Index

OUR NON-NEGOTIABLES: INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY

At The Gunter Group, the leadership traits and characteristics that define us are our Non-Negotiables: Collaborative, Integrity, Intellectual Curiosity, Thrives in Ambiguity, Emotional Intelligence, and Grounded Confidence. These traits and characteristics guide us every day in our interactions with clients, each other, and our community.

When I think of intellectual curiosity, I think of someone who is constantly yearning for new input and has a natural curiosity to learn and understand complex systems. Someone who is aware of their blind spots, has the motivation to seek out additional expertise when needed, and focuses on improving their decision making abilities.  

At The Gunter Group, we search for individuals who exhibit intellectual curiosity because this trait tends to be a significant indicator of someone who makes good decisions and thoughtful recommendations. Almost everything we do in consulting is about helping our clients make the most informed decisions possible, ranging from small-scale projects to strategic visioning.  

I was recently talking to a client about some challenges a potential client was having with Workday. They had already implemented the software but it wasn’t operating well—business units weren’t happy and were finding it difficult to agree on ways to improve it. Frustration was growing and their leadership team approached us, asking for process improvement and system configuration to resolve the issues. 

So, I got curious about their situation, wanting to dig into the root cause of the problem and determine the underlying causes of frustration. As we talked further, the CIO shared more about each business unit and their respective leaders. It became clear that they were unable to find consensus when it came to problems stemming from the application. Even when they could agree on WHAT should be done, they would disagree on HOW. 

Through a series of conversations, I helped the client pivot from the assumption that they had a Workday problem to a realization that their core issue was around decision making and governance. Now we are working with this client to address the root cause of their issues and it was my curious inclination that led to a solution which will have lasting impacts within their organization. 

On a more personal level, intellectual curiosity has been a recurrent theme throughout my life. My undergraduate experience was a function of my interest to rigorously investigate the philosophical roots of my own belief system. I found the most difficult program I could, one that would challenge me on multiple levels, and pursued it as a source of intellectual growth. My military career was punctuated by the sheer enjoyment I found in having to learn new jobs frequently. The life of a Junior Officer in the Navy was one in which I made frequent role changes in order to quickly learn how to effectively balance mission completion and shipboard life. 

And now, as a Principal Consultant and a Market Leader for TGG, managing work across multiple clients in multiple states, my career in consulting is still satisfying my thirst for knowledge because of the opportunity to learn new things with every new client engagement. Enjoying the opportunity to shift from client to client is one of the main reasons consultants enjoy what they do and that is certainly true for me. It fosters both intellectual curiosity and engagement with the work itself. I’ve always said that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up; a sentiment stemming from curiosity in many different domains. Consulting is where my natural intellectual curiosity intersects with the real world and TGG offers the opportunity to grow and thrive in a constantly shifting environment. 


More about Tony Schweiss:
Tony builds teams to support strategic change initiatives and helps leaders plan for highly impactful change. Thriving in the face of complex problems, he brings clarity to ambiguous situations and organizational questions. Leaders quickly come to trust Tony as a partner in making their tough decisions. A former Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, Tony’s leadership and management philosophy is tempered by a career of bringing calm and planning to high-impact, high-stress scenarios. His track record of success in defining and overcoming challenges in demanding environments has led to consistent portrayals of him as an outstanding manager and a leader among his peers. 

REFLECTIONS ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

The Gunter Group hosted the ACMP Pacific Northwest chapter’s monthly Coffee Chats in April, May, and June. Just as everyone was figuring out how to deal with so many things changing, we facilitated a three-part webinar series entitled ‘Reflections on Change Management in Uncertain Times’. The conversations were timely but the change lessons we learned are timeless.

Afterward we sat down with our host, Stephen Bacon, to get his perspective on how to navigate through large-scale change.

