Driving Change at HOBY…..Whats Our OUTSTANDING “Why?”

As I write this blog post today, I begin to think about how change can happen at HOBY. It will take a lot of action, steps, and convincing in order to speak to the minds and hearts of all of our stakeholders involved. In my experience, our volunteers are driven to strive for success in their chapters around the country and in the places they live in. We have the ability to affect success in all of our seminar sites by speaking to the hearts and minds of our ambassadors so as to make them the leaders of tomorrow.

For over 50 years, we have had a proven track record of success by producing over 400,000 alumni in the United States and around the world. If Dr. Albert Schweitzer saw us today, he would probably be proud. The next key phase, though, is bringing our programs to the next level. Ever since I was given the chance to be the chairman of the ActiveCollab program in Louisiana, we have had a major challenge to overcome, and it goes something like this: making sure that everyone knows what we are doing. At the end of our seminar this year, a volunteer walked up to me and asked me what exactly we were doing with ActiveCollab. This only put more pressure on me to design a better change program for my innovation plan by looking at what speaks most to the hearts and minds of the people who work with us.

Dr. John Kotter claims that the most effective part of change is to strive for a sense of urgency in causing change in an organization. I believe that he is right in his assumptions and at HOBY, we have to make sure that everyone feels that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. It is important that my innovation plan appeal to the hearts and mind of all our volunteers, regardless of their status or their personal or professional background. In my opinion, if we implement this innovation plan in the next seminar year, we must all have the sense of urgency that he is talking about. So, in order to take a look at the how, why, and what that was established in the example by Apple, I now want us to look at a similar example for HOBY.

Why: HOBY seeks to transform the leaders of tomorrow by making today’s youth tomorrow’s leaders.

How: HOBY creates and holds seminars around the world to accomplish the transformation process.

What: HOBY inspires people around the world to create change in their communities and to make our world a better place.

When I look at the above, I really want it to communicate to HOBY how passionate I am regarding making change happen in our organization. The “Why” statement communicates how the innovation plan can impact our staff and ambassadors by speaking to their hearts and minds about leadership. In our organization, it can be used to create a sense of urgency by speaking to the very mission of transformation that HOBY seeks to accomplish. The “Why” is our goal that we hope to accomplish. It can inspire all of us to make a difference in our organization by looking to our seminar sites to make their technology programs better. The “How” statement can tell us how we seek to accomplish the “Why,” and the “What” statement can guide us in the direction of our goals. From here, we can use this as a catalyst to make sure that when changes happens in our program, HOBY can be prepared to make the transition.

In the book, A Failure of Nerve by Edwin H. Friedman, he argues that leadership is an emotional process that takes many steps to lead people emotionally down a new path to a goal that they seek to accomplish. According to Friedman, leadership is not a “cognitive phenomenon,” and based on his observations, a creative member of a team is always being sabotaged, rather than supported, in his attempts to drive his team to new goals. He goes on to say that the person at the top of an organization is always a “peace-monger,” and that they are always practice “risk avoidance” by seeking consensus when they make decisions. He argues that this always leads to a scenario where the leader can fail since they did not appeal to the hearts and minds of the team they were leading. In other words, the team did not accomplish the desired goals of a decision they were trying to make. Friedman goes on to say that we should always be “well-differentiated leaders” who are able to do what it right when no one is looking, and people who “can be separate while still remaining connected.”

So, the more I think about it, I think that Edwin Friedman and Dr. John Kotter are both correct in their assumptions. In the instance of HOBY, I also think that change is an emotional process that we have to consider when implementing a new plan. In the hit television show Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer goes to failing bars around America and attempts to remodel the bar entirely and put the owners on a path to success. Each time, though, he often says how easy it is to paint the walls, put in new tables and chairs, and renovate the bar in its entirety. But, he goes on to say that the most difficult thing to change is people. When someone becomes stuck in their ways, they are often reluctant to change to the new concept that was given to them. Time and time again, the bar owners that accept the change always succeed, and the ones who do not always fail and go out of business. This highlights what the “heart of change” is all about.

In implementing my innovation plan at HOBY, I want to be the agent of change that Dr. Kotter is talking about. I not only want to see this become reality, but I am expecting a few bumps along the way. I hope to be a “well-differentiated leader” that not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. I will be prepared to face criticism, but hope to combat that by creating a sense of excitement and urgency in the hearts of my colleagues that causes the “ripple effect” to occur. The “ripple effect” is a HOBY term that describes the positive excitement people get from coming or volunteering at our seminars that inspires them to make a difference. If there is one thing that I have learned from the writings of these two great authors, it is that change and leadership are emotional processes that almost go hand and hand in each other. Leadership is the emotional drive to accomplish a set of goals, while change is the concept of moving a team emotionally from one place to another.

I want to create a “ripple effect” that uses our “Why” to appeal to the minds and hearts of so many of our passionate volunteers. By stirring up excitement for all people, our training programs can speak to our volunteers by making them feel more emotionally connected to our organization. When we all work together, we can end complacency and always be ready for change in our organization. If we have been known to change the hearts, minds, and souls of so many ambassadors for over 50 years, I am pretty sure that we can light that spark of change in our volunteers as well. This is what I hope will be our OUTSTANDING “Why!” I think that Mahatma Ghandi probably said it best,

“You must be the change that you wish to see in the world!”

This is the OUTSTANDING change that I wish to bring to HOBY!



Friedman, E. H., Treadwell, M. M., & Beal, E. W. (2007). A failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix. New York: Seabury Books.

K. (2011). John Kotter – The Heart of Change. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NKti9MyAAw

K. (2013). Leading Change: Establish a Sense of Urgency. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Yfrj2Y9IlI

Mahatma Gandhi Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved July 18, 2016, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/mahatma_gandhi.html


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