Don’t Get Eclipsed by the Competition - Develop an Organizational People Plan

Tuesday October 24th, 2017 at 10:00am
Written by Casey White - Director of Marketing

The recent solar eclipse caused a fair amount of excitement in our office. You can learn more about the eclipse here - - but at a high level, we were treated to a rare, natural phenomenon of the moon covering the sun to create a solar eclipse. Though my primary working location in Dearborn, MI did not lie within the “path of totality,” in which the moon completely covered the sun and day turned to night for a brief period, we jumped on board for the opportunity to see the partial eclipse in our office parking lot.

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Visualizing Your Recruiting and Succession Plans

Wednesday May 24th, 2017 at 9:00pm
Written by Casey White - Director of Marketing

I wasn’t expecting to be inspired by a field hockey office display, but that’s what happened recently during my visit to a local university. Are you wondering how recruiting and succession planning for your company could possibly relate to a University field hockey program?

Picture this: a striking, larger-than-life visual of a long-range “staffing” plan, highlighting each year from now until 2020, showing field positions, names of current players and potential recruits. It was color-coded and created to help coaches identify, by position, the talent needed to stay competitive and ultimately work toward their goal of building a championship team. It was obvious: they clearly understood they needed talented people to achieve that goal and all the particulars were captured in vivid detail.

That display got me thinking, “How many companies understand what their talent needs look like?” It made me realize that capturing the right kind of data, and making that data come to life visually, is crucial in setting the best goals and vision for the future. How close is your organization to understanding what your talent needs look like – today … in 3 years … in 10 years …?

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How to Grow Your Own Talent - ASE Talent Symposium Recording

Wednesday December 14th, 2016 at 8:30am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

Jim Bitterle, Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, presented at ASE’s 2016 Talent Symposium on the topic of growing your own talent.  Check out the video recording if you were not able to join live!

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Developing Workforce Development Strategies

Friday December 2nd, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Ed Quintavalle - Senior Consultant

A man is in a hot air balloon that is slowly losing altitude. He ends up hovering over the side of the road in the desert. Another man happens by. The man in the balloon calls down to him, "Sir, could you tell me where I am?" The man looks up, assesses the situation, and responds: "Yes, you are about 30 feet in the air on the side of the road in the desert." The man in the balloon, unamused at the response, calls down, "Thanks Einstein ... you must be a workforce development consultant." "What do you mean?" responds the other man. "You just told me everything that I already knew and were no help whatsoever." The fella looks up at the man in the balloon and says, "I would guess that you work for a company that’s in serious trouble." "Why do you say that?" responds the man in the balloon. "Because you have no idea where you are, no idea where you are going, and no idea how to get there from here."

This is a somewhat humorous anecdote for the application of Workforce Development (WD) strategies. I wouldn’t say that WD consultants only reveal everything that employers already know; nor are employers always totally in the dark about their plight. However, when information is qualified through a data-driven analysis, it usually comes as no big surprise for employers where their weakest workforce links are located. Lack of training (critical skills and basic skills) often haunt a company until data is presented that validates what many already suspected.

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How to Think “Strategically” about Workforce Planning

Friday November 18th, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant

Have you heard the phrase workforce planning? What about strategic workforce planning? This catchphrase is changing the HR game and offering a glimmer of hope in the war for top talent. It’s also creating some important and interesting dialogue within the C-Suite.

How is this possible, you ask? Strategic workforce planning (SWP) helps connect a company’s core business goals with its most important asset: people!

In its most basic form, workforce planning determines what an organization needs in terms of the size, type, experience, quality, skills and knowledge of its workforce in order to achieve primary business goals. The term strategic further defines the timeframe of the planning activities. Think system-wide organization and strategy vs. work-unit issues at a supervisor level.

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How to Grow Your Own Talent

Monday October 17th, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

Jim Bitterle, Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, was invited by Tom Borg Consulting to talk talent! Tune in to this podcast recording to learn more about EDSI and how to develop talent in your organization.

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Education and Workforce Development Partnerships

Monday October 3rd, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Ed Quintavalle - Senior Consultant

There’s been a national call-to-action for two-year community colleges and career and technical high schools. Ultimately, educators are responsible for meeting the demand for skills in the global economy.

  1. There is consensus that the foundational academic knowledge needed for postsecondary education and for careers is virtually the same, with growing recognition that academic skills, employability and technical knowledge and skills are essential as well.
  2. We’re seeing widespread agreement that lifelong learning and ‘learning how to learn’ are key drivers of success in college, careers and civic life.
  3. Research shows collaborative efforts in states, districts and communities to strengthen their collective capacity to deliver results that matter.

The plan is for greater student success. It needs to be bolder and broader – “cradle-to-career” strategies – comprehensive, data-driven plans that begin early on and focus on improving measurable progress to career readiness. This new formula shows the most promise for success. Follow-up on the student’s outcome is also important to obtain the metrics to grow this philosophy.

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Eight Things You Must Do When Creating a Turnaround Plan

Friday September 9th, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

Is your company struggling financially?

If so, it may be time to create a turnaround plan. Turnaround plans assist companies in identifying the cause of underperformance; reverse it and return to profitability. There are a few essential elements to any financial turnaround business plan. Following are some basic actions and best practices to consider.

  1. Don’t waste time. If the company is performing poorly, don’t procrastinate. I’ve seen far too many financial disasters occur simply because managers and advisors are passive. If things are degrading, act now. Time can be your friend, or it can be your enemy. For turnarounds, unfortunately, it is too often the latter.

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Are We in a Recession?

Wednesday April 13th, 2016 at 8:16am
Written by Chuck Mouranie - Partner and Managing Director

I find the talking heads from Fox Business and Bloomberg to be quite entertaining. They appear to have vast business and economic backgrounds, yet can’t agree on whether we have entered into recession or are on a path of expanding growth. They both could be right.

Traditionally, a recession is deemed to have occurred if the gross domestic product (GDP) shrinks for three consecutive quarters. This theory may no longer apply to a world economy. China’s GDP has declined to approximately 6.5% growth from double-digit territory. This is suspect as the Chinese Government restricts data defining the economy. In addition, Japan, Russia and the European Union economies have been in the tank for years. These reductions impact the US, and commodity prices (raw metals, oil, consumer goods, etc.) fall as these major world producers demand for these goods drop.

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Reflections on Dan and Chip Heath's Concept of Bright Spots

Wednesday March 16th, 2016 at 7:45am
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

I was recently introduced to Dan & Chip Heath’s concept of “bright spots,” and I wanted to take a moment for reflection.

To watch Dan’s four minute video and read the article about this topic on Fast Company, please click on the following link:

Here’s a small excerpt to illustrate the concept introduced in their book, Switch:

Let’s say your kid comes home one day and shows you this report card.

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Kevin Schnieders Speaks on Leadership Development at International Society for Performance Improvement Event

Thursday February 11th, 2016 at 9:00am
Written by EDSI

EDSI CEO, Kevin Schnieders, spoke on the topic of leadership development at the 2015 Signature Event of the Michigan Chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement.  Please watch the video below! 

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Five Concerns of the 50+ Client

Wednesday January 13th, 2016 at 7:30am
Written by Kathleen Niedermayer - Job Developer

In my short tenure with EDSI as an EARN Job Developer, I have had the privilege of observing and teaching Job Club. Most of the clients who participate are 50 years old+, have been employed steadily in a company or industry for a long time, and generally have no clue about the requirements of a job search in this century.

Five common concerns usually come to light during our weeks together in Job Club. The exciting news for us is that with empathy, active listening and open sharing, most of these concerns can be identified and relieved before “graduation” day. You can be the change agent that turns their fear, frustration and negative attitude into one of hope for a brighter and better new day.

