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Dealing with Difficult People: Leading by Example

We have all been there: working or managing someone that is extremely difficult. Someone that is intentionally hurtful and inflammatory. Often these people say things that immediately set us off and are aimed at doing damage to our feelings.

It can be a true test of our patience and good will to not respond in anger. It is challenging to not match their fire with our own fire.

It is also the most important time to lead by example and to show a shining example of what is right.

I saw an incredible example of this at the end of October, during the height of the presidential debates. A person who did nothing wrong, yet suddenly and inexplicably was attacked by a careless, hurtful comment.

John Franklin Stephens showed all of us how to lead by example. Read his story below (make sure you read the Tweet at the top of the article).

Here is John’s example.

Enough said.

Why be a Leader?

This question is forefront on my mind now. We spent a great deal of time in the past, and currently, trying to answer this as it pertains to healthcare leaders. Not in a philosophical manner, but it a very literal sense. Why should healthcare professionals lead? In a 24/7 environment, they deal with life and death, are on call during the weekends, are the first notified when staffing is short, and deal with all emergencies. Often they say that it’s not worth it to lead. The sentiment often heard is that healthcare professionals can make a comparable salary by not being a leader, show up to work their scheduled shift, and then go home, without having to deal with all of the added stress. So, why do some choose to lead? Why should they choose to lead?

As I think about it more, I realize that this is a key distinguishing factor in any organization. Even if a Fortune 500 Company can afford to pay leaders significantly more money for being successful, is this why people lead? Should this be the reason why?

As a professional in the field I, like many others, believe that the desire to lead is intrinsic. Within any organization I have ever associated, I actively sought leadership roles. Whether they were official promotions or opportunities to lead teams and projects, I felt driven to be an active leader. But why?

We are working with organizations, inside healthcare and other industries, that are asking leaders this question right now. We are searching for both monetary and non-monetary incentives that would entice them to lead. This being said, are there really incentives to make people want to lead? Even if our leaders communicate that there are incentives that the organization can provide to them, is this the correct motivator? Or are we searching extrinsically for something that is, at is nature, intrinsic?

The e-Performance Case (#5)

Case Study 5: Online Performance Management Software

Any Organization

The Intent

The organization is proud to roll out an online system that will allow leaders to track employees’ performance related information and conduct all annual reviews using an online system. The new tool is user friendly, while also providing resources for goal setting, taking notes, strategic plan alignment, and tracking of job descriptions. Leaders will no longer need to keep huge paper files on every employee in their departments. Finally, leaders can track performance in “real time” with the system, have conversations with their employees about their performance, and align their departments with the overall direction of the organization.

The Result

The multiple-day training sessions on the new online performance tool are IT-focused and show leaders all the new functions available with the system. Since many leaders are never trained on how to conduct coaching conversations with employees, they still avoid these conversations. Leaders wait until about a week or two before the completion date for the annual reviews to log into the system. Since it’s been several months since their training sessions, most leaders forget large portions of what they were taught, including how to log in. The HR and IT offices are bombarded with service requests as managers try to complete their evaluations under the gun. Employees receive their “once a year” performance conversation, only this time, they do not need to print anything out– which saves paper. So at least one cost savings was realized…

Gotta love behavioral change…

The ERP Case (#4)

Case Study 4: Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP)

Any Large Organization that Purchases Supplies

The Intent

After years of having separate systems for the human resources, supply chain, and finance databases, the company invests millions to integrate them all into one ERP. The new ERP will have one password for entry, provide managers more control over their routine business tasks, and save resources by limiting the amount of individual requests that must be entered for many day to day functions. It will also allow the company to more globally track resources, share products, and negotiate savings through bulk rates with vendors.

The Result

Most managers feel caught off guard by the new system. While they remember hearing about it and reading a few press releases, the ERP implementation seemingly happened overnight. The two-day training sessions showed them tons of new functions available on the ERP, but now that they are back at work, it is tough to remember which ones they most need. While there was an attempt to examine their “old” business processes, it is unclear how those relate to the “new” ERP. The HR department is getting bombarded with questions like: “what do I do with this new employee that started?” While managers ask the finance department: “how do I enter in my new budget?” Most leaders continue to work with the same department representatives that they did previously because it is easier.

