Organizational Transformation

Working with the CEO and a guiding coalition of 11 team members over a six-month timeframe, Executive Management Systems developed an organizational transformation plan to give direction to the enterprise over five to seven years. In year five, Executive Management Systems implemented a comprehensive leadership development program.


“We are a changed organization because of the road map we developed with Executive Management Systems. A well-guided process gave us a cohesive and focused team.”

Since developing and implementing that plan, the company expanded its footprint in all quarters, added another office in a new market and completed a new corporate headquarters. Business operations grew by 60%.

The senior management team described the development of this unifying vision and focused business development strategy as one of the very significant revolutionary periods in their 60-plus year history.

Executive Succession Planning

A successful company with a young, proactive CEO and nine offices in the US and Canada, selected Executive Management Systems to work with the CEO and board in executive succession planning. Over a period of 18 months, the board and the leadership team participated in a process which:

  • Fully engaged 15 members of the leadership team, board and a talent pool
  • Identified the five key areas of success for the CEO position
  • Measured the talent pool against those five criteria


“Executive Management Systems helped us to identify and to understand the roles and responsibilities of our leadership team to manage the business in the future. This gave me, as CEO, a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our leadership team and reinforced some of my earlier insights. We were able to identify gaps in our current leadership team compared to our future requirements.”
– President & CEO

“Executive Management Systems quickly developed a pretty decent knowledge of our business model and what we wanted to accomplish in succession planning. Mel drew out the board’s thinking in a couple of board sessions and put structure to a thought process we had been tap dancing around for a year. The executive talent assessments were very useful. They not only helped us understand how talented the top levels were in our company – they helped us see where those talents can be best leveraged by the CEO in the future.”
– Corporate Board Member

Leadership Development

As part of a five-year succession planning strategy, a CEO engaged Executive Management Systems for leadership development. A key strategy he chose early-on was “leadership development for the many, not for the few.”

Fifteen half-day sessions over a year’s time provided engaging leadership training for top management and middle management. This intensive program included highly interactive team sessions and online reinforcement of leadership principles between sessions. Participants first saw the new skills, then practiced the new skills, and most importantly, then applied the new skills.


Sixty-four key business leaders participated in the leadership development program. The program was such a success that it was repeated the following year with 36 participants.

“This approach to leadership development is a nice, concise package. It has helped me to understand that I’m not alone. Others are facing the same leadership challenges I am.”

“I learned that there are multiple ways to lead. I am much more effective when I engage individual team members by their passion and intent.”

“I have been personally challenged to lead by example. Project ownership is something I always did. Problem ownership I never did. I lacked awareness of how much control I had over things that did not go well. This leadership development program puts it back on my own shoulders. I now will take responsibility and ownership of problems.”

“The effective delegation session really opened my eyes. I’ve always been ‘good’ at delegation, but I’ve always been bit by reverse delegation.”

“One key result I’ve noticed is that I now have more effective team involvement – in both project work as well as in general discussion. I’m using improved communication methods, instilling ownership, asking the right questions. In every discussion and communication, I’m thinking in advance – with everything that happens.”

“I have new leadership awareness. I’m considering new ideas, thinking differently. I’m always learning something new. This is big.”

“My personal awareness – of how I’m communicating – has increased immensely. My personal planning of communications is much improved. Conversation always goes better when I apply these leadership skills.”

“This learning experience really opens up personal communication. The leadership skills I now apply create a more open environment with my team.”

“Mel Nelson is very gifted at leading these sessions. Whatever anyone says is tied into the topic of discussion.”

Board Restructuring

Executive Management Systems helped a for-profit enterprise downsize its board from 27 members to 11. The six-week process included:

  • Fully engaging board members in dialogue about effective meeting dynamics, effective board governance, and key issues in restructuring the board – through three assessments and two meetings
  • Utilizing two custom Internet-based assessments to leverage board insights
  • Exploring effective board room dynamics through a third online assessment

The process concluded with a successful restructuring to an 11-member board.


