Three Transformation Lessons from Find Your Edge 2020

February 7, 2020

Last week, I was honored to participate in the executive panel at Edgehill Consulting Group’s, Find Your Edge 2020 conference. This was the inaugural event in what will become Edgehill’s annual series. In case you missed it, here’s a short recap of the event.

A Conference that Puts People at the Heart of Transformation

Esther Derby, author, change management and transformation guru

“Even if you don’t have change management in your job description, your job involves change.” 

Esther Derby

Change is hard. Change is scary. Change is everywhere. The pace of change is only getting faster and has become the new normal for organizations across the globe. This is the typical narrative about change. All factual but what do you do about it?

Change is about people and about leadership. Change can be inspiring and almost anyone can be change leaders. This was the overarching narrative woven throughout the conference. Keynote speaker, Esther Derbyauthor and organization dynamics guru, focused on the power of inspiring our teams. While the second featured speaker, Chris Mumford, advertising leader and President at the Martin Agency dove into his own experiences in leading massive change over the last couple of years. Esther and Chris’ high-level discussions were followed by three engaging workshops and an executive panel. 

Real Stories. Real Failures. Real Learning.

The executive panel included Kim Bolger, Senior Director at Heritage Wealth AdvisorsKhary Scott, a VP of Small Business Card at Capital OneCindy Yao, CFO of Markel Food Group, and me, Jimmy Chou, CEO, SingleStone. Collectively, our industry experience spans manufacturing, investment management, banking, and professional services. 

Panel of Cindy Yao, Markel Food Group, Khary Scott, Capital One, Esther Derby, Kim Bolger, Heritage Wealth Group, Jimmy Chou SingleStone

Over 90min, we covered personal examples of leading change throughout our tenure. There was lively discussion, healthy debates and plenty of storytelling, but we all seemed to come back to the same conclusion. This slide from Esther’s keynote really sums up the key message from the panelists.

Digital Transformation Explanation

In other words, a leader’s job in transformation is to create the environment for people to thrive in a state of constant change

IMHO, there were three top lessons shared during the panel. In order to create or support an environment for positive, sustainable change, champion the following (please excuse any inaccuracies; I was paying attention, so the quotes are paraphrased as closely as I can remember):

“Leaders need to acknowledge that people have feelings.

Khary Scott

Khary shared a story about a time when some of his team members were brought to tears over a project. ‘As a leader, how do I best respond?’ It was a rare and candid experience moment. He reminded us that everyone has feelings, and sometimes, that means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Leaders are just as flawed as everyone else and, as uncomfortable as it might have been, Khary demonstrated a level of openness and vulnerability that Brene Brown would be proud of. 

“Change is better when you engage the team.” 

Cindy Yao

Cindy shared an experience, from earlier in her career, when her company was sold to a private equity firm. She needed to tell the team they were losing their jobs. You could physically see the impact that experience had on Cindy as she shared her story. She went on to compare that “change happening to them” experience with a recent story from a Lean transformation she led where “change happened with them.” Consistent with Lean practices, she engaged the people closest to the work to get ideas for improvement and empowered them in the execution. Cindy’s experiences reiterated the importance of engaging and empowering your team. 

“Both/and…a transformation requires big bold change and small micro shifts.” 

Kim Bolger

In an increasingly polarized world where an “or” mindset is the default, Kim reminded us that “both/and” is often the answer that unlocks a path to enable the upsides of big bets and small changes. I found myself nodding feverishly as Kim was sharing her observation. To learn more about using both/and thinking to lead transformation, check out Navigating Polarities.

I learned so much from my fellow panelists and plan to stay in touch with each of them to keep the conversation, and the learning, moving forward. 

Learning Collaborative Off to a Great Start 

The Edgehill team had a vision of bringing together the Richmond business community for a day of sharing and learning. I was impressed, and I wasn’t the only one…here is a snippet of the feedback from the conference attendees:

  • “I got a bucket of actionable results out of all the speakers today.”
  • “This is one of the better conferences I have been to.  ….and, we can take lessons learned back to our organizations.”
  • “A solid day, extremely informative.  Finally, a seminar/event that speaks to the people at the center of transformation.” 

Thanks to Amanda AghdamiPage Henry, and Lane Sanderson for your vision, your persistence, and your leadership in creating a special forum for community and learning. 

What are you learning about change and transformation? 

Jimmy Chou

Chief Executive Officer
Jimmy Chou has over 20 years of experience across multiple industries, with a particular focus in financial services and insurance. As SingleStone’s CEO, Jimmy has been instrumental in leading the firm through transformational change since he stepped into the role in 2017. Under his leadership, the firm established a refreshed vision and strategy that has resulted in clearly defined service offerings, the expansion of the firm’s geographic footprint, and most importantly, significantly improved customer and business results for SingleStone's clients. Throughout his consulting career, he’s worked tirelessly to earn the trust and respect of his clients, many of whom seek him as a trusted advisor, partner, and confidant. Equally as important to Jimmy are the relationships he’s built across his own team. He’s enthusiastic about growing and developing the next generation of leaders for SingleStone. An advocate and community partner, Jimmy supports several philanthropic organizations, and serves on the board of the YMCA of Greater Richmond and Storefront for Community Design. He was recognized with the 2020 Male Ally award on behalf of Richmond Technology Council’s MLM Awards. Jimmy regularly acts as a mentor and guest speaker for Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond, providing counsel, advice, and encouragement to the next generation of leaders. He also supports and contributes to Girls Who Code, an organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Jimmy is a graduate of Wake Forest University and CFA Charterholder.