In case you missed the webinar series, you can view replays here:

Part 1: How Things Have Been Disrupted
Part 2: How We Are Adapting
Part 3: What We Are Learning


More about Stephen Bacon:

Stephen is passionate about understanding the overarching strategic goals of an organization and leading the changes that are so often necessary to implement those strategies. His expertise is managing strategy and change projects across a variety of organizations. Stephen has spent twenty years leading initiatives at Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions and not-for-profits in the education services, technology, financial services, consumer products, and healthcare industries, including extensive international experience. Stephen is a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), holds a green belt in Six Sigma, and is accredited in various psychometric assessments (MBTI, ESCI, NBI). He holds a B.S. in finance and marketing from Boston College and an M.A. in organizational psychology from Columbia University. In addition to his service on not-for-profit boards, Stephen has three young children and a chocolate lab. He lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

REFLECTIONS ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT IN UNCERTAIN TIMES: PART THREE

Part 3 (of 3): What will we carry forward?

We completed the last session of our series with ACMP Pacific Northwest — ‘Reflections on Change Management in Uncertain Times’. Thank you again to ACMP for the opportunity to facilitate this important conversation. 

Part 1 of the series was about how things have been disrupted, Part 2 was about how we are adapting, and in Part 3 we had a very open conversation about what we are learning.

This conversation was very candid and we highly encourage you to watch the replay. Some highlights of our discussion were around

– The importance of vulnerability and connection during this time
– Staying curious and humble in our learnings
– Not attempting to continue business “as usual”
– Creating new normals in our work environments
– Being a present listener and practicing empathy

A replay of our June discussion is now available and we encourage you to listen in on this collaborative information sharing!

View slide deck onlyDownload

Hosted by:
Stephen Bacon
Senior Consultant
The Gunter Group

TGG FACILITATED APPLIED AGILE PANEL DISCUSSION

A few weeks ago, The Gunter Group facilitated a panel discussion at one of our clients (a global footwear and apparel company), which focused on Agile methodology application within their organization.

We would like to share a few key topics from the discussion.

1 — Implementing an Admin Week for Scrum Team Efficiency

One panel participant shared the story of her team iterating on ways to improve development velocity. They were having the common issue of missing sprint target dates and discussed the problem during a retrospective. Together, the team realized that between meeting schedules and “shoulder taps” for side work, they just didn’t have enough focused development time. 

Initially the team implemented a block of time from morning until 1pm for dedicated development. While that did increase velocity, they still weren’t where they wanted to be. 

Finally, they landed on a concept to implement an “Admin Week”. They decreased their sprints from 3 weeks to 2 and added in 1 week for admin time. This gave the team 2 weeks of uninterrupted development and 1 week to sprinkle in all of their administrative work such as meetings, ceremonies, idea brainstorming, internal documentation, mentoring, and training. 

This shift resulted in a 36% increase in velocity and 36% decrease in duration of stories from “ready” to “complete”. 

2 — Mitigating Discomfort Around Uncertainty

Another panel participant, an Agile Coach within our client’s organization, shared his thoughts around building comfort with uncertainty. 

With the timely example of COVID-19’s highly impactful effects on businesses’ roadmaps, we discussed how important it is–now more than ever–to strengthen the ability to navigate uncertainty, with an agile mindset. 

Participants agreed that we are seeing executives embrace agile thinking in their ability to pivot quickly and react as efficiently as possible. Work is being prioritized more clearly and decisions are being made at the “last responsible moment.” 

3 — Servant Leadership in an Agile Framework

Lastly, our third panel speaker shared his perspective on leading in a Scrum Master role with a servant leadership approach. 

This perspective emphasized the importance of maintaining a people focus in agile environments. Rather than just focusing on scope, schedule, budget–the servant leadership approach enables and promotes leadership in others. 

He shared his experience about working with Scrum teams in this manner and how it has built relationships, garnered trust, and fostered growth within the team.

It also sets up the team for a safe environment during sprint retrospectives so that they are able to share thoughts and feedback more openly and from a place of assuming positive intent.


At The Gunter Group, we thrive on helping our clients by facilitating conversations such as this one and invite you to reach out if you are interested in TGG hosting something similar within your organization. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more. 

To those who attended the panel discussion outlined above, thank you so much for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the next one on June 24th! 

