Innovation Junkies Podcast

Tim Creasey on Innovation & Change Management

The Jeffs chat with Tim Creasey, Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci. Don’t miss it as they explore: Prosci’s methodology in change management, accepting & understanding the need to be agile, & how to focus on the problem you’re trying to solve.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge, and this is the Innovation Junkie’s Podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies, and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour, we’re going to be sharing specific strategies, tactics, and tips that you can use to grow your business, no matter the size, no matter the industry, and no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker. Someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business, and we’ll dig deeply. We’ll uncover specific strategies, tactics, and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goals. Welcome to the Innovation Junkie’s Podcast.

Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie. To learn more about our GrowthDX, go to innovationjunkie.com/growthDX. Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here and welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkie’s Podcast. How are we doing Jeff?

Jeff Amerine: Oh, doing great, doing great. I can’t hardly believe that we get paid to do this. Oh, that’s right, we don’t. But I’m glad to be here.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. And when I say this is Jeff Standridge and then I say, “How are you doing Jeff?” For someone who may be listening to us for the first time, I’m not talking to myself. You have the Jeffs: Jeff Standridge, Jeff Amerine. And both of us here on the Innovation Junkie’s Podcast, we come to you each week, episodes dropping on Monday, and we’re glad you’re with us today. Jeff, we’ve got a great guest with us today who represents an organization that I’ve followed for a long, long time. We’ve got Tim Creasey, who’s the Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci. That’s a contraction of “professional” and “science.” They’re a change management organization that helps organizations drive better adoption of their solutions, help you grow your change management capability, tap into innovation, and recognize that innovation is really a driving force of change. As I said, Tim Creasey is the Chief Innovation Officer. Tim, it is great to have you with us today.

Tim Creasey: Hey, thank you. Glad to be here.

Jeff Standridge: Awesome.

Jeff Amerine: Hey Tim, before we get into the real serious and important stuff talking about change and innovation, we know that you’re sitting out there in Idaho and in some of God’s country, not far from great places to ski. So we’re going to kick this thing off by talking about what our favorite ski resorts are. What’s yours?

Tim Creasey: Fantastic. Yeah. I’m here in Boise, Idaho. There’s a mountain called Brundage Mountain outside of McCall. Got to ski it a lot this year because, right? I used to be on the road all the time. And then I got grounded. Children were in virtual school, so we went up to the mountains for a bit. And the nice thing about Idaho mountains, I had one afternoon and I had one of these little apps that tracks your ski runs, right? And I did 11 runs with 11 minutes of total wait time in the lift lines. So that’s skiing out in… And now I’m probably going to get in trouble for telling people about it because Idaho is growing like crazy, and they want to keep it a secret, so maybe we edit out the actual state that we’re in, but.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, I just booked my flight, so.

Tim Creasey: Ah jeez, now I’m going to hear about it from the folks here, for sure. We got to ski a lot this year, and my youngest was real tentative about stepping into it. And so he and I were up on the hill one day and he finally took on this one lift, right? And I’m feeling pretty good on the day, and so I go hit this jump. And then I land it, and I’m thinking I’m doing a pretty good thing here, but all of a sudden there’s another jump right where I landed. So I hit that one and just yardsaled across the run. But here’s my tentative son, who’s finally stepped into this run, and so I had to do everything in my power to stand up and be like, “It’s all right, buddy, let’s keep going.” Couldn’t let him see that one, for sure. But are you all skiers too?

Jeff Standridge: I haven’t skied in a while, but I guess I haven’t skied in or near Boise, but I have skied the Colorado range, of course. And I guess I liked Keystone the best. I liked Keystone because of the night skiing, I thought that was kind of cool. I did a sledding run in the Swiss Alps one time and had a similar experience where my last words that I remember were, “Hey kids, I’m going down that first hill and watch this.” And so there was this natural mogul just right off to the edge of the run, and there aren’t really many natural moguls, there’s usually something under it. And so I hit that natural mogul and it was a stump and it shot me straight up in the air and I landed, twisted my knee. My sled goes off about a hundred yards off to the side. And after I got my composure about me, I stepped off the run to go over and get my sled, and it was about neck-deep. I was like, “Forget it, they can get the sled in the spring.”

