Gratitude and Uniqueness!

2015 was a phenomenal year for me, a year of life accomplishments and awards.  When a year like this occurs, what does it mean and how do we respond? I believe it is important to share our journey with the people we touch. We can inspire them to greater hope and faith whatever their current situation may be. Rewards for hard work and faith do come if we focus on goals and on our greater purpose.

Big Events of 2015:

  1. Teaching second year graduate students at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management was one of the most joyful, gratifying experiences of my life. The students were wonderful and the work was a stimulating challenge.

LY SS5882 Will Classroom 1The semester of teaching was also one of the most all-consuming, relentless-focus experiences of my life! 

The experience-based, exercise-focused course was based partially on my book, The DNA of the Resilient Organization and  also  on the other books which were significant inspirations for my work over the last 25 years:  The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge; A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink; Diagnostic Interviewing, John Quay; The Art of War, Sun Tsu; and Absolute Honesty, Larry Johnson and Bob Phillips

One student summarized the course with a central sentence from the book: “Successfully and sustainably accomplishing organizational change is simple – build both Ability and Desire at the same time.” The University said that my unique accomplishment with the book was that it linked two disciplines: Organization Development and Risk Management.

  1. My second major event of 2015 was a huge surprise. My 2003 article, “How to Effectively Implement Change”, was chosen by the Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance as one of the “Top Articles of All-Time” in their 30 years of publishing.  The Journal featured the article again in their “Best of” May/June 2015 Edition – #1 on the cover.

JCAF May-June 2015 Cover

The JCAF is a juried professional publication, available by subscription only. Selection of the best articles was by their Editorial Board of leaders representing national corporations, universities and libraries.

Selection of my article was based on two criteria: 1) Enduring usefulness and 2) Most accessed online.

 3. award_bigThe third 2015 honor/accomplishment was receiving the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco award: “The Ray Dezember Award for Epitomizing the Meaning of the Fed Family.” This was especially meaningful because Ray Dezember was a friend and director of the Federal Reserve Bank from Bakersfield,  the honor was given at the annual “Fed Family” meeting in San Francisco, and it was a big surprise!

 Now What?

So, my question was, what do I do with phenomenal gifts like these? How can I thank God for these incredibly wonderful events that happened all within one year?  I know the answer should be “Share” but the follow-on question is “How”?

The answer came recently with an invitation received only 10 hours before an Oregon Christian Chamber of Commerce event. I immediately accepted, partially because of the topic: Passion Drives Business: Inspiring Employees and Fostering Consumer Loyalty.

The speaker was Justine Haigh, Director of the Fulltime MBA program at George Fox University and Professor of Marketing. In her presentation I heard the answer to my question, “How?”

Justine’s message was that we can thank God and simultaneously achieve greater success and fulfillment for ourselves, our people, and our organization by sharing our unique gifts. We frequently find our uniqueness after periods of great trial, times when we are “crippled” in some way by devastating events: financial, family tragedy, debilitating illness or injury.

To use Justine’s words, really tough times “turn us inside out.” We then have two possible reactions: 1) Give up and retreat or, as Winston Churchill said, we can 2) “Never, never, ever, ever, ever give up”. We can keep going, step by step, and use the devastation to find our unique strengths and gifts. As that occurs, we build great personal passion which can inspire all those around us and lead to success we never imagined in directions we could never have anticipated.

Justine gave many examples of people who have done just that, very publicly. Here are a few:

These people found their uniqueness and took their organizations to new heights as a result of challenging life events.  They gained personal strength in tough times and developed their own unique direction, which resulted in great success for themselves and their organizations.

“Happiness is not about self-gratification.  It is about finding purpose.” — Helen Keller

“Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life.  Don’t let others be your voice.” — Steve Jobs, Commencement Speech at Stanford University

“We need to develop an authentic corporate cause.” Mohan Nair

“We need to expand from our organization ‘Mission’ to develop our ‘Cause’.” Justine Haigh 

I certainly have found that an attitude of Gratitude and Hope, especially when going through tough times, will guide you to your unique self. Utilizing your unique gifts for greater good is the best way to thank God, to become more resilient, and to achieve true Joy.

 

 

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My New Course – A Unique Linking of Two Disciplines

My new adventure – teaching a graduate course at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management – starts August 26. Clients, friends and family keep asking “What is the course about?” Its base is my new book, The DNA of the Resilient Organization, expanded to teach the skills necessary to effectively accomplish the concepts.

Clients, readers of my book, and Willamette University professors have said that the Book is very important because it is the first to link two major disciplines: Organization Development and Risk Management. 

In other words, the book and the course teach how to unify an organization’s people while simultaneously building high quality infrastructure to support their work. The result is greater Resilience. Several experts have said the Book is the first true sequel to Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline, written in 1990. The DNA of the Resilient Organization moves several steps beyond – to organization Unity/Resilience.

Here is a description of the course, which is titled, “Enterprise Risk Reduction for Sustainable Growth”:

This course is the first to link Organization Development and Risk Management. Linking the two enables resilience. When the two disciplines are effectively linked, the result is sustainable change, leading to greater unity/resilience.

Contrary to popular perception, Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) need not stifle innovation. Effective ERM, linked with strong Organization Development, can assure successful and sustainable accomplishment. Therefore, ERM enables organizational resilience, defined as strength in adversity and the ability to bounce back in difficult situations. Reducing the impact of risks enables organizations to make positive changes more effectively and react to challenges more efficiently, with less trauma to the organization.

This course focuses on ways to reduce enterprise risk and thereby build resilience and greater sustainability for all types and sizes of organizations. Several concepts utilized in the course are derived from basic auditing concepts. These steps are simple but iterative, linking and constant, displaying how every change initiative can be used to define and assess related risks and to develop solutions that improve and embed greater resilience.

Using experiences with hundreds of organizations (for-profit, not-for-profit and governmental) and from guest speakers, students will learn organizational issues, tools, and solutions that can affect change initiatives, for better or worse.

For more information, visit Sandra’s Faculty Page

Another New Role — University Professor!

Willamette UniversityI just signed a contract to begin teaching a course in the Fall that I developed at the request of Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. The course is called, “Enterprise Risk Reduction for Sustainable Growth”.

Teaching has been a lifelong dream but I never thought it would happen. As a result of my new Book, The DNA of the Resilient Organization, the dream has come true. The course mirrors and expands the Book’s theme of combining risk management and organization development tools and approaches to achieve resilience. That’s the only way to effectively build resilience in this rapid-paced, constantly changing world.

The DNA of the Resilient OrganizationThe 2nd year graduate course defines and describes Organizational Resilience – strength in adversity and the ability to bounce back in difficult situations. Resilience is the goal of all risk management tools, processes, systems and structures. Resilience also enables sustainable growth through the embedded ability to respond to opportunities while minimizing risk of failure.

The process to achieving greater resilience is simple but iterative and constant, using every change project to define and assess related risk and to develop solutions that improve and embed greater resilience. This process builds group wisdom and organizational strength; together they build unity. Greater unity = greater resilience.

I am especially excited because I will teach at Willamette University, at its Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 business school rankings named Willamette’s MBA program a “top business school.” The Willamette MBA is the only program listed in Oregon and one of only two in the Pacific Northwest.  The Willamette MBA program is also one of only two MBA programs in the world to achieve dual accreditation in both Business and Public Administration.

On almost every change project, the leader who hires me asks that I also coach a promising leader as part of the project. Now I can help many more people and organizations through teaching graduate students who will become strong, knowledgeable leaders!

 

© The Suran Group, 2015