Most organizations today face significant challenges in leadership development, change management, and creating and sustaining an effective organizational culture.  Let me help your organization build those capabilities.

­                                 — Timothy T. Lupfer, THE ORG GUY

Don’t outsource the experiences that your organization itself should learn to be able to adjust, adapt, and transform…

Organizations have memories. The learning from key organizational events should not be outsourced to another firm, to become some other organization’s store of comparative information and case studies.
You own your big events – don’t give them away…

Today, most so-called consulting is actually the outsourcing of project management. Seasoned experts can certainly help, but the heavy lifting for critical programs should always be done by the organization itself.  Most importantly, the ownership of the program and the results must belong to, and stay with, the organization. Especially in today’s fast-paced environment, organizations can only survive if they establish a habit of cumulative improvement.

Building such a culture is not easy…

Are outside eyes useful? Can’t broader and deeper experiences help?

Yes, but…


The solutions to most organizational problems, both in concept and in execution, lie within the organization. However, many organizations have a difficult time finding them, so they shortcut the process and bring in outsiders. What I offer is the ability for you to use limited outside resources to generate the solutions within your organization, and to make those solutions part of your organizational DNA.

I can help you find the solutions within your organization.


Organizations are not machines, nor are people, with the increasingly complex demands placed upon them, interchangeable parts. The care and feeding of an organization must go well beyond simple mechanics. Organizations face many challenges during their life cycle: growth, responding to sudden changes in the environment, reacting to crises. Managing these events and most importantly, learning from these events, are critical in enabling the organization to live another day. I can help your organization assume ownership of its own destiny, by helping your organization learn and apply the lessons of its own experiences, thereby increasing the probability of its survival and success. The key to successful organizational evolution is cumulative improvement. To achieve this, organizations must retain their experiences within the organizational memory, deliberately apply the lessons learned, and reward the effort. Can outsiders help in this effort? Absolutely. A dispassionate set of eyes can help strip away distortions; a wider range of experiences can provide helpful comparisons for the issue at hand. But the organization itself must identify, analyze, and absorb the crucial lessons of its own experience, and once it can do that, it must reduce the cycle time for this process. I offer consultation on this critical process, not the outsourcing of your organizational experience. My sources for guidance for action go beyond a folder of business case studies. I integrate the latest findings on human behavior (because recent research and tools, such as functional MRIs, are giving us many more insights than what we learned as undergraduates in Psych 101) with my own extensive experiences in large organizations. I also range widely in human history, because five thousand years of recorded history suggest many common behaviors. But these insights are always adapted to the specific demands faced by your organization and through the specific lens of your organization’s culture. My goal is always to drive action. Cumulative improvement is a practiced behavior, not a theory. I offer my services on a project basis. Here is how I can engage with you and your organization:
n Help in creating or revising leadership and management development programs
n Clear-eyed assessments of your talent programs: recruitment, staffing, training, performance evaluation, career paths, and succession management
n Consultation in organizational change
n Assessments of your organizational culture, and consultation in enhancing your culture in such critical areas as ethics, high performance, and innovation I offer a range of interventions to help your organization learn and evolve:
n Project collaboration n Phase zero consultation – where I provide initial thoughts as you consider a major project in talent
n Assessments
n Workshops
n Coaching

Leadership Development


When we consider how organizations succeed

or fail, in so many cases the crucial factor is

effective leadership, or a lack thereof…



In effective organizations, management and leadership do not clash. Management is the employment of all resources to achieve the organizational goals, while Leadership is affecting people, a specific resource, to achieve the organizational goals. Ideally, these two abilities are complementary and mutually reinforcing...

Let’s stop the confusion about Management
versus Leadership…


    Leadership and Management are closely related, but they are not the same thing:


    Leadership is the ability to affect a defined group of people to achieve the organizational goals, through both direct means (positional authority) and indirect means (influence).  Outstanding leadership achieves success by additionally tapping into the discretionary effort, that reserve of energy, of the members of the group.

    Management is the process of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling organizational resources to achieve the organizational goals.  Those resources are: time, material, financial, procedural, informational, intellectual, relationships/networks (including reputation), and human.


    Leadership and Management overlap in the involvement of human beings.  Management is the process of using that resource (among others), while leadership is interacting with that resource (and only the human resource) to influence its behavior.