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Designing Career Pathways within WIOA Guidelines

Tuesday December 15th, 2015 at 9:45am
Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist

WIOA requires states and local Workforce Development Boards to work with adult education, post-secondary education and other community-based organizations to develop career pathways that will make it easier for all Americans to attain the skills and credentials needed for jobs.

What are career pathways? The US Department of Labor defines career pathways as a new way of doing business which operates at both a systems and an individual level. At the systems level, a career pathway is a broad approach for serving populations that may experience significant barriers to employment. The career pathway can substantively alter the way the workforce system delivers its services and the system’s relationship with partner organizations and stakeholders to better prepare the worker.

Career pathway programs should offer a sequence of education courses and training credentials which are aligned with work-ready standards and competencies which are validated by employers. Career pathways can also provide greater customer service at all levels by engaging employers, adult basic education, training providers, community organizations and service providers to design services that meet the needs of employers and job seekers.

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WIOA - Eligible Training Provider List Requirements

Thursday October 22nd, 2015 at 8:01am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI


WIOA provides Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) the opportunity to expand training and educational opportunities.  The goal is to help low income individuals, dislocated workers, individuals with limited skills and barriers to employment, and youth earn industry-recognized credentials and advance in the workplace.

LWDBs now can offer more training specifically targeted for high-demand occupations or industry sectors in addition to Individual Training Accounts (ITAs).  Local WDBs can now use WIOA funds to provide new training models that will lead to: 

  • industry-recognized credentials 
  • apprenticeships
  • integrated educational/training approaches 
  • career pathways 
  • industry partnerships
  • cohort-based training

LWDBs can now use a portion of their local Title I funds for pay-for-performance contracts for specific targeted populations.  They will be required to evaluate how each targeted population was selected, along with outcomes of training.


Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) Requirements

WIOA has established an Eligible Training Provider process that will help support and ensure customer choice, performance accountability and continuous improvement.  States and LWDBs will identify Eligible Training Providers qualified to receive WIOA funds to train adult/dislocated workers and youth. 


An Eligible Training Provider is one who has met the eligibility requirements to receive WIOA Title Adult and Dislocated Worker funds to provide training services to eligible individuals.  In order to receive WIOA funds, the training provider must meet numerous ETPL numerous requirements and must be:

  1. Institutions of higher education that provide training that leads to post-secondary credentials
  2. Apprenticeship programs registered by the USDOL Office of Registered Apprenticeship
  3. Public or private training providers, including joint labor-management organizations, pre-apprenticeship programs and occupational/technical training providers
  4. Providers of adult education and literacy activities 

All training providers will be required to meet performance outcomes and ensure accountability, quality, and labor market-relevant programs and offerings. 


Training providers (both existing and new) will be required to submit an online application that includes all the documentation required by the states and LWDBs such as:

  • Information supporting a claim that an applicable training program leads to a post-secondary or industry-recognized credential, and a detailed description of the credential
  • Evidence of ability to provide services to incumbent workers and individuals with barriers to employment
  • Evidence of state licensure requirements and licensing status 
  • Program completion rate for all individuals participating in applicable programs
  • Employment and earning outcomes 
  • Cost of training (including supplies, books, fees)
  • Post-secondary credentials offered
  • Program costs per student by type of training 
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Program offerings


Training providers on the ETPL will also be required to report performance outcomes.  Each year they will be required to submit, at a minimum, the following:

  • Total number of participants enrolled in the program
  • Total number of participants completing the program
  • Entry into unsubsidized employment at second quarter after exit
  • Entry into unsubsidized employment at fourth quarter after exit
  • Median earnings
  • Attainment of post-secondary credentials
  • Measurable skills gains
  • Effectiveness in serving employers

All LWDBs are required to have training providers on the approved ETPL that are offering training programs aligned with their state and region in-demand occupations and sectors. They will be required to ensure training providers make all the above information available to their One-Stop Centers so eligible clients can make informed decisions on training offerings. They will be required to report performance and outcomes on training offerings, while ensuring individuals with barriers to employment are served.

Is your LWDB ready to review and advance training provider course offerings?  How are you going to determine if training is meeting the needs of in-demand occupations and sectors?  What steps are you taking to ensure that training services are meeting the requirements of WIOA?  We are here to help you.

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA implementation, please contact me at

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


Why Your Business Cannot Survive without a Good Cash Forecast

Wednesday October 14th, 2015 at 8:00am

Written by Nehal Desai - Associate Consultant with EDSI


Cash availability is critical for any business. Whether to pay vendors, creditors, or staff, having cash on hand is essential. Why then, is a good cash forecast so often overlooked and underutilized?  Does your business maintain an accurate cash forecast? Are you using your forecast correctly to make the most effective and profitable business decisions? Having an accurate cash forecast can help identify potential future shortcomings and allow a business to take corrective actions to ensure their operations run smoothly! Read on to understand the basics of a cash forecast and how it can aid your decision-making process in times of low or high growth.

We often see businesses show increased sales and positive profits, yet, they still run out of cash. Simply stated, cash flow is the lifeblood of a business.

A cash forecast can accurately express a firm’s cash position in future periods. Commonly, a 13-Week Cash Forecast and an Annual Operating Plan (AOP) are preferred forecasting methods. The 13-Week Cash Forecast outlines the cash position for the upcoming 13 weeks, while the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) shows the monthly cash needs and surpluses for each month in a fiscal year. Most firms create an AOP at the start of the year and update on a regular basis. The 13-Week Cash Forecast is often used when cash is becoming (or has already become) a concern. It is a great way to manage cash in the short-term and make strategic changes to manage the cash position.

So how can cash forecasts be utilized in business decisions?  Cash forecasts help companies manage their growth, working capital and lines of credit with lenders. 

Imagine business is booming. Customer orders are rolling in faster than you can handle. You are ecstatic as profits are going through the roof. Soon, you realize that although profits are soaring, more cash is leaving your bank account than coming in. Now cash is not available to pay key vendors, and orders need to be put on hold. Sadly, despite the increased sales orders, the company is stuck without inventory and unable to fulfill demand. A 13-Week Cash Forecast, coupled with the right strategies, could have prevented this.  Cash needs would have been estimated and preventive measures to avoid cash shortages executed.  

Now imagine an opposite scenario. The sales forecast is down. There is hope on the horizon, but you are unsure of what your cash needs are for the next month. The cash forecast can help determine when collections and payments occur using the predictive nature of both sides of the transactions. Utilizing the forecast, firms can be aggressive in their collections when they foresee an upcoming cash shortage, or use the forecast to negotiate an increased line of credit with creditors. A cash forecast helps your company get ahead of the situation and take appropriate action to lessen or eliminate negative impacts associated with cash constraints. 

A lack of positive cash flow and insufficient credit to finance the business is a common issue for underperforming businesses. A well-formulated cash forecast is the perfect solution to help manage a company’s cash and credit, and equip it with the right tools for long-term success

What steps are you taking to ensure that your company has the necessary cash available to ensure success? Please let us know how we can assist you in your efforts.

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding our financial consulting services, please contact me at

Click here for more info about our consulting solutions on our website. 


WIOA - The Role of Local WIBs in Career Pathways Development

Tuesday September 29th, 2015 at 7:40am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI


WIOA requires Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to work with representatives from secondary and postsecondary education providers to develop and implement Career Pathways. This occurs by aligning employment, training, education and supportive services to meet the needs of adults and youth, focusing on those with barriers to employment.

What is a Career Pathway?

The National Career Pathways Network has defined a Career Pathway as a coherent, articulated sequence of rigorous academic and career/technical courses, commencing in ninth grade and leading to an Associate’s degree, Baccalaureate degree and beyond, an industry-recognized certificate and/or licensure. The Career Pathway is developed, implemented, and maintained in partnership with secondary and postsecondary education providers and employers.

Why Career Pathways?

Career Pathways can help Local WIBs, educators, jobseekers, youth and employers identify career options and the knowledge and skill requirements that individuals need for their careers. Career Pathways also help in identifying skill sets and job functions/roles needed across job families.  

