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Webinar with Dr. John Scherer Innovation & Change, Making a Real Difference


John Scherer: Innovation and change and so I like to think of this as moving from the past to the possible many of you have seen some of these slides and these Concepts before but I want you to look for something fresh this time.

John Scherer: These same principles can apply not only to large corporations but also to you as an individual person or in a relationship even a small system of two people might be able to benefits as we go through these slides are going to be about how to change teams and organizations. Think about how this might apply to you and your primary relationships either with your partner with your family something like that. How do I help move myself and the people around me from the past to the possible. So here’s here we go. This is a key thing Innovation by the way, most organizations and exciting leadership in organizations are a little bit nervous about change their ambivalent about change but very excited about innovation. So anytime I’m going forward now. I wish that discovered this 50 years ago instead of being a change facilitator. I would help people facilitate innovation.

John Scherer: So if you want to kind of ease people into it talk about Innovation instead of change, but I want to tell you and I both know it’s Okay, and this is what happens? Is this change is this Innovation at the micro level like you have an office and in your little office and you want to use new Tools in your office you want to innovate with new tools? Maybe you’re in a team. So you want to make some changes in the team, but then there’s the meta level which is the community or the organization or so when you think about Innovation, What’s the level of innovation and change that you’re aiming for? Okay. And here’s something to think about. What is something you wish were different? Right now at home where it work. Start there. And here’s a way to turn up the heat. What is what I call an impossible possibility?

John Scherer: It’s something that’s really badly needed. But right now it appears to be impossible. But that theoretically it is possible but not with all the Givens but boy if that impossible possibility actually happened. Whoa, we would be in a whole new territory. This is a powerful question. If you’re going to be a facilitator of change you need to be a stand for that and begin to help.

John Scherer: Reach in your skill and pulling that off. Another thing that will help is to be a specific as you can if this change is successful at the end of this what will people be thinking that they’re not thinking what thoughts? What feelings will they have now that they don’t have now, what will they be saying? What kind of conversations will they be in and what will they be doing? if we took a video now of people in our system doing stuff and then a video after this process was along the way what specific changes will be noticed in what people are thinking feeling saying and doing the more specific and really cool to get a small group of people together, especially at the leadership level. If you’re an executive have the leadership team. Think about that one. I love necessity is the mother of invention. Okay, it’s to. Another way to think of it is what we actually need.

John Scherer: What we really need will be the real Creator. not what all the slides are saying, but ultimately what this system really needs. So what is the system that you’re thinking about really neat forget about Theory and all that stuff when you look at the people in the system, what do they need? And what does the system need? What is your relationship need? What is your team need? What is your organization? What is your country need? Okay, and that need whatever the need is that will be the driver. You can’t motivate people to do something that isn’t real for them. So you have to tap into what’s Okay, and is it a crisis, from the Greek word creasing, how Loved Words Chris saying which simply means to choose or decide? It’s a choice point and a way to think about this is what will happen if we don’t Where’s this thing headed? We look ahead a ten years down the road. What’s going to be happening? And can we live with that?

John Scherer: That’s all so sometimes the motivator especially in a relationship or a team or a company. If you are in a crisis, there’s this from the Chinese, the Chinese have two characters for the concept crisis. The first character is danger or threat. You don’t get to vote on that market trends like Going on. These are all things come that happened in the circumstances that represent a threat of some kind either to the relationship personally to your team your country. What is it? Okay that you don’t get to vote on. That’s something you got to deal with the question is how you going to respond because it’s a moment of choice. And you see this said that a crisis is an opportunity. not necessarily.


John Scherer: it only becomes an opportunity if you see it as a moment of choice, and if you make the kind of choices in response to that threat. That actually do develop newness and fresh ways of doing things. That’s what you need to do. How are we going to respond to this thing that we have? No control over. So Innovation like change transformation, it cannot be managed. I get so frustrated with my consultant colleagues who have all these huge slide plans. Everybody talks about a I understand. I understand and it’s easier to Change management to a corporate client then a process of discovery. Which is what you really need to do. So do we approach him with what we can sell or do we approach it with the process that we think will actually work. what a concept?

