This year at Leap London, our very own Deven Ravel, former Marine Captain, gave a brilliant presentation on the lessons he’s taken away from his time in the Marines and how he’s applied them to real-world, corporate challenges. Deven told the story of his tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where two members of his squad suffered life-changing injuries in a Taliban ambush and how those events proved to be the best change agents he’d ever encountered—forcing the Marines to adapt to their changed circumstances and breaking new ground in their lives.

He set out 10 key lessons from his experience:

1. Know yourself

It’s not just what you do. You have to think of yourself as the whole organization. Look at the people and the tools you have. What are the expectations of those people? And what about the people you are going to need but haven’t hired yet? Are you thinking two steps ahead?

2. Know your mission

Solutions need to be aligned up and down and organization. This means ensuring that strategic goals (business objectives) are aligned with operational goals (processes and procedures) and tactical goals (delivery).

3. Study history

Know the culture of your organization and understand where it came from. Understanding the history of an organization—knowing where its core values come from—can help tailor change programs to the character of the business.

4. Set expectations

Clear expectations prevent wriggle-room for mistakes. It means you can ask, ‘Do you not understand what was expected?’ or ‘Did I explain it wrong?’

5. Be brilliant in the basics

What are the core standards you expect everyone to have? What are the basic skills that are needed? It’s not about job performance; this is about bare minimum expectations. For his squad of Marines, that meant basic first aid, understanding communication signals, and weapons training.

6. Standardize communications

Define what different communication channels are used for. Make it clear when a team should use instant messenger tools like Slack, email, or Workfront to share information.

7. Build trust

This is hard to measure—it comes from the gut. The key step is to identify change agents within an organization who can help promote change. Those change agents have common attributes among their peers:

  • Influential
  • Respected
  • Impartial
  • Positive
  • Empathetic
  • Proactive

8. Decentralize and empower

If you have established clear expectations, clear communication and aligned objectives, smaller teams will be empowered to act and innovate.

9. Execute with a plan

We ask, ‘What works for the tools you have and the type of work you do?’ If the plan doesn’t fit the tools, the people, or the type of organization, it’s going to be tough to execute.

10. Reflect openly and often

You can only reflect openly and often once you’ve built a culture of trust in your organization. As managers, we need to ask, ‘How can I help you do this better?’

We’re proud to announce that Kevin Ellington is joining the LeapPoint leadership team as a director in our People & Change group. Kevin will serve as our Center of Excellence practice lead which is focused on enabling our enterprise clients to facilitate user adaptation and learning, and gain efficiencies through the reuse of capabilities and resources. He will also lead LeapPoint’s internal CoE, supporting our commitment to operational efficiency and continual improvement.

Kevin earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University and has leveraged his learning to benefit executives and their companies for over 25 years. Most recently he’s dedicated his time to helping companies deploy Centers of Excellence and drive the success of enterprise initiatives. Kevin connects quickly with clients, understands their needs, and equips teams with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to achieve both quick wins and long-term strategic objectives.  He has taught leadership both nationally and internationally and we’re incredibly excited for him to bring his skill, passion, and expertise to helping us drive enterprise change for our clients.

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If you haven’t heard of our new productLeapPoint Onewe encourage to check it out immediately. And if you haven’t seen our flashy new video promoting LeapPoint One, we definitely encourage you to watch that too. In fact, do that first. We’re pretty proud of it.

LeapPoint One is a revolutionary product for any shared service organization. It sits on top of your project intake system, taking the place of the standard request form interface. It allows you to provide both visual and verbal details about the products or services your organization offers with a level of depth and interactivity that simply aren’t possible with current systems on the market today. The application provides a familiar, e-commerce style experience that makes it easy for requesters to not only find what they’re looking for, but make multiple requests at once, saving them time and effort. One the back end, the application syncs with a myriad of enterprise systems allowing you the flexibility to bundle similar offerings together as one “product”. Is a particular offering split between marketing and IT? Not a problem. One can take a single request and initiate a project in Workfront and a separate one in JIRA. Need an account created or updated in Salesforce at the same time? Easy as pie. No additional requests required.

