Stephen Covey & Me: TRUST is the Magic Bullet

I was amazed to hear Stephen Covey’s presentation on “The Speed of Trust” at NASBA’s (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) annual conference for national and international accounting regulators.  It focused on the same concepts I developed over the last two decades which have brought me a lot of attention, but I didn’t know why.  After hearing Covey’s presentation, I finally know why! 

Covey’s presentation echoed the themes of an article I wrote in 2003, which were further developed in my recent book. The article“How to Implement Change Effectively”, was originally published in the Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance (John Wiley & Sons). 

Wiley & Sons editors suggested I write a book expanding on the article. The core themes of Trust and Collaboration, Transparency and Linking were the centerpiece of my subsequent book, “The DNA of the Resilient Organization – How One Collective Heartbeat Creates Continuous Competitive Advantage.  Published in late 2014, the book includes the strategies and steps needed to build long term resilience.  And now, 15 years after the initial article, Stephen Covey promotes these same core concepts!

Shortly after the book was published, Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management asked me to develop and teach a course centered around the book, which I did in 2015-2016.  They said “no other university has yet linked the two disciplines you did – Organization Development and Risk Management – and we want to be the first in the country to offer it!”

In 2015, the 2003 article was selected as one of the Top Ten Articles of All-Time published in the Journal!  The selection criteria were: “frequency of access by readers” and “enduring usefulness of content.”  It was featured on the cover of the special issue of the Journal, “Best of JCAF” May/June 2015 Issue , in the #1 position.  Amazing!

After hearing Stephen’s presentation, I now understand why the article received so much attention. For organizational health and success, these concepts are the only Magic Bullet.  They are the centerpiece of all good organizational change strategies. Collaboration, Transparency and Linking are essential but they can’t be successfully implemented without developing and embedding Trust as the centerpiece of the culture.

According to Covey:  “Trust enables collaboration and partnering, leverages differences, and encourages calculated risk-taking.  People are drawn to high trust environments.”

“Millenials value open, transparent, collaborative leadership style. Trust leads to Joy!”  All these are themes from my award-winning article and in The DNA of the Resilient Organization.

Three additional key points about Trust from Covey:

  1. Trust is an economic driver, not just a social virtue.
  2. Trust is the #1 competency of leadership needed today – the ability is critical to every other factor.
  3. Trust is a learnable skill. It can even be recovered when lost.”
A culture of Trust and what it enables — true, open collaboration and communication, creativity, and risk-taking — builds strong, innovative and resilient organizations!

Joy – The Result of Unity/Resilience

I learned today that Beethoven wrote his immensely successful Ninth Symphony to convince people that the only way to Joy is through unity. In writing it, he became so absorbed and then personally infected that by the time he and, ultimately, his audience came to the “Ode to Joy”, they were consumed by it.

Beethoven read Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” poem and started setting it to music in 1793 when he was only 22.  He returned to his “Ode to Joy” themes numerous times over his lifetime but did not complete a piece of music on it until he was commissioned to write the Ninth Symphony in 1822. He wanted to introduce the human voice to this special symphony about Joy and became the first classical composer to include a chorus and soloists within a  symphony.

The Ninth Symphony intended to reflect Schiller’s themes about human conflict resolved by unity. The Symphony’s fourth, “Ode to Joy”, movement begins with outrage and tumult, then restates themes from the first three movements, but interrupted and rejected – signifying conflict. A new theme is introduced, is slowly accepted, and ends with a triumphant statement of the new theme. Human voices are introduced to sing the new theme, “O friends, not these tones. Instead, let us sing more pleasing and joyful ones.” Beethoven’s objective was to display two concepts: the universal brotherhood of man through joy, and love of the heavenly father.

Without knowing the Beethoven story behind the Ninth Symphony, Joy is also how I ended my recent book about the concepts and strategies for sustainably achieving organization change, The DNA of the Resilient Organization When I began writing the final chapter, I recalled that when organizations achieved the higher levels of unity that lead to greater Resilience, they also reached high levels of organizational Joy. I realized that unity and joy are linked. That is the surprise and wonderful result of working towards unity/resilience!

“By now, you should understand that Resilience = Unity . . . And that true unity leads to joy. The greater the unity, the greater the resilience. . .

“Unity, a collective heartbeat, is achieved with organizational wisdom and strength. The greater the collective Wisdom and Strength, the more likely the entity is to achieve a collective heartbeat, as . . . winning teams . . . all demonstrate.

“It is unity – with one another and with the Higher Power – that enables individuals to take risks, to innovate, to work zealously to accomplish the Mission and achieve the Vision. Unity enables resilience and, ultimately, the Joy of working for a greater good that sustains resilience.”

Excerpts from Chapter 10, The DNA of the Resilient Organization – How One Collective Heartbeat Creates Continuous Competitive Advantage.




Sandra Suran’s article honored by national professional journal as one of Top 10 of All-time

JCAF CoverSandra’s 2003 article “How to Implement Change Effectively” was published in the Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance (John Wiley & Sons). It was recently selected as one of the Top Ten of All-Time articles published “based on frequency of access by readers and the ongoing usefulness of its content.”  The Journal is “directed to CEO’s, corporate accounting & financial executives, and to outside auditors and accountants working with corporations.”

Kelly Sullivan, Wiley Journal Editor, Knowledge Services, notified Sandra this week that her article will be featured in the upcoming “Best of JCAF” May/June Issue, scheduled to print on April 18, 2015. Kelly said, “New readers will find these articles engaging and thought- provoking, while prior readers will appreciate the review of such enduring works.”

After publishing “How to Implement Change Effectively” in 2003, Wiley & Sons editors asked Sandra to write a book focused on the article. It took a while but Sandra’s book, “The DNA of the Resilient Organization” was printed in late 2014. The honored article topics are a core concept of the book, expanded and integrated with the strategies necessary to simultaneously build long term resilience.

To read the full article, click below:

“How To Implement Change Effectively”

For more of Sandra’s publications:

The DNA of the Resilient Organization


The DNA of the Resilient Organization 

A variety of Articles & Speeches



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