Return On 
Management Consultants

It's not just about engagement, it's about energy!



"We work with our clients to create healthy climates within organizations, teams and communities. Work environments, where people are engaged, creative and innovative, enable their organizations to achieve sustainable success. As critical as it is for humans to change the way we “fuel” and renew energy in our physical world, it is also critical that we change the way we “fuel” our human interactions. To do so, we must change the way we interact within our organizational environments and in our personal lives.”  

Source: Harnessing Human Energy to Renew Positive Organizational Climate article by Maureen (Mo) McKenna

At Return on Energy, we customize our services to meet the unique needs of our clients.  We offer coaching in all of our service offerings and define this as a just-in-time-learning-partner scenario.  We believe that the real learning happens in the doing. The role of coach/learning partner is to offer our clients the assurance that we are there to help you grow and develop when the time is right.  We offer both individual coaching and organizational coaching customized offerings. 

Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization flourish and your leaders and employees to thrive. 

"A learning climate is a healthy & productive climate." 

Creating a Healthy & Innovative Workplace

Consult, Design, Facilitate, Assess, Train & Coach

One way to generate energy is by framing reality in a new and positive way, people open their minds to seeing new connections between ideas, people or situations. When they suddenly see connections that previously eluded them, they are said to have a flash of insight.”

~~Tojo Thatchenkery

Much has been written in recent years about the lack of employee engagement. Organizations study and publish reports that tell us that employees are disengaged and that the resulting loss of productivity is
costing organizations millions of dollars annually.  Here's a thought - might it be that employees are not disengaged, they are exhausted? At Return on Energy we encourage clients to look at employee engagement as a mystery to be embraced versus a problem to be solved.

What if we were to study this issue from the other side? What might it look like when all employees say they are energized, engaged and inspired by the work they do? This perspective begins a whole new conversation and begins to get your Return on Energy.

Applying a strength-based approach to dealing with operational issues can create energy and a sense of commitment that traditional problem- solving approaches may not. The key is having the right people in the room and feeling safe enough to ask the right questions and challenge the status quo. 

“People need to feel safe to be who they are—to speak up when they have an idea, or to speak out when they feel something isn't right.”

~~Eunice Parisi-Carew. 

Return on Energy consults with the client to co-design customized interventions with and for clients who have a desire and need for a deep, inclusive and meaningful conversation.  The objective is rich dialogue, deep listening, shared understanding, and generating positive human energy to fuel change.

Working with clients over an extended period of time in the role of consultant and learning partner provides just-in-the-moment learning opportunities for clients, which allows people to thrive and the organization to flourish.    

"I had a great time at the Creating a Healthy Work Climate session. A quick reflection: at this time of year, especially with morale decreasing, I have found my energy low and my staff equally low. I realized during your session that I have been avoiding conversations focused on problem identification and areas of improvement with my staff because I have gone into a state of protection, and fear that such conversations will suck me totally dry. However, if I was to re-direct the questions towards what is going well such as we did last week, my energy levels will increase. They did in the 3 hours I was in the session, and I sensed the same for many others."

~Director of Student Services, Ontario University

Positively Energizing Leadership 

Developing both large "L" and small "l" leadership skills

“The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths,

making our weaknesses irrelevant”.

~~Peter Drucker 

Positively Energizing Leadership is about exploring what elevating individuals as well as what challenges them. It is choosing to begin by looking for what is working AND what is challenging. It is about taking a both/and lens to all situations. In every life system there are always things that are working - focus on those. Discovering the positive deviants in the system and engaging the people to explore how to get more of them to fix issues. 

Our work is based on the research from The Center for Positive Organizations (CPO), uses scientific evidence to demonstrate how thriving at work, interpersonal flourishing, virtuous practices, positive emotions and energizing networks can help build a successful business.  At ROE, we help clients generate positive human energy through our AMPs (appreciative micro practices). In complex systems, micro practices can create macro changes.

We draw upon the CPO four strategies for extraordinary performance for Positive Leaders:

  • Positive Climate - enabling positive emotions to enhance performance;
  • Positive Relationships - exploring what helps create positive energizers that create and support vitality in others;
  • Positive Communications - discovering how to energize conversations @work.
  • Positive Meaning - discovering how work connects to personal passion and supports relationships or creates a sense of community.

