Summer Learning

Summer is often a great opportunity to make progress in your reading list or try out a different podcast. Listed below are some of the ways we are staying sharp over the summer. What’s on your list?

Reading List:

Listening List:

Do you have other suggestions? Share in the comments!

(Click on the blog title to add, view comments)

Remember all that great stuff we talked about?

If you’re an MNODN member, then you most likely get a lot of benefit from attending our monthly sessions. The topics are always interesting, the speakers engaging, and the discussion lively. You probably leave with a head swirling in ideas and possibilities.

But how to make the most of all these ideas? How do you hone in on the most valuable ideas and actually turn them into action?

This process is called learning transfer, a topic familiar to many of us. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution to implementing your MNOND-based inspirations. However, there are practical steps anyone can take to make the most of your hard earned insights.

The link below is an article on making learning transfer happen. Which gets me thinking - what actions do you take to make sure your insights turn into action? How do you make the most of new OD-based knowledge?

Case Study - Diversity and Inclusion...From Scratch

This month, we focus on strategies that foster inclusion for the LGBTQ audience, specifically.  Remember - fostering inclusion isn't just the right thing to do, it is also a way to make organizations effective.  Click on the link below for a in-depth view of how one organization is fostering meaningful inclusion.

Do you have a favorite article or case study about the benefits of Diversity and Inclusion? Share with the rest of the MNODN community in the comments. Click on the blog post title to add comments.


Check back for blogs from our April MNODN Round Table Experts

As we get closer to our April meeting, we will be inviting our 6 round table hosts to share their thoughts:

  • Katherine Curran, Ph.D., Systemic Constellations as A Method of Organization Change

  • Chuck Hanson, Leading the Change Wheel

  • June Klaphake, Feedback Based On Change

  • Steven Page, Ph.D., How Effective Leaders Develop

  • Cathy Perme, How To Run A Successful OD Consulting Business

  • Rebecca Surmont, New Leader and Team Alignment

March Thoughts … Innovation and Creativity

As we prepare for our March 7 program from Levelhead and their approach to Mindfulness, we are sharing a blog posting from them as well as a blog from one of our sponsors, Orgametrics. Both coincidentally focused on Innovation. As warmer weather gets closer each day, hopefully we can use these two blogs and the March program to ‘Spring’board us forward.

Innovation as an Organizational Mindset
Saundra Schrock, levelhead
Globally, organizations are experiencing change at an unprecedented rate. Today innovation is not just an option, but a business mandate. Having the ability to see disruptions, challenges, and change as opportunities is defined as having an innovative mindset. Organizations that cultivate this type of mindset encourage a positive culture that allows ideas to grow and develop at all levels. They think of innovation as simply how they do business. See the rest of the blog here.

Build Creativity and and Innovation by Blending Experts and Non-Experts

I came across a quote from author Bob Sutton that read, “At places where intense innovation happens, they often combine people who know a little with people who know too much. The tension between massive knowledge and fresh thinking can spark a fundamental breakthrough.”

This statement got me thinking about how many organizations handle brainstorming, ideation sessions. They bring the ‘best people’ into a room to figure it all out. See the rest of the blog here.

Join us in reflecting on 2018 as we bring in 2019

2018 Was an Exciting Year

Before we close out 2018, here at MNODN we're also thinking about what we learned, wanted to learn (but didn't), and in general how we grew.  Below are some questions that help us capture these insights.  How would you respond?

  • What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

  • What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

  • What was your biggest failure?

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

  • What was the best book you read?

  • What kept you sane?

  • Who did you miss?

  • Who was the best new person you met?

  • What valuable life lesson did you learn this year?

  • What is a quote that sums up your year?

The excitement of a new year is that we can take what we learned in the past 12 months to be even better in the next 12 months.  Cheers to working hard on your own development as well as helping to develop others! Please let MNODN know how we can help you do both in 2019,

4 Differences between Employee Engagement and Alignment

Measuring employee engagement is a standard practice in organizations around the country. It was the evolution from employee satisfaction. Organizations wanted to learn not only if their people were satisfied with their job and employer, but whether they really wanted to do their job at a high level. The logic - people 'engaged' in their work will perform better. Measuring an organization's alignment with mission, vision and strategic plan is the next evolution from engagement. Here are 4 key areas where measuring, and then working on improving organizational alignment, differs from engagement.

1. Alignment takes engagement and adds the layer of purpose

It's one thing to like your job and the people on your team. However, if your employees don't really have an idea of how their role connects to the reason why your organization exists and how its impacts on that mission, why are they there? If they are connected to the mission and vision and see the value of their work, they are more apt to work harder and smarter to achieve goals.

