Ann Arbor, June, 2002

Dear Colleagues:

Change is certain for all of us. It is essential to move with the changes as they happen and make active choices for positive outcomes.

That is the message of a culture change workshop series I am currently facilitating, in which management and hourly employees learn about industry trends impacting their business, team roles and a process for tracking crucial issues. In one module, after viewing the video Who Moved My Cheese, based on the book from Dr. Spencer Johnson, participants identify 'the cheese' in their organization and how they can continue to adapt to changes whether they are perceived as favorable or unfavorable.

In March I graduated from the Organization & Systems Development (OSD) program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland (http://www.gestalt.org/).  It was a powerful 18-month, post-graduate training focusing on experiential work using Gestalt concepts, tools and methodologies.

The OSD program helped me to increase awareness of who I am as a person and to bring that awareness into my interactions/relationships with individuals, groups and organizations. I was also able to explore how I integrate my way of being 'James,' the organization consultant (rational, serious, strategic) with the work of Jimmy Mac the broadcaster (spontaneous, fun, creative).

This enhanced awareness is enabling me to work with individuals and groups in a way to reach deeper levels of communication.

I am continuing my work in the broadcasting business and have done some freelance producing for Michigan Radio. My inaugural piece was about auto sales over the Internet. And I have most recently produced a story about a group of volunteer senior citizens who produce their own web-casts and special segments that are 'streamed' over the Internet. The story looks at how seniors are actively involved in finding their voice, meaning and impact on social systems.

What's important for youth across America? I was fortunate to be part of a team that facilitated the 4H's Centennial National Conversation in Washington, DC (February 28 - March 2, 2002). Instead of building a monument in honor of their Centennial - over 1,600 4H youth participants from every state, territory, and the District of Columbia convened in Washington for the "National Conversation." The groups' interactive approach was supported with a hi-tech voting tool. They confirmed five key strategies for a youth agenda in America. Recommendations from Local and State Conversations were consolidated into one national report that was presented to Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman and members of Congress. I was struck by the group's enthusiasm, hope and motivation toward making a difference in communities nationwide. For more - go to http://www.4hcentennial.org/conversations/s2/nation.asp

Conference High-Lights

I had the opportunity to attend the Global Equity Organization (GEO) conference in Washington, DC (http://www.globalequity.org). Much of the conference centered on tax and legal issues of employee option and stock purchase plans. The main message for me was that employee communication/education is a key factor for successful implementation of an option and stock purchase programs. Read about the award winners by going to http://www.geoawards.org/Pages/PreviousWinners.html

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) conference was held in Chicago in June. A key message was that business communicators need to be strategic counselors to their organizations. Plans that are linked to business objectives, goals and strategies are essential. I also sat in on a workshop entitled: What it Takes to Deliver on the Brand. It explored the corporate brand as a strategic business that must be managed to improve economics of the business and increase shareholder value.

Please visit my previous E-Zine columns from August 2001, March 2000 and August 1999.

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