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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Cindy Shaw: Change Strategy and Management for Businesses

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

with Cindy Shaw, Founder & CEO - True Change Solutions

Change management provides an opportunity for businesses to implement necessary changes in a way that positively impacts their staff and overall productivity. Cindy Shaw is the Founder and CEO of True Change Solutions and a Consultant, Coach, and Advisor for change strategy for businesses. She discusses what exactly change management does, why it’s important, and when is the right time to get started. Change is something we instinctively resist and change management can help.

Notes from the Show

Have you ever seen a need for change in your business, but something is just not clicking? Cindy Shaw is an expert in change management. She is the Founder and CEO of True Change Solutions and consultant, advisor, and coach for businesses during periods of change.

Change management is the behavior and people side of change. It is taking a look at the impacts on your staff and business that you're up against. Then utilize tactics, planning, and strategy to change the behavior necessary to implement the ultimate changes you’re after. There is definitely a level of neurobiology to this because it takes people time to undo old behavior and learn the new behavior in a way that is productive. Changes that may take place involve structure and organization, technology and processes, as well as organic or rapid growth.

When is the ideal time to involve an expert in change management? Cindy identifies this time as, as soon as you see and understand the need for change in your business, even before you even decide on the solution. The primary groundwork is impact analysis. You have to be able to identify, what is it you’re trying to change? What are the impacts on your business: your staff, your product, your customers, etc.? Once you come to an understanding on those key points, then the change management company can help implement the change to, get through the dip in productivity as quickly as possible. Cindy masters this with detailed timing, training, and support.

Many times companies productivity takes a hit for way too long because of poor implementation of changes. COVID has created a major influx of change in businesses. With no timeline, no clear understanding, and constant adaptation of routines created a major change in saturation, which has led to some very clear overwhelm across the board.

Cindy highlights that people want to be a part of the change, not have change done to them. It is instinctual to resist change, even if you want to make change. You can find out more about Cindy’s consulting and work with change management on her website and LinkedIn!

What’s Inside:

  • What is change management and why is it so important?

  • What are the requirements for a program that can actually change people?

  • When is the right time to bring in a change management pro?

  • Did COVID have an effect on change management?

  • What are the signs that you’re having a change management issue?

  • Lessons learned in starting a consulting firm.

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:03

Hey everybody, and welcome to stop the noise. This is where we get to hear from some of the most interesting and experienced minds offering us advice and some great ideas about why and how to stop wasting money looking and sounding like everybody else. You know, in business, being the same won't keep you safe, it will make you easy to replace, and even easier to ignore. I'm your host, Susan Tatum. Let's get started.

Hello, and welcome back to stop the noise. I'm Susan Tatum. And today I'm talking with Cindy Shaw, who's the founder and CEO at true change solutions. But what Cindy really is, is a business and leadership coach and advisor. And she works with change management, which I think is interesting. Welcome, Cindy.

Cindy Shaw 0:57

Thanks, Susan. Thank you for having me.

Susan Tatum 0:59

Oh, good to have you here. And you're joining us from Vancouver, correct?

Cindy Shaw 1:02


Susan Tatum 1:03

All right, let's just jump in here. And let me ask you to tell us about, what is change management? And why is it important?

Cindy Shaw 1:13

Change management is really the behavior side or the people side of change. So what it allows you to do is go in and take a look at your initiative or your change that you're trying to implement in your company and look at the behavior impacts that you're up against, and the behavior changes that you're looking to make in order to achieve your change outcome. So change management is really the analysis of that it's the tactics, the planning and the strategies that can go around those pieces, and help drive the behavior change that you need in order to achieve your change outcome.

Susan Tatum 1:49

So it's not good enough to just go in and say, Alright, we're going to implement this new process or whatever. So it's involving the humans that have to make that change happen.

Cindy Shaw 2:00


Susan Tatum 2:01

Which is undoubtedly what it makes it so complicated.

Cindy Shaw 2:03

It is I mean, if you've ever tried to change your own behavior, I think collectively, every January 1, we all watch each other, stumbled through our own habit choice changes, it's a really tricky thing. You know, most of us our habits, especially our day to day habits, are really well baked. And you know, there's a neurobiology behind it. And so to just go in and just say, Okay, well, now we want you to go from doing this repeatedly, hundreds of times a day to now doing this new thing. It takes people a minute, to actually undo the old behavior and learn the new behavior in a way that's productive, and in a way that helps them achieve the outcome that that new behaviors trying to drive.