Tim Creasey: There you go. Yeah, we have Bogus as the hill right outside of Boise here, and they have night skiing. And when you get a sunset up there, there’s nothing better than a beautiful sunset.

Jeff Standridge: I bet, I bet. How about you Jeff A?

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, so in my younger days, many years ago, I lived for five years in Cheyenne, Wyoming. And we were three hours from anywhere you’d want to ski in the Colorado Rockies and skied some in Wyoming as well. But my favorite one of all, at that time, was Steamboat Springs just because it was a big mountain, you could get lost on some of the back mountains, and the town was right there and it was a lot of fun, and, typically in those days, wasn’t quite as crowded. But I liked the night skiing at Keystone and even the top bowel stuff at the basin was really good. So I never really had a bad time doing it.

You all were talking about wrecks and different things. It was icy on Keystone this particular day, which is rare for snow in the west. And I was cutting carbon all the way down, slaloming back and forth and ended up losing the edge and was sliding and thought, “Well, this is no big deal. I’m not going to hit a tree. It’s fine.” The ski came off, traveled up the side of my leg, kind of dug into the side of my leg, kicked me back on my feet. And I thought, “Well, I’m going to have a bruise there.” And so I’m standing there down at the bottom, trying to retrieve my ski and my wife’s skis down. And she’s like, “Hey, there’s a pool of blood next to you.” And I looked down and my pants were cut open on the side and it cut open a gash about three and a half inches long on my left leg that had to get ski patrol back to the lodge and stitched up. So that was the story of how not to crash. Anyway.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, we chaperone several youth ski trips out there. And so Laurie, my wife, a former nurse, I guess once a nurse, always the nurse, spent most of her time in the infirmary with injured kids, so. Well, let’s talk about a Prosci. Let’s talk about Tim, your role at Prosci. Prosci the organization. Tell us a little bit about the organization and you’ve been there from pretty much the start, right? And how it’s kind of grown to where it is today.

Tim Creasey: Yeah, so Prosci, our discipline is change management. How do we help organizations achieve the outcomes they expect in times of change, by really bringing their people through those change efforts. So that’s kind of the essence of why we do what we do. We deliver that through research, training programs, advisory services, but in the end, it’s how do we drive greater results in outcomes through our people? Because, hate to rain on your parade, but a beautiful solution that people that don’t adopt and use, creates no value to the organization. So that’s the discipline and what we do.

We were founded by an engineer who was very curious and kept asking the question: why do some projects succeed and others don’t? And it turns out closing the gap around people adopting and using the solution we concocted really is the biggest difference. So, that’s the firm. I joined 20 years ago. The firm’s been around for about 26 years. In the last 20 years, I’ve led the innovation and really the thought leadership, the research and development side, of building out a solution portfolio to equip our clients to deliver better change through their people, so.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. So tell us a little bit about the Prosci kind of general methodology that you guys use.

Tim Creasey: All right, good. So change management’s the name of the discipline, and a lot of times it happens in projects. So we have a project, we design, develop, and deliver a technical solution. That happens all the time. A lot of times they’re powered by technology. A lot of the innovation manifests itself in a change to how we do things at this organization. There’s the technical side of that change, which organizations invest tons of time and energy and effort and resources into. And there’s the people side of that change. What does it mean to Andy, Becky, Charlie, Debbie, Eddie, Frannie, Jerry, Harry, or Izzy? What does it mean to their day-to-day job and how they show up? And so the methodology really is architected around first anchoring to: what is this change trying to achieve? Who has to do their job differently and how as a result? And then how do we equip, prepare, and support them to be successful in stepping in to those new processes, new technologies, new systems, whatever the nuts and bolts of the technical solution is?

