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Don’t Fall Flat. Get Engaged Participation.

August 9th, 2023

Don’t Fall Flat. Get Engaged Participation. 

Inclusive participation matters. There is a mound of research that shows that engagement drives greater productivity, ownership and work quality. What are you doing to include and engage everyone to unleash problem solving in your organization? What are you doing to advance innovation and achieve those aspirational outcomes? 

I know, it’s August. Summer is winding down. Vacations are over. School is starting back. And it’s still HOT. But guess what…August is the perfect time to dig deep and make small shifts in your meetings, interactions and engagement with your partners. I’m not asking for monumental change as we close out summer…I’m just asking for all of us to see what we can do to amplify the wisdom of others in the room. Because small shifts now can reap great benefits in September and beyond.

Below is a list of ten principles of inclusive engagement for you to consider. Which one do you want to experiment with in August? Just try one and see if it doesn’t improve your organization in some significant way.

ISI Consulting 10 principles of inclusive engagement

I’d love to hear about your successes. But if you are struggling with one of these, the ISI team would be excited to help you. Set up a time for a chat and we’ll provide you with a FREE tool or resource to help you out. Thanks for being a partner and friend to ISI Consulting.

Stay Sharp, 

Holly Hayes, President & Founder
ISI Consulting

PS – Join me for a virtual ToP Methods 3-day facilitation training.  More information and Registration.

Being Welcoming Even When You’re Stretched

May 10th, 2023

Being Welcoming Even When You’re Stretched

They arranged to rent a bus for the day. And a medical doctor and two nurses devoted a half day to help my family enjoy visiting Table Rock State Park with my father…who died just three months later. The Hospice team didn’t have to do this. The doctor and nurses didn’t have to do this. There was no billing code for reimbursement for their services, but they still did it.

Why? This special Thursday came about all because a doctor listened carefully and then showed unreasonable generosity to my family. He heard my brother and mother talking about hiking to the top of Table Rock, swimming in the lake and getting ice cream at Aunt Sue’s restaurant. Quietly and with no social media optics moment, Dr. Kumar (pictured here with my mother and father) made it happen. Had he and his team ever done this before? Nope…and it didn’t matter.

Why would a physician and two of his nurses do this? Showing love and genuine care was a non-negotiable for them. It defined who this hospice organization was, and you didn’t need to read a strategic plan or mission statement to experience this in action. They baked it into their organization from the ground up, and when an opportunity to show love and genuine care presented itself, they didn’t ask “Should we?”, but “How can we?”

I know the terms welcoming, belonging, and inclusion are being used more frequently around the staff and board table. I want us to really dig deep and uncover what that means for your organization or business. How might we approach being welcoming and inviting with as much passion as we devote to our product or service line? We live in a world where money is getting tight(er), everyone is tired and stretched, and folks are slowly starting to pull back. We need connection like never before. Even in lean times, don’t slack up on your values. Hold true to the reason your organization/business exists. Lean in and be relentless in making your values shine even brighter. We all need that.

South Carolina has 47 amazing state parks scattered from the coast to the Upstate. Let me suggest you visit one of them and build some memories of your own. Because they’re incredibly important during times when we’re all stretched and need connection. If you have never visited Table Rock State Park (Table Rock | South Carolina Parks Official Site) I highly recommend it. It’s the first place my future husband and I said, “I love you” and one of the last places I shared an embrace with my father. I have since visited the park with my three-year old son. He never met my Daddy, but boy do we share stories.

Stay sharp,

Holly Hayes, President & Founder
ISI Consulting

I Went Off the Grid and Survived

April 12th, 2023

I Went Off the Grid and Survived

Yep…I did it. I’ve been off the grid for nine days and I’ll admit, it feels a little strange. I whipped into work this morning ready to roll (I thought) and realized I’d left my cell phone at home. Had to turn around and run back for that. Next, I struggled with setting my laptop up in the docking station. You see – my laptop has not been touched in nine days. Needless to say, I was a little rusty and my team members let me know they found it quite humorous. It was definitely a Monday kind of Monday.

There’s more and more evidence that we all need to take a “screen break” every now and then. I completely agree that we all need to “detox” from the large and small monitors in our lives and reclaim how to think without them. We need time to think and marinate on a topic without immediately Googling it or researching an idea. Having time to sit with our thoughts and ideas without a single email, phone call, text message or notification is essential. Don’t worry – the world will still go on, I promise. And I submit, you will probably be more thoughtful, creative, and in-tune with your surroundings by intentionally fasting from the digital monitors that have overcome our daily lives.

Just because I was off the grid while in Mexico this past week doesn’t mean I wasn’t productive. Quite the contrary. I created two new frameworks for strategic planning and an accelerated action plan and even crafted a poem depicting part of the origin story for my business. I did this all with nothing but pen and paper. Throughout the week, I scribbled over pieces of the work and refined ideas further as I was able to think about them more. I’ll even revisit all of this again before taking to the keyboard to type up my final versions. It felt refreshing changing up the process, and first starting with paper and uninterrupted space to really reflect and think about issues. How might I help clients who are having a particular problem? What framework, over-arching focus question, or scripted story could unlock the gridlock and help clients move past their blocks and move toward action? Because I had nine days of no phone calls, no emails, no reminders, and no internet to tell me what the answer was, I was forced to be creative. To come up with ideas and answers that work for MY clients, in OUR collective environment.