Susan Tatum 2:46

And that's all assuming that they want to make that change in the first place. Right?

Cindy Shaw 2:50

Yes, that's the golden door. Really, I mean, you know how hard it is to change your own behavior, and you really want to you you're very highly motivated. You can imagine, if you're trying to drive behavior change, and a group of people that are resisting that or don't see the value in the change, or they just don't think there's an issue in the first place. They don't, they don't actually want to change. So it can become really tricky for companies. And I think a lot of business doesn't understand how to put their arms around that. So they stay in the what, as opposed to the how a lot. So you know, it's not uncommon to see, here's your new software, and good luck. We're starting it on Monday, right? You see that a lot with that update. So you know, Microsoft Teams is a is a great example, for a lot of businesses, when that sort of rolled out and became popular, you know, many companies just kind of dropped that on you and said, Yep, here you go. We're starting next week. Good luck, figure it out. Here's the manual, right?

Susan Tatum 3:45

Or if they, they may go so far as to provide a little training on it. But not I mean, what so what, what goes into a program, Cindy, that actually can drive change and a bunch of people?

Cindy Shaw 3:57

I think that the very first thing you know, there's there's a few different pieces, and really the primary piece, what's the most that lays the groundwork for the planning for the actual tactics is the impact analysis. So it's really getting in and understanding, first and foremost, what is it that you're trying to change? You'd be surprised how many people can't even articulate the change that they're trying to make so so the very first thing is understanding what is the actual change? And then what are the impacts that that change is going to have on your business. So your people, your customer, your processes, your systems, and getting underneath what those impacts are so that you can understand the type of training you need, the type of support you need, the type of messaging and communication as well as how long that initiative reasonably can be expected to take. So, you know, productivity always takes a hit whenever you create a change in a business, and that's normal. It's to be expected. It's about 33% And it's a dip that goes under to your productivity line, and what change management wants you to do is stay under that dip only as long as you have to, because it's not rewarding for the business to be, you know, lagging in productivity. And it's not rewarding for people, frankly, to be, you know, flailing around in their day to day. So what we try to do is get you through the dip as quickly as possible. And that's done in a variety of different ways. Mostly, it's training and support around the training and making sure that your timing is correct. So you're not going too fast for the type of behavior change you're trying to drive. And you're not going too slow.

Susan Tatum 5:32

So what types of change management which types of changes inside a company do you work with?

Cindy Shaw 5:39

Oh, there's all kinds, I'd say probably some of the more common changes are things like structure changes. So organizational design changes, system changes are, of course, probably the bulk. So a lot of technology change, process change efficiencies. So you know, you're really always trying to stay as companies are trying to sort of scale for economy all the time, that's a big piece, the technology and processes are constantly changing and evolving in order to be able to do that. And I would say that the other one is growth. So you know, one of the places I play a lot of sandbox time in a lot is organic growth and rapid growth. So those environments have multiple changes going off. At the same time, there's often foundation issues that need to be resolved in order for you know, you to build that next layer of business on top. So So those are some of the ones that I've dealt with.

Susan Tatum 6:33

And when is the right time to bring in a change change management professional like you?

Cindy Shaw 6:39

the right time, or the ideal time, I guess I would say is is at the beginning. So if you're having the need in your business, you see the need arise that you have to create either a new initiative or a change, you have to start to grow. As soon as you understand that, that's the next step, you need to get somebody in there that's got a change strategy capability to begin the dialogue of what that change looks like. So I always say to leaders, senior leaders, you get the change management strategist in there at the beginning and onset of those dialogues. So before you even come up with the solution, it's good to have somebody listening and flagging some of the change impacts and risks from a behavior standpoint, as you massage the idea into becoming an initiative,

Susan Tatum 7:27

you have, I would imagine you have to be sure that the people that are involved feel like they're involved, and that they have some some say, or some contribution to what's being done.

Cindy Shaw 7:37

Absolutely. Yeah, it's, it's important. One of one of the things that I've tried to drive when I'm building a change strategy is that there's involvement from the people, people want to feel like they're a part of the change rather than having the change being done to them. It's very difficult to get by. And so you know, you'll come across some old school, maybe leadership methodologies, where they just go well this is all just too time consuming, we're just going to tell them they have to have it done by right. And that's a very common sentiments out there. But what what they don't realize is that people resist it's it's instinctual to resist change, even if you want to change. Our biology, the natural first reaction is resistance. So you have to expect that now if you're if you're not allowing people to participate or be involved in the decision making, or the discussions, you risk and trenching that resistance. So, you know, you make it harder for that individual to overcome their own natural response and take the next step into trying to get on board with you.