TGG HOSTS ACMP’S JUNE COFFEE CHAT

On June 12th, we’ll wrap up our three-part series around ‘Reflections on Change Management in Uncertain Times’ with ACMP Pacific Northwest.

In April, we discussed what has been disrupted due to COVID-19. In May, we discussed how we are adapting to the changes. In June, we’ll look ahead to what we will carry forward.

This month, we look forward to discussing questions like:

– What has forever changed in the way we work?
– What DON’T we want to go “back to normal?”
– What will the “new normal” look like?

We encourage you to consider these topics ahead of time as this will be an interactive discussion.

REGISTER NOW to join us on June 12th at 9am PDT as we finish out this series!

OUR NON-NEGOTIABLES: INTEGRITY

At The Gunter Group, the leadership traits and characteristics that define us are our Non-Negotiables: Collaborative, Integrity, Intellectual Curiosity, Thrives in Ambiguity, Emotional Intelligence, and Grounded Confidence. These traits and characteristics guide us every day in our interactions with clients, each other, and our community.

Thinking of INTEGRITY as something that is non-negotiable requires that you define it as so much more than simply the absence of questionable behavior. At The Gunter Group, integrity is actively demonstrated in everything we do and is baked into the fabric of our culture, business, and day-to-day work.

Sometimes making choices based on integrity can be difficult or unpopular, but it’s critical in our work that we be willing to say what needs to be said.

Before joining The Gunter Group, I spent six years in the seminary, a career that offered no shortage of time spent discussing the meaning of integrity. My pastoral experience taught me how hard it can be to translate ethical theories into action—especially in the business world. When I first heard someone at The Gunter Group talking about integrity as a non-negotiable, I was skeptical. However, I quickly saw tangible evidence that not only convinced me of their commitment, but actually deepened my understanding of what true integrity looks like.

As an employee, I expect my employer to treat me with dignity and respect. In this way, The Gunter Group exemplifies this kind of integrity on a daily basis. The transparency and candor of our leadership team, the fact that they seek and incorporate feedback, and honor the diversity of experience, perspectives, and needs of employees sets the tone for the entire company. I’ve seen our Partners make long-term investments in their people, even at the expense of short-term gains. Rather than seeking growth and profit for their own sake, they see building a successful business as a means to provide opportunities for their employees and constantly seek improvement in everything from our 401k and health benefits to family-friendly policies and events.

In our work with clients, we practice integrity by focusing on results, first and foremost, and being truly worthy of trust as opposed to gaining it as a means to an end.

Each consultant contributes to The Gunter Group’s commitment to integrity. Sometimes making choices based on integrity can be difficult or unpopular, but it’s critical in our work that we be willing to say what needs to be said. No matter which client we are currently working with, integrity requires an honest assessment of our abilities, asking for help when needed, and following through on commitments. Additionally, integrity means celebrating a culture of inclusion and collaboration, always taking responsibility for ourselves and our work, and sharing credit where credit is due.  

In our work with clients, we practice integrity by focusing on results, first and foremost, and being truly worthy of trust as opposed to gaining it as a means to an end. When speaking about our clients and peers’ challenges and business problems, we do so with empathy and respect. We look for opportunities to exceed expectations and favor building an organization’s capacity over increasing their dependence on us. 

“Have the courage to say no.”

~W. Clement Stone

Finally, The Gunter Group embodies integrity by being willing to say “no.” On many occasions, I’ve seen The Gunter Group turn down work that didn’t align with our values. When the best solution for a client is one that doesn’t involve us, we recommend it anyway, even if it means less business for us in the short-term. 

When every decision is made through the lens of integrity, what many organizations think of as “nice to have” becomes fundamental. 

REFLECTIONS ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT IN UNCERTAIN TIMES: PART TWO

Part 2 (of 3): How are we adapting

We hope you are enjoying our series around ‘Reflections on Change Management in Uncertain Times’. Thank you to ACMP Pacific Northwest for the opportunity to facilitate this important conversation. 

During our Part 1 discussion in April, we talked about how things have been disrupted and you can view a reply of that conversation here.

