Change Management, Daryl Conner, and Open Space Agility ~ ACMP (Updated)

I will be having a conversation with Daryl Conner via phone this week, a respected keynote presenter at the upcoming Association for Change Management Professionals conference (ACMP) in Florida in May, 2011.   (Update, the conversation and live visits in Florida with Daryl went very well.  More about it, including our videos, is here on our ChangeResults YouTube channel.)

In talking with Daryl, we referenced one of our behind the scenes project, an updated & new change management portal, featuring a bounty of change management authors & change leaders.  It is a compendium featuring a variety of change management viewpoints.  No single point of view will dominate.

(In 2013 this blog post was updated with current change resource information 2012 ACMP Change conference updates.)

Ron Koller and I kicked off a change management resource in February 2010 that has since transitioned to the 2013 versions here: Change Leadership Watch and Change Management Resources

Ron had been working on the change management portal idea for several years.

In 2010, using some leverage of both of our sets of skills, our common interest in change management and organization development, and good timing with the ACMP’11 conference, we seem to have the good fortune and synchronicity of having it come together to launch our initial site.


The empowered relationship is one of the more important aspects of orchestrating organizational transitions.~  Daryl Conner


We’ve been talking to some terrific change management consultants and leaders over the last few months.  We’ve being doing Skype video interviews.   For example:

Here’s an excerpt from one of Daryl Conner’s blog posts via

Even a nod from a person who is esteemed is of more force than a thousand arguments or studied sentences from others. ~ Plutarch

The empowered relationship is one of the more important aspects of orchestrating organizational transitions, but the term “empowerment” continues to be misunderstood and misused. Most professional change facilitators have some understanding of empowerment’s role during implementation, but we have to fully grasp all its implications if we are to help our clients use this tool wisely.

Sponsors who consistently achieve what they set out to accomplish depend on the influence of empowered individuals whose opinions and observations they trust. I’ve personally never seen a significant initiative reach full realization without the sponsors relying heavily on others to help them gain context and perspective. Sometimes they lean on  internal resources (subordinates, peers, their bosses, etc.). Often, they gather insights from external resources (consultants, thought leaders, etc.). Either way, they look to others to ensure they have all the information they need to make the best decisions they can.


…the litmus test for empowerment is when the person’s input is highly regarded despite it being contrary to what the sponsor expected, agrees with, or wants to hear. ~ Daryl Conner


As change facilitators, it doesn’t matter whether we operate from inside or outside an organization—the crux of any impact we have with clients is our ability to be influential…particularly when we advise them how to navigate unfamiliar territory or to take actions that are counter-intuitive to their tendencies.

….Empowerment represents an inclusive aspect of the decision-making process where people have clout based on their knowledge or expertise, rather than their organizational position or tenure. It happens when sponsors allow others to influence their deliberations but never relinquish the decision-making authority itself. When an empowered person offers his or her opinion about something, it is listened to and respected, even when out of sync with the sponsor’s views. In fact, the litmus test for empowerment is when the person’s input is highly regarded despite it being contrary to what the sponsor expected, agrees with, or wants to hear.

It is essential that sponsors have access to empowered input (particularly so from their change facilitator) in order for them to be positioned to make the best decisions possible during the implementation of major change.

Read the full post via

In 2012, Deb was invited to be a part of  a combination panel and Open Space experience, Success Secrets of Trusted Change Advisors in April 2012.

Deb asked the group attending, “How many of you know about/have participated in an Open Space event?”  We were surprised to see only about 8 – 10 hands raised in a group of over 150 attendees at the global Association of Change Management Practitioners (ACMP) in Las Vegas  (April 1-4, 2012.)


“Trusted  advisors…  First people need to know you, then like you, then trust you.”


What a pleasure it was to then offer Open Space following an energized, robust Q & A discussion with this elite group of colleagues pictured below.  

You can see the engagement in faces & body language in the full set of conference photos here .  

Our Open Space handout, the same one we shared at this recent 2012 ACMP Las Vegas global change conference is located on the tools page here.

For some, however, Open Space was tough, especially in a traditional conference setting.  Giving up control for those used to project management and spreadsheet monitoring is hard.  

Developing smart agility (to continuously adapt, to be AntiFragile) in organizations with highly structured environments is very challenging.  Even though Open Space Technology as a process has been around since the mid-1980’s, it still, unconventional.   For this reason, I’m curating a Pinterest board by the same name, UnConventional.)  

There were also some volatile comments in the evaluations, which may be from those who have not experienced Open Space before or have not experienced it successfully.

Others embraced it joyfully or with curiosity, perhaps as a way of dealing with a VUCA world.  VUCA = Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, as discussed up by one of our keynoters, Bob Johansen.


In a VUCA world, clarity gets rewarded, even if it’s wrong.  What you need is simplicity, without being simplistic.  …It’s all about agilty.  ~  Bob Johansen


Here are the photos from the Open Space session I facilitated:


Open Space photos by Deb Nystrom, Reveln Consulting, Creative Commons license, taken at the global ACMP 2012 conference.

Our specific discussion topic for this Open Space experience, focused on learning, was:   What really matters now in being a trusted change advisor? …and in the near future?

Panelists, from right to left:
 Liz Guthridge – Session Facilitator, Connect Consulting Group; Deborah Nystrom  – Open Space facilitator (me, in orange); Reveln Consulting &; Jim Bohn, PhD., Global Director, CMO – Johnson Controls; Gail Severini, Conner Partners;  Michael Nestor, Vice President, Head of Change Management, Bayer Group

More via

And yes, it was Vegas.  I think it was a great place for a Change conference.

Photos by Deb Nystrom, Reveln Consulting, Creative Commons license – Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas 

Thanks for stopping by, and, as always, your comments enrich the learning.  

Warm regards,  ~  Deb, REVELN Consulting



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One Response to “Change Management, Daryl Conner, and Open Space Agility ~ ACMP (Updated)”

  1. […] Talking with Daryl Conner and Change Management Resources, Circa 2011 […]

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