So, when I found out inherent in innovation is changes to how we operate as an organization, right? I’ve yet to see an innovation project where the outcome is, “Do everything the exact same way as we’ve always been doing it,” right? But it’s equipping our people to be successful in those individual journeys. So, we teach the change practitioner that sits on the project team. Then we’ll go into organizations and really start to teach leaders how to be more effective sponsors of change, how to equip people managers to engage and support their people through change, and then really how to help the whole organization grow change muscle. Because it really is the most important competitive advantage any of us can have is how quickly we can out-change market conditions, competitors, global pandemics, whatever we’re getting thrown at us.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, we’ll be right back with the episode. But first we want to tell you about a limited opportunity to take advantage of our GrowthDX. For a limited time, we’re offering a free strategy call to see whether our unique diagnostic tool is right for you. Go to innovationjunkie.com/growthDX to learn more.

Jeff Standridge: I’m really glad to hear you talk about the three disciplines of innovation, leadership, and organizational transformation or organizational change. We like to talk about those three, but we find very few organizations who are talking about the stringing together of those so that one then drives the other. And I, quite frankly, don’t think you can talk about innovation without talking about leadership. I don’t think you can talk about innovation and leadership without talking about the longer-term organizational change ramifications of that.

Tim Creasey: Absolutely. First of all, are either you Marvel fans?

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. Somewhat.

Jeff Amerine: Absolutely, for sure.

Tim Creasey: All right, we’ll circle back to that, but I got really inspired by The Medici Effect, Frans Johansson’s work around innovation and how the Renaissance was sparked, because people were in a shared physical proximity, right? You had a funding source that drew everyone to Florence. And so you had painters and sculptors and musicians and poets all sitting around having dinner and drinking wine together. And it was the spark of those disciplines together that… That’s the heat of innovation, is those disciplines bumping into each other. And you see it happen in science too, right? Where you take something like aeronautics and material science. And it feels like friction at first, but all of a sudden you get a spark of innovation that leads to a new airplane covering.

And I think you’re right, Jeff, that it happens inside of businesses, that these disciplines that seem like they’re independent, it’s when they bump into each other that we get first friction, but then that spark that leads to innovation. So back to Marvel. Guardians of the Galaxy one, do you remember the character that Benicio del Toro plays? He lives on the planet Knowhere, and his name is The Collector. He collects oddities from around the world or around the universe, right? And Jeff, what I watch happen is organizations collect project management, collect innovation, collect strategic direction, collect knowledge management, and collect change management as capabilities. But they haven’t really figured out how to activate and harness the power of that ecosystem, of those things working together.

And so yeah, this idea of how do you activate and harness the power of an ecosystem, really, I think, is going to set the stage for organizations who want to be in the best position to… I hate the term future-proof, because proof you do when you’re trying to prevent something from happening, right? You weatherproof the tent so that it doesn’t get weathered. The future is going to happen. You don’t proof the future. You get future-ready and getting innovation, leadership, change management, and project execution. That alignment’s essential, right?

Jeff Standridge: No, I think you’re right.

Jeff Amerine: No, I mean, it’s great concept. And the inevitability of what we see and we engage in, in trying to move companies down innovation, we work with startups and try to move them down a path of scaling and growth. One of the things you inevitably see is you’ve got leadership that’s got a vision. They’ve got the right inclination. They’re motivated. You may even have your frontline folks, your low-level folks, that are like, “Yeah, things have got to change. Things have got to get better.” Inevitably, there’s this group in the middle that serves as a friction point. They’re very resistant. There may be informal leadership there and informal titles. They can be either influencers or saboteurs. In good change management, how do you impact that group? And to either get them out of the way or get them on the boat?

Tim Creasey: Yeah, so I think getting them on the boat’s the key, right? Because people managers, that middle section, is probably the most critical and neglected ally in times of change. Do you remember when we used to take airplane flights? I used to do it all the time for work, right? They’re going through the safety thing at the beginning, and they say, “If the masks happen to fall out of the ceiling, what are you supposed to do?”

Jeff Standridge: Put it on yourself first.

Tim Creasey: Before you try to help that person next to you, right? You put yours on first. I think, Jeff, that’s part of the problem. It’s part of the problem and the solution to driving better organizational change with that critical middle is to realize that they are both recipients and agents of change. This change is going to impact them, and we need them to help catalyze the change with others.