2. The questions you are asking about your organization center around alignment, not engagement. As a leader, you are asking yourself questions all the time about why certain things are working or not working, why projects and initiatives are struggling, why leaders aren't getting things done on time. Those are questions that speak directly to alignment, not simply engagement. Aligning your organization to your mission and vision answers those questions you have.

3. Alignment is better at connecting different departments and functions to a common purpose

Aligned organizations tie different departments with common threads for why they work, and work together. Less ambiguity, more transparency, better communication and more productive results occur when departments aligned to a common mission work together.

4. More aligned organizations/departments perform better to key metrics

Ask leaders how changes in engagement scores tie to performance measures and most will tell you they don't. Differences in performance, organization and team-wide, can be seen when compared to levels of alignment. More than that, changes in performance measures correlate with changes in alignment levels. The alignment work you do can actually tie to improvements in how the organization performs.

There really is nothing more important than ensuring your organization, and its people, are aligned to why it exists.


Challenge yourself to think of your organization's present and future differently. Engaged (if they are even engaged), but misaligned people check off the boxes of the things they are supposed to do. They may enjoy the work, but it is just work. Little inspiration. Uncommitted culture of innovation. As a leader, I'm sure you want to know your work is having more of an impact.

Annual Mentor Kickoff - Spring 2019

Top 3 reasons to become a mentor The MNODN Mentor Program is accepting applications starting in Spring 2019 for the 2019-20 session. Questions? Email

Click here for more information.

1. Learn something. Mentoring isn't just about passing along information. Previous participants in the MNODN mentoring program value the reciprocal nature of mentoring, noting that they learn a lot from their mentees.

2. Pass it on. The knowledge that you have about the OD field is invaluable. Whether it is a broad understanding of OD, how to be an external consultant, navigating an organization, or even how to get your foot in the door, your experience can help someone beginning or transitioning in the OD field.

3. Give back. Think through your time in the OD field. Has there been a person (or persons) in your life that made an impact in your career? This is your chance to give back and be that person for someone else.

OD Community Opportunities - Fall 2017

OD Practitioner Open Call for ArticlesOctober 20 is the deadline for the Spring publication of Practicing OD, which publishes in the OD Network’s OD Practitioner. Contact Deb at for more information.

Polarized to Synergized: Leveraging Polarity for Leaders, Organizations and Nations Featuring Speaker: Barry Johnson, Ph.D. Thursday, September 21, 2017 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. $195 per person - includes advanced chapters of Barry's new book and an individual and organization assessment. The event will take place on the St. Thomas Minneapolis Campus.

Click here to learn more.

MNODN Programming - Fall 2017

Embracing Our OD Roots
September 14, 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. We have special guests kicking off our MNODN Fall programming.  MNODN founder, Roland Sullivan will interview OD experts, John Johnson and David Noer.  They will discuss the history of OD, current business trends and how we can use our OD roots to address the constantly changing business environment.

Making OD Happen from the Outside
October 5, 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Bob Hartl from Pearson Hartl Consulting & Associate Professor and Program Director of the MBA in Leadership & Change at The College of St. Scholastica will talk about Making OD Happen from the outside. He will discuss what external OD consultants are seeing on the ground with their clients and how current business needs are being addressed.

CLICK HERE for more details and to register today!

Attend the 2017 Asian AHRD Conference

Want to visit one of the most diverse and culturally rich countries in the world while enhancing your organizational development knowledge/skills? Then attending the 2017 Asia AHRD Conference will take place in India from Nov. 8-10, 2017 is a great opportunity for you. The conference is organized by the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) in collaboration with Asian AHRD. It features an impressive lineup of esteemed keynote speakers, panelists, chairs and discussants. Click here for more information.

In addition, there will be a few noteworthy pre-conferences on Nov 7 featuring key speakers, Dr.Gary McLean and Dr.Ron Jacobs, who will be presenting on ‘Developing the Leadership Pipeline’. Click here for the pre-conference details.

PENWorks Conference 2017: Advancing Organizational Excellence

Performance Excellence Network's PENworks 2017 is the region's largest, most powerful conference focused on continuous improvement and organizational excellence!  You will gain insights that will inspire change and facilitate better outcomes in your organization and in your career! April 24, 2017 - April 25, 2017 | All Day

Early Bird through March 31!
To register, copy and paste this link -

Partner Event: MNISPI Smile Sheet Radical Makeover

April Full-Day WorkshopSmile Sheet Radical Makeover: Drive performance by improving your learning data! April 7, 2016 (Friday), 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

To register, please go to:

Metropolitan State University at Energy Park Place, 1380 Energy Lane, St. Paul

Will Thalheimer, Ph.D., is one of the most respected and practical experts on learning and performance. He is also an engaging speaker, and MnISPI is proud to sponsor his full-day workshop on improving learning data.