    Today, too many “experts” portray leadership as “cool” and management as bureaucratic and stifling, setting up a false dichotomy.  That is not the real world.  A fundamental insight, often overlooked, is that one must demonstrate managerial competence to gain credibility as a leader.



Leaders affect people through authority (direct) and influence (indirect).  Authority is primarily bestowed upon the leader by the organization, while influence is accrued over time.  Interestingly, I have observed that many leaders today don’t understand how to employ these two elements effectively.

Leadership is
seldom achieved through just Kumbaya…



    My definition of leadership, unlike many in the marketplace today, is a carefully-defined, organization-centric approach.  This definition does not equate leadership simply with influence.  We try to influence all sorts of people every day, but that effort is not necessarily leading; leading is more specific and organizationally dependent. Leadership includes possessing the formal authority to direct others, and today too many young leaders are unpracticed in using their authority, perhaps because we tend to overemphasize influence. Informal influences can include: appearance, communications skills, moral suasion, personality, and personal reputation.  But in organizations, leaders do not operate through influence alone; they must employ the authority that the organization has bestowed upon them. We humans are a very hierarchical species.  We look for the indicators of status from the organization that give credibility to those who direct us.  A successful leader in any organization today uses his/her formal authority and supplements it with informal influence. I can help your leaders learn the skillful use of both critical elements.



Many people search for the “magic beans” or the secret elixir that will make them great leaders (and many so-called experts peddle such magic), but Leadership is a complex mix of elements (Purpose, Capabilities, and Character), whose optimal balance depends on the specific organizational Context – which often can change.  Leadership is dynamic, and it is always a work-in-progress.

Forget Jack and the Beanstalk—there are no magic beans.


    Understanding these four basic elements (the three fundamental components of Leadership, and the Context in which Leadership is exercised) is essential for the development of leaders, both individually and organizationally: Monitoring the Context
All organizations create unique contexts within, and also operate within larger contexts. A business, for example, operates in a specified industry within a given market, with other businesses competing in the same market for the same or similar customers. All organizations operate within the larger society and are constrained by the directions from the authorities/governments at various levels above them. In whatever part of the organization the leader operates, he or she and the group will be affected by the context of the organization itself and the elements of the larger contexts. For example, the human talent within his/her group is the key resource that the leader employs. Many factors beyond the leader’s immediate control can strongly influence that resource, such as the existing organizational culture or the broader norms of society – for example, the quality of education. The wise leader knows that everything is done within a series of contexts, and he or she must constantly monitor the dynamics of those contexts, adjusting when necessary. The wise organization knows that a change in the context could even alter the key elements needed in a leader to be effective in his/her role. Knowing the Purpose and Direction
Problems arise when the purpose and direction are not clear, for example, in the communications between the leader and the larger organization or between the leader and his/her subordinates. The confusion can be caused by:
n Unstated/implied purpose
n Unrealistic purpose
n Uninspiring purpose
n Misaligned purpose: where the goals/objectives of the organization do not align with either those of the leader, or with those of the group Bottom Line: the purpose and direction should be fully aligned across the organization, the leader must “own” them, and he/she must be able to communicate them effectively. ﷯
Demonstrating the Needed Capabilities
The leader and his/her group must perform the actions necessary to achieve the desired goals and objectives. This means that the leader and his/her group must possess the skills and knowledge required to succeed. In complex, changing environments, that can be a challenge:
n The introduction of new technologies, processes, products, or markets can require new skills n A change in roles, such as a promotion or a lateral move, can require new skills The leader must identify and update the core skills that define his/her job, and he/she must be able to demonstrate competence in those areas. Here Management overlaps with Leadership – a significant indicator of leadership capability is managerial competence. Showing Character
“Character” comes from the Greek word “to engrave.” Character is the set of values permanently embedded in the individual’s personality that guide behavior. In many studies, this element is shown to be the most important for effective leadership, but it is also the most difficult to assess and measure. It is also the element most often “assumed” to be present within a leader in an organization. That is a very risky assumption, for there is far more variation in character than simply being good or bad.
n Think of the values that are most important to your organization. How should a leader reflect those values?
n How easily can a leader “fake” his/her commitment to an established set of values?
n In what situations does character play a major role in inspiring subordinates? Together, we can use this leadership concept to create an effective leadership development program, one that incorporates these fundamental elements, defining them and applying them within your unique context.