“Executive Management Systems provides a good blend of resources and does a good job of marrying these concepts into a local setting and linking them to our issues. Executive Management Systems’ preparation for board sessions is excellent. Mel draws out the issues by getting people to participate, helping the group focus and keeping things moving.”
– Board Chairperson

“Executive Management Systems was able to surface and explain key issues in board function in a non-judgmental way. It was done very well. We achieved a transparency by getting discussion out in the open. It was eye-opening. Everyone had a say.”
– Board Secretary

“I was very pleased with the way the board responded to Executive Management Systems’ discussion with the board and the way the board grasped the concepts. This process opened new avenues of thinking and new ways of approaching things. The definition of management responsibilities versus board responsibilities was very helpful. One thing really stood out: Mel listens intently then leads the discussion through to a summary which makes a conclusion where no one opinion stands out.”
– Board Member

Coaching Emerging Talent

The CEO – who had had a successful track record of attracting talented younger staff to his organization – selected Executive Management Systems to develop the emerging talent through a one-on-one coaching program.

Executive Management Systems created a self-directed learning experience, enabled by proven talent models, and worked with the selected emerging leaders to:

  • Develop their leadership talent
  • Increase their confidence and breadth of thought and action
  • Improve personal and organizational effectiveness


Key outcomes were the development of a personal leadership vision, improved personal and professional focus, and tangible results in team performance.

“This coaching experience exceeded my expectations. I now have a personal leadership vision and focus to align my activities with that vision. I am more strategic in my work focus and I delegate more. I have a clearer self-awareness and team-awareness. I now approach business issues from a position of strength, a higher comfort level in knowing how to approach things to get better results. I’m doing a better job of listening more, talking less, and coaching for performance. Others have noticed. My confidence is up.”
– Senior Manager

“You got me thinking. I now have a written personal leadership vision. My excitement level and short fuse have improved. My co-workers would say the same thing. I take more time and think situations through in more detail. I’m more careful in what I say and gather more facts. I’ve always been fairly good at gathering facts … now I’m much better.”
– Senior Manager

“My personal vision and personal focus have sharply improved. My personal results have been even more dramatic. In the last six months, I see things differently. I’m continually integrating skills from leadership development. Others see it in me … I’m less forceful/there is less tension in working relationships. I’m more confident now. When I’m working with the team, I’m comfortable in any situation.”
– Senior Manager

Business Process Improvement / Process Mapping

One of eight key action strategies centered on the CEO’s deep passion to develop “best practices” for the business in all divisions. The CEO was not sure how or where to begin. Past efforts had focused on documenting existing practices rather than defining and implementing “best” practices.

Executive Management Systems presented an approach to the planning team which was unanimously endorsed. Working with a senior manager to select and define core business processes and identify key process stakeholders, teams of key leaders were taken through intensive, four- to five-day working sessions – one for each core process – to develop best practice solutions.


Focus shifted from “who” was the problem to “what” was the problem, resulting in elimination of personal attacks and defensiveness, and the creation of a collaborative, problem-solving environment, with much-improved teamwork.

In addressing one core process, the solution developed by the team required a total investment of approximately $150,000. The resulting savings are expected to be $1.5 million annually.

Senior management comments:

“Thanks for your help and drive.  You care about our improvement.”

“People who have been a part of the process mapping / cycle time reduction effort now look at things differently. It’s a pattern that ‘sticks’. This shift in thinking came very early in the team session, on the first day, but it still persists, months later. The team focus has shifted from ‘people’ as the problem to ‘process’ as the problem.”

“This process changes the way that people think, act and interact. Participants are now looking outside their work area to see the broader picture. They are more sensitive on their day-to-day impacts on others. Silos are slowly coming down. There is a much clearer understanding of workloads and work processes. Team members have much more insight into how many steps go into a process. This, in turn, increases understanding.”