Why spend a day evaluating post-learning response forms? Meaningful evaluation is essential for driving performance improvement and for gaining support from business leaders for your learning initiatives. Sadly, the most common type of evaluation are forms popularly called “smile sheets” that provide very poor feedback. Research shows that the majority of data gathered from such forms are virtually uncorrelated with learning results. Will Thalheimer’s full-day workshop will enable you to radically improve response forms — based on scientific research on learning — to economically capture meaningful data to guide performance initiatives and demonstrate their value.

Minnesota Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award Program

The Minnesota Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards are designed to recognize organizations for their efforts to foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance.  The award program highlights a variety of workplaces, large and small, profit and non-profit, in Minnesota.  Applicants are evaluated on their efforts in the following five areas:

  • Employee Involvement
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Employee Growth and Development
  • Health and Safety
  • Employee Recognition

Winners locally are then eligible for national recognition and compete with other state winners for the American Psychological Association’s National Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award and Organizational Excellence Award (formerly Best Practices Honors).  The local award program has been extremely successful and is committed to spotlighting organizations that demonstrate gold standard performance nationally!  Do you know an organization where people want to work and where employees feel that management is responsive to their work and personal needs? Please contact Jennifer Pollard at or (612) 756-8458 or go to to learn more.

Publishing Opportunity in Practicing OD

Do you have tips for applying proven or cutting edge OD tools or practices?  Does one of your case studies include OD lessons learned? Or perhaps you have a client OD challenge your practice has uniquely addressed. To be considered for publication in Practicing OD (a segment of the OD Practitioner), send your 900-1200 word article to the Practicing OD co-editors prior to February 1st. For emails and details, please see

Thanks to our Alliance Partner Panel Members

Over 65 participants attended our Thursday, January 5th What’s New: Learning from our Partners Thanks to our partners for a great conversation about OD, HR IOP and partnerships.

Please check out the websites and social media platforms for these great organizations. Performance Excellence Network, Minnesota Facilitators Network, Minnesota Professionals for Psychology Applied to Work, International Coach Federation, and the Minnesota Change Management Network

Under Pressure

under-pressureMany of us sing in the shower. In fact many of us think we sound good. Some of those who sing well in the shower sing in a choir or community chorus. Singing in a group gives us confidence because mistakes are often covered up or drown out by our fellow singers. Try singing solo. No way! The prospect of having all eyes looking at you is painful. Most of us would rather run the other way and hide under our covers. This is a perfect example of how many of us react under pressure. While signing to an audience is not something most of us do on a regular basis, communicating to our peers or boss at work is something we do daily. Still there comes a time when there is conflict. When conflict arises there are two adverse reactions that we are likely to have, but want to avoid at all costs – stammering or freezing completely. Worse yet, we might say something we regret, but can’t take back. Don’t be that person who puts their proverbial foot in their mouth and becomes the subject of water-cooler gossip.

Bill Benjamin of the Institute for Health and Human Potential has four key points to remember to help us perform well under pressure. Benjamin presented his ideas to the MNODN on Thursday, November 6.

The four key take aways from his presentation were:

  1. Be aware that humans have an emotional defense system that triggers default behaviors.
  2. Apply S.O.S. when under pressure.
  3. Go to the other side of the bridge when in a conversation.
  4. Approach those 17% moments.

The human brain has a processing center called the amygdala. The amygdala is designed to protect us from danger. When threated, the amygdala tells us to shut off all reason and initiate our “fight or flight” response. This is good because it keeps us safe, but bad if we react without thinking.

To avoid an embarrassing or damaging reaction in a pressure situation, use the S.O.S. tools. Stop! Disconnect. Walk away or count to 10. Once removed from the situation Oxygenate. Take a deep breath. Increased oxygen to the brain literally helps the body and mind function better. Finally, Seek information. Get a cognitive appraisal of the situation. Applying S.O.S. helps us act intelligently as opposed to reacting irrationally.

When communicating under pressure start by going to the other person’s side of the bridge and then crossing back to your side. If the other person knows that you stand with them it’s easier to get them to come to your side. Bridge the gap by seeing the situation form their perspective first. Crossing the bridge from their side to your side still gets you both on the same side in the end.

Finally, focus on improving your performance in situations when your reputation is at stake. This is approximately 17% of the time. The rest of the time is business as usual. Reputation-critical moments can be identified when all three of the following elements are present: 1. The outcome is important. 2. The outcome is uncertain. 3. We will be judged by the outcome. Be ready to face these reputation-critical moments. Don’t avoid them, rather approach them. The valleys and plains are easy to conquer. To build and maintain your reputation conquer the hills and mountains.

When pressure situations arise, be ready. Using the strategies mentioned above will help you thrive, not merely survive. It’s the man or woman who shines in the darkness that will rise to the top.

By Steven Shore