"The most important factor in predicting the effectiveness of your leaders is a metric you've never thought to measure. Find a way to leverage it, and you'll increase team performance by a factor of four. That factor is positive human energy to fuel your work."

~Professor Kim Cameron, 

Center for Positive Organizations, ,University of Michigan

Strategic Convening Summits (Meetings)

Engagement at the Whole

"Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture?”

~David Bohm

Organizations and communities are moving from a traditional hierarchical structure to a networked structure. This requires new ways of engagement of all those will be be creating the change and being impacted by the change.  Moving from small executive, expert teams creating the plan in isolation to inviting all who are impacted by the change to be part of the discovery, design and implementation process.  It is about the power of the collective mindsets vs expert mindsets.  Professor David Cooperrider of Case Western University compares the breakthrough in factor-10 productivity increases in areas like solar power and energy efficiency to the breakthrough that this approach can bring. He believes that we are now seeing a similar 10 fold increase in productivity at meetings and conventions, in how companies and industries can leverage the power of strategic convening by engaging and drawing on the power of those in the room. 

We have consulted, designed and facilitated more than 100 strategic convening events with groups of fifty to one thousand. Often this involves designing whole system interviews and focus groups that inform the major event. 

We have worked with corporations to develop employee engagement to support their rebranding, to working with Canada's largest hospital system to develop palliative care strategies, to school boards engaging their whole system to create the Service Qualities, to working with more than thirty communities across British Columbia to develop Community Employment Action Plans for adults with developmental disabilities.  Strategic Convening can work in any environment. 

"Maureen McKenna provides the seeds of inspiration as she facilities groups using the Appreciative Inquiry Framework.  She began by consulting with us to determine our goals.  Using her facilitation experience allows her to create a common ground and direction for participants.  She empowers people! We have found that she effectively adjusts her approach according to the flow, dynamics and creativity of the group.  Our challenge was to bring together diverse community members to develop ideas and goals for future working groups. It was a terrific meeting and worthwhile."

Gary Crawford

Councillor, Ward 36, Scarborough Southwest, Ontario

Strategic Planning

Dialogic Approach to Designing the Future

Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.”

~~John Seely Brown

Using the SOAR (Strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results) dialogic framework. Begins by having conversations (dialogic) that uncover what is already working with people that represent all the areas that will be impacted and need to be engaged to bring to life the strategy.
The SOAR framework* ask generative questions (Appreciative Inquiry) that help a group to have a conversation that help identifies their strengths, explore the opportunities on the horizon to create new possibilities, together create their aspirations of the future that lead to innovative and creative solutions and actions, to achieve the results they desire. 

"SOAR was a great approach to take the energy of the team and use it to galvanize around common goals and a clear direction.The result - high engagement and ownership of the strategic plan." 
~President, Canadian Pharmaceutical Company

"Your dedication and expertise, and using the Appreciative Inquiry approach, have been a great asset for CHS through all of our process of revisiting our mission, vision and strategic directions. Not only do we now have a clear, pragmatic and effective direction, but because the process was so consultative, all our leaders - volunteers and staff - understand and relate to them." 
~Executive Director, Canadian Hemophilia Society 

*Professor Jacqueline Stavros, creator of the SOAR framework.  

Appreciative Inquiry Shadow Consulting 

One-on-one learning partner

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

~~Khalil Gibran

  • 10% of learning is formal - workshop/class etc.
  • 20% of learning is social - coaching and community of practice etc.
  • 70% of learning is embedded in our work - weaving it thoughtfully into helping to be more successful.

Shadow consulting is a combination of the 20% social and 70% job embedded learning processes.  it is an opportunity to share your work - your consultation process and/or solution design which is reviewed and we have a one hour call focused on helping you learn and grow.  This goes beyond coaching and mentoring, it is truly a 'learning' partnership where you will be provided with insights, tools and techniques to help you build your confidence, deepen and accelerate your competence as a strengths-based management consultant.  This will help to ensure you achieve mastery in weaving AI philosophy and methodology into all that you do.

