The DNA of the Resilient Organization Is Out and Available!

The DNA of the Resilient Organization“This is a gem! The content and Sandra’s presentation on it was at the level of having Jim Collins speak.” Steve Harpham, Living Waters Financial Advisors and Former Controller, UPS

“In The DNA of the Resilient Organization, Sandra has written what I consider to be one of the best and most useful books I have read. Through the use of relevant stories and examples, the guidance and advice is intuitively and clearly conveyed. I recommend this book to anyone associated with an organization, to prepare for, or address, the threat of crisis.” Ken Bishop, President and CEO, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

“The definitive guidebook for building organizational resilience . . . an enthusiastic thumbs up!” Virginia Ohler, President Ohler Management Services

The hardcover books were delivered from the publisher’s warehouse to Amazon’s; you can now order both hard and soft cover! For larger, bulk orders at a discount, contact The Suran Group at

“This book should be a required text in every college.  This is what it’s about in organizations of any kind – building resilience with teamwork, leadership, and trust.”  Bobby Beathard, Former General Manager, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers

About building Trust:   “Good process empowers people, whether they understand the concept or not.” Excerpt from The DNA of the Resilient Organization


Marvelous Acceptance Speech Promises from Janet Yellen

What an amazing acceptance speech today from Janet Yellen, new Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB). Janet is a woman I totally trust and respect immensely. The speech is amazing because her comments parallel many concepts I deeply believe in and also because I know Janet’s uncompromising follow-through on what she says she will do. In my experience watching her at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, Janet does not make idle promises.

Here is what she promised, with my comments:

1.” To help restore the health of the economy and promote a strong and stable financial system . . . guided by no interest other than the public’s interest.” As a former Portland Branch Board member, previous Vice Chair of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Advisory Council on Small Business and Agriculture, and as a publicly licensed CPA, I know the importance of that oath. Serving and protecting the public interest is the foremost commitment for anyone in a public financial role, or when providing services relied upon by users of financial information. When people forget that oath, bad things happen.

2. “. . . to make the Federal Reserve more transparent and accountable.” As anyone knows who has read recent media stories about Janet’s role the last few years as a FRB Governor and, previously, with the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Janet is direct, open, and firm in her statements and positions. Then she follows through to make her word happen.  That promise gladdens me immensely. I know, from my career experience as a CPA and management consultant, that transparency and accountability are the two most important factors in building trust. And trust is critical to public confidence and, therefore, to a healthy economy.

3. To stay focused on implementing “Congress’ plan for strengthening financial regulation, the Dodd-Frank Act, . . .  as quickly and responsibly as possible and to verify that these reforms are meeting the goal of safeguarding the financial system.”

4. To do all that she can to continue the work of repairing the economy damaged by the financial crisis and to achieve the goals set by Congress when they first established the FRB: maximum employment and stable prices.

5. Finally, “. . . to never forget the individual lives, experiences and challenges that lie behind the statistics we use to gauge the health of the economy. . . When we make progress toward our goals, each job that is created lifts this burden for someone who is better equipped to be a good parent, build a stronger community, and to contribute to a more prosperous nation.” Janet is passionate about building a strong economy, always mindful of the public interest, and never forgets the individuals within it. I have heard words and seen actions that demonstrate her commitment over many years of observing her at the San Francisco FRB.

Women’s Equality Achieved?

In this year of special meaning to women in Oregon, I have been thinking about Women in Communications (WIC) and their wonderful Abigail Scott Duniway award. I was so honored to be the first business woman to receive this award in 1989.

What happened to WIC and to this important award? Do either still exist? If not, then in this special 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Oregon, it is an appropriate time to consider reviving it. The award was given to the woman who had done the most to advance the status of women in Oregon. The job is certainly not done.

Many recent news stories and statistics about women’s positions in government and business demonstrate that women have not yet achieved the level of equality our ancestors envisioned. For example, an article last week reported that the U.S. ranks 70th in the world in % of women elected nationally into government positions. In business leadership positions, I am sure that our ranking is similar or worse.

What can we do to improve this situation soon?

Sandra’s Official Book Cover!!

Sandra has signed with Stargazer Publishing Company to publish her new book, The DNA of the Resilient Organization.   

Due out in March, 2013, The DNA of the Resilient Organization is the latest title in Stargazer Publishing’s new line of educational business books for both large and small organizations.

Sandra’s book will be available in print and ebook editions.  The ISBNs are: 9781933277219 (print); 9781933277226 (Kindle); and 9781933277202 (Epub).

Christian Chamber of Commerce Speech

Sandra Suran presented the first speech focused on her new book to the Christian Chamber of Commerce of Oregon on October 17, 2012.  The presentation, “Achieve Organizational Resilience With A Collective Heartbeat,” included the benefits of achieving resilience, as well as the practical and effective way of achieving it: One Change, One Challenge at a Time.