In Part 2, this month, we discussed how we are adapting and some key learnings out of our conversation were:

– We’re moving beyond the “how are you” platitudes
– Video call fatigue is real and we are navigating that together
– Communicating more than you think you need to is probably the right amount
– We are seeing more agile thinking from leaders
– It’s not a given that we will learn from this—we need to keep talking about it

A replay of our May discussion is now available and we encourage you to listen in on this collaborative information sharing!

View slide deck onlyDownload

Be sure to join us for the last conversation of the series (Part 3, June 12th @ 9AM PDT) when we’ll discuss what we are carrying forward. Watch Now

Hosted by:
Stephen Bacon
Senior Consultant
The Gunter Group

LEADING THROUGH CRISIS, OUR VETERANS’ PERSPECTIVE

At The Gunter Group, we are fortunate to have several military veterans on our team who have deep experience leading in times of crisis. They sat down with one of our consultants, Laura Emily, for a conversation about how they are leaning on their backgrounds in the service to navigate our current environment.  

We invite you to join us for this rich discussion on the parallels between leading in a warzone or humanitarian environment and leading in a business environment impacted by the coronavirus. Read on below to learn more about each speaker and the leadership topics they cover in the video.

WATCH NOW


Matt Bader

Oregon Market Lead and Principal Consultant
Served 5 years as a Captain in the Air Force

Listen to Matt speak about “Balancing Compassion With Accomplishing a Mission

Matt’s passion and leadership purpose is all about helping teams reach their highest potential. He loves building and leading high-performing teams and seeing what can be accomplished when strong values, sound strategy, and a relentless commitment to execution collide. He is a trusted advisor that thrives on building lasting partnerships and driving high-quality solutions for clients. As a results-driven leader with more than 14 years of leadership, strategy, project management, and process improvement experience in a wide variety of complex environments, Matt brings a deep knowledge of implementing enterprise-wide transformations across people, process, and technology domains. He has built and led multifunctional teams to deliver successful solutions in a number of industries to include: retail, education, financial services, healthcare, and government. Matt graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a B.S. in business management in 2006 and has certifications in program management, LEAN, and contract management. He has spent the majority of his academic, military, and consulting career studying and employing character-based leadership principles in challenging and ambiguous environments. Outside of being a loving husband and father, Matt enjoys the intersection of all things hockey, heavy metal, fitness, and beer.

Tony Schweiss

Northern Nevada Market Lead and Principal Consultant
Served 4 years as a Lieutenant in the Navy

Listen to Tony speak about “Resiliency During Crisis”

Tony builds teams to support strategic change initiatives and helps leaders plan for highly impactful change. Thriving in the face of complex problems, he brings clarity to ambiguous situations and organizational questions. Leaders quickly come to trust Tony as a partner in making their tough decisions. A former Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, Tony’s leadership and management philosophy is tempered by a career of bringing calm and planning to high-impact, high-stress scenarios. His track record of success in defining and overcoming challenges in demanding environments has led to consistent portrayals of him as an outstanding manager and a leader among his peers. His skill set is under-girded by his formal education in the Humanities, holding a Bachelors Honors degree in both philosophy and theology from the University of Notre Dame. In addition to an aggressive reading habit, Tony is deeply interested in everything that the Sierra Nevada mountains have to offer. Sun, snow, backpacking, and skiing all keep him, his wife, and kids busy in their free time.

Noah Rich

Senior Consultant
Served 6 years as a Captain in the Air Force

Listen to Noah speak about “Maintaining Confidence, Connection, and Healthy Habits”

Noah has a clear record of success in driving strategic initiatives across a broad spectrum of industries and business functions. Curious by nature, Noah is able to quickly develop a deep understanding of business problems, develop structured plans, and manage teams to deliver positive results. Noah’s professional experience includes work in government, IT, finance, insurance, manufacturing, construction, health care, education, and international business. He holds a M.B.A from the University of Colorado and a B.S. in meteorology from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Outside of work, Noah spends more time than he should cycling around Oregon.

