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Highlights from Rotman’s Leading Strategic Change program

Posted on April 19, 2016

By Joanne Goveas

Last week, we welcomed a diverse group of professionals from the private and public sectors of Canada, the US, and as far away as New Zealand, to our Leading Strategic Change program. The program uses a model-based problem solving approach to help participants effectively lead transformative initiatives at their organizations.


John Oesch
, a published authority on change management, who also happens to have impeccable comedic timing, led the five-day program. With a background in organizational behavior, decision-making and negotiations, John presented learnings from diverse fields through the course of the week.

As John explained, the rate of change in business is much quicker than in most other fields. However, a thoughtful process during the change can be the difference between a successful initiative embraced by all stakeholders or a tumultuous change that heightens anxiety and resistance to the initiative.

On day one, John was joined by Rick Powers, a leading expert on corporate strategy, governance and law. Using case studies, Rick helped the class frame their change initiatives within the context of their organization’s strategy. Next, using the principles of Integrative Thinking, participants began analyzing a series of best-in-class models of change management and began modifying these to meet the unique needs of their organization.

Later, the class explored the psychology behind reactions to change and the role leaders have in managing the level of anxiety during transition. They also learned best practices to identify, understand and work with resistors to change. Finally, the class learned how to master procedural justice: the perceived fairness behind the process of change.

– David Weiss at Rotman’s Leading Strategic Change

Guest speaker, Dr. David Weiss, a sought after global consultant on change management to some of the world’s biggest firms, helped participants synthesize the learnings from previous sessions. Through focused exercises, he also helped them develop effective story-telling techniques to inspire the action necessary to implement change.

Next, using relevant case studies, participants tested their learnings by evaluating the actions of key players during different stages of transitions.

Armed with change-management theories, key models and case study analyses, participants began working on their own change management models in consultations with faculty.

On our final day, each participant presented their change model and benefited from feedback from David Weiss, John Oesch and their team members. They now return to their organizations with a robust customized model and strategies to sustain their initiatives through the transition.

As always, participants benefited from the wealth of knowledge of their classmates. A highly engaged group, they were eager to share their experiences (both cautionary tales and best practices). They now have an expanded network ready to serve as consultants as they each work through their exciting initiatives.

To learn more about our programs connect with me at

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