And too often, we neglect that first one. Of helping them understand what the change means to them, helping them step out of their own current state into that transition and start to move towards that future state. So ADKAR is probably more known than Prosci. It’s our individual change model, which describes those five building blocks of a successful individual change. It starts with awareness of the need for change. Internalizing and the answers to: why? Why now? What if we don’t? And why this, instead of that? After awareness is desire to participate, the personal decision to get on board with this change. And we can’t make people make the decision, but we can influence it with: what’s in it for me? The personal motivators, the organizational motivators. And so, Jeff, that middle group that we need to be such critical agents of change. We need to first help them through those first steps of their change journey. Understanding: why? Why now? What if we don’t? Why this instead of that? And what’s in it for me? Before we ask them to begin helping the folks that they influence or that they manage directly.

Jeff Standridge: I love that. I believe it was Lewin that talked about unfreezing and then refreezing, right? And he talked about getting people okay with the change to unfreeze where we are today before we can start moving them in another direction.

Tim Creasey: Absolutely, yeah. And William Bridges gives us the ending, the neutral, and the new beginning. And he tells us about the psychological risk of acknowledging that I need to change what’s happening today, right? And yeah, Lewin gave us that notion of the unfreezing, how hard it is to undo how things are done today. I think a lot of this is interesting to put up against the backdrop of 2021, right? Because the narrative in organizations has changed quite a bit over the last 20 months, 18 months.

There’s this phrase in the change management world. Let’s see, it’s an acronym. But I always, let me make sure I get it right: T.T.W.W.A.D.I. T.T.W.W.A.D.I. And it stands for That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It. That’s the way we’ve always done it, right? It’s just baked into human beings. It’s baked into organizations. But it’s almost laughable as we sit here and look at the past 16 months. And so I actually think organizations hopefully have the platform to step in to trying out new things, to experimenting, because we’ve done so many things that we thought were impossible that we just made it happen, so. Yeah, stepping out of it.

Jeff Amerine: So part of that is you’ve got to accept the understanding that you need to be agile, and you need to be resilient. A lot of people are not comfortable with the chaos that definitely comes with change. And so how do you get them to feel like it’s okay. We can be more resilient. You can be more agile and accept that things are… What are some of the things you’ve seen that have really worked?

Tim Creasey: Yeah, I think resilience is both. There’s a mindset and a tool set component here, right? And we actually do this as a two by two with all kinds of different disciplines and capabilities and organizations. There’s the mindset shift and the tool set shift that we have to make. I think the mindset shift has really been amplified and supported by a lot of the work around growth mindset. Dwyer’s work helps us to shift and create that mindset. The tool set aside around resilience, I think, is where we can continue to equip our people. Even at Prosci, we actually brought a training program internal for all the employees in the organization from, it was called the Human Performance Institute. It was really around energy management.

Every single one of us wants more time. It turns out time is the one non-renewable resource we all have, right? It marches forward one second at a time, always. So if we can’t get more time, we better manage the energy that we have. And so it goes into how do we expand and recover? How do we have our physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental energies and how those four interact with one another? So I think equipping people with that tool set and organizationally setting the mindset that change is the expectation is laying that foundation. I do have a problem… You guys do math, right? So change is a constant. In this change, it’s part of the narrative right now, but constants mean something to me. Because I have math and science in my background, right? 3.14159.

Jeff Standridge: Pi.

Tim Creasey: That’s a constant. There you go!

Jeff Standridge: And pi aren’t square. Pi are round. Because cornbread are square.

Tim Creasey: Cornbread’s square, right? Yeah. That’s a constant! Cornbread being square is a constant. 3.14159 is a constant. 10.022 times 10 to the 23rd is a constant. So the idea that change is constant, I think, blurs the reality. Change is cumulative. It’s dependent. It’s simultaneous. It’s consistent. That’s the new world we’re living in. But to say change is constant, I think, actually takes away from some of the humanity of what change feels like in an organization, because nothing about the last 18 months has felt constant, so.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, you know-

Jeff Amerine: Change may well be more of a function of entropy than being constant. It’s a march towards disorder and reorder.