Joe Spampinato

Account Lead and Senior Consultant
Served 7 years active duty and 3 years in the reserves as a Major in the Marine Corps

Listen to Joe speak about “Maintaining Momentum”

Joseph thrives in digital product and marketing management because of his affinity for analytics and the relative immediacy of data-driven change. Whether managing a host of agencies, internal teams or directly implementing strategies and tactics, he has a wealth of experience bringing products and projects to market. Joseph has more than 15 years experience leading teams, serving in product management, marketing, commercial operations and other roles in the consumer, pharma, life science and technology industries. Whether leading startups to profitable operations or managing multi-million dollar omni-channel marketing budgets, Joseph has demonstrated a path to success, regardless of scale. He earned an M.B.A in marketing from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Outside of work, Joe is manifesting patience and unconditional love with his two teenage children. On weekends, look for Joseph in the backcountry of the Cascades, cooking for a cycling camp or racing cyclocross.

Jim Calko

Account Lead and Senior Consultant
Served 5.5 years as a Captain in the Army

Listen to Jim speak about “Building Your Team”

Jim’s collaborative, servant leader approach has earned him the reputation of being a problem solver who consistently gets things done. He has the unique ability to marry tactical actions with strategic outcomes. Jim’s experience spans across multiple industries including military, high tech manufacturing, eCommerce and health care sectors. His areas of expertise are program management, software and new product development, process improvement, and communications strategy. Jim holds an M.B.A. from the University of Portland, an M.A. in human relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a B.A. in political science from Youngstown State University. He is also a Scrum Master and Scaled Agile (SAFe) 4.0 certified.

5 TRAITS TO LOOK FOR WHEN RESOURCING CRITICAL, QUICK TURN PROJECTS

Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions, and a healthy dose of curiosity. What are the most important traits to move critical work forward? How about if you don’t have the luxury of time? And what if the need is short term in nature?

If this sounds familiar, then you may have a critical, quick turn project.

Recently, The Gunter Group worked with a regional healthcare insurance company on the roles necessary to help the company contend with business impacts of the coronavirus.

While the origin of our current collective disruption is uncommon (a pandemic), the business need for resourcing quick turn projects is familiar.

Whether you’re faced with a crisis now, or looking to be prepared for the future, check out these 5 traits that keep organizations moving forward in critical, quick turn projects.

1. Work Horizontally & Vertically. Disruption knows no boundaries. Leaders who can bridge communication gaps both horizontally and vertically within an organization will break down barriers and drive focus. Consider a generalist who can bring a holistic perspective. 

2. Ramp Up Quickly: Uncertainty creates a vortex of need. Seek people who love learning. People accustomed to diving into new disciplines are skilled at the process of learning and can move from beginner to expert (or close to it!) at a rapid pace. 

3. Navigate Ambiguity. Projects that surface quickly are usually highly ambiguous. Seek people who are energized by the unknown. They have confidence from years of working in uncharted territory to know that they are capable of figuring things out. 

4. Embrace Your Culture: Your culture is the key to “how things get done around here” and when time is limited, it is important to have someone who can adapt quickly. Whether considering internal or external support, ensure they have chameleon-like qualities to reflect your company and departmental norms. 

5. Tailored Solutions. Solutions need to make sense for your company and situation. Prioritize tailored approaches over cookie cutter solutions.  

To illustrate, let’s return to the regional healthcare insurance company’s situation. 

As a result of COVID-19, a high volume of government mandates had major impacts throughout the organization. To respond, a centralized  task force was organized to assess impact, disseminate information, and ensure timely resolution. For efficiency, the task force formed a hub and spoke model assigning each business area a single point of contact to interface with the task force.

Due to urgency, short-term nature of work, and lack of internal resources, priority was given to onboarding a consultant who could roll up her sleeves and be successful in an ambiguous, urgent, and ever-changing environment as an interface between their task force and critical business functions.  

Critical, quick turn projects are a constant as organizations frequently experience disruption whether by instigating or reacting to circumstances. A strong project leader with these 5 traits will help teams navigate uncertainty while achieving desired outcomes. Check out a couple case studies to see how we successfully partner with our clients to help them navigate challenges and drive toward solutions.