John Scherer: Change I don’t think can be managed. It has to be facilitated or LED you can lead change. But you can’t meant if you can manage Let me say it Any change that you can manage? It’s fine, but as you see in a minute. It’s going to be incremental change. It’s going to be first order change. going faster in the same gear, right? So Anything you can play. Okay.’s do this. Let’s try this works really? good tick the box change completed. I remember one of my first organized development change projects Way Back in the 1980s the phone company GTE in America and they were switching from manual old Tech to the computer stuff

John Scherer: and the heroes in the company at that point were mostly middle-aged women who were able to write they had these things they would stick to notes up in a restaurant the thing would turn around and they were the high performers and then these teenagers are coming into the company know how to use keyboards and they were replacing those people. So it seems on the surface that’s a simple change and it has consequences, but that’s a change you just do it. But then their second order change, which is changing everything. It’s like getting in a different vehicle. Or setting a new destination or taking a strange path to get there. It’s not more of the same. It’s actually changing the game. Let me give you an example of this. I was working with a company probably 2000 maybe late 1990s who had invented.

John Scherer: a credit card for medical operations that on the credit card would be all of your health records on that little magnetic thing. So they had integrated they put all of your health. So when you swipe your card all the stuff you need to do your insurance stuff and you’re all your medical records. We’re on the card brilliant concept. Okay, and probably was they were very successful in selling it. And the help desk was swamped. And so the CEO I met me heard about me whatever. So I brought a couple of my colleagues in so we’re working inside of his organization to try to help them catch up make the changes they needed to make in order to meet the demand.

John Scherer: And so one of the major issues was the help desk was swapped. They couldn’t They just respond. They got phone calls all the time. And so we had several breakthrough teams working and have so my team and I decided I should take that one because nobody knew what to do with it. So I’m sitting there with this cross-functional team. And I put a speaker phone in the middle and I invited the CEO to come in. And so I called the help desk so you can hear it on the speaker and I’ll call the help desk and this panicky voice says Yeah, because sometimes can you hold us? Sure, so I started my stopwatch. 17 minutes later. Okay, the voice comes back on. Yes, can I help yes, that’s okay. We handled it hung up the phone and the CEO was just he had steam coming out of his ears. He said

John Scherer: How often does this happen and one of the members of the team I said, what’s the average wait time now and he said 15 minutes and the boss just went nuts, which is why I had him in there. And so the boss says to this team you fix this. I’ll do anything you say I’ll support it tell me what you need. We have to fix this problem and he walks out of the room. So there’s in this team. And I said, okay, let’s get started. So I said, okay, let’s start with the objective. What would be the perfect number of health of calls coming into the help desk?


John Scherer: at this point you probably watch this, exactly what the right number is but they had calculators out. we have four people down there. They were poor women down in the basement on the phone. They had turned over they couldn’t keep him more than two weeks because of the stress was so high. Okay, if double if we have eight people if we don’t and they were coming up with all these calculations and I said let me ask you again. What would be the perfect number and I had to ask it about three times and finally some I said Zero I guess and I said, yeah. no, but in order for that to happen, and I said, start taking notes flip chart. Okay. for that to happen. The Salesforce would have to change and the installation team. And so they had a list of that 10 things.

John Scherer: That were all contributing to the load the health that the people getting on the phone. So as you’ll see in a minute, are you gonna just try to incrementally add a couple people, are you going to go to the source of the problem? You got a choice again. We got to approach simple change here, which is incremental change inside of the Paradigm inside the rule getting better at playing the game. Or are you going to go to complex or second order change transformation, which is to alter the Paradigm itself to change the game itself Because the issue is here. Are you going to be working at the brown end of the pipe? You got crap going into a river? Yeah, let’s put a filter on the end of the pipe, but you haven’t solved the problem. You’ve made things better like you add a couple people downstairs in the basement to the number of people taking calls. Yeah that helps a little bit, but you haven’t fixed anything.