Resilience:  “The adaptive capacity of an organization in a complex and changing environment.”  ISO Guide73:2009

Sandra’s book is due out in March 2013.  Advance Orders can be placed by contacting The Suran Group or by sending an email to

Washington County’s Space Coup!

I experienced a wondrous event yesterday – watching the unpacking and assembly of NASA’s new Hubble Space telescope exhibits for the Washington County Museum (WCM).  It is an incredible exhibit, very interactive and truly awesome!  NASA engineers have been working on the exhibit since last week; photographers and reporters were there yesterday to capture the momentous activities for local media.

The exhibit will officially open on November 17th in the Museum’s not-yet-completed, much expanded headquarters and exhibit space.  We are so fortunate that WCM was successful in obtaining this phenomenal display for Washington County and for Oregon.

WCM’s Annual Gala – “Reach for the Stars” – will also be the premiere opening of the Hubble Space exhibit, as part of the night’s entertainment.  The Gala is on October 27th and tickets are still available.

See Washington County Museum’s website for more information.

The Forgotten Country – My Roots

A recent USA Today article, “In a Tourist’s Wildest Dreams”, describes a forgotten country -Guyana(pka British Guiana). It is larger than the UK but last year had only 2,500 tourists. It is the least touristed country in the world according to a National Geographic article last year. It has the largest tract of unspoiled rain forest in South America– 80% of the country.

Guayana has a long history of conquest by varied European powers, who constantly battled for control of its great resources – gold, diamond, bauxite, and sugar cane. Sir Walter Raleigh journeyed there in the 1580s to look for the lost city of gold. Due to the indentured East Indians who came during periods of civil unrest in India, the large slave trade that flourished to provide workers for the sugar plantations and the mines, and the native Amerindians, the population is about 5% white, 5% black, and 90% “colored” (everyone else, in various shades, in the Guyanese description).

My ancestry in the West Indies (Trinidad,Tobago,Barbados and Guyana) goes back to the early 1600’s and before. My mother was born there; so were my younger sister and brother. My ancestors include the Dutch Governor of the territory (Van Battenburg) who established the boundaries between British, French and Dutch Guiana as a civil way to stop the battles for dominance of the territory and the more recent A.R.F. Webber, known as ‘the Ghandi of the West Indies’ (see my earlier blog). They, and other storied ancestors, have had a great impact on my life. Their passions, work and values have influenced me and my career, I am sure, even before I knew and understood their impact.

I feared for this pristine, untamed and unknown country. I pray now that it will not fall prey to the same unprincipled opportunists who have been ravaging other rain forests in South America for the last few decades. According to USA Today, “[Guyana’s] forests and rivers are teeming with wildlife, including species that are extinct or threatened elsewhere.” How do we protect a “newly discovered” country today?

To read the entire USA Today article, click here.

The Decline of Strategic Decision Making

Fear of failure, by both executives and consultants, has diminished the possibility for many organizations to make major advances and to achieve stellar growth, especially for those with external “evaluators”, e.g. Boards, voters, stockholders, funders. That’s the implication of an article in the April issue of Atlantic Monthly, “Peak Intel: How So-Called Strategic Intelligence Actually Makes Us Dumber”, by Eric Garland, a strategic analyst. He laments the fact that those in his profession now take the safer course in their reports to management because that’s what their clients want to hear. Their reports, used as the background for major organizational decision-making, today are mostly short term focused although they purport to be strategic.  Conclusions and recommendations are based on current situations and the most likely effects in the near future, not based on strategic research and predictions.

Garland lists three major causes for the short term focus:

    1. The availability of huge amounts of cheap capital has led to large scale, rampant consolidations across many major industries. The sheer size – “too big to fail”, smaller number of players, and very different behavior of oligopolies totally changes the approach and tools historically used for analyzing firms in free markets.
    2. In giant organizations it is almost impossible to trace the source of independent decisions since the tendency is towards pushing responsibilities down while moving credit up. The safe position, unless the entire organization is behind you, is making decisions from a conventional wisdom and risk avoidance perspective, i.e. short term.
    3. The world economy is driven more by policy makers than at any other time in recent history. Industries are protected, subsidized, and exempted from the results of their actions. So basic free market principles no longer prevail.

Although Garland writes from the perspective of a strategic analyst, I believe that his conclusions have a wider application. His basic admonition is for all of us – planners and consultants, within organizations and outside – to have the courage again to tell the hard truth to leaders. In an era of fear of reprisals and short term, safe decisions, leaders and consultants need to use our analytical skills and organizational knowledge to provide information and directions for long term, greater benefit rather than from the safer, perhaps more secure perspective. It is the only way for us to provide the spur to major organizational growth, competitive advantage and advancement of organizational knowledge.

To read Eric Garland’s entire article click here.