Tim Creasey: Absolutely. The pendulum.

Jeff Standridge: One of the things I’ve seen back in my corporate days was that we’re always anxious to change. And sometimes we don’t do a good job of assessing why we’re changing. And one of the things we certainly focus on, on the innovation side of the house, is what’s the problem we’re trying to solve? What’s the challenge we’re trying to overcome? What’s the opportunity we’re trying to seize? And does that warrant a major change initiative? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Tim Creasey: Yeah, absolutely. I love this question, right? What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? I’ll give you a couple of more pieces here. One of the phrases my team hears more than any, internally, is to what end? To what end? And they hear it all the time. Whether it’s about an email we’re writing, a program we’re developing, responding to a particular client request, because if we can anchor together on the to what end? We actually now are equipped to solve all kinds of problems. And Peter Senge has a great quote, and it’s too long, so I paraphrase it. But my paraphrasing of the Senge quote is, “Empowerment without alignment only amplifies the chaos.” Empowerment without alignment only amplifies the chaos. And Jeff, if we’ve not ruthlessly defined the problem we’re trying to solve, we haven’t created that sense of alignment that we need to solve those problems.

The other thing, and we did this. Prosci just refreshed our core methodology and technology over the course of the last couple of years, really to elevate change success as really a centerpiece of, because it’s why we do change management is to drive change success. So we have this change scorecard that I took to a client a number of years ago. This was a big pharma in San Francisco. The very first cell of the change scorecard is: what are the results and outcomes we’re trying to achieve from this change? They were two years, $25 million into the project. So I click into the cell and I say, tell me what to type in, what are the results and outcomes we’re trying to achieve?

Is this thing on, right? You guys are two years and $25 million into this project. What are the results and outcomes you’re trying to achieve? And I’m amazed and no longer surprised how often we invest time and energy without a clear articulation of success. Somebody pulled me aside, though, and said, “Here’s the deal, Tim. Someone somewhere at some point in time knew why we were doing change.” And so I think there’s both the capturing of the reason at the start of the innovation journey, but also realizing that people can suffer from vision fatigue. When all we do is pound the realm of what may be. We have to reground in what was it that caused us to make this change in the first place? What did we set out to achieve? What was the reason? What are the organizational benefits? And what are the project objectives? So, anchoring to the to what end? Is critical if we’re going to drive successful change.

Jeff Standridge: So Tim, tell us where our listeners can get in contact with you? Where they can find Prosci and how to connect with you?

Tim Creasey: Very good. So prosci.com is the best place to start. There are loads of free thought leadership articles, blogs. There’s probably four days worth of recorded webinars, if you have four days. Seriously, 24 times four, 96 hours worth. You’ll also find the information about the training programs and solutions that we deliver there. I’m going to be most active on LinkedIn, so you can track me down on LinkedIn. And that’s where the bourbon-inspired stuff happens late in the evening, so sometimes that’s even more fun than the middle of the morning podcasts as well, so.

Jeff Standridge: Well, it’s been a great time visiting with you today. We appreciate the work that you do, and if there’s anything that Jeff A or I can ever do to help and support you, certainly feel free to give us a shout.

Tim Creasey: Will do. And thank you all. And yeah, have a great rest of a blur-day. It feels like everyday is a blur-day. So now I wish people happy blur-day. Happy blur-day!

Jeff Standridge: That’s all right. Thanks so much.

Jeff Amerine: Thanks for coming on.

Tim Creasey: Thanks all.

Jeff Standridge: This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkie’s Podcast. Thanks for joining.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkie’s Podcast, please do us a huge favor. Click the subscribe button right now, and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

Change The Trajectory Of Your Business

Our GrowthDX package has been responsible for massive improvements in many companies. Some thought they had it figured out but had blind spots, while others knew they were missing the mark but had no idea where to start.

This is your chance to make significant breakthroughs in your organization. Don’t miss out!