John Scherer: You got to work your way Upstream. Literally, how do you make sure you’re not working at the brown end of the pipe? Whether that’s in your relationship with your partner. Or in your team or in your company and your country, the whole world we’re constantly working at the brown of the pipe because from political point of view.

John Scherer: We have this thing in America called Robert’s Rules of Order. That’s how the Congress operates. it’s structured because we’re trying to not have chaos and it actually works the downside. Is that everything starts? With somebody recommending a solution to the problem. I recommend this how do we even know what the problem is? So Robert’s Rules of ordered stops people from really you start by debating The Proposal

John Scherer: Rather than saying What’s the problem? We’re trying to solve here, and is it and are at the brown end of the pike like gun control, in America. We definitely need to reduce the number of 15s out there in the world. But in many ways that’s the brand end of the pipe right? What kind of people have to have an 15 what in the world makes them think that they can’t just have a shotgun to go hunt ducks or a rifle if they want to hunt deer or something like that. Why did I need an AR-15 that’s something worth but we can’t get there but we still should work on the ground in the fight, but don’t think we solve the problem. This is how Innovation is going to happen.

John Scherer: This is the old way of doing things and if you’re successful in introducing an innovation that catches on when people like it, which is quite often the case when they get it they go why the world did take it so long to figure this What will happen is those behaviors if you watch some video those behaviors would be decreasing while the new thing is increasing and if you notice at the beginning, there’s always a little bit of people that are already doing the new thing. And as things go forward, they’re always going to be people who are still doing the old thing. That’s just what you have to understand because this is what you’ve got. I was Ron lipin. I think one of my mentors taught me this that in any kind of a change in this if you’re going to have a third and a third and a third some of you have been around me while no heard me say this 100 times. You’ve got people that are saying let’s go. What are you waiting for?

John Scherer: After 16 years in doing this kind of working in Poland and Eastern Europe and other places. The generation why this is true in America too. The generation why people are going come on. what are we waiting for? And then you have people at the other end saying sorry, no way that’ll never work quite often in the middle of the organization quite often the people at the top the sea level people and the new people are ready to go. But the ones in the middle are the guardians of the old way of doing things. That’s where the thinking change in attitude. That’s where the breakthroughs need to happen. how do you work in a system like that? In the middle, you have people in So about Jimmy we shall see and that’s where you focus.


John Scherer: Keep inviting everybody to get on the bus everybody and I’ve been surprised many times some of you that know me heard some of these stories of people that thought this was the dumbest idea of this change or they thought he was management trying to break the union or something like that and they came on board as soon as they realize what might be possible. So anybody can change their attitude in a single conversation? contribute to marriage a relationship or between a boss and a team one conversation can shift things so don’t give up. On those people who are in that bottom third, but focus on The Middle. Third of people here’s something to think about. If this is such a great idea. This change thing. Why isn’t it happening now?

John Scherer: and then who has a dog in fight who in this organization might benefit from this change if they realize it or not and how can you get them into the process and whose voices need to be heard? I always like to have a couple of well-known resistors on any kind of a team that’s working on planning some kind of a change or innovation and always the people at the top and people from HR will say God, you don’t want that person on the team. They’re so negative and I go that’s exactly why we need them on the team. Do they represent a constitue Do they represent a point of view that needs to be heard even in a partnership even a marriage or relationship or partnership? You want to get the negative stuff out there? And that’s where Kurt Lewin bless his heart Curt living born in Poland those of the father.