Local WIBs need to be committed to working with educators, industries and economic development partners to develop a shared vision and strategy to support sector-based Career Pathways for youth and adults.

Career Pathways Strategies

There are many strategies that Local WIBS can use to support the development of Career Pathways:

  • Working with employers to determine their hiring needs
  • Working with educators to design training programs that meet the hiring needs of employers
  • Utilizing labor market data (local, state and national)
  • Measuring the success of existing training programs and outcomes
  • Measuring employer and earnings outcomes
  • Promoting seamless progress from one education step to another
  • Eliminating barriers to accessing training
  • Providing guidance through career coaching
  • Creating and supporting partnerships between workforce development, education, labor and non-profit organizations 
  • Supporting industry partnerships

What steps are you taking to ensure that your education and training providers, operators and partners are supporting Career Pathway services as required in WIOA? Do you need help getting started or help in completing the processes? Please let us know how we can assist you in your efforts.

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA implementation, please contact me at

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

Using the Theory of Constraints as a Key Element in Your Growth Strategy

Wednesday August 26th, 2015 at 8:30am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI


As we work with clients to develop Growth and Diversification Plans (Strategic Plans), we consistently find constraints that limit a company’s ability to grow. Given this, it’s imperative that the Theory of Constraints (TOC) is integrated with your company’s strategy.

If you don’t know what TOC is, here it is in a nutshell. It’s a five-step process to identify and eliminate bottlenecks while achieving corporate goals. Here are the five steps:

  1. Identify the constraint (the process that limits the company’s throughput)
  2. Exploit the constraint
  3. Subordinate everything to the system’s constraint
  4. Elevate the system’s constraint
  5. Identify the next constraint

When applying TOC, we often find internal constraints such as equipment, working capital, skilled labor, etc. limit throughput. However, once these constraints are broken, the “market” becomes the next constraint. What does that mean? It means the company needs more sales.  

When sales become the constraint, it is important that the organization becomes entirely sales-oriented. Functions and processes that require modification often include:

  • Pricing
  • Quoting
  • The mix between new business development and account management activities
  • Promotions
  • Go-to-market strategies

If sales are your constraint, remember to apply TOC methodologies to keep everyone focused on elevating the business’s constraint. And if you’re creating a Growth and Diversification Plan, be sure to include TOC into your plan.

Click here for more information about Operational Improvement on our website. 

WIOA Requirements and Career Services

Wednesday July 15th, 2015 at 1:00pm

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires four Core Program Partners to provide expanded services at One-Stop Centers. These four Core Program Partners include:

  • WIOA Title I. B: Adult, Dislocated Workers and Youth
  • WIOA Title II: Adult Education and Literacy
  • WIOA Title III: Wagner-Peyser
  • WIOA Title IV: Vocational Rehabilitation

Other required One-Stop partners who must participate in the operation of the One-Stop system include:

  • Career & Technical Education
  • Title V Older Americans Act
  • Job Corps
  • Native American Programs
  • Migrant Seasonal Farmworkers
  • Veterans
  • Youth Build
  • Trade Act 
  • Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Unemployment Compensation 
  • Second Chance Programs

Additionally, Governors can elect to include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) as a Core Program Partner.

All partners must also be identified within in a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU). Information regarding the financial support partners will provide to the One-Stop, as well as the services they will provide, is required. Partners must identify:

  • How services will be coordinated and delivered in the Center (integration of services) 
  • How service costs and operating costs of the Center will be funded
  • How individuals will be referred between the One-Stop operator and partners for appropriate services and activities
  • How they will ensure that workers, youth and individuals with barriers to employment will be adequately served
  • How individuals will be provided immediate access to training (no sequence of services)
  • How technology and materials will be made available across the Center

Required WIOA Career Services

New to WIOA, One-Stop Center services must now include career services. No longer are there separate core and intensive services. Additionally, Centers must expand their labor exchange services to meet in-demand industry sectors and occupations and include information on non-traditional employment. Centers must identify other business services available for employers (including small businesses). 

Labor exchange services must also provide labor market information to the individuals seeking services. The information must be accurate and include information on local, regional and national labor market areas such as:

  • Job vacancies in labor market areas
  • Information on job skills necessary to obtain the jobs
  • Local, in-demand occupations and related earning potential
  • Opportunities for advancement in those occupations

All One-Stops must provide the following career services:

  • Outreach, intake and orientation
  • Initial assessment
  • Labor exchange services
  • Eligibility for services
  • Referrals to programs
  • Performance and cost information
  • Information on unemployment insurance
  • Financial aid information
  • Follow-up services

Additionally, One-Stops and partners must provide appropriate services for individuals to obtain or retain employment. These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Individual Employment Plan (IEP)
  • Career planning and counseling (no longer called case management)
  • Comprehensive assessment
  • Short-term prevocational services
  • Internship and work experience including transitional jobs and industry partnerships
  • Workforce preparation 
  • Out-of-area job search
  • English language acquisition
  • Financial literacy

What steps have you already taken to ensure your One-Stop Centers, operators and partners are ready to deliver required WIOA career services? Do you need help getting started or completing the processes? 

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA implementation, please contact me at

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


Creating a Local Plan - #WIOA

Wednesday June 17th, 2015 at 8:00am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

July 1, 2015 is less than 30 days away!  Are you ready for WIOA implementation?

Many local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) will need to restructure their board membership to meet the provisions identified in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This restructuring may require changes in legal documents and downsizing of boards. Local areas have until July 1, 2016 to complete this restructuring. 

WIOA requires that local WIBs set priorities for, and oversee, the workforce development system in their region.  Further, local WIBs must have a local plan approved by July 2016. This means that WIBs have 1 year to develop a plan that promotes communication, coordination and collaboration among employers, economic development, community-based partners and other service providers who will help support the economic growth of the region, while meeting the needs of employers and jobseekers. 

Historically, WIA workforce development services focused on finding jobs for individuals struggling to find employment - the jobseekers.  WIOA, on the other hand, focuses on aligning workforce development and economic development services to meet the needs of employers - key customers.  

Businesses create jobs, and we must be responsive to their needs. Local WIBs must now develop strategies and put plans in place to meet the needs of local employers.

Specifically, local plans must identify and describe how the local area will:

  • Engage employers of all sizes
  • Design a system that meets the needs of local employers (both large and small)
  • Design a system that provides opportunities for people with barriers
  • Better coordinate workforce development programs and economic development efforts
  • Develop and implement activities such as incumbent worker training programs, industry partnerships, on-the-job training programs and career pathway programs
  • Partner with business intermediaries and design other business services to meet the needs of employers
  • Ensure the support of quality jobs
  • Create entrepreneurial opportunities for new business growth
  • Prepare youth for both current and future jobs

Local WIBs need to start the planning process now for the design of their local plans.  If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA, or if you would like help in thinking though your local plan, please contact me at

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


Goal Setting - Setting Attainable "Bullseye" Goals

Wednesday June 3rd, 2015 at 9:00am

Written by Karin Knutson - Director of Sales with EDSI Consulting


**Original Article Written in December, 2014

Here it comes! The New Year, 2015! And with the New Year, comes the new you. It is a time to start fresh and make something happen. What do you want to “make happen” this year? How do you want to get ahead in your personal life and/or professional career? Let’s begin 2015 with a bang and get “fired up” to take care of business!

Ok, so how do you reach your goals and better yourself, personally and professionally? And how do you get excited and motivated to carry your goals through to the finish line? I don’t know about you, but New Year’s resolutions never quite work for me. Setting simple resolutions (lose weight, start eating healthy, get that promotion at work) can feel too large and too general, and these feelings make me unlikely to achieve them. And, inevitably, “resolutions” are often broken by the end of January, if they survive that long. These broad, broken promises to yourself can make you feel like a failure before the year even gets started! I prefer to start the year off on a more positive note, feeling motivated to take on the New Year with great energy.

