Navigating Through Change

An explanation is in order for our use of boating terms and water images. We are both sailors – of the cruising variety; we home office on a peninsula at the 45th parallel, have sailed the Virgin Islands multiple times and charter on Lake Superior. Many of our learnings about change and leadership have come on or near water. For instance, it’s okay to be an autocratic leader when there’s danger; there’s no time for consensus when a storm has backed down on you at anchor and your anchor has broken free. On the other hand, the stereotypical yelling skipper doesn’t keep a crew – or friends – for very long. Read on for our individual thoughts.

Gary Fleishacker, Ph. D.

In my work with clients, it is important that they “own” the issue we’re working on—that they’re willing to “put some skin in the game” of change.

For the last 30 years or so I’ve been involved in facilitating change in individuals, teams, and organizations of all sizes. I’ve worked with clients in engineering, manufacturing, education, health care, high-tech and non-profits; executives, senior management teams, and teams of machinists on their way to self-direction; individuals and organizations with critical problems to solve and with potential to explore. The common element in all these adventures is that someone realized things could be better.

A client once described my work with them as a weaver of seemingly unrelated strands to explain a system that needed change. I believe that it is important to understand individuals and their differences, and the systems they create when they work together. Effective change almost always means involving those working within it—whole system change.

Besides my consulting practice, I have taught in the Organization Learning and Development doctoral program at the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis. I have also served on the boards of two professional organizations, the Minnesota Organization Development Network and the Association for Psychological Type. In my “spare” time I like to travel, cook, boat, hike, visit, and play guitar

Gary Fleishacker, Ph. D.

Anne Sturdivant, Ph. D.

If I had it to do again, I’d be a farmer and run the family farm. That’s probably why I intuitively understand the old adage “you can’t make a plant grow by pulling on it.” For me, nature is the best model of growth and change.

I’ve been on my own since 1994 and work with all kinds of organizations: large, small; profit, non-profit; businesses, educational institutions, and government units; technology, biomedical, healthcare, financial, manufacturing and everything in between. This diversity reflects my own career history in education, government, and business. I’ve held positions in HR, IT, and Quality, so understand well the strategic role those functions can play.

A theme in my work is engagement – of employees, customers and suppliers, stakeholders, essentially the whole system. My experience with such broad based involvement has repeatedly demonstrated to me how easy and yet powerful it can be. It’s almost as if there’s a point when “a miracle occurs.”

Beyond consulting, I have taught in the doctoral Organization Learning and Development program at the University of St. Thomas and enjoyed contributing to the upbringing of the next generations of practitioners.

While on the board of the Minnesota Organization Development Network, I edited the newsletter and wrote an editor’s column which was the precursor to writing current thought pieces. I also enjoy reading, traveling, boating, writing and occasionally water color painting.

Anne Sturdivant, Ph. D.