Susan Tatum 8:41

So what effect did you see what effect COVID have on all of this?

Cindy Shaw 8:45

COVID had a huge effect on it. And and I would say the biggest most significant effect is the pure volume of change that we've all been sustaining since COVID hit. So what I mean by that is, you know, the the detail involved, each time we change something, it requires our brain to become more present and use more energy to create that new habit or behavior. So when when you're looking at COVID, you're having all these changes firing off. And you know, at some point there we were pretty much changing daily at the very beginning. So people are adjusting on the daily, they're adjusting things like their work environment, their family environment, all the all the processes that they're following, to just kind of keep normality in their life and keep things moving. And there was no outcome. So we didn't know the timeline. We didn't know what was happening next. That all takes energy and produces a type of change saturation. Like we can only handle so much of that. Before we start burning out, getting tired and having a hard time absorbing things right. So I think that the change saturation piece was really big. People are still experiencing that back to work is creating a volume of change again for people, even though it's a positive change, it's still detail that has to be navigated to get routine back into somebody's life.

Susan Tatum 10:07

So didn't you say when we talked before that some companies were actually shutting down or giving people time off so that they could just chill for a minute?

Cindy Shaw 10:17

Yes, yeah, there's been quite a few of the larger companies. I think it was, I think it was LinkedIn put a mandatory week off across their company, there's been numerous other ones I want to say that Apple. It was either Apple or Microsoft. But they, they basically recognize that barrier was hit. Because what happens is we just can't get actually cognitive ability to absorb becomes limited. So you know, you could get me in meetings all day. But when I talk to you tomorrow, my ability to draw on what I just heard in that meeting yesterday is really limited because I'm just saturated, I'm too full. You need time.

Susan Tatum 10:54

I think thats what's wrong with me. The same thing is true making decisions, right? I mean, you can only make so many decisions at a time. And I think the this obviously affects everybody in an organization from the bottom up. It's everybody that's going through the same things. I remember at the beginning of COVID, the leaders were struggling so much, because they were feeling what their employees were feeling. But they couldn't. They felt like they couldn't show it because they had to be the leader.

Cindy Shaw 11:21

That's right. Yes.

Susan Tatum 11:22

So most of the listeners here are going to be like small, medium sized businesses, entrepreneurial businesses, what are the signs to them, that they may be having a change management issue,

Cindy Shaw 11:37

I would say some of the signs are definitely resistance resistance is a big one. So when people are not getting on board with the change, they're not open to listening about it, or they've got resignation about it, but aren't willing to share it, that's definitely a sign when you have people that are disengaging, pretending that they don't know what's going on. And some just don't know what's going on, they just aren't participating. And when they do participate, they're unwilling, they don't really move from the place they're in. So they're not really willing to give you any feedback on why they don't want to participate. There's work arounds, people aren't willing to let go of their work around. It's just it's kind of a collective heel drag, if you will. Yeah. So that's, that's a sign I think, in your projects, if you're a project based company, and have a lot of projects going on, assign that you've got some change management issues, or you've got saturation is your you know, timelines are getting missed or stalled out, you're missing deadlines, you're not hitting some of your KPIs morale has taken a bit of a hit, those are all signs that people are fatigued in some way or resisting in some way, and you need to get to the bottom of it.

Susan Tatum 12:46

That's a good tip for things to look for in there. I don't suppose that there is a standard amount of time that you could shoot for to where that dip in productivity would last is it vary greatly according to what it is you're trying to change and how big it is it

Cindy Shaw 13:04

that that's exactly it. So it's the complexity of what it is you're trying to build. So you know, good maybe example to use would be a technological platform that you're trying to get your company on to requires quite a bit of technical training, maybe you've got a variety of different, you know, capabilities when it comes to that. So you've got to absorb that, you've got to make sure your timing is right, that you get them from training to using the system right away so that they don't forget what they've learned. And then you've got to help them with the proficiency of use of that. So you know, how much time part of the part of the planning team's job is to determine estimates on how much time that's going to take based on what they know about their users and what they know about the employees. So so you want that to be as quick as possible. So, you know, we did a platform, I draw back to a talent management platform that we introduced. And, you know, we estimated about two and a half months for that dip. And but we were seeing the uprise of that curve towards the end of that two months, right? So you want to make sure that you've got that mapped out, you want to make sure that you've got measurements. So how do you know how do you know you're succeeding? How do you know where you are in it, and having those measures to look for and go back to on a regular basis so so that you don't get stuck there? And I think a lot of companies forget that pieces to measure how are we doing? Right? because momentum isn't automatic momentum is very deliberate.