If you are stuck with an issue, I encourage you to take a day or two and unplug. No phone calls, no laptop, nothing…but you, some paper, some books (not work-related) and time. I’m sure it will feel downright weird at points, but it will be worth the effort and discomfort. You were created to be creative. You were called into your position at your organization for your perspective. What do you think? Don’t worry what 1,000 followers think or the latest peer-reviewed article says. What do you think and know? What do you want to test and explore? The most successful people always say there was a point where they had to trust their gut and instincts. What they personally knew and had learned. You can’t do that unless things are quiet enough to listen and hear.

Stay sharp,

Holly Hayes, President & Founder
ISI Consulting

Don’t Wiggle Out of the Squiggle

March 22nd, 2023

Yeah, you heard right. Don’t wiggle out of the squiggle. According to Leith Sharp (director of Harvard’s Sustainability Leadership), squiggle is all of the variation that happens in the “in-between” phases of any project. Apparently, it’s the new jargon for the “messy middle.”  New ideas and new projects all have their own set of “issues” – stakeholders, risks, opportunities, budget, history, context, etc.  With these issues onboard, the journey is rarely if ever linear. The journey is most often up, down, and all around and sideways. Yet, the final story we share is the linear story. Leith Sharp and others want you to embrace the squiggle and share all parts of your story. Let’s be real, and don’t hide the messy middle.

Just last year while teaching a project management bootcamp, I encouraged team members to be aware of what’s known as the implementation dip. As soon as you get going, there will be a dip in productivity. Beware! Don’t let that dip take you by surprise.

But I failed to tell them that, in all honesty, this process looks more like a roller coaster ride than a single dip. They needed to beware of 250 dips and squiggles that are somewhere in the middle! Did I warn them of that? Heck, no! I just showed one dip on the implementation journey and then moved on to how to sustain momentum. Shame on me.

If you know it’s coming, you won’t wiggle out of the squiggle. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep making adjustments. It’s part of the real-life project life cycle. Embrace the ride. And one more piece of advice.  Let’s talk to our newest team members (Gen Z) and let them know to expect this. There are going to be a lot of mistakes, concerns, and questions along the way. Those can make your newest team members really uncomfortable. Build trust on your team and welcome this! We do not wiggle out of the squiggle.  We are going to embrace it and move forward.  Let’s all be more comfortable and willing to share our real – squiggly – journey so others can learn along the way.

Stay sharp, 

Holly Hayes, President & Founder
ISI Consulting

From Candy to Concentration

November 9th, 2022

If you’re like me, the holidays hit waaayyy too quickly after the last Halloween candy is gobbled up. But before you get completely caught up in holiday mode I would love for you to carve out one hour for you and your team to conduct a strategy audit for the year 2022.

Yes, I know…you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for one more thing this time of year!” But don’t you worry. I have the questions for you to ask. It’s simple, and it won’t really take that much time. When you’re done, I guarantee you’ll be both surprised and encouraged by what you and your team have found.

Start by walking your team a through a guided visualization where they think back to January 2022. Then progress though all of the months. Give each team member two minutes of silence to scribble down whatever things come to mind. It can be a team member’s support, a milestone reached, that challenging grant submission, or whatever. Anything goes.

Just like in life, you want to record the TA-DA moments (the positives) and the “not there yet” moments. They all count.

Then, guide your team to complete this worksheet together. It will help you sort out all those things the members scribbled down. You’ll examine three dimensions for the year 2022 – results, process, and relationships. What were some of our results? (Did we meet our goals for the year?) Where did we make some process changes this year? (How did they work out?) What was the quality of our relationships, both internal and external? (Do we need to work on these?)

Get it all out on paper, and then when you finish looking at all three areas…ask two final questions:

What insights are emerging from our conversation today?

What do you see as a next step for YOU in 2023?

That’s it…you’ve just completed a strategy audit that is going to set you up for great success in 2023. I want you to commit to carving out an hour to do this SOON. If you wait until January, you’ll have forgotten some of those critical moments and memories. Collect them when they’re fresh!

ISI Consulting is cheering for you all the way!

Stay sharp,

Holly Hayes, President & Founder

P.S. This can be used as a personal audit form as well. I recently did one and realized I need to be a little nicer to my husband. Note to self.

Beware of UFOs

October 22nd, 2022

No, I don’t mean flying saucers. I’m talking about Un-Finished Objectives. UFOs.

Don’t you do it. Don’t set one more goal, create one more plan, or make one more resolution until you’ve checked to see if you have any UFOs lying around your office. I know, as each year begins, you feel obligated to start something new. Everybody is doing it. It seems almost obligatory. But resist the urge. Because I guarantee you have some unfinished objectives gathering dust.

Pull out your strategic plan, action plan, or the compelling narrative you sent to a funder, and revisit your goals and objectives with your team. Your goals are probably still relevant and require little changing. And you probably completed some of your objectives, but what about the rest? The UFOs.

Instead of starting with a completely new plan, revisit those UFOs, and see which ones still need to be done, which ones need to be revised, and which ones need to be removed completely. This will take 45 minutes to an hour max with a small team. So why not host a UFO hunt sooner rather than later. I guarantee, key actions will be identified that will advance those goals that your team cares about. Cheers to eliminating one to two UFOs in your organization in the first three months!