Start this New Year with a different approach. Goal Setting! Big or small. Tough or simple. Goals, by definition, are “the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” Sounds pretty targeted to me. Putting a big red bullseye on what you want to accomplish, by nature, makes you more focused and motivated to plan your course of action. I’m feeling motivated just writing about it!

To get started choosing and defining your goals, you will need to create a road map, a plan that will clearly lead you to the finish line! These next steps will help you create your own roadmap to success.

1) Determine what you would like to accomplish

Really think about your goals and what you want to achieve throughout the year. These can be both personal and professional. This process is a bit of a “brain dump” – consider all of the things you have been thinking about getting done and have yet to get started. Write every single one of them down, even if they aren’t concrete or task-oriented. We will fine tune them in the next step.  

2) List your three top priority goals

Look at your list and pick the top three goals that are the most important and you are most excited about. These are your bullseye goals! “Bullseye-ing” your top three instead of five or more will make it easier to put maximum attention on the right path. Print them out and post them in your bedroom, bathroom, office - anywhere you need a little reminder. Post them where you can see them every day. Visualizing your goals on paper, on your smart phone or on a white board, brings them to life. 

3) Lay down a strategic plan

For each bullseye goal, write down how you are going to accomplish it with sub-goals, usually set in increments of time or task. Write these sub-goals into a bullseye goal plan, and, most importantly, check them off as you go.   

Here is an example of one of my goals: Save $5,000 for home improvements by October. My plan is to put away $500 per month, or $250 per paycheck, then have a checklist for each time I put the money away. Another example: Start a new HR project : 1. List who you want on your project team 2. Set meeting date 3. Determine project deliverables. 4. Complete project plan by (set date) 5. Complete project by (set date)

Get in as much depth as you need to establish proper milestones along the way. When you have your plan in front of you, cross off or check off each task when it is complete. Nothing is a better motivator than being able to see your progress/accomplishments checked off and how close you are to the finish line! Get a big red marker and go for it! 

4) Reward yourself

This is the best part.  Make sure you pat yourself on the back for every task and milestone you complete.  It is essential to give yourself some kudos to help you stay motivated and focused on the end result.  No matter how small the task you have completed, you have moved closer to your goal.  Once you have traveled through your roadmap to your bullseye goal, CELEBRATE!!! 

2015 will be here before you know it!  I would love to hear about your bullseye goals  and the progress you area making throughout the year.

One-Stop Center Operations - Partners and Memorandums of Understanding (MOU)

Monday May 18th, 2015 at 9:03am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

WIOA will not provide direct funding support of the operations of One-Stop centers. However, WIOA does require the mandated partners to collaborate in the cost of operations and services at the One-Stop centers.

Who are the mandated partners?  

  • TANF
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
  • Wagner-Peyser
  • Older Americans Act Programs
  • Veterans Employment and Training
  • Housing and Urban Development Employment & Training
  • Second Chance Act Programs
  • Perkins Postsecondary Vocational Education Activities

All the mandated partners must provide the core services directly related to their programs and must use a portion of the funds available to support the infrastructure costs of the One-Stops. They are required to enter into a MOU with the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and participate in the daily operations of the One-Stops.

Why does WIOA require these partners to collaborate in the One-Stop operations? This approach provides greater coordination of services and leveraging of federal dollars for direct training costs.

Local areas may also consider partnering with any of the numerous organizations in the following categories: 

  • Community-Based Organizations
  • Community Colleges
  • Faith-Based Organizations
  • Private Sector
  • Non-Profits

WIOA requires that local areas enter into voluntary MOUs to fund the infrastructure costs. Local areas must have their MOUs in place by July 1, 2016. If local areas are unable to reach agreement, then state-mandated funding levels will be imposed on local areas.   

Local WIBs should be actively looking for other partners that could enhance services and leverage funds to better serve job seekers and employers.

Reflections from the HCI 2015 Annual Summit

Tuesday May 5th, 2015 at 9:10am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI

Once again, EDSI sponsored and participated in the Human Capital Institute’s 2015 Annual Summit. This year’s HCI event was an excellent opportunity to listen to a variety of professionals discuss the broad spectrum of talent issues that are facing our country. Attendees and speakers discussed a variety of best practices to manage the various issues.


Although there were many excellent speakers, one speaker was most memorable to me. Her name was Sheryl Connelly. She is the Chief Futurist for Ford Motor Company. At one point in her presentation, she said “ask yourself, what are the big, long lasting, slow moving trends? These are the things you can do something about.” 


She then went on to list ten trends that we can do something about. Here is the list:

  1. World population is growing, and it will continue to grow.
  2. Birth rates are declining on a per woman basis.
  3. The population is aging.
  4. The number of retired persons per working person is increasing.
  5. The greatest growth opportunities will continue to be in both China and India.
  6. People will continue to migrate towards cities (“Urbanization”).
  7. The global talent shortage will get worse.
  8. Women will have increasing influence in corporations well into the future (“Girl Power”).
  9. Connectivity will continue to increase.
  10. Multi-tasking will increase. (However, it has been proven that people have lower applied IQs when multitasking).


I thought about it relative to our company, EDSI. It strikes me that the big, long-lasting, slow moving trends are:

  1. Skill gaps for our clients will continue to grow.
  2. Online education/training will continue to grow.
  3. Out of necessity, the number of companies that grow their own talent will increase.
  4. The workforce will continue to age.
  5. Millennials, as a percentage of the workforce, will continue to grow.


I also thought about our work with Kraft (Mondelez). We helped Kraft (Mondelez) build their own apprenticeship program. Although it didn’t seem like it at the time, Kraft (Mondelez) was significantly ahead of their time. They’re obviously smart enough to recognize the investment in their people was well worth the cost. Instead of waiting for the growing skills gap, combined with an aging population, to create significant talent issues in their organization, they decided to proactively do something about it.

Sadly, for every proactive company such as Kraft (Mondelez), I can think of hundreds of organizations that are doing nothing. In the end, these companies are going to struggle with skill gap and aging workforce issues. These issues will cost them dearly in terms of high costs, excessive overtime, poor service consistency and inferior product quality. Let’s hope Mrs. Connelly’s message gets to all corporate leaders. It’s time to start looking at these trends, then acting. To start, building your own talent pipeline is going to be a critical capability of American companies. I believe the companies that do this effectively will have a significant competitive advantage!

Remember, organizations with the best teams will win! It’s time to start growing your own talent.


WIOA - Youth Program Transition

Tuesday April 21st, 2015 at 10:39am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

**Summary of TEGL WIOA NO. 23-14**

It is estimated that over six million 16-24 years olds are currently not employed or not in school. 75% of WIOA youth program funds now focus now on out-of-school youth (OSY) and 25% on in-school youth (ISY). The Employment and Training Administration is aware of the challenges that states and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) will encounter transitioning to the 75% spending requirement for OSY activities. 

States and local WIBs should be receiving notification of the first WIOA allotment for youth programs in April 2015, with operational implementation on July 1, 2015. States and local WIBs are encouraged to use allowable transition funds to begin preparation for WIOA youth programs.

The Employment and Training Administration understands this is a significant shift, and they will provide technical assistance and guidance on recruiting and serving OSY. All states and local WIBs will be required to spend a minimum of 75% of PY 2016 youth funds on OSY.

While final WIOA regulations will not be published until 2016, the Employment and Training Administration has issued TEGL WIOA No. 23-14 to assist local WIBs to prepare for implementing WIOA Youth Programs July 1, 2015.  