Susan Tatum 14:27

And if you don't measure you can't make the adjustments that are necessary to get where you want to be, and much to learn about that. So I do want to move on and talk about your your business because you're in professional services and just want to talk about some of the things that you've learned and are seeing but before we we transition to talking about this, how do you work with clients? If if someone is interested in working with you, I mean, how do you do that? How you engage with clients,

Cindy Shaw 14:55

I engage with clients and in a few different ways I do consultings. So you know, available for consulting and projects, I do group projects and group coaching. So a lot of smaller business can maybe or don't want to afford to bring on somebody full time into a project that they need the advice or the advisor ship that someone was with a strategic change skill set has would come on and do coaching with their team or be an act as an advisor to their team. And I also do that in the capacity of some of the programs I have. So I've changed Leader program that I run that cycles four times a year. So I've got a variety of different ways that people can plug in, I do coaching one on one. So I've worked with leaders, you know, project managers, and that kind of things to say, you know, here's the flags, here's things to look for along the way.

Susan Tatum 15:45

So okay, and while we're on the topic, just how how's the best way to get in touch with you,

Cindy Shaw 15:49

through my website is probably the best All my contact and program info are on there. And or LinkedIn, you can find me on LinkedIn, all those things are linked on my website. So there's lots of different ways to connect.

Susan Tatum 16:04

Okay. Alright. So then let's move on. So your you somewhat recently opened your consulting firm, right?

Cindy Shaw 16:12


Susan Tatum 16:13

So about what two years ago? Ish? Right before COVID?

Cindy Shaw 16:17

Yes, The worst timing? Or you could say the best timing for change? I don't know. But yeah, it was about two months before COVID hit the fan. So yeah, it was very bad timing was challenging timing, to say the least. So I think one of the biggest impacts for me was the networking side, you know, losing the ability to go and meet somebody for a coffee. It's a it's a brand new field, we can't do that.

Susan Tatum 16:41

Yeah but this was not your first company, right? You've done you've done this before? And what did you What mistakes do you think you made? And what things did you do really well, the first time around that you either changed or made sure you employed this time around?

Cindy Shaw 16:57

Ah, there's quite a few, I would think that the ones that I would highlight for sure, the biggest one, let's say was, the biggest lesson that I learned in my last business was not to get so entwined with with the client. So I didn't work enough on my pipeline, I didn't have enough diversified ways to bring in clients and to share my expertise, I basically just started consulting, and I followed the leads, because I would always get referral work from the work I was doing. So rather than driving my own business development, I was I was kind of hopping down the road of referrals. And a lot of times my client would, you know, love the work I was doing, we'd have a great relationship. They say, well, while you're here, can you do this, this and this? And of course I would. And two years later, I think my last client was up just over two years, you know, you pull your head up from the work and go, Oh, my God, where'd my network go? You know, because I didn't put the legwork into keeping that alive and keeping that going. So it was a very, you know, Junior mistake, I guess you could say but

Susan Tatum 18:01

It's I don't know, I think we all do it.

Cindy Shaw 18:02

Yeah, I mean, it's easy to do. You know, it's the seller, doer, model, or whatever. And I tend to lean towards the doer than more so than the seller, but recognizing that in this time, with my new company, and just really making sure that I've got multiple ways to earn income, and then I'm working those all the time and developing those all the time. I think that's the biggest difference, or the biggest, you know, takeaway that I had first time to this time.

Susan Tatum 18:28

So multiple ways of earning income, or you're talking about like, like you just said, you have one on one coaching, you do strategy, you do group training, whatever. So it's broadening the offer, kind of where you're still delivering the same benefits are working in the same area, but you're delivering it in different ways?

