from them what the impacts are going to be so that you can then help people through the change.

Especially if some of the impacts are going to be negative for them, you want to be very careful about how you set it up and how you help them. You get very clear on those most affected groups and you make what we call a transition plan, which kind of goes in a way on top of the change plan.

So you have your practical, nuts, and bolts here, systems and processes stuff that's going to change. And then here's how we're going to help people through that change. And usually there's a separate transitional plan for each of the most affected groups. And then a mild transition plan for the whole organization. So at least people have context and know what's happening. And when you do it like that, I'm not a Pollyanna, there will still be some unhappy people, but you're prepared for it. And you know how to help them as much as you can. 

I have a wonderful leader of a friend, who was a client for many years. And now Ashley works with us. She was working for a media company and one of her networks or television networks got sold to another company. Some people weren't going to make the transition. Some people were going to lose their jobs, but because she thought through it really carefully and was very good with those people. Like, here's why it's happening. We have good severance packages for you. We're even going to have some outplacement service because she thought through it and didn't just let the chips fall where they may. Even the people who got let go felt like it was done well. So you can do this well, it doesn't have to happen badly and painfully.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

I think that's important for organizational leaders. And while the podcast primarily focuses on leadership within organizations, I know we have some listeners that are very active in the community and some political leaders. This is one of those elements that I find often missing. In thinking through change, that the group that is affected needs to also be consulted in the process, otherwise they will make sure the change is doomed, even if well thought out in all other aspects.

Erika Andersen: 

Yes. And in fact, we have, I don't think we talked about this. We've developed what we call change levers. You know how a lever is a force multiplier. And there are four things that if you think about them as you're helping people through a change, they're likely to accelerate the process, as a lever does.

The first one, we call increase understanding, and basically it sounds so simple. It's giving people the information they need. What's the change? Why is it happening? What will it look like when it's done? Giving them context, helping them understand why. It's just answering their questions. 

And that's so often, I'm sure experienced organizational changes where it's just one day like, “Here's what we're doing. The end.” So increasing understanding is giving people that context, right? And this one's really interesting. 

The second change lever is, clarify and reinforce priorities because lots of times when there's a big change, people assume that everything is changing. It's just, it's all up for grabs. Nothing's the same. That's almost never true. Even in a big change and to sit with people and say, okay, so you had four goals this year. Three of them remain exactly the same. The fourth one is somewhat impacted by this change. That's so soothing and reassuring to people, doing that is helpful. 

And the third one is what you were talking about is giving control. So to the extent you can give people a voice, a choice, that you can have them have something to say about how it works and what's happening and let you know their situation. 

What you said is exactly true. I don't know, maybe almost a hundred percent more likely to get their engagement and buy-in, if they have a choice. And you can almost always give people choices, whether it's, how should we say this? Or when would you like to communicate this? Or what do you think is the best way to include your people in this? It just makes such a difference. 

And then the fourth one is to give support. And that goes back to what I was saying before. The most important support to give at the beginning of a change is listening. When you communicate to people here's what's happening, here's why. Then be prepared for them to be upset and anxious and defensive and frustrated and just listen. Just listen, just listen. 

And once they really feel heard, then usually they're ready for more practical support. Here's the training or here's the tools or here's the process or here's the mentor. Here's how this will be really helpful. But not at the beginning. What they need first is just for you to listen to their anxiety so that they can be calm. Okay, great. Does that make sense?

Mahan Tavakoli:

Absolutely. And this is really important. One of the key areas that I find, organizational change, change in a community. And even if you look at certain changes that have taken place in the country, this is where we have come up short. Now you build on that with your step five, that it's important to keep the change going and make the organization permanently more change capable.

Erika Andersen: 

Yeah. A lot of times, people, once there’s change, they don't do step four, which is helping people through it, but they make the change and then kind of, wait, we're done, walk away onto the next thing. But really, every change, especially a big change, has unintended consequences. You have to be, hopefully you've set measures of success for the change, and you can know, you keep in touch and you keep noting. Is it doing what we thought it was going to do? And then if not, you have to be very fair minded about why. 

There's an example I give in the book of a company that decided to improve its production process for its core product. And part of that improvement was to automate part of the process that could be automated. So they did that. It worked well. They have this part human and automation. But they noticed, when they were in step five, that the line wasn't speeding up. The cycle time wasn't speeding up in the way they wanted it to. So they looked and they realized what had happened is that the automation part sped it up. But then when it hit the humans, again, it slowed back down. There was a bottleneck where the humans were. They had to make a secondary change to what they actually did was double the line after the automation part, because it was coming out about twice as fast. They had two people instead of one and they gave control, they got people involved. How do you want to make this happen? How do you want to change the shift? We literally make two lines or have two people there at once. And people had part of the choice, but the only way you can really assure that a change will be adopted is if it's successful all the way through. 

I thought that was a good example of that. And once you're starting to do that, then this idea of permanent change capability. As you're looking at the change being adopted, you'll notice that there are often some systemic or structural things in the organization that are getting in the way of this change being adopted. But when you look at them, you realize they're probably going to get in the way of any change being adopted. 