WIOA eliminates the requirement for local WIBs to establish a Youth Council. However, local WIBs are encouraged to establish a standing committee to provide planning, operational and other services for both OSY and ISY. WIOA has 14 program elements (which include the consolidation of the 10 original WIA elements). Five of the new elements are: financial literacy education; entrepreneurial skills training; services that provide labor market and employment information about in-demand industry sectors or occupations available in the local areas; activities that help youth prepare for and transition to post-secondary education and training; and education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster. Additional activities may include: paid and unpaid work experience; leadership development; supportive services; and adult mentoring and guidance.

Work experience is a critical component of WIOA. 20% of OSY funds must be used for work experience. It is important to note that program expenditures can include wages as well as staffing costs for the development and management of work experiences.

ISY must be attending school, not younger than 14 or older then 21, low income, and have one or more of a list of barriers:

  • Basic skills deficient
  • An English language learner
  • An offender
  • A homeless youth or runaway, in foster care or has aged out of the foster care system
  • Pregnant or parenting
  • A disability
  • Requires assistance to complete an educational program or to secure or hold employment

Local WIBs are encouraged to work with local schools to coordinate services in areas such as career preparation, career awareness, employer presentations and employer visits.


Monday March 16th, 2015 at 8:38am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

WIOA requires that federal agencies, states and local WIBs with employment and training programs develop job-driven training services to ensure that employers and jobseekers know what to expect when they participate in a training program.  The services must include the following: 

ENGAGING EMPLOYERS – Work upfront with employers to determine local hiring needs and design training programs that are responsive to those needs

EARN AND LEARN – Offer work-based learning opportunities with employers – On-the-Job Training, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships – as training paths to employment

SMART CHOICES – Make better use of data to drive accountability, describe what programs are offered and what is taught, and offer user-friendly information for jobseekers to choose programs and pathways that work for them

MEASURING MATTERS – Measure and evaluate employment and earnings outcomes

STEPPING STONES – Promote a seamless progression from one educational stepping stone to another, and across work-based training and education, so all efforts result in progress

OPENING DOORS – Break down barriers to accessing job-driven training and hiring for any American who is willing to work, including access to supportive services and relevant guidance

REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS – Coordinate activities between American Job Centers, local employers, education and training providers, economic development agencies, and other public and private entities, to make the most of limited resources

We can help!

EDSI understands WIOA implementation requirements and the impact they will have on the local WIB operations and service activities. We have been at the forefront of aligning service integration and building partnerships with states, community-based organizations, education, business and economic development organizations, and industry partnerships, which provides a strong foundation for implementation of WIOA. We look forward to sharing our experience and services, and see numerous opportunities to assist you in implementing WIOA. These opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Implementing integrated services at the One-Stop Centers and Access Points
  • Aligning programs and ensuring that customers have access to quality services and can make smarter choices
  • Expanding industry partnerships by working with employers, training providers, community-based organizations and economic development organizations to promote OJTs, incumbent worker training opportunities, internships and apprenticeship opportunities
  • Working with employers to determine their hiring needs by using tools such as Skilldex JTAs, which identify the skill set requirements of the job. Skilldex is EDSI’s task-based software and methodology utilized for job matching and measuring skill acquisition
  • Using Skilldex JTAs to identify and refer jobseekers who meet the skill requirements of the job
  • Promoting work-based learning opportunities with employers. We are experienced in managing and promoting OJTs, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeship programs in multiple states
  • Reviewing training programs to ensure they are responsive to employer needs 

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


WIOA –Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 19-14

Monday March 2nd, 2015 at 9:10am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

On February 19, 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration Advisory System issued an Advisory: Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 19-14 (TEGL), the vision for the workforce system and initial implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014.

TEGL No. 19-14 lays out the vision of how the workforce development system will be transformed as a result of implementation of the WIOA. The notice provides a summary of the vision, goals and objective of the Act. It also provides an overview of the upcoming guidance and technical assistance to be issued in the near future (Spring 2015).  Although guidance, rules and regulations have not yet been released, the key message of this notice is the feds are strongly encouraging states and local workforce investment boards to take action and begin planning and implementing WIOA transition activities now!

TEGL No. 19-14 recommends that local workforce investment boards, leaders and partners begin to start moving forward to full implementation of the law. Local areas are encouraged to assess their own situations and requirements to determine what steps they need to take to support the transition. These can include but are not limited to:

Identify and allocate funding for transition activities 

Per TEGL 12-14, States and Local Workforce Investment Boards may use up to two percent of the WIA’s Fiscal Year 2014 funds for WIOA Transitional Activities.

Build new, and strengthen existing partnerships 

States and local areas should enhance and coordinate partnerships with local entities and supportive service agencies to strengthen service delivery.

Develop transition plan

States and local areas should start developing transition plans and an implementation process which can be used to guide the implementation of WIOA.

Prepare for fiscal and program changes for transition across legislation

TEGL15-14 was issued on December 19, 2014. Management and fiscal staff must become familiar the requirements of this TEGL and its impact on the state system and the transition from WIA to WIOA.

Assess state laws

It is recommended that states review existing legislation and identify areas that are in conflict with WIOA and develop plans to resolve these conflicts.

Review Eligible Training Provider processes

Review Eligible Training Provider Lists processes and assess how they will need to be updated to meet new eligibility criteria.

Ensure new or existing youth service contractors support 75% out-of-school youth and 20% work experience expenditure rate requirements

Reassess One-Stop delivery system

Local areas and WIOA partners should start to reassess the One-Stop delivery system and what is needed to achieve seamless service delivery models that place the “Customer” at the center of program design and delivery.

Develop plans to ensure workforce investment boards become WIOA compliant

Chief elected officers should review the new requirements to reconstitute and certify boards.

Many of the provisions of the law go into effect July1, 2015. However, states and local areas need to start the planning and implementation process now to ensure success.

We know there is certainly a lot to digest with WIOA implementation. If you would like to learn more, or if we can help you in any way, please contact me at

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


WIOA - A Few Thoughts on Employer Engagement

Monday February 16th, 2015 at 11:20am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to design and deliver services based on business and industry needs. Employer engagement is key for local WIBs to meet regional workforce needs and is one of the key metrics that local WIBs will evaluated against.  The challenge - how do local WIBs effectively engage employers?  Did you know that WIOA referenced “Industry Partnerships” 74 times?!

WIOA enables states and local WIBs the opportunity to support Industry Partnerships. These partnerships will strengthen services of the local WIB and companies by identifying the specific needs of their current and future workforces, identifying and analyzing the gaps between the skills needed to perform jobs and the skills of incumbent workers or job seekers, and then matching skills needed to training providers.


Industry Partnerships can help local WIBs, businesses and workers to:

  • Identify skill needs
  • Align educational curriculum to meet industry needs
  • Develop cost-effective training solutions for companies
  • Increase productivity 
  • Develop new career pathways
  • Help companies identify and address organizational and human resource challenges
  • Identify barriers to “entry level employment” and develop strategies to remove those barriers
  • Collaborate with youth initiatives to connect with careers in demand
  • Promote communication networks between companies, between managers and workers, and between companies and their communities and educational institutions

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA employer engagement, please contact me at: 

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


4 Ways to Increase Project Success with Planning

Thursday February 5th, 2015 at 1:10pm

Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting


As a fresh graduate with ample energy and excitement, I was eager and ready to prove myself to the world. After a quick onboarding process, I was assigned to my new company’s Fortune 500 client, responsible for delivering an extensive training program. With both enthusiasm and determination, I set out to deliver the most amazing training program ever!

As time progressed, I became frustrated. Lack of experience presented some challenges and my motivation plummeted. I was struggling to keep my project within budget and on time, and I knew the project needed a “reset.” After revisiting and adjusting the project plan, I got the team back on track, and, in the end, I was proud to deliver a product exceeding the client’s expectations.

Years later, I am able to reflect on the experience as a critical learning opportunity. As a project manager today, I use the lessons I learned through that early experience to deliver quality projects, on time and on budget. Now, I have the opportunity to share my lessons as a way to help you increase your performance and success as a project manager! 

