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Board-CEO Involvement in Innovation/Change Management

Blazing Trails on the Diversity and Inclusion Front at RTS

February 16, 2018 0 Comments

In Changing By Design (Jossey-Bass, 1997), I recount a real-life example of the difference between what Chris Argyris calls “espoused theory” and “theory in practice.”  Early in my career I worked closely with a young, ambitious, fast-track college chief executive who was an avid consumer of the latest management thinking and could go on at length about one innovative technique or another.  A favorite hobbyhorse of his was participatory management and team building.  Waxing eloquent on the subject of teamwork as a key to organizational innovation, his eyes would tear up on occasion – he was that sincere.  His espoused … Read the rest

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Making Sure Your Retreat Generates Powerful Outcomes

December 14, 2017 0 Comments

Over my thirty years of work with public transit CEOs and their boards, I’ve seen a number of transit authorities bring off board-CEO-executive team retreats that have made a real difference in their authorities’ affairs: developing board governing capacity; strengthening the board-CEO working relationship; updating values, vision, and strategic goals; energizing board and staff members; etc. By the way, a real retreat (as opposed to just a long meeting) lasts at least a full day and often 1 ½ days.

Experience has taught me that the key to a productive and energizing retreat is a systematic retreat design process that … Read the rest

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Cleveland’s Joe Calabrese: Innovator Par Excellence

November 30, 2017 0 Comments

Over the past quarter-century I’ve learned that the public transportation authorities that are really good at getting significant, out of the box change accomplished are invariably led by a CEO/GM who is passionately committed to playing – and well prepared to play – what I call the Innovator-in-Chief role.  The CEO/GM is the only person in your authority who can wear the Innovator-in-Chief hat for the simple reason that no one else brings to the change game the formal authority, influence, access to resources, and time required to spearhead an out-of-the-box change effort and to overcome the inevitable inertia and … Read the rest

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Beware of Passionate Ownership of Mismanaged Change

November 13, 2017 0 Comments

“You’re pretty obviously over your head and can’t really understand what we’re doing.  Instead of getting people riled up, why don’t you get yourself up to speed and join the team?”  This is what I was told in so many words several years ago – early in my public management career – when I had questioned the progress that a consulting team reported it was making in upgrading the financial management system of a large public transportation agency.  Reflecting on that experience years later, I think what was at work was a modern version of     that classic cautionary tale, “The … Read the rest

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Vision: Your Board’s Driver of Innovation and Change

March 25, 2017 0 Comments

This article originally appeared at our Extraordinary CEO blog.  It is just as pertinent to public transit leaders.

A few months ago I sat in on a meeting of the board planning committee of a nonprofit economic development corporation.  We were running through an outline of the agenda for the corporation’s upcoming board-CEO-executive team daylong “strategic work session,” which would kick-off the corporation’s annual planning cycle.  Things were going really smoothly until we got to the description of the breakout group that was to fashion an updated vision statement for the corporation.  Three of the seven committee members immediately went … Read the rest

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Extraordinary CEOs Who Wear the Demystifier-in-Chief Hat

July 21, 2016 0 Comments

This article was originally published at www.extraordinaryceo.com.

Little did I realize what I was getting into when I was offered my first managerial job after three years in the Peace Corps and graduate school – chief operating officer of a large but quite troubled local nonprofit providing a wide range of educational and job training services.  Talk about a challenging situation, especially for a guy not yet 30 years old!  This relatively new nonprofit was on the verge of closing down because of a threatened removal of Federal funding due to a history of mismanagement.  My COO position had been … Read the rest

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CEO Bill Carpenter On RTS’s Award Winning New Transit Center

June 7, 2016 0 Comments

The Regional Transit Service’s award-winning Transit Center, which was named 2016 Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association, is not only a triumph of customer-focused, aesthetically pleasing design and meticulous construction management.  This strikingly handsome, state of the art facility in downtown Rochester, New York is also the product of RTS Chief Executive Officer Bill Carpenter’s close partnership with his Board of Directors and his aggressive outreach to key community stakeholders, including local elected officials.

As Bill recounts in this fascinating new podcast, his years of executive experience in business  imbued him with a strong customer orientation … Read the rest

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Fear: the Insidious Foe of Positive Organizational Change

October 26, 2015 0 Comments

Diverse People in Meeting With Speech BubblesThis post originally appeared at www.extraordinaryceo.com.  Since it applies to all nonprofit and public organizations, I’m re-posting it here.

My most recent article at this blog, “Board Composition as a Conscious Growth Tool,” shared some really good news. The governance committee of a prestigious aging services nonprofit used the process of filling board vacancies to turn the 25-member board into a more powerful vehicle for achieving the nonprofit’s growth targets. Over the course of three hours or so, committee members had brainstormed candidates for board seats whose connections, experience, expertise and other qualifications might help this nonprofit grow. And putting … Read the rest

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Stakeholders as Partners in Innovation: Real-Life Cases

July 23, 2015 0 Comments

Diverse People in Meeting With Speech Bubbles

Stakeholders have loomed large in the last couple of articles posted at this blog.  “The Dallas Streetcar:  Intergovernmental Collaboration At Work” (June 30) features a podcast by DART CEO Gary Thomas and Board member Bill Velasco describing how DART worked closely with two stakeholders – the City of Dallas and North Central Texas Council of Governments –  in bringing streetcar service back to Dallas (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/the-dallas-streetcar-intergovernmental-collaboration-at-work/). The Dallas Streetcar has been a wildly successful innovation initiative; the second leg will be completed in 2016, and the third is being planned.  Opening with a real-life account of a stakeholder “quid … Read the rest

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The Dallas Streetcar: Intergovernmental Collaboration At Work

June 30, 2015 1 Comment

Dallas has a well-earned reputation as a can-do city that aims high and more often than not hits the target. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is widely recognized as a highly innovative, well-governed, and capably managed transportation authority that has aggressively expanded service over the years, including putting in place the country’s largest light-rail network. And regional cooperation – spearheaded by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) – is alive and well in the DART service area.

So it’s not surprising that the Dallas Streetcar opened for business on April 13, but getting this stellar example of intergovernmental … Read the rest

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