Hi! I’m CHANGEGUILD founder & ringleader, Dan Olson! As we hit the one-year mark of helping individuals, teams, and organizations navigate change, we've received a lot of requests for my backstory and how the Guild came to be.
So, similar to an episode recap at the start of a TV show, here's the story so far...
THE PAST IS PROLOGUE: As a Gen Xer raised on a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons and sugar cereal (exacerbated by Sesame Street and MTV), I have an interesting energy level and attention span which has created a unique and exciting career (Follow this link to see my journey to date!).
Highlights include more than 15 years of change management experience at a variety of levels! I've led major change initiatives, built change management centers of excellence within organizations, and coached others how to do the same. I've worked at every level from the strategic to the hyper-tactical, and with every stakeholder from the front lines to the C-Suite.
SUPERSTAR: After earning an MBA in entrepreneurial management at the U of MN Carlson School of Management (as well as an on-the-job version in Fortune 50 corporate America), I co-founded an award-winning staffing and consulting firm in 2009. Thanks to our transparent business model and abundance mindset, we made a significant impact in helping connect people to fulfilling roles.
While I was still able to make a difference on and play within the change management ecosystem, the pull to engage it full time was too great, so I left my company at the end of 2016 to start CHANGEGUILD.
SERIOUSLY, THIS IS A THING: Passionate about building karma and helping others in the workplace, I beefed up my network weaving skills and purposely worked towards becoming a 'Network Beaver.’ This is someone who “creates gatherings that pool network assets, relationships, and energy in a space of dynamic and complex adaptive interaction. In many cases, they feature the sharing of ideas and collaboration, resources, celebration, and learning.”
Some examples of work include:
Twin Cities Change Management Hackerspace – a place where change management practitioners can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. Conducted several peer evaluations to help Change Management Offices improve and accelerate performance.
Co-created #ConsultforGood – an ongoing experiment in matching Twin Cities consultants to non-profits that need change and project management help.
Frequent speaker and change management ambassador – have presented to such audiences as The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (at several campuses), The Minnesota OD Network, PMI-MN, and several global CM practice areas within Fortune 50 companies.
CHIEF CATALYST: While enjoying building a successful business, I missed hanging out with my change management friends. So, I started a gathering at the back of a bar where we could meet up, commiserate, and share best practices. Over time, more and more people attended, and we started adding speakers and facilitated exercises. With the help of a small group of leaders, we reorganized into the Minnesota Change Management Network – one of the leading change management professional associations in the country. I was one of thirteen founding board members and was given the role of ‘Past President’ the inaugural year in honor of my contributions.
MATCHMAKER: With the intersection of STAR, MNCMN, and my network, I have been uniquely positioned to help connect change management professionals to jobs. Over the last decade, I have covertly & overtly helped place hundreds of people into full time or contracting, change-related roles.
I also provide career coaching to dozens of change practitioners, and am eager to help grow new change champions!
MULTIPLE HATS: As a change management practitioner, matchmaker, and coach, I have been able to add value with a wide range of clients, helping them better navigate change, driving results and outcomes for organizations, adoption and usage for individuals.
WORD GETS AROUND: Minnesota is home base, but clients and connections from around the country are starting to engage. Several CM associations have requested my insights in standing up their groups, and I have been featured on a national podcast. Speaking of which, check out my podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music or Soundcloud.
ENTER THE GUILD: All these activities and experiences created the perfect storm and inspired my next business: CHANGEGUILD.
Where did the name come from? In organizations of the past, guilds were associations of people who banded together for the mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal. Sometimes organized as a hybrid of a professional association, a trade union, a cartel or a secret society, CHANGEGUILD was formed to be a not-so-secret, modern iteration on this theme.
What's the goal? Our intent is to bring change management to a broader audience who has not leveraged it in the past. We see the challenges of the VUCA (volitile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) business world and want to help equip individuals, teams, and organizations to deal with it.
We are stewards, artisans, and champions of change in all the permutations that it manifests in today's business environment (organizational readiness, change management, organizational effectiveness, change leadership, journey management, etc.). In other words, we are change nerds.
We have the gravitas to work at the top of the house on strategy; the empathy to work with middle management and their constraints above and below; and with the tactical front line employees and their focus on the customer.
In a way, we act as fitness coaches - we help you craft a strategy, discuss the proper form to do the work, monitor performance, and provide tips on how to improve effectiveness. Along the way, our goal is to help teach and transfer the skills, bring to bear industry best practices and, thanks to our connections, the lastest trends from our industry's thought leaders.
