Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Koliso’s Perspective Gets Results

Psychology, as a science, provides a lens and proven toolsets that we use to set the path to desired outcomes. Koliso brings this unique perspective when you need support with leadership development, employee engagement, changes in culture and making effective transitions. Here are some highlights on these topics from our website and news archive.

A Model for Leadership

A Fortune 100 company in the financial services sector sought a leadership development program specifically tailored for their high-potential managers who might be ready to lead a business unit or region.

In the three years since Koliso initiated this personalized program, the outcomes were viewed so highly that the organization also adopted key features nationally as a best practice for leadership development programs from middle managers up to regional and business unit roles. Read more about this case study.

Read more about Koliso’s approach to leadership development.

Employee Engagement that Lasts

A leading U.S. manufacturer with 27 locations wanted to hold an annual conference to provide managers with an experience that combined specific content with skill building and team building. Koliso produced highly interactive, tailored sessions on trust and influence that fully integrated into their offsite program.

The managers and staff built plans around introducing more influential management techniques to their teams and integrating their safety and engagement strategies into their regular management programs. Read more about this case study.

Read more about Koliso’s approach to engagement.

Managing Cultural Change

A large government organization with a $600 million budget and more than 3,000 employees wanted to introduce an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The project was clearly a culture-changing initiative.

Koliso worked with their team using tailored implementation kick-off training along with team-building and change-management skills and continued to provide executive coaching to the senior leadership as the change progressed.

This initiative exceeded the change management investment by more than 50 percent in the first 12 months of implementation. Read more about this case study.

Read more about Koliso’s approach to culture change.

Rapid and Effective Transition

A Fortune 500 organization with hundreds of locations along the east coast wanted to orient a new CEO as quickly and effectively as practical.

Koliso created a highly tailored new leader transition process that was built around interviews with senior executives who communicated their vision for the organization, their leadership style and how they could best help on-board the new CEO. The results were incorporated into an intensive leadership offsite for the senior management team. The senior executives said the project brought “strategic value” beyond any ordinary orientation. Read more about this case study.

Read more about Koliso’s approach to transition

Interested in learning more about this topic for your organization? Contact us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Making Collaboration Work

We have worked with many executive teams that want to improve the teamwork and collaboration in their organizations. For some, the issue seemed to be the team members’ personality differences while for others it was a lack of focus, or an inability to take a disciplined approach to achieving results. One of our favorite business resources, the Harvard Review Insight Center, gathers twenty general resources and six HBR articles on how collaboration works.

Below is a simplified list of these findings.

1. Everything starts with trust. Trust is based on four things: competence, reliability, openness and principled behavior. If you and your team members don't know how to demonstrate these characteristics, and are not held accountable for demonstrating them, you will not get past first base. 
2. You need shared goals. Call it a vision, a mission or a strategic intent, but what counts is that everyone knows what the team is there to achieve and buys into the common picture of success. 
3. Roles need to be clear. Unless people know why they are on the team and how they and their colleagues can contribute, the team can't work together. You can’t delegate to each other or capitalize on team members’ strengths unless you have role clarity and understanding. 
4. Processes should be simple and direct. Everyone has worked on a team that reinvents the wheel for the sake of not knowing the best way to get something done. Similarly, most people have worked on a team that spins its wheels because members didn't understand the right responses and actions to be taken. 
5. Relationships are key. When we see dysfunctional teams, members often blame one or more people for not being team players. However, our experience is that relationships start to fray as an outcome of poor trust, goals, roles and processes. Focus on these factors before making decisions on relationships. 
6. Communication is everything. Every engagement survey, every satisfaction instrument, every analysis always emphasizes the importance of communication. It is a basic premise of human psychology that everyone wants to feel heard and valued for who they are. Talk with them, and equally if not more importantly, listen.

In our consulting work we have structured tools that help our clients make significant improvements in each of these six areas. In simplifying these HBR resources for you, we confirmed these basics are the same no matter who the author is or which study you look at.

So what is the take-away for business? Make sure you have good practices around the six areas above, bring in help where you need to and make sure your help understands what really works and has the tools to help you.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Hire Koliso for Your Next Event

Dr. David Farrar is an experienced speaker with a wide range of engaging topics for your next event. Get a sneak peek at his approach and style by watching the video below.