As a shared service, One allows you to offer the same level of professionalism and experience as a customer-facing organization.

If you’d like to learn more about One or see a demo, reach out to uswe love showing off our new toy. But seriously, watch that video first.

The very term “project management” calls forth images of Bill Lumbergh, gray cubicles, and TPS reports…Who wouldn’t want to avoid that fate?? The good news: this isn’t Initech. You are not Bill Lumbergh for offering them a PM tool.

Our ongoing experience with several Fortune 100 clients taught us three things:

  1. creatives actually like PM tools, when presented correctly;
  2. PM tools tend to centralize resources, which really helps creative teams accomplish more & prioritize more effectively, and;
  3. executives need insight into the process.


Let’s take a look at the first one. Creativesregardless of their particular functional backgroundwant to do more of what they do best: create marketable content. Seems simple enough. But traditional project management tends to dictate that you hold status meetings, expound upon lists, and ask folks to spend their Saturdays in a cube. That’s not fun for anyone. That’s a cultural war of attrition. At LeapPoint, we like to present project management in a totally different way. The PM tool is simply a traffic management center. It should offer a single, simple, and accessible view into the workflow and the iterations of projects and deliverables so that managers can effectively plan their work. And with modern PM tools, all of this information and insight can be captured as a byproduct of workers taking advantage of the native workflow and collaboration features.  Sure it’s project management. But it’s project management using a tool designed for the way your creatives work, rather than forcing your creatives to work in a way that supports the rigors of project management.

A secondary benefit of using a PM tool is its ability to centralize resource management along with the work. Once the workflow is brought into a single location, the resources follow.  Emails, attachments, disparate spreadsheets, outdated content storage… these things naturally make their way into the PM tool forcing teams to follow suit. While this drives further efficiencies on the delivery side, the greatest value it provides is painting a holistic picture of resource utilization and capacity. The ability to understand who’s working on what, how much available time they have, when they’ll free up, and who can support a project that comes in today, tomorrow, or next month. This view allows managers and executives to not only prioritize and execute “immediate work” but it also enables them to obtain a long-term view of the organization’s resource needs and make informed decisions about scaling capacity (i.e., hiring more people). When leadership is empowered with this sort of insight, it addresses the most common theme we hear, without exception, which is that teams are either too busy to address all of the business needs or too busy to address them with the caliber of work that’s expected.

Sure it's project management. But it’s project management using a tool designed for the way your creatives work, rather than forcing your creatives to work in a way that supports the rigors of project management.

The last item is one that holds true no matter the work or organization. Executives will always need and want some measure of insight into what their teams are doing. Even at a high level this might consist of how many projects to date, the status of those projects, the cost of labor or other expenses…What they’ll want to see will vary by executive. But they will want to see something. Being able to provide your leadership with a summary of how money is being spent and the status of their projects without having to solicit input from everyone on your team will be invaluable. With a PM tool information is real-time and can be easily aggregated to present the particular “slice” or view that your executives like to see. Moreover, this ‘single version of the truth’ helps keep everyone playing from the same sheet of music and reduces the need for individual updates and any resulting frictionboth of which distract from content delivery which, at the end of the day, is what you’re really there to do.

So what’s the big picture here? Look, you’re always going to have at least some creatives who are “operationally inclined” and either don’t mind project management or even enjoy it as part of the creative development process. And then of course you’re going to have the other half who fight it kicking and screaming. But here’s the crazy part. Resisting a PM tool is missing the forest for the trees. Sure it has “project management” in the title. And if you don’t like planned dates and effort estimations that probably sounds like a nightmare. But PM-ing is going to get done regardless of the tool. They’re doing it already. It’s just disruptive and inefficient. And THAT’S what they don’t likethe status meetings, and constant drives-bys, “where’s this? where’s that?”. What the tool brings to the table is the ability for PMs to get the information they need to do their jobs without distracting creatives from doing theirs. And that is something creative teams get excited about. It’s all in how you sell it.