BUILDING A TEAM: CHANGEGUILD is a boutique consultancy, purposely small and focused on helping people navigate change.
I view my role like George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven in that I'm assembling a small team of talented, quirky, adaptive, and agile consultants to meet the toughest challenges the business world can present. It is a diverse group, all experienced change practitioners, and each with a depth of change management skill in a particular business area or domain such as public sector, higher education, manufacturing, technology, medtech, software development, or retail.
Not only experts in their specific areas of experience, this crew understands and appreciates other disciplines and how they interact. Moreover, they know business, the people within it, and how to get things done. High emotional intelligence powers their abilities to listen, understand, interpret, coach, and execute, making them high impact trusted advisers.
If you need help navigating change and driving business results, there is no better group of people available.
WE ARE LEGION: CHANGEGUILD is focused entirely on helping individuals and organizations navigate change, but in my travels, I am sometimes presented with opportunities better served by others. With a focus on building a collaborative talent network that is karma-based, I created a guild of people whose professions and service offerings run parallel to my own.
It has always been my belief that there is enough work for everyone, but it is not efficiently communicated, and connections between an opportunity and resources are not always made. To address this and the fact that the #FutureOfWork environment will be driven by freelancers, consultants, and side hustles, the GUILDALLIANCE was formed to help connect people to work.
When presented with an opportunity that does not fit into my wheelhouse, I leverage the GUILDALLIANCE database and hand the work over to someone in the network. I’m not looking for money out of the exchange, I’m looking to strengthen the ecosystem through network connections. Life’s too short to operate otherwise.
Eventually, I’d love to turn this into a platform akin to LinkedIn meets Craig’s List, with a bit of Yelp mixed in, but for now, baby steps…
If you are interested in entering your name into the GUILDALLIANCE database, or if you want to learn more, please click on this link.
COHORTS IN CHANGE: One of the most exciting developments over the past year was the forming of The Guild Roundtable - a series of meetings for change practitioners at various levels of skill and experience. CHANGEGUILD serves a curator and facilitator by bringing together like-minded people, thought leaders, and experienced professionals to focus on certain topics or challenges.
For example, one group is focused on career transitions and how to become full time change practitioners. Another group is comprised of experienced change leaders from different companies who are building out change centers of excellence within their organizations.
We are currently assembling new Roundtable groups to serve mid market organizations who have never leveraged change resources, IT project managers to enhance their use of CM tools, and senior leaders who want to know how to sponsor and reinforce change in their organizations. If you are interested in joining a Roundtable group, please click on this link.
BACK TO SCHOOL: CHANGEGUILD is partnering with leading Twin Cities educational institutions to develop a change-oriented curriculum. Through The Center for Change Leadership, we are creating and deploying a variety of classroom, virtual, and on-site offerings to equip individuals, teams, and organizations the change leadership skills, strategies, and resilience to survive and thrive in today’s VUCA world.
The Center has three areas of focus: Side Hustle School (for freelancers and solopreneurs), Biz Accelerator (for startups and small businesses), and Biz Maximizer (for mid-market organizations). A variety of hackerspaces, meet-ups, and community building enhance the classroom offerings. Additionally, a wide range of change management certifications are also offered.
Current classes in development include “Enhancing ERP, CRM, and other SaaS Projects by Focusing on the People Side of Change” and “Increasing the ROI of IT Deployments: Change Management for Technology Project Managers.”
Stay tuned for additional updates as new partnering announcements are released. We expect to share details on providing grant-funded customized training, as well as CHANGEGUILD taking up residency at a major learning institution in the near future.
Also, if you are interested in customized training, change management certification, or bringing our change curriculum to your organization, click on this link.
TIME FLIES: As you can see, it’s been an exciting journey, and the first year of CHANGEGUILD’s history has been jammed-packed with amazing opportunities to serve the broader change ecosystem. Along the way, we’ve been able to play with some really cool clients, change friends, and thought leaders.
We’d love to assist you or your friends in your change journey should you need the help. To that end, we offer free 60-minute coaching sessions to analyze the issue and jumpstart a change solution. Click on this link to learn more. CHANGEGUILD is your one-stop shop for change management consulting, certification, customized training, and coaching!
Thank you for your interest and support, and stay tuned for updates! There’s a lot of stuff coming year two at CHANGEGUILD!