Request our speaker packet to learn more. Call +1 612 423 2747 or email

Or sign up and log in to download it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Influence with Integrity

Influence with Integrity

Have you had an opportunity to hear David speak on The Psychology of Business?  David recently spoke on the topic of Influence at a Human Resource conference, here is a brief overview of David and his insight:
"Influence is a key issue for human resources professionals: who has it, is it being used with integrity, how do people get it. Today’s Human Resource leaders are often in a position of influence, rather than power, whether we realize it or not. The ability to affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions, or thinking will be critical to leadership success in driving our goals and strategies no matter what your role is in your organization.
Dr. David Farrar enjoys sharing his keen insights from 20 years as a psychologist working with corporate executives. As a leader and consultant running organization effectiveness and change programs David’s seen influence used wisely and well on a global scale, so he has great insights. In this keynote, David examined how to use your personal power to your advantage, learn more about the psychology behind influence, identify persuasive abilities, and examine strategies to improve your personal leadership challenges with a greater level of influence.
In the end, attendees came away knowing the three kinds of influence skills one usually sees used in organizations plus four other influence behaviors that are easy, engaging and ethical.  David used practical real life examples, case studies, self-assessments to help develop the self-awareness and skills for leading and influencing so others will follow."

If you would like to have a similar elevating impact in your organization or conference, please contact Genevieve at:  We look forward to speaking with you!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Koliso Perspective: The Art and Science of Brainstorming

Read the rest of the newsletter this article was published in by following the link a the bottom of this post.

A client of Koliso wanted his leadership team to use their executive skills and think outside the box. The issue required collaboration across different silos in the organization, and once a solution was identified, everyone needed to get behind it if the business was to succeed.

Koliso suggested using strategic brainstorming focused on the key issues the team was facing. The CEO wasn’t very keen. If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorming session, chances are the main thing you remember is having to shout out lots of ideas in a limited time and compete for your ideas to be heard. This CEO thought brainstorming was a little childish and probably not suitable for a senior leadership team.

That’s not how brainstorming should be viewed. Brainstorming has developed a bad reputation. It hasn’t always been this way; most people don’t know brainstorming was invented. Here is how to brainstorm better (in six steps) based on its origin.

In 1954 Alex Osborn, an advertising executive, founded CEF, the Creative Education Foundation. CEF bills themselves as “where brainstorming began.” As well as inventing brainstorming, Osborn co-founded the ad firm, BBDO. His book, Applied Imagination, lives on in the work of CEF. Along with Sidney Parnes, Osborn developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process we know as brainstorming.

Osborn defines brainstorming as, “A creative conference for the sole purpose of producing a checklist of ideas—ideas which can serve as leads to problem solution—ideas which can subsequently be evaluated and further processed.”

That’s what most of us recognize as brainstorming, but that’s not the way it’s usually practiced. Normally, brainstorming is just the part of the conference or meeting where people try to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve the problem… usually followed by some frustration with the quality of the ideas and the planned follow-up.

We sat down with our client and went through how we could prepare the team for their problem-solving session based on what we know about how teams work and the psychology of creativity. The following are the six strategic steps.

1: Preparation. 

It’s not as obvious as it sounds. Rather than do a session on the fly, the process of brainstorming works best with careful planning. Because you ask people to step outside their normal boundaries, it helps if you can define the few boundaries they do have. Define the question, outline the parameters and make the problem easily understood. What’s more, involve the team in coming to terms with the problem so it’s crisply described, which leads to a crisp solution.

2: Incubation.

If you’re going to have a good brainstorming session, it helps to let people know about the session in advance. People will sleep on it. Letting a problem sit in the back of their minds will help them arrive at solutions during the session.

Koliso made sure the team knew the session was approaching, what kinds of questions they would be tackling, and the kinds of solutions the company needed to find.

3: Warm-up.

Thinking is just like any other kind of exercise. You need to provide a few warm-up exercises to get people prepared to be creative.

The problem with ice-breakers and similar is that they can feel childish. Koliso warmed up the team by having them put themselves in the minds of their customers. We asked them to imagine their issue from their customers’ perspective. How would clients describe the quality and operational issues they were facing? How would clients describe the impact on their businesses?

4: Ideation. 

This is the part people usually think of as the brainstorming. When people are coming up with ideas in a brainstorming session there are only four guidelines they need to keep in mind.
•    Don't judge the ideas
•    Piggy back on other people’s ideas
•    Go for quantity
•    Go wild and have fun

Most people like this the most. The key is to ensure all ideas are recorded and expressed. To make sure our group didn’t hold back, we had them work under time deadlines. Within a short while the team was trying to flood the group with their ideas so as not to be cut short by the time constraint.