One key lesson I’ve learned over the years as a project manager is the importance of expending enough effort in the initial planning phase of a project. Knowing the end goal is not enough; you must dedicate time and energy to creating a solid plan to reach it. Just like using a compass to find a target, the longer you continue off course, the further away you travel from your goal. Even if the miscalculation is slight, it will prove increasingly catastrophic over time.

On that note, I have outlined four common pitfalls project managers experience during the project planning phase, as well as some easy and effective ways to overcome them. Not only do I have firsthand experience overcoming these potential project threats, they are also highlighted in studies by the Harvard Business Review (HBR)  and Project Management Institute (PMI).

1) Identify Milestones

Naturally, when you are assigned a new project your initial thought is something like, “Oh my, I need help, and I need to make a plan!” Creating a project plan helps you reduce the risk of failing to execute the designated activities within the plan. In fact, the HBR dubs this risk as “execution risk,” and it represents a real problem.

So the question now becomes, how do you design project plans to more effectively reduce execution risk? Identifying project milestones, which can be achieved and celebrated throughout the duration of the project, is one effective way. This is an opportunity for you to take careful consideration of your client’s needs and expectations, as well as the resources available to your team.

Milestones are important events marked on your project timeline which help you keep track of key dates and deadlines. When creating your milestones, you should consider their importance, timing and fallibility. In other words, ensure that your milestones are relevant enough to be marked, timed appropriately to maintain momentum and motivation, and challenging enough to keep the team on track and focused.


2) Assign Roles and Tasks

It is common for project managers to use a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), also known as a RACI chart, to plan and manage projects. Projects with a large scope can have highly detailed responsibility charts. Smaller projects may have a simple outline of who is responsible for each task identified in the project plan. Depending on the scope of your project, you may want a highly detailed, or rather simplified responsibility chart.

The key here is that team members are informed of their responsibilities and there is no confusion surrounding assignments and roles. To keep it simple, add an extra column to your project timeline to indicate the assigned team members’ tasks instead of creating a separate document.

For more advanced RACI charts, consider assigning the following project or task roles:

  • Responsible: Person who performs the task
  • Accountable: Person who is accountable and has yes/no/veto authority
  • Consulted: Person who provides feedback and insight on the task
  • Informed: Person who needs to know when the decision or action is completed


3) Brainstorm to Avoid Risks

There are three main risks to traditional project planning: “white space risk” (failing to anticipate activities or potential problems), “execution risk” (members fail to carry out activities), and “integration risk” (failure to integrate project pieces together at the end).  

Clearly, it will be easiest to identify the white space risks during the planning phase and before the project gets underway. As a project planner, allow yourself ample time to consider white space risks, and you will feel more prepared. Consider communicating these risks to your team. Opening up the dialogue will help create buy-in, as well as identify potential problems and solutions to these risks. 

Let the creativity flow with an open brainstorming session before you finalize any plans. Some like to call it brain dumping - anything and everything that comes to mind should be communicated. Ensure that the atmosphere is positive and free of judgment. Doing so helps close gaps in the project plan and ultimately increases the success of the project. 


4) Increase Communication

Effective communication is a highly critical aspect of project management and planning. In fact, a study by the PMI found that half of all unsuccessful projects failed due to ineffective communication. In my experience, I would agree that taking the time to plan for effective communication can make or break the success of a project.

So plan for effective communication! Doing so will increase your ability to finish projects on time, meet original project goals and stay within budget!

Send out a recurring project review meeting invite to all appropriate stakeholders before the launch meeting. By communicating regularly with clients and stakeholders, you ensure everyone is on the right path. Also, you may uncover new information which may significantly impact the project, and you can provide your client the opportunity to react to this important, new information. Think of it as resetting your compass to ensure your team is heading in the right direction!

The project launch meeting also represents an opportunity to emphasize the importance of team communication throughout the project. Insert a task or goal in project management documents to maintain frequent communication, both internally and externally, with clients.   


Fortunately, there is a plethora of information, tools, project management apps, checklists, etc. available online. Now that you are aware of the importance of project planning, I encourage you to explore these tools and resources. Choose simple tools if you are just starting out, or explore more in-depth project management applications for larger scope projects to add more detail. If you remember one thing, it should be the importance and criticality of the project planning phase. Devoting more time and care to your project upfront will undoubtedly increase its probability of success.



Matta, Nadim and Ashkenas, Ronald. “Why Good Projects Fail Anyway.”  Harvard Business Review. 2003.

Project Management Institute, Inc. Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications, May 2013.



Wednesday November 19th, 2014 at 8:31am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

*Original article written in August, 2014


If you have been addicted to the 2014 World Cup (like I have been), then you are probably familiar with the “I BELIEVE” chant that has been sweeping the nation.  If you aren’t familiar, here is a link to the patriotic ESPN commercial:


Even though the U.S. Soccer team looked and felt like a team of destiny at times, simply BELIEVING that they were going to win did not prove to be enough for the team to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. 

What in the world does this have to do with the HR profession, or your business?

HR professionals are often asked to BELIEVE in the strategic vision of their senior leadership team, even if they aren’t at the table during their companies’ short-term and long-term strategic planning sessions (hopefully at your company, HR does have a seat at the table).  Unfortunately, there is not always a correlation between BELIEVING in the strategic vision and watching the strategic vision come to fruition.  

Over the past few months, we have talked to countless HR professionals around the country who have told us similar variations of the same story:  “We have some key employees who are getting dangerously close to retirement.  We know it is coming, but we don’t know what to do about it.” “Succession planning has been on our 3-5 year strategic plan for 3-5 years, but we have not done anything about it.”  

Back in the late 1990s, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had more employees in their sixties and seventies than in their twenties, and there was a big bubble moving toward retirement.  To address the issue, the TVA came up with a process to prioritize their Knowledge Transfer strategies. The following is a quick and easy way to jump start your Knowledge Retention/Succession Planning journey.  By using this simple mathematical formula, you can start to prioritize the WHO part of the equation: which individuals are the closest to retirement, and how long will it take to adequately train their successors.  

You can start this process today (all it takes is some rudimentary knowledge about how to set up formulas and how to sort and filter data in Microsoft Excel). Once you have completed this first step in the process, feel free to reach out to me, and I can share additional best practices on how to continue along your Knowledge Retention/Succession Planning journey.

What is Culture?

Thursday October 30th, 2014 at 11:30am

Written by Arlene Jones - Director of Talent Management with EDSI

Currently, there is a lot of buzz around organizational CULTURE, and rightfully so. If we don’t consider culture as foundational to a successful business, then we’re seriously shortchanging ourselves and our customers. Whether you’re providing a product or a service, it’s the people and culture in your organization that make a profound impact on whether or not customers do business with you.

So what is culture anyway? Simply put, culture is the behavior behind how we do business each day. It guides how we think, behave and make decisions. The CEO is responsible for determining the general direction of the company’s culture, while the employees are responsible to shape and nurture it each and every day. Oftentimes company VALUES will be used to help define the company culture. Values could be a series of words or perhaps a definition. Values must be simple enough for people to remember and recite when asked. Check out this quick video about how we succinctly communicate our values (Show Up, Smile, Support) at EDSI.

In addition, the culture that you desire is more likely to happen if you define BEHAVIORS to support your values. Over the past six months, we’ve focused on further defining the key behaviors which represent our values and have been excited about the impact and conversations this activity has sparked.  We’ve coined these behaviors the “EDSI Daily Ways.”

Culture is certainly not one-size-fits-all. So if you understand culture is important, how do you create a culture that best fits your business? Once you determine the direction, how can you grow it across the organization? Let’s take a detailed look at these and other important questions.


