The legendary CEO, Hunter Harrison, was making an impact with his tools and philosophies while turning around Canadian National Railway. But he still needed help with a serious problem. The organization’s culture was still a problem. That’s where Judy Johnson and her other consulting team members played a role in the cultural turnaround. Judy is the co-author of SwitchPoints which addresses this journey and their tools.
Who Is Judy Johnson?
When Judy and her co-authors published SwitchPoints in 2009, she was a partner at CLG, a firm focusing on executive coaching, strategy execution, and leadership development. After a 16-year stint at CLG, she was a Senior Principal at The Boston Consulting Group. Today, Judy is the Vice President & Director, Organizational Effectiveness Practice at Aspirant.
- How did the consulting project at CN come together since the late Hunter Harrison did not like consultants?
- What were some of the early pilot projects?
- What is the proper name for your work in cultural change?
- DCOM® was one of the frameworks mentioned in the book – what is it?
- How do you help to create an environment where people want to give their best everyday?
- What is the ABC framework as it relates to behavioral change?
- What is the Organizational Continuum?
- Hunter was called a 15 percenter? Who are the other 85?
- What is spiking the switch?
- How long does sustainable cultural change take?
DCOM® is a Powerful People Framework
Judy states that DCOM® is a great tool for leaders because it’s simple and sticky. DCOM® starts with asking the question, “Why is a desired performance not happening?”
Direction – every person has to know the direction the company is moving in.
Competence – does the person have the necessary skills and capabilities to perform the job?
Opportunity – does every person have the right tools and resources to do the job?
Motivation – in short, is the person motivated to do the job that’s required?
People have the skills, and they have the tools, but motivation can be lacking. And so a lot of the work I do is helping leaders to dissect that and help them to understand how they create an environment where people want to give their best each day,Judy Johnson
Other Frameworks Explained in SwitchPoints
- The Q4 Leadership™ Model
- Consequence Pyramid™
- E-TIP Analysis™
- Discretionary Performance™
- Fluency Model™
- SaFE™ Curve
It’s my understanding that all frameworks discussed in the book are protected intellectual property of the consulting firm, Alula.
My Tip for Taking Notes When Reading SwitchPoints
SwitchPoints is available in Kindle format. Accordingly, you’ll be doing much highlighting and inserting notes in your app.
But I have another suggestion. Due to the number of frameworks mentioned in the book, you might forget them unless you do what I did. For the frameworks, I documented my insights in a large sketchpad. That way, I could use my language so that they could become sticky in my mind.
Books Mentioned in the Episode
I liked SwitchPoints so much, I wanted to know if there were similar books she could recommend. Her first suggestion was The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
“There’s a lot of commonality if you read his book. What were we doing in this culture change, we were trying to get to critical mass to get to a tipping point where it became just the way that we’re working now.”
The next book Judy suggested was The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg because of the way habits create culture.
The third book is Nudge by Richard Thaler.
“Thaler approaches behavioral science and applies it to an economics perspective instead of a behavior analysis perspective. It’s still a powerful book because all of those small incremental changes lead to the ultimate goal that you have. You create those behavioral changes through nudges?”
A Special Thanks to Howard Green
One of the best books I’ve read in 2021 is Railroader by Howard Green, the biography of the legendary CEO, Hunter Harrison. Railroader was the book that eventually pointed me to Judy’s title as I wanted to understand the cultural changes that were going on during the CEO’s time at CN.