Organizational Change


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin


Let’s not oversell the degree of change in today's environment…

Contrary to popular hype, people living in the West from 1800 to 1950 were subjected to more profound change than we in the West are today. Today, however, the cycle time of change has been reduced, because of the breadth of communications and the scope of global competition. One key aspect of managing successful change is to determine the degree of change required.

Should we: Adjust, Adapt, or Transform?


    Organizations can take a range of actions, either in anticipation of, or in response to, changing situations:
n Do nothing
n Adjust. Make minor changes in the four key organizational areas: strategy, people, process, or technology
n Adapt. Make a major change in one of those key areas, with accompanying minor changes
n Transform. Make a major change in two or more key areas and reconstruct the basic model of the organization
(Please note: the term “people” refers to the behaviors of persons in critical roles) There is a lot of “change fatigue” in organizations today, because leaders too often turn minor adjustments into transformations. Adaptations and transformations should never be entered into lightly, because they consume immense amounts of energy. And the question of what not to change can be as important as what to change. (People need anchors as they go through change, and organizational culture is one of the key potential anchors; please see my tab on organizational culture.) The management of organizational change should never be farmed out so that the executives and managers can go on with their day jobs – how the organization will evolve IS their day job. Let me help your organization navigate the shoals of change. Yes, I have a change process to follow: ﷯
But the wild card in organizational change is the human factor, so please continue to read my thoughts in the next installment on change.


Why do people fear and resist change?  Because we’re a contradictory mix of emotions about change…

We all have a tendency to seek a steady state, or stasis; we want predictability and control in our lives.  In contrast, however, we will also sometimes gamble, and we seem to be naturally drawn to novelty.  But our judgments are often very flawed when we assess the risk in these areas.  The bottom line is that we are not very well equipped to handle change. So how can we successfully mange it?


    Why do people resist change? We possess a very strong need for predictability and for control. For example, two of the most beneficial aspects of organizational culture are its consistency and predictability. But people are complex. We can also be attracted to doing new things and taking some risks: n We have a tendency to “gamble,” especially when we perceive we have a chance of success﷯
n We are drawn to novelty, up to a point n But we are often irrational at gauging risk, both individually and collectively, when we venture forth. So it looks like we’re not very well armed in the arena of change (and remember that biological evolution requires many successive generations, so that won’t help us at today’s pace). To overcome these disadvantages, a successful change effort requires the diverse elements of n Defining the range of change as precisely as possible
n Determining the anchors that will provide stability throughout the effort
n Getting the full support of senior leadership
n Focusing on the critical behaviors that must change for the overall effort to succeed The ability to change successfully through the whole range of efforts (adjust, adapt, and transform) is organizational elasticity, and this must become a core competency of any organization that wants to survive and thrive.

Organizational Culture


The Hidden Power of Culture

Time and time again I have heard executives relate how a given organizational effort (such as an acquisition, change program, or entrance into a new market) was made very difficult by the failure to address culture.

So, what is culture, anyway?

Culture is the set of underlying values, beliefs and assumptions that determine how things actually get done. Culture is an integral part of any organization, and different parts of one large organization can have several sub-cultures, often very different.


Can an organization's culture change?

Yes, but it’s never easy.  Culture is a phenomenon that is influenced both by top-down forces (mechanistic forces) and by bottom-up forces (organic forces).  [Please see my blog posting on this subject.]  While organizational cultures can be strongly influenced by the example of the leader, cultures do not change solely by a decree from above.  Changing an organization’s culture requires a serious commitment of time and energy.