First things first, discovering the current state of your culture is the best place to start. Let’s say you’re listening to a speaker on a topic of interest and your attention wanders. What is it that brings your attention back to the presenter? Is it the fancy PowerPoint presentation with the 7 important bullet points? Or is it a story - a story that gives practical application to the topic? I’ll bet it’s the story. Stories tell us a lot about people and organizations - and they provide great insight into a company’s culture.
If you want to understand your culture’s current state, listen to the stories that are being told by your employees and customers. What do hear them saying? Is it  a fun place to work? What type of testimonial is your customer willing to give? What do customers say about the people they interact with in your organization? Listening is a critical first step in understanding your current state. 
Next, how do you feel about what people are saying? Are these the types of behaviors and values you want associated with your company? Is this the type of culture you want to emulate? If so, you've got a great starting point. If not, that’s okay - there are always several key people in the company who reflect the desired behaviors and by observing them, you can begin to build a good foundation for the future.


Now that you understand the current culture, how do you move your organization to a more desirable, productive culture? This phase involves writing down all the themes you’ve observed during the current state analysis. It also depends heavily on  the CEO involving trusted people who can help to shape the culture. If your organization already has desirable values, then you'll want to add behaviors to those values that further define them. This way people understand how to live out the values as part of your culture. If you don’t have values, this is a great opportunity to create them. Remember, you want them to be simple so employees can easily commit them to memory.
Once you’ve documented behaviors and themes, it’s best to take those ideas to trusted people within your organization for further review. Ask what these values and behaviors mean to them. Ask which values and behaviors resonate with them from an organizational perspective. Asking the right questions of employees will ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Though the CEO is responsible for setting the tone, it’s always important to include people who are already living out the desired values. This approach creates a broad base of ownership and participation in the new culture. 
Culture does not change overnight. In fact, Kevin Schnieders, CEO at EDSI, states that “just when you think that people aren't getting it, you begin to hear the stories and think, okay, they've got it.”


Once the groundwork has been laid for the desired culture, it’s time to begin integrating it into the daily activities and routines of your business. Permeate the organization with the associated expected behaviors and values in order to effect lasting culture change. Below are just a few examples.  

VIDEO MESSAGES – Have the CEO record a short video on company values and behaviors and why they are important to the business.

INTERVIEWS – Ensure the right culture fit is a part of the candidate qualification process. Utilize your values and expected behaviors to help you hire the right candidates. Create questions that get at the behaviors you expect to find in people who fit the culture. 

PERFORMANCE – Once employees understand the expected behaviors, it’s time to incorporate these into your performance reviews. Defined behaviors encourage natural conversation and stories regarding performance, reiterating the importance of the desired culture and supporting values. 

MANAGER REVIEWS – Have employees rate their manager on how well he/she performs in relation to values and expected behaviors. This creates a great opportunity for managers to see what they’re doing well and identifies potential areas for improvement. This could also provide an opportunity for clarification in the case of confusion regarding behaviors, values or culture. 

RECOGNITION - Take time to send regular communications, create recognition programs, and positively identify expected behaviors when demonstrated by employees. Let people know that you notice. Retell the stories that exemplify the company culture. One of our defined behaviors to support our values is, “my word is my bond.” I've heard stories about people sharing, "I apologize that my word wasn't my bond today, I didn't get that deliverable to you in time."  

Most importantly, have fun creating the right culture for your organization! Enjoy sharing the many stories and benefits of a company culture that is right for you and your customers.



Monday September 29th, 2014 at 9:35am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

"What are 94.5 and 101.49?"

That’s right, after the 3.1 inches of snow that fell in Mid-April at Detroit Metro Airport, the 2013-2014 winter has officially been crowned champ!  The 94.8 inches of snow that have fallen this season in Metro Detroit make it the snowiest winter on record, eclipsing the previous record of 93.6 inches that stood for over 130 years.  Oh yeah, did I mention the Dow Jones is up 101.49% over the past 5 years?

These two numbers on an island might be enough to cause some Baby Boomers to ponder retirement.  Couple them together, and don’t be surprised if HR Managers start to see more and more “surprise” retirements.

As we travel around the country, we see more and more HR Managers caught off guard as some of their most tenured employees announce retirements.  There are a myriad of reasons why employees decide to retire.  Some walk away due to health-related concerns (themselves, spouses, parents, etc.).  Others can finally sell their houses at a profit and move to a warmer weather climate (where they don’t have to worry about shoveling close to 8 feet of snow over the course of 5 months). Others still have just watched their youngest child walk across the stage at college graduation, and finally feel they can afford to retire.

As the stock market, the housing market and the economy tanked during the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009, most companies were given a reprieve.  During the “lost decade” more and more Baby Boomers chose (or were forced by circumstances) to work a few more years until their nest eggs were a little more secure.
You may remember the ING “What’s Your Number?” commercials where people walk around carrying big orange numbers that represent the amount of money they need to save to retire comfortably.  Whether they admit it to their employers or not, most people have a “walk away” number.  The scary part for employers is that as the economy has rebounded over the past 5 years, more and more employees are getting dangerously close to that number.
We have seen a handful of scenarios where employees have given several years of advance notice.  We have seen other scenarios where employees show up to work (after shoveling ten inches of snow, and battling a two-hour commute) and decide that today is their last day.  Hopefully you are never unlucky enough to experience the latter, but as the saying goes, “luck favors the prepared.”

As always, know that we are here to help you on your knowledge retention journey!

What Can We Learn About Knowledge Retention from Three Olympic Gold Medalists?

Monday September 15th, 2014 at 10:20am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

The final game of the 1979 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament marked the beginning of the rivalry between future Hall of Famers Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.

Michigan State, led by Johnson, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over a previously undefeated Indiana State team, led by Bird.

Both Johnson and Bird would enter the NBA the following fall, and the rivalry between them and their teams (respectively, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics) would burn strong for over a decade.

Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers were two dynasties that dominated the NBA during the 1980s.  In fact, at least one of these teams made it to the NBA Championship series in every single year between 1980-1989, winning a combined 8 NBA Championships!

In November of 1991, Johnson announced that he had tested positive for HIV and would retire from basketball.  Bird, plagued by back problems, would announce his retirement the following year.

After Johnson and Bird retired, it would take another 9 years before the Lakers or the Celtics contended for another NBA Championship.

In the absence of Johnson and Bird, dominance in the 1990s would belong to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  Michael Jordan and the Bulls would go on to win three consecutive NBA Championships from 1991-1993.

After the 1993 season, Jordan announced his retirement (only to return one year later).  Upon Jordan’s return, the Bulls would go on to win three more consecutive NBA Championships from 1996-1998, capped by yet another Michael Jordan retirement.

It has been 14 years since Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls (for the second time), and they have yet to play in another NBA Championship series. 

In 1992, Johnson, Bird and Jordan joined forces to play on the United States men's Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the "Dream Team." This was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players, and has been described by some as the greatest sports team ever assembled.  The team defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points en route to the gold medal.  In addition to winning the gold medal, these three “Dream Team” members were so dominant that over an 18-year stretch, Johnson, Bird and Jordan won a combined total of 14 NBA titles, 11 Regular Season MVP awards and 11 NBA Finals MVP awards.

What is the moral of the story?

Don’t become the post-Johnson Lakers or the post-Bird Celtics of the 1990s, or the post-Jordan Bulls of the 2000s (zero combined NBA Championships)!

The thought of replacing the most talented people within an organization often causes paralysis to set in. As a result, most companies wait until the members of their “Dream Team” announce they are leaving before they start to think about the rebuilding process.  Don’t fall into the same trap.  The rebuilding process is considerably easier if time is on your side!

So how do you get started?

I would encourage you to spend 5 minutes to write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. Who are the members of your “Dream Team?” 
  2. Who are the key stakeholders that need to be involved in the development of your internal Knowledge Management Process?
  3. What steps need to take place in order to schedule a meeting with these key stakeholders?
  4. By what date are you going to implement your first Knowledge Retention “pilot project?”

