Transformational highlights from the 12/2 Transformational Leaders Circle (TLC)

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Patricia Neal

Innovation and Transformation to be on the Right Side of History: Purpose, Profit, Planet

Session Archives

Did you miss the TLC in December? Here are some highlights:

Minnesota’s largest energy co-op, Great River Energy, brought a story of courage and transformation to the December TLC. The story involved a rough patch in 2013 regarding the movement from dependence on coal to a more renewable energy approach in electricity. GRE executives took a potentially huge risk to include their stakeholders - customers and regulators - by reaching out and asking for their engagement and advice on the next steps to come out stronger and more successful in the future.

Hearing all the voices* to gather a variety of perspectives allowed Great River Energy (GRE) to take initiative in crafting a strategy to grow their leadership and their business.

Conversation Starters Kandace Olsen - Vice President and Chief Culture Officer of GRE, Michael Noble - Executive Director of Fresh Energy, and Mike Thorson - Board Chairman of GRE Energy brought and modeled vulnerability, wisdom, courage and excitement for a positive future to benefit all GRE stakeholders.

The Big Q*:  We were impressed with the quality and depth of the questions asked by each participant. Conversation Cafe Thought Leaders and Reports from the Field from area leaders added further perspective to the morning. Some of our highlighted questions included:


“How do you encourage and embrace differences – of opinion, practice, foundation?”

“How do we build trust in relationships? …When we feel like it has broken down?”

“How can we leverage our leaders to be at the cusp of change so we shape it to serve many, rather than a few?”

Closing remarks:

Kandace: this is not my story; it’s our story. No individual hero; many people who created this transformation. Press the SEND button.

Michael: I learned from Kandace to use vulnerability as power. It is more important to have vulnerability than to have power.

Mike: Remembering that basically we all have much more in common than we realize, is important. The power of bringing people together and doing something simple like sharing a meal, helps me remember that.

 * a strategy core to all Heartland programs

A special thank you to all of our speakers and those who have spoken with us in the past. Thank you as well to all who were in attendance and who have graced us with their presence at our past TLC’s. It has been a joy to convene with you all. Though we may no longer be hosting TLC’s we are always a phone call away at 612.920.3029 to schedule your next consultation. Follow our LinkedIn page for updates and tips on the Art of Convening.

Does Culture Trump Strategy?

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Rachel Harris

A quick search revealed dozens of articles from around the world declaring that culture trumps strategy. Legendary systems thinker Peter Drucker has written extensively on the topic.

Organizations, like people, are complex entities with competing priorities. We live with the paradox of needing to relieve immediate problems while engaging in slow-moving culture change one interaction at a time. Drucker writes, "Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.” In order to overcome this slow-moving culture change, and wanting to solve problems, one must set their priorities. It is needed to put culture before strategy in order to see the change that is desired. 

According to a Harvard Business Review article written by Nilofer Merchant, "Culture is the domain that enables or obstructs a velocity of function. By addressing where an organization is limiting its velocity, you can accelerate the engine that fuels innovation and growth, and, ultimately, financial numbers." With a combination of culture and strategy, it allows an organization to perform at its' strongest ability. 

The ultimate question is how does one incorporate the importance of both culture and strategy to get the most results and how does one measure those results. 

Given such qualitative evidence, is it possible to create lasting strategic results when a quick fix is wanted, yet a culture change is warranted? We believe the answer is yes. Call us at 612-920-3039 to set up a plan to change your culture with lasting strategic results. In the meantime, follow Center for Purposeful Leadership on our LinkedIn page for updates on how to master the Art of Convening

Culture vs. Strategy Initiatives: What comes first?


"Part of a company's strategy could be the formation of a certain culture they aspire to achieve."

by Rachel Harris

"Strategy: A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

Culture: Broadly, social heritage of a group, organized community or society. It is a pattern of responses discovered, developed, or invented during the group's history of handling problems which arise from interactions among its members, and between them and their environment." - The Business Dictionary

As an organization plans to make changes, leaders take into consideration both cultural and strategy initiatives. Some begin to question which initiative they should highlight the importance of, in order to see the most results. The answer is simple: neither. Cultural and strategical initiatives both have lasting benefits on any sort of change management initiative.

Time and time again we've experienced clients frequently mistaking strategy as the underlying problem, when in fact, matching a company's culture to any change initiative is the key to success. According to a Harvard Business Review article on Cultural Changes, the author writes "A strategy that is at odds with a company’s culture is doomed. Culture trumps strategy every time." A company's strategy must match the culture within to show the most productivity. 

Another view on Culture Vs. Strategy is the vision that your culture is a part of your strategy. This plays off of the original idea of leveling the two. This view does so, but in a different aspect. Part of a company's strategy could be the formation of a certain culture they aspire to achieve.

Heartland wants to help you ensure your initiatives go hand in hand to create success in achieving your goals. When you cannot take the pain of the status quo anymore, give us a jingle at 612-­920­-3039 to set up a coaching session. Follow us on our LinkedIn profile to stay updated on the Art of Convening

Using Brain Science and the Art of Convening

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

by Rachel Harris

Have you ever thought about how using the Art of Convening impacts your brain? Brain science now shows that your meeting performance and outcomes can be significantly different when you take the time to connect, even in the simplest of ways. Though taking the time to connect can spark the impatience among us, it has been proven that making a personal connection increases meeting performances and retention.


Building on brain science research, CPL applies Art of Convening methodology to incrementally shift the structure of

meetings within organizations, including time for engagement, alignment, and committed action. Neurons in the prefrontal cortex begin to attune between the two or more people present, even when meeting virtually. Oxytocin gets created, which activates not only the brain, but the entire nervous system, bloodstream, and heart, which leads to an elevated capacity to think, collaborate, and innovate.