If you have an inventory management system that's by hand, and you're trying to improve this production process. It's going to get in the way, not only of that, but of everything that you make. We really encourage our clients to look at step five as a place where you can say, wow, if we fixed this process or this system, this structure, or even this element of our culture, then it will make future changes much easier.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Yes, those end up being the bottlenecks that don't necessarily impact just one change, but the capability of the organization to permanently change, which is essential. Now, one of the things Erika, that a lot of organizations have had to change, with respect to their work environment, over the past couple of years has been a level of remote work, a level of hybrid work, and a lot of leaders have a tough time about how to make the future of work work.

What are some of your thoughts and perspectives with the future of work and how leaders can use the change process and your additional insights and thoughts on a more robust, different future?

Because one of the things you say, humans are hardwired to return to what's worked for us in the past. And a lot of leaders are wanting in different forms to return to what was working in the past. And that's not the answer. So the question is how can they get to the right answer for their organizations?

Erika Andersen: 

As you know, I love this question. There are a number of levels of answers. 

So the first thing is, back to that, put on your own mask before attempting to help others. So I really feel like leaders right now, especially, and especially when it comes to the future of work, we have to overcome our wiring. We have to rewire ourselves. In order to be an effective leader in this time, you have to learn to make your initial reaction to change a neutral one. 

And I want to be very specific and practical here because this will be helpful. Even as leaders, a change comes at us, like I think before the Delta variant happened last summer. We were all like, oh, great. We're all it's going to be just like it was before. Nope, not going to. When something new comes out, you announce the Omicron. So just rather than immediately going, oh my gosh, this is going to be so difficult. So costly. So just stop yourself. Notice your own self-talk and say, wait, wait, wait, do I really know that it's going to be difficult, costly and weird? Let me just, wait a minute. Well, hold up. How could we make this doable? What could be rewarded? Just change your own self-talk to make yourself neutral. 

I'm not talking about positive, or new COVID variation is not positive, but just come at it. If you can get yourself into a neutral mindset, then you can assess the information that's coming in. And it's the same thing about the future of work. If you can get to a neutral sense of like, I don't know how it's going to be, and it's probably not going to be one thing. Let me see what the data is. What do my people want? What works in my business? Could we do it fully remote? That's probably not a good idea. What are the benefits of having some in-office? 

Once you're in a neutral frame inside your own head, then you can assess the data as it comes in more accurately. And if you remain neutral, you'll be willing to reassess it as the situation changes, which is going to do.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Which is why you'd require that mindset that you talk about, which takes on and embraces that ongoing change. It is not something that we start and we end. It's an ongoing change. Erika, in addition to your own books and your most recent book Changed from the Inside Out. What are some leadership resources or practices you typically find yourself recommending to leaders as they want to understand change better and lead their organizations in an ever faster changing environment?

Erika Andersen: 

Oh, gosh, there are so many. One of the people I really like who writes and talks about change is a guy named Greg Satell. He's written a book called Cascades and some other books. And Greg is so great because he goes right to what you're talking about. If not, everybody's going to like this, so how are you going to help? How are you going to deal with this? And he talks like we do about groups, about it's not a monolithic thing. Look at the groups that shared purpose.

Greg and I have a lot in common. I really like his work. I'm not a big fan of most of the more traditional change stuff, because I think It is a kind of once and done sort of thing. Our approach is the only well-known approach that I know of, that really integrates the nuts and bolts side of the human side. Because there are some processes that are really all about the nuts and bolts. And then there's some processes like William Bridges work, which I also love.

And it's really just about the human side. And I think the sweet spot is the integration because you have to do the nuts and bolts side, but you really have to help people through the change. And help them create that more change capable mindset. Or it's not going to work. Even if you do, I mean, big organizational changes don't fail because somebody didn't do their due diligence. They failed because people aren't being helped to move through the change.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It is essential to help people through that. And to your recommendation, I interviewed Greg for the partnering leadership podcast. Love his book Cascades and highly recommend that for change also. Erika, how can the audience, in addition to the links we put in the show notes, find out more about you, your book and your work?

Erika Andersen: 

I think the easiest place is, company website, which is proteus-international.com, which I suspect is in the show notes. And then also my website, which both my names are spelled oddly, E R I K A A N D E R S E N.com. And you can find out about my books and my podcast, which is there. And, there's links back to my business website and Twitter, LinkedIn, all that. And I love just having conversations with people. So come on down.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

I really appreciate your book, Erika. Change from the Inside Out: Making You, Your Team, and Your Organization Change-Capable. Those words by themselves have a lot of value inside out. You first need to start with yourself, then your team, then your organization to become change capable. It is not one and done. Become change capable. I appreciate you joining this conversation, Erika Andersen.

Erika Andersen: 

Oh, thank you so much. You're a wonderful listener and you ask great questions.

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Really appreciate it. Thank you, Erika.