The CRM Case (#3)

Case Study 3: Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)

An Organization with a National Sales Model

The Intent:

A large company with regional offices spread around the United States implements Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) across the board. It will not only increase sales for every region, it will also increase efficiency, because the sales force will be able to track accounts much faster.  More data on every customer will provide unparalleled service to them while making them even more loyal to the company. Additionally, the regional sales directors will be able to measure the effectiveness of their managers and front line sales people more quickly, enabling them to spend time pursuing new large contracts.

The Result:

Most of the sales people, particularly the most tenured, use the new system to track their accounts’ finances. When it comes to customers, they are still using the address book connected to their email account and some still rely on a Rolodex or a spreadsheet they saved to their work computer. Customers enjoy the same interpersonal interactions that they had previously with their sales reps. The murmur among many of the frontline sales people is that the new CRM is “really a way for management to track us” so that they can be micromanaged and monitored. Sales show moderate gains in some places while remaining the stable in others.

Awesome, glad we spent all this money…

The e-Learning Case (#2)

Case Study 2: Online Learning Systems (LMS)

A University Example

The Intent:

In addition to a LMS, the university decides that most classes and schools will implement a “Blackboard” site for students to post documents then make comments via discussion threads. This site will increase interaction and allow the “modern student” to seamlessly integrate group discussions with shared projects. Additionally, the new LMS will provide freedom for professors and students alike to take and grade projects or tests remotely.

The Result:

Very few people actually comment on anything and “Blackboard” becomes a repository for documents. Professors occasionally allow students to take quizzes online, but since their tenure gets renewed due to their ability to publish journals and not with any requirement to utilize the new technology, or actually be good teachers, they do not use it. Instead, the professors continue to go with the “lecture at nauseum to students and have them write a paper” method that’s been in place for centuries. Students continue to use things like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Docs as their main means for sharing and interacting.

Wow… Even more exhilarating…

The e-Learning Case (#1)

Case Study 1: Online Learning Systems (LMS)

Private Sector, Healthcare, or Federal Government Organization

The Intent:

The company invests a large sum of money into purchasing a new online learning system (LMS). It is touted and marketed across the organization as something that will “change the way we do business” by providing educational resources to more people than ever before, at a fraction of the cost. It will also allow people to collaborate effectively across distances and increase knowledge sharing through best practices. The plan is for the LMS to seamlessly integrate traditional classroom sessions with online content, making educational opportunities more dynamic.

The Result:

After implementation the LMS is seen as the destination for “mandatories” or “required” classes that every employee “has to take” once per year (usually corresponding with the annual performance review). Employees log into the system, start the “class” on automation, walk out of the room to go get coffee, and then return to take the quiz at the end. After repeating this process, on autopilot, for the 25+ online lectures, they print out a report for their manager. This report serves as proof of how incredibly smart they are now that they have utilized this multimillion-dollar product to help them get better at their job.

Wow… Exhilarating…

Other than completing the “mandatories” there are no built in accountability measures for how people should be using the system or tracking systems that measure if people are using the LMS to help them with their jobs. Also, expectations for who is allowed to post new content, review existing content, and remove old content from the system are unclear.

Introductory Blog 1: Some Background

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to start my own company. While the vision changed a bit as I got older, the goal of being independently employed always stayed true. This vision crystallized further as I started consulting for companies, writing down my own thoughts, and creating models to apply with my clients.

Over the years two fundamental, earth-shattering changes happened in my life: (1) I got married and (2) I had children. I suddenly had a choice to make. What would I use as my individual “brand” to market to customers? What would I write about?

Well, after much thought, the answer was really quite simple: I would write about both.

As X3’s Founder and President I am also, like billions of other people, a spouse and a parent. These are simultaneous experiences that inform one another and interact in incredible ways. So, like any true consultant and aspiring thought leader, I write about both of them. These are important experiences in my life that I hope you can relate to in your own way.

So please, care enough to keep the conversation going, and share your thoughts with me.

All the best,