Learn more about the brain science of convening with CPL. We would love to contribute to your organization resolving a problem or navigating culture change. Call us at 612-920-3039 to schedule your next consult. Follow us on our LinkedIn page to keep up on useful tips and tricks to convene within your organization.

Center for Purposeful Leadership: Connect. Engage. Collaborate.

Transformational Highlights from the 6/10 Transformational Leaders Circle (TLC)

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Inclusive Leadership: Why Company Culture and Men Matter with Results of the 2015 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership

by Patricia Neal

At our conference we were able to speak with transformational leaders Dr. Sylvia Bartley, Medtronic Inc.• Dr. Rebecca Hawthorne, St. Catherine University and co-author of The Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership • Dr. Deborah Koland, EdD, MBA • Doug Baker of True North Groups Institute.

Each conversation starter briefed attendees on inclusion, equity, innovation and impact. Deborah and Rebecca offered research data and case studies, and a preview of what is possible in bringing women to the leadership table.

Key questions highlighted at the session included: 

  • What is the value add of having diverse voices in your company's leadership?
  • What role does company culture play in shaping women’s leadership opportunities and trajectories? 
  • Why are we still having this conversation in 2016?
  • During the "Big Q" question time, some compelling questions came forward [partial list]:
  • What is the one thing we can all do in our individual roles to impart this issue?
  • What are the practical proven best practices of changing corporate cultures so women and people of color are retained and thus represented more equitably at the leadership level in the next 5 years- not 100!
  • Do women really want the C Suite positions?
  • The are so many values they seem to have to give up to hold these spots. What can we do as individuals to change our company’s corporate culture? More here

As the session progressed our large group split up into small group "Conversation Cafés" in which thought leaders from around the area expressed and discussed the importance of company culture, the integration of more female leadership and how men can support and enable the process. 

Conversation Café Thought Leaders: • Eric Ahlness, Cargill Inc. • Heather Faulkner, Kris Petersen, think2perform • Lynn Nelson, LIN PR • Sam Paske, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services • Don Thomas, Nan Langevin, Stephanie Reem, BWBR Architects, Inc. • Lisa Walker, Logic PD • Lori Crever, Wells Fargo International Group

Concluding remarks:

"Women leaning in is not the ultimate solution for more leadership diversity. According to many studies, there is evidence that gender diversity in executive teams is connected to company earnings."

Heartland would like to extend a huge Thank you to all of our speakers, attendees and wonderful convening conversations we had at this TLC. If you may have missed our June TLC, check out our updated LinkedIn page full of helpful tips to master the Art of Convening Check out photos from the event here.

! Are you wanting to collaborate with more productivity within your organization and enable more diversity amongst your leaders? Call us at 612.920.3029 to schedule your next consult. Were you unable to attend the June Transformational Leaders Circle? Here are some highlights from our session!

Session Archives

A Leader Looks to Retain Top Talent: A Client Success Story

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Rachel Harris

In a periodic series, Heartland Group shares illuminating case studies of change management successes. The current installment focuses on a client who had come to a cross-roads and knew the status quo was no longer an option. Our client is a Human Resources Vice President who sought to resolve an employee retention problem, but found roadblocks in navigating a much more complex situation in the company culture. She hired Heartland Group to apply Convening methodology and map a path forward.

Coming to the realization that her smartest, most talented staff were underperforming or leaving, a Vice President of Human Resources knew a change was needed. After assessing employee needs and emphasizing talent retention, she discovered that company culture was impacting performance.  

She contacted Conversational Intelligence-trained coach Patricia Neal and initiated a plan of action. Together they focused on retaining top female talent in the male-dominated engineering company and re-energizing the workforce through a special interest group (SIG). What began as a staffing retention issue had morphed into a culture change initiative.  This is where the project got exciting!

This SIG met to re-focus the mission and vision, design a kick-off meeting and receive Art of Convening training.  The group relaunched successfully in March with over 70 people in attendance - double the expected turnout!  Their success evolved from executive coaching and training on more effective meetings.  Now that the SIG is up and running, they have requested a quarterly tune-up on designing effective meetings for inclusion. The quarterly trainings and monthly coaching have enabled middle managers to create a culture of inclusion, develop staff buy-in and transform their leadership. Excellent outcomes!

We love to work with leaders who are ready to move beyond the status quo.Center for Purposeful Leadership: Connect. Engage. Collaborate. Give us a jingle. #612-920-3039.

Using Convening to Transform Company Culture: June TLC

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo Credit: Daniel Scotton

by Rachel Harris

With Mother’s Day recently passed, I arrived at work yesterday thinking about how to create a positive future for all people, whether their path takes them into the business world or not.  An equitable workplace is on my mind.  I worry that it might not be possible to spark shifts in company cultures that dissolve the glass ceiling for women and minorities.  And, I hope that such corporate transformations are already happening.  

At the upcoming TLC-Twin Cities, Heartland will convene a conversation inspired by news of the 5th Annual Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership.  

In this important annual conversation - relevant for anyone who is making forward-thinking business decisions, has a daughter or knows a woman rising through the ranks, Heartland and St. Catherine University will relay how company culture impacts women’s advancement in Minnesota.

There are several ways to participate:

  • Come for the morning session “Inclusive Leadership: Why Company Culture and Men Matter” ($99) and stay for lunch ($19) to extend the conversation.
  • Bring a colleague to continue the conversation afterward at the office!  2+ participants per company reduces the morning rate to $89/person.
  • Invite colleagues to attend the afternoon “Getting Your Life into Balance” Workshop ($75). People can participate in the Workshop separately from the morning.

June 10th will be a day of rich learning and action-oriented outcomes. We’d love to see you there. Regiser here.