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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute — a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Managing change is like journeying on a bus

For any kind of organizational change — procedural, structural, or technological — to be successful, three key players must be involved: the champion, the change manager, and the employees and/or stakeholders who have to accept and implement the change. This fundamental premise of change management is fittingly illustrated using the metaphor of a bus.

Think about a change initiative as a journey carrying many people from the status quo to the new normal. For travel from one point to another to occur, first you need the vehicle, in this case the bus. Which means that you need an investor to finance the purchase of the bus, paint it in team colours, and provide ongoing funding to keep it roadworthy. This investor is the champion. Then you need a driver to navigate the bus, plot a route from the beginning to the end of its journey, making stops (and detours if necessary) along the way. This is the change manager. And of course you need your passengers to willingly come on board to make the journey. True, some may have to be dragged on kicking and screaming, but the majority need to come on voluntarily, and preferably enthusiastically. These passengers are the employees charged with implementing the change, and other stakeholders who face the outcomes of the change.

Each of these three categories play critical roles. Without a champion, there is no change initiative, and any effort with falter quickly. Even if there is a champion, without a change manager, there is no one to drive the bus, and the change initiative will simply remain parked in champion's "wish list" parking lot somewhere. And unless the champion and the change manager can persuade the majority of the stakeholders to get on board the bus and travel the journey with them, the change initiative is doomed to eventual failure.

This basic premise of change management is central to a successful change initiative. Yet there are numerous examples of failed change implementations (or ones that didn't even get started) because one or more of these key players were either weak or even absent. What has been your experience with change management in this context? Please share by adding your comment online at my blog at:

Six rules for thriving in an open-office environment

Love it or hate it, there is a movement afoot in workplaces across Canada to shift to the open-office floor plan. Some say this direction is driven by lower costs, others deny it vehemently and say it encourages teamwork. Whatever the reason, it is happening, so Merge decided that it was time to talk about how to make it work, rather than continue to debate its merits and drawbacks. Six rules for the open-office environment was initially published online in The Globe & Mail, but it got so much online traffic that it was subsequently published in The Globe & Mail's Weekend Business print edition a few days later.

16 Ways to Motivate Your People Without Spending Money

In Merge's latest column for Profit Magazine's online edition – 16 Ways to Motivate Your People Without Spending Money – she makes the bold claim that money is not a motivator! And of course she gives you sixteen ideas to reward your employees on a shoestring budget.

Last chance this year for Edmonton-area residents!

If you live in or near Edmonton AB, don't miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders' competency and skill development at a very reasonable cost, and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors. Merge is delivering two "open-enrollment" leadership training programs in partnership with CPA Alberta. For information and links to register, visit our website.

Turning Managers into Leaders

That Merge can help you facilitate your next high-stakes or complex meeting?

If your meeting is likely to involve large egos, high stakes, complexity, many participants at different levels, or low degrees of trust, then Merge can greatly increase the likelihood of positive outcomes, ultimately saving you time, money and frustration! Merge is an experienced external facilitator who is adept at refocusing people with grace and humor. Whether it's a strategic planning session, a Board planning workshop, an association meeting, Executive team development, staff team-building, creative problem solving, or something else, Merge is skilled at creating a safe and productive meeting environment in which people are engaged, and more efficient in using their time, resulting in prudent decisions and a greater commitment to further action. Visit our Facilitation Services section at our website for more information. Or for a first-hand look at what Merge can help you accomplish, read through our two facilitation case studies (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

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