Cindy Shaw 18:48

Yes, absolutely. I think that's been the biggest thing that COVID has taught me actually, or pushed me into the corner to develop was understanding the different ways that you can get your expertise out there. So really getting into designing content, evergreen content. So it really forces you to dive into your experience and start putting it together in ways that will work for people, right. So how can I get what I know to somebody so that they can apply it and use it in their business successfully without needing me to be there necessarily. Right. So that rabbit hole is really fascinating. It took me into content design it took me into Okay, well now I've got the content, how can I share it? There's just so many options, online platforms and ways that you can go about getting that out there. So So that's been a really interesting rabbit hole. And it's certainly not easy. There's a millions of people doing that, and vast field and there's lots to learn, but it's definitely worth it from the understanding that you take away around how you can get your information out there.

Susan Tatum 19:49

And so you feel more comfortable today that you've got opportunities coming in or you've laid the groundwork where if even if you do have to turn away and pay attention to a client it's Still gonna continue to function for you?

Cindy Shaw 20:02

Yes. 100%. And I think that was the thing, from my first time to this time, you know, my first consultancy, it's really time for money. And so it was getting away from that model a bit diversifying, to say, Well, what ways can I bring into my business where it's not time for money? Where can I set something up that, you know, can be used over and over? Without, with or without you being there?

Susan Tatum 20:23

I think that's really interesting. That point you made that how can I provide value without having to be there? That's the that's the question. And isn't it? So did you, you started your business, like two months before the bottom fell out? says what you're doing today look different from what you thought that you were going to be doing?

Cindy Shaw 20:42

Absolutely in every way. Yeah, I would say in every way. I mean, I really, when I initially started out, I started my company to change solutions, and was driving into the idea of really setting up that company and building that out. And what happened very quickly was, because that traditional platform, which is what I know, for building a business fell away, because obviously everything shut down project stop, it was really that pivot that turned me towards one on one and group work, and training and content design that shifted that and so you know, I broaden the way that I was presenting myself. So it was more about, you know, me the content, I was driving. I'm lucky, I'm a generalist, I've got a really broad background. So I have that to draw on as well to diversify with. So But definitely, you know, my vision for true change solutions turned into Right. And which I'm happy with actually,

Susan Tatum 21:38

yeah, question for you. So we're talking about the seller Doer model. And that's always you know, that gives you that roller coaster revenue, because your ability to be able to put the effort in is inconsistent. What did you do to be able to create all this content? How did you change your health, so that you were able to focus on these things and do it consistently.

Cindy Shaw 22:02

It that was a huge challenge, I have to say, so it was walking into the field of the unknown, it was replacing the time that I had set aside for business development and planning, you know, suddenly, there's this vacuum created by Well, there's not all that 30% of time where you're out networking in meetings and doing presentations. So that's where that time got absorbed. But then the other side of it was, you know, how do you even do content design, you know, I'm not a writer, I haven't written a book, you know, I write by nature of the roles that I've done, I've developed a ton of training. So that's helped me a lot. However, the actual understanding of how much time should I be putting into this? Like, what's reasonable? It took me four hours to write that article. Like, is that good? Should I be patting myself on the back? Is that or is, you know, a writer gonna look into and go, Oh, my God, you know, you're not going to make it right. Like, that's too long. So, you know, the, for me the the challenge and it was really giving myself the room to learn it, giving myself the room to not beat myself up. Understand that that part of me that wants to feel like I'm succeeding and achieving and, you know, at the same time, not freak out, because, you know, the bills need to be paid, the mortgage needs to be paid, it was really straddling that and giving myself room to fail. I've given myself a lot of room to learn. So instead of getting down on it, just trying to understand what was working, what wasn't. So you know, content is a great feedback tool, you put it out there, you're going to get feedback. And when you don't give feedback, that's feedback too. Right? So you know, it's it's tricky.

Susan Tatum 23:35

It's just there's just so much noise out there, like you said that you have to break through that's that's is really tough and, and COVID certainly multiplied that, exploded it really, I think

Cindy Shaw 23:45


Susan Tatum 23:46

the reality of that situation. Cindy, thank you so much. This has been there's just a gob of great information in here that that I think our listeners will enjoy. And I've made some good notes here too. So I appreciate it.

Cindy Shaw 23:58

Thanks so much, Susan. Thanks for having me on the show.

Susan Tatum 24:01

I enjoyed it and we'll stay in touch. Thank you. Bye.



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