John Scherer: of Applied Behavioral Science the guy that really almost single-handedly created this feel which is now called plan change or change management. I would call it, Here’s what’s happening. things are over here in the current state. this is the past you want to go to the possible. That’s where I came up with those two words. So this is the direction of the desired change. why isn’t it happening now? Because we have all these driving forces all these things that are supporting the change. budget motivation all kinds of we’ve done training within all these things to get people to want to do it. We incentivize them we’ve got pressure from the marketplace why the heck isn’t it working? because over here on the other side we have restraining forces. This is what Kurt figured out that in any social system you have this interplay of these forces for

John Scherer: Change and forces against the change and they move back and forth. somebody gets training you get a new boss or somebody who and so that so this movement in one direction or the other because what you have is what he called a quasi stationary equilibrium, so it isn’t going anywhere, but it is moving slightly. And instead of getting on this was I think one of those brilliant things anybody ever figured out. That instead of getting over here and pushing on the driving forces because if the system isn’t ready, what’s the system going to do just say no. No, do not gonna do it. You’re gonna fire me. All right, I’ll pretend but I’m not really gonna do it.

John Scherer: That the secret is to reduce some of the restraining forces and when you do the natural drivers will move it. You need to push any harder. You need to get over here and reduce some of the restraining for sometimes. There are people need information people need it be involved in the process because current figured out that people tend to support what they help create.

John Scherer: So how do we engage these people as you know, it’s one of the secrets of how we’ve been able to do this. So you want to create change not back selling it pushing it and trying to persuade and convince people but come over here and actually draw out some tell me I love asking this question in a change initiative be sitting down with somebody say what are all the reasons why this is just really stupid why you think it’s not going to work especially from people what you really want me to tell you absolutely and please please and they’ll tell you and you have to take that into consideration because that is the reality and all the persuasion in the world might not do it education might they need to hear something from a trusted colleague. Then they’ll rethink it. And here we go. This is another fundamental concept when you throw a rock. Let’s see. You have a pile of rocks over here.

John Scherer: And your job is to change the location of those to get those rocks to go from here to over there. You could throw them and with some practice you could pretty good at those rocks Landing exactly where you throw them, Athletes can do this with a football or a hockey puck or a basketball or a baseball with amazing accuracy? But what if you’ve got Birds you’re working with birds and you’re trying to locate you got Birds over here and you’re trying to get the birds to go over there. What how do you do that? And I remember some of you heard this that I was doing this with a bunch of bowing Engineers, could use the help right now back 20 something years ago, and they said it’s easy John just kill the birds then you can throw them over there. That’s


John Scherer: I remember say what if you wanted the birds to be alive when they got? All Yeah, that’s a different kind of deal. So when you throw a bird, where’s a bird He’s gonna go wherever the heck the bird wants to go. Sorry about that. So when you introduce your magic change process, where are people going to go They’re gonna go wherever they go. So how do we get the birds to want to go somewhere? What are some natural attractors as the bird bird watches? No, what would make the bird want to go over there? So you want to innovate, how can you make it attractive? How can you make it interesting? How can you? Reward people not with money necessarily, but just with encouragement and with racing up the success stories and telling the story to the organization to the team. and this of course is the key principle and I think It’s magic.

John Scherer: Instead of a small group and this is how the big four consulting firms usually approach a change initiative. it’s so like the doctor model. when you go to see a doctor the doctor has the expertise you bring the symptom. And the doctor figures out what’s going on what the problem is and then tells you what to do about it. the downside of that is and I’ve got lots of Dr. Colleagues that can back this up a very very small percentage. I remember once I Seventeen percent of the people go home and do what the doctor said. I mean, that’s unbe So in a change project when you have a small group of experts who do all the thinking and do the problem solving and then tell you what it means and what to do about it. they maybe actually brilliant. They quite often are Brilliant Solutions.

John Scherer: The big four know what they’re doing. The problem is they drop that brilliant answer to the problem into a system that isn’t ready to do anything with it. This still doesn’t understand the problem. So what Curt figured out is let’s ask the people themselves to be a part of the process. Let’s get them to tell us what the problems are get them in small groups to come up with Creative Solutions. And then let’s keep the linkage with the decision makers. So they’re part of the process too. So there’s no surprises and then the whole system is learning. So you discover your way to a change you don’t plan your way to that action research. Here Finding out what is actually happening. This is kirch’s. conscious my words for Kirch and finding out what is happening with the people who are affected.