5: Solution finding. 

 Participants often become frustrated with their lists of wild ideas. There needs to be a clear break so that the ideas can now be narrowed down to those few that will have the most impact on the problem. At this time participants need rules and guidelines to help them evaluate.

Our CEO was concerned that brainstorming would only lead to off-the-wall ideas that wouldn’t be practical or feasible. With that in mind, we agreed in advance on a few rules that we could use to evaluate ideas after the ideation stage.  Basically we created a stage-gate situation—where ideas had to pass strict criteria to make it through the gates—until only a few were left standing at the end.

6: Implementation.

Once the brainstorming ends and the ideas are prioritized, there needs to be a clear path to action.

We regularly create one-page plans for our clients for their key projects and accountabilities. Almost any project we’ve ever seen can be summarized in one page using a simple structure that lends itself to visible action and accountability.

This client came up with a number of options short-listed for implementation. The very process of working together on creating the solution broke down the silos the CEO was worried about. The members were energized to make succeed what they helped create.

When used well, brainstorming is a genuine team-building exercise as well as a problem solving technique that harnesses the creativity of all the participants.

Interested in learning more about this topic for your organization? Contact us.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Coaching For The Government Sector

Coaching is a ‘helping’ activity that enables individuals to achieve their full potential. Distinct from mentoring, coaching is not based on the coach's subject matter expertise. Rather, it is based on the coach partnering with an individual using established techniques and a thought-provoking, creative process to guide an individual toward their goals. Successful coaching provides a framework and toolbox that an individual can apply to their daily responsibilities to achieve results.  

While many equate coaching with the private sector, coaching is becoming more important in the government sector. Rising service demands, limited budgets and new opportunities require innovation from all levels of the government organization. Coaching government's leaders, managers and contributors helps government meet current challenges and plan for the future. 

To read more about how coaching can achieve results in government see Why Coaching for the Government Sector

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Koliso Perspective: The Psychology of Business—More than a Catchy Tagline

When most people think of psychologists, two prominent images come to mind: the white-coated research psychologist in a laboratory studying rats in a maze or attaching electrodes to someone’s head and the analytical psychologist providing clinical insights to a patient on a couch or interpreting subconscious behavior.

Applied psychologists are different. We’re basically scientists trained to apply psychological methods and frameworks to real world issues and problems.

The founder of applied psychology is not Sigmund Freud but Hugo Münsterberg, a German who immigrated to the United States and taught at Harvard in the beginning of the twentieth century. Münsterberg applied psychology to fields as diverse as legal testimony and confessions, engineering, teaching and business.

The International Association of Applied Psychologists (IAAP), of which Koliso co-founder David is a member, is the oldest international professional psychological society. How do applied psychologists look at solving real world issues?

Let’s consider traffic management. The IAAP has a whole division of members devoted to traffic and transport psychology. As trained scientists, applied psychologists look at the interactions between the traffic system, the behaviors of individuals and groups and the social rewards and expectations attached to driving. This has led to insights into the seven E’s of traffic psychology: education, enforcement, engineering, exposure, environment, emergency responsiveness and evaluations*. Education factors in variables such as in-car versus written examinations. Engineering examines effective signage and the response times needed to react to different road conditions. Enforcement looks at different kinds of controls and fines associated with good and bad driving.

As you can see, psychologists have a much wider influence on traffic management than simply investigating things such as driver road rage.

In the world of business, applied psychologists look at much more than just choosing the right candidates for jobs (traditional research type “test and tell” work) or helping employees deal with workplace stress (traditional counseling type roles).

Business is a series of interactions not just for the benefit of one person or the other, but voluntarily entered into for the benefit of both parties. It’s a system where motivations, expectations, the environment and the way the work is engineered play a significant part in the value of the exchange and how satisfied each party will be.

At different times the psychology of business focuses on the employees of the business, their customers and their community. It can include everything from recruitment, selection, training, performance appraisal, job satisfaction, motivation, engagement, productivity, work behavior, stress at work, reactions to change and effective management.

Applied psychologists are most effective in organizations where human capital is greatly valued: technology jobs, service industries, professional practices and other places where highly skilled employees are central to the business. Applied psychologists are trained to be methodical in their approach, look for predictable outcomes, and evaluate their success with measurable evidence.

Read the rest of the newsletter. 

Interested in learning more about this topic for your organization? Contact us.

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* Porter, Bryan E.. Handbook of traffic psychology. London: Academic Press, 2011.