"Mo was our mentor, assisting with the development of interviews, designing and facilitating our Strategic Convening Summit. Although she had expertise in Appreciative Inquiry, she didn’t direct our efforts but came along side us in order for us to retain our ownership of the project.  Her knowledge, enthusiasm and energy have been generously given throughout this initiative and I attribute a great deal of it’s success to her ongoing support." 

~Linda Eason Lumsden, Superintendent of Education and 

Chief Customer Service Officer at Upper Canada District School Board

Teaming Approach Vs Team Building

Creating the Climate Where High Performance Teams Flourish & Grow

Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.”

~~Stuart Brown

In the past the definition of teams was those whose work is interdependent and generally work together on a regular basis. Today the speed and the need to collaborate has doubled over the last five years. This requires that we begin to consider the notion of 'teaming' people coming together quickly and with ease and grace begin to cooperate. This is a skill and can be learned. This may consist of networks of people working in a variety of teams coming together.  This skill has become a major requirement it the 21st century workplace.   

Teaming today requires that people take risks, confront mistakes and work across the organization. It requires people to take turns in demonstrating leadership. All of this requires creating a psychologically safe work climate where teams can thrive and business flourish.  Let Return On Energy help you to create a strong relational foundation for your teams, safe environment and help them to mature quickly to become high performing teams quickly. 

Google has conducted extensive research on what is the key contributor to great teams and their statistically validated research shows that the #1 requirement is creating a Psychologically safe climate. Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmundson description of psychological safety: ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’  In 2016 NY Times wrote the article called: What Google Learned in its Quest to Build the Perfect Team :

"What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency. Rather, when we start the morning by collaborating with a team of engineers and then send emails to our marketing colleagues and then jump on a conference call, we want to know that those people really hear us. We want to know that work is more than just labor."

Exploring Innovation Competencies 

Situational Organizational Questionnaire (SOQ) 

At Return On Energy, we are certified in the Situational Outlook Questionnaire® (SOQ), measuring people’s perceptions of the climate for creativity, innovation, and change in their immediate working environment.  The robust and evidence-based, qualitative and quantitative SOQ assessment instrument is used to help foster and maintain a climate that can support innovation and change.  

SOQ definitions for culture and climate are:

Culture:   "What the organization values, their beliefs, mission, vision, traditions etc." (the roots of the tree)

Climate:    "Recurring patterns of behaviour, attitudes, and feelings that characterize life in the organization. What organization members experience. (The tree above ground)  

Why focus on climate?  

It is a key:

  • capability for innovation and growth.
  • factor in helping organizations to manage change.
  • factor promoting improved business performance.
  • to well-being in the workplace.

Research by Firenze, R. J. (1998), demonstrate that organizations with better climates promote the use of more complicated work designs, which enable them to better: 
  • Handle chaos and constant change
  • Meet customer needs
  • Increase teamwork and knowledge sharing

The Situational Outlook Questionnaire® (SOQ) is a two-part questionnaire that measures people’s perceptions of the climate for creativity, innovation, and change within their immediate work environment. The SOQ assesses nine dimensions using 53 questions and includes open-ended questions to provide more meaningful information on what is working, what is not, and what needs to be done to make the climate better.  It examines nine dimensions of innovation:  Challenge and Involvement, Freedom, Trust & Openness,  Idea Time, Playfulness & Humour, Conflict, Idea Support, Debate and Risk-Taking.

The SOQ has been applied in many powerful ways – some uses of the SOQ include:

  • Organizational level - used to assess the impact of reorganization; or to clarify the readiness for a recapitalization; or assessing the climate where creativity and innovation are critical to success and using findings to focus improvements
  • Leadership development – used as a 360 tool to assess the impact of leaders behaviour on the workplace climate; used as a tool to help diagnose and target key challenges as inputs to leadership development – especially for creative leadership
  • Team development – used to help assess the team climate and to highlight challenges and areas for improvement; used to help surface hidden elephants and get undiscussables discussed
  • Innovation capability development – with the increasing importance of creativity and innovation the SOQ has often been used as part of the process to help understand invisible strengths and limitations in the climate that are helping or hindering improving innovation effectiveness

This eminently practical tool continues to prove its effectiveness in cultivating and liberating the potential in organizations, teams and individuals. 

To learn how it can help you please contact us for a short demonstration of the power of this assessment tool and the innovative program to increase innovation in your workplace.