John Scherer: And why it’s happening. That’s the research Kurt said Don’t take any action without research. That’s the research and if you get all of that on the table with a picture of a Preferred Future where we all want to go. Not just what the boss says the sea level. Where that is seen and discussed by the stakeholders in a safe place. Where it’s okay to say, about I don’t know about that boy. When you do that what happens is and if that group has been empowered to act if the process is empowered to make decisions or is linked into the decision-making process. That has the power to change people teams and even larger systems. This is my version of action research from I think this is absolutely essential. Whatever you’re trying to ask the engage the people who are going to have to change don’t just be the expert and try to sell it to the people. It’s really hard to do.

John Scherer: so y’all last thing before we wrap up and start talking with each other you need to see the change is actually a grief situation. Something is dying something needs to die. And something new needs to come into existence, So this is a grief situation. So what happens in a Greek situation up above the water line. Remember my thing of the water line, you have the water line stuff. You can see and Right and this is change management up here. This here’s where we are. We have a process. We’re going to go across here going to put people in a series of meetings. We have some slides and some stuff to do that’s really great. But when you get to the end of that all you’ve done is put people through the process maybe change has happened. Maybe it hasn’t because what you have below the water line is the emotional world.


John Scherer: Okay in a merger the org chart below you have changing the heart. We’ve got to get people to change the hard level what’s happening down here shocking denial. We’re going to do who thought of that that’s ridiculous uncertainty resistance. No. No, I’m not ready to deal with that yet. And then I kind of a grudging acceptance. All right, and maybe we should do that and finally some kind of full commitment. That’s the grief process. So how do you help people move across What would you need see? to move across and if the sea level has been thinking about this for a year, how did they get over there? And then they turn it over to the employees aren’t ready. And the sea level says why they so resistant. Geez guys, give him some time. How long to take you all to get over there.

John Scherer: So, if you’re helping to organize this how do we engage people and make it okay for them to be resistant at the front end? It’s like Gestalt. What about resistance? I love highly recommend my friend Rick Mars book called Beyond the Wall of Resistance. Brilliant guy. He actually wrote the book about resistance. Excuse me. Don’t sell the change to false optimism tell us much the truth as you can this is going to be a challenge, but we can do it, resistance as a It is a contribution learn from it invite resistance into the process. Get them to tell you and they will help the process. Invite everyone, but invest your energy with those right don’t waste energy trying to convert to people that are hostile keep inviting them into the process, but then move with who wants to move. Okay? so

John Scherer: you’re gonna have people who are going to be affected by The Innovation by this change. They’re going to have to implement it who has expertise who could block it. these are kind of people whose voices you need to have in the process, especially at the very center. And then you’re going to always have people who are this from a colleague. Martin says you’re going to have people who are enemies of this change Go hostile from the beginning public about it gonna have people that are cynics don’t think it’s going to work people have sitting on the fence wait to see so much. Yeah People that say, okay, I’ll help this happen. And then you have people that are gonna be Champions. how do you help people move across there? And how do you deal with the people on the left hand side of this chart? And this is where Rick has a lot to say.

John Scherer: He says look you got these people that are either actively passively post cynical neutral letting it happen. this is my concept? How do you help people take one step to the right? I love to talk to somebody who’s actively opposed and say look I get it. Thanks for telling me why this is so stupid. What would it take for you to just move Not all to one step to the right. How can you get people to just take a look a little more openness to what you’re proposing? After a while you’d be surprised what happens. This is the way change happens, this back to the water line This is called the hard stuff below the water lines off and called that’s called the soft stuff. But our colleague Lynn’s Garden Vancouver. She says no. No, it’s not the soft stuff. It’s the harder stuff. So in your change initiative, you’re going to have to address the hard stuff, but it’s not going to happen if you don’t also.

John Scherer: Address the harder stuff the human people their feelings and their attitudes you need management up there. This is where leadership comes in relationships. Yeah. So doubt. I love this statement from Margaret Mead and American Enterprise never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has So who’s ready for the advanced class? thank you for that. I’m going to stop the presentation here and come back to the group.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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