    There are important variations of culture in organizations.  The underlying values, beliefs, and assumptions will strongly influence organizational (and individual) behavior, and certain characteristics will emerge.  Here are some important “flavors” of organizational behaviors that are driven by culture.  Please note that these are not mutually exclusive:

    • The Ethical Culture


      No group of people, including criminal enterprises, admits to being unethical. All organizations and groups claim to stand for noble values, applied at a minimum within their own group. (Groups often consider anyone outside their group to be beyond those same standards, which is the source of much unethical behavior.) The true test of ethical behavior is in the individual and group actions – do they treat others in the same manner as they themselves would like to be treated? What keeps some organizations to a high ethical standard, and why do some veer off the path of what is considered correct behavior? n The good news: research indicates that most people have a sense of obligation to others, a conscience. I call this large percentage of people (roughly 95% of the adult population) “the good but fragile majority.”
n The bad news: this “good but fragile majority” can learn to be unethical, either under pressure to preserve something (like a job) or by following group norms that treat people outside the group as undeserving of ethical treatment.
n The really bad news: a small percentage of people (roughly 5% of the adult population, with a stronger representation among males) appear to be “wired” to be utterly self-centered; this group of Bad Apples will act in their own self-interest, even if that conflicts with ethical norms. What are the implications for your organization?
n What type of organizational culture can strengthen the “good but fragile majority” to do the right thing?
n What kind of organizational culture identifies and ejects the Bad Apples? What kind attracts them? n What about the larger context – society, nationality, history? How can these factors influence behavior? This question is particularly pertinent in global operations. Developing an ethical culture goes well beyond posting a Code of Conduct. I can assist your organization in building an ethical foundation.
    • The High Performance Culture


      What is meant by the term “high performance culture”? It is an organization that:
n Consistently performs well, making sound decisions and executing superbly
n Possesses strong internal oversight mechanisms to enable quick corrections
n Displays an intense desire to compete and succeed, shown by an abiding pride in the success of the organization
n Individually at every level of the organization demonstrates a commitment to do “more than my fair share” to make things work
This culture embodies the essence of cumulative improvement, the greatest force for generating prosperity in history. What factors create and sustain this culture? What could prevent this culture from taking hold? Let me help you address these key questions.
    • The Innovative Culture


      Today the entire world craves growth, and most observers believe that a significant driver of growth is innovation. In the past 200 years, innovations in both process and technology have been profound. How can an organization’s culture foster innovation? Consider: n Innovation can come in two forms – incremental improvement and abrupt, or quantum leaps
n What drives people to innovate? What does the historical record suggest? (History suggests that organizations that tolerate a fair degree of eccentricity can foster innovation from within.)
n Why have so many good ideas taken so long to reach fruition? n What are the organizational impediments to innovation? Can an organization “produce” innovation? Is innovation an efficient process?
n What are the links between innovation and novelty, risk, and personal reward?
I can assist your organization in addressing these questions about innovation.


Since the tender age of 17, I’ve been part of big,

often really big, organizations….


­                                 — [Timothy T. Lupfer] THE ORG GUY

n Graduated first in my class (822 cadets) at the United States Military Academy, West Point n Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Masters Degree in Modern History
n MBA, Edinburgh Business School, Scotland 20-year career in the US Army, which included:
n Numerous troop assignments in the US and Europe
n Assistant Professor in History Department at West Point
n Speechwriter for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe at NATO
n Desk Officer at the Joint Staff in the Pentagon who organized first US military contacts with the “new” regimes of Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War n Tank Battalion Commander (over 700 soldiers, 58 Abrams tanks) in Desert Storm:
20-year career in industry, including:
Executive at Macy’s, helping to bring the retail icon out of bankruptcy
Consultant at McKinsey, Mitchell Madison Group, and Arthur Andersen, focusing on:
n Organizational Change
n Leadership Development
n Innovation
Director at Deloitte Consulting LLP (US):
n Focusing on Ethics & Compliance and Organizational Culture
n Helping global clients from a wide range of industries
n Speaking at many conferences (The Conference Board, the Practising Law Institute, Financial Executives International, etc.)
THE ORG GUY: Now working independently, taking my experience and developing new and practical insights in:
n Leadership Development
n Organizational Change
n Organizational Culture
n Innovation and Growth
n Ethics and Compliance
Presentations on these subjects to: n Various business schools (Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin, State University of New York, University of Salzburg, Ukrainian Catholic University)
n The Practising Law Institute, the Bar Association of New York City
n Managing the Bad Apples and Protecting the Barrel - Research article for Deloitte Consulting LLP Copyright @ 2009 Deloitte Development LLC. Most importantly: fulfilling my duties as a son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather, with my wife of nearly 40 years:
Copyright © 2013- Timothy T. Lupfer - The Org Guy

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