Ok, be honest…did you physically write down the answers to these four questions?  If you did, congratulations!  You have successfully started your Knowledge Retention journey - and getting started is the hardest part.

An Expecting Father & Knowledge Retention: What's the Connection?

Monday May 5th, 2014 at 2:56pm

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child and could not be more excited to be a father. If I am being honest, I am also slightly nervous. I am nervous because my father set the bar so high, and I know it will be challenging to follow in his footsteps.

I look up to my father more than any other man on the planet. He has shaped and molded me into the man that I am today, and I would be hard pressed to find a better role model. That said, I feel a great weight of responsibility to carry on his legacy.

I was thinking about it the other day as I was trying to figure out how I am going to distill down everything that I have learned from my father, as well as all of the important life lessons that I have learned over the 34 years that I have been on this planet. More importantly, how am I going to relay this information to my child, or children in a way that is meaningful, and that makes a lasting impression?

Upon reflection it occurred to me that this dilemma is becoming more and more common in the professional world as well. How do you come up with an effective strategy to capture/transfer several decades worth of “institutional knowledge” before your key employees announce their retirement?

According to a recent Gallup Poll, the average age at which U.S. retirees say they actually retired is now at 61, up from 57 in the early 1990s. That means that when your employees start to retire, they may have been with your company 30-40+ years. Let’s face it, these individuals have probably forgotten more than we know!

The Silver Lining: Most people that have been with the same organization for several decades want to feel like it was worth it. They take a great deal of pride in their work and want their legacy to carry on. That said, they will most likely be honored and thrilled if they are asked to become an integral part of your organization’s “Knowledge Retention” process.

Don’t short change the process, though. Remember, it took them half of their lifetime to accumulate this knowledge. We can’t expect to effectively distill that knowledge over the course of a day, a week, or even a month.

Interested in Knowledge Retention at your organization? Click below to learn more. And as always please contact me at if we can support you in any way.

5 Reasons Smart Companies Have Succession Plans

Tuesday March 25th, 2014 at 9:55am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI Consulting

I recently received a call from a desperate CEO of a $28 million company.  His company’s Controller unexpectedly resigned three weeks earlier.  Then, two weeks after the Controller resigned, the CFO resigned.  Additionally, his Accounting department, due to a retirement, was already short by one person.  To make matters worse, the company was underperforming and its bank was requiring increased financial reporting and a plan of action.   After a nervous rant, the CEO exclaimed, “We need to provide financials to our bank by the end of the week.  If we don’t, they’re going to freeze our line of credit.  If they do, we won’t be able to make payroll on Friday.  Worse yet, I don’t have anyone in Accounting that knows how to finalize and print the requested reports.”  

It seems like this situation is extreme; however, Murphy’s Law has an amazing track record of ensuring critical departures occur at the worst possible time. Unfortunately, these events can be costly, and even catastrophic for some companies.  For this company, we were able to provide two financial consultants to assess the situation, close their monthly financials, create the necessary reports, then work with the bank.

Unfortunately, our financial consultants cost the company over $12,000.  Additionally, we had to locate an interim CFO to assist during the vacancy.  Her rates were high and the additional fees for her services were in excess of $10,000.  Lastly, the remaining accounting staff was called upon to work significant overtime.  These costs alone were over $5,000.  In total, the measurable cost of this event was over $27,000!  Had the company developed a clear succession plan, along with back-up systems and cross-trained personnel, the cost may have been minimal.

Situations similar to this story happen every day.  In cases where the company has an active succession planning program, the business disruption and associated costs are minimal.  Unfortunately, in most cases, companies don’t have active succession planning programs.   For these companies, the business disruptions can be severe, and the costs can be extremely high.

If your company doesn’t have a formal succession planning program, here are five reasons it should:

  1. Cost Minimization - When companies aren’t prepared for departures, it can cost them a fortune in overtime costs, lost revenues, quality costs, expedited training costs, recruiting costs, and the like.
  2. Risk Reduction - Key personnel losses can put customer relationships, employee morale, quality, customer service levels, profitability and even safety at risk. 
  3. Business Disruption Avoidance - When one or more key individuals leave, other employees scramble to cover the loss.  In some cases, key business activities don’t happen or are completed late or erroneously. 
  4. Morale Maintenance - Significant and/or frequent disruptions due to employee losses have a proven negative impact on employee morale.  Minimizing these disruptions minimizes events that will negatively impact morale.
  5. Improved Strategic Thinking - Succession planning helps executives see the organizational “big picture.”  It also helps identify areas of high risk that require organizational attention and planning.

Sometimes starting a succession plan from scratch seems like a daunting task.  Although it will take effort, it is not overly complex, and the effort will pay significant dividends for years to come.  

Here’s a basic road map to get you started:

  1. Ensure you have a completed, finalized organizational chart.
  2. Document all positions with complete job descriptions.
  3. Identify high risk positions that require immediate attention.  Remember, high risk positions can be found in all levels of the organization.
  4. Conduct knowledge retention interviews with key personnel.  These interviews should cover all aspects of institutional knowledge that will go away when the employee leaves the organization.
  5. Document the knowledge captured during these interviews in a usable format.
  6. Identify successors for high risk positions.
  7. Once identified, create a detailed training plan for the successor.  If these individuals do not exist in your organization, create a time-phased recruiting plan to attract required personnel at the required time.
  8. Create an implementation plan to conduct training and hiring.
  9. Once high risk position succession planning is completed, repeat the processes for all remaining essential positions within the organization.
  10. Maintain and update the succession plan on an ongoing basis.

Proactive companies have rigorous succession planning programs in place.  Once you have yours, you’ll be prepared for whatever organizational departures occur.

What I Learned about Goal Setting from a High School Junior

Monday March 3rd, 2014 at 10:22am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

At 9:04 pm last Wednesday, I received a text message from a high school Junior that inspired, and motivated me unlike any text message I have ever received. Before I get ahead of myself, it might help to give you a little bit of context.  For the past three years, I have served as a mentor/advocate for a student at a local Prep School.   The student that I mentor is attending school as part of a scholarship that is awarded each year to almost two dozen hardworking students from low-income families. The students crave the challenge of a top-notch, college-preparatory education and would not have the opportunity to attend this school without financial assistance.

Each summer, the students go through a formal interview/selection process and must earn the right to have their scholarship renewed.  During the interview panel this past June, I asked my mentee what his academic goals were for 2014.  Even though he is an extremely bright and talented student, I was somewhat surprised when he announced that his goal was to get a 3.8 GPA this year (an ambitious goal, especially in light of the fact that during his freshman and sophomore years his GPA typically fell somewhere in the 3.3 – 3.5 range).

During the interview, we asked him the following questions, and received the following responses:

  • Have you written your goal down? (not yet)
  • Have you shared your goal with anyone? (not yet)
  • What has prevented you from reaching your goal(s) in the past? (did not have a great system for taking notes or studying for tests)
  • Who is the best person you know at taking notes/studying? (a close friend of his)

During the interview, we gave him a mini “homework assignment.” We encouraged him to write down his goal and to share them with his parents, his brother, his friends and each of his teachers.  We asked him to write down his goal on a post-it note and keep it next to his alarm clock so that it was the first thing he sees every morning.  We also asked him to reach out to his friend to find out how he can improve his note taking/studying habits.  Lastly, we asked him when he was going to accomplish all of these things.

So how did things play out?  Listed below is the text message chain from last week.

Mentee: Hey Kevin, Sorry I couldn’t call today.   I was on the road for robotics all the way from 4 today until just now. I currently have all A’s right now, and last semester I achieved my 3.9 GPA goal.

Me: That is AWESOME!! I am extremely proud of you! Make sure to write down your goals for the rest of your year, and share it with your family, friends, teachers, me, etc.

Mentee: It is kind of funny.  When some of my friends ask me why there are a bunch of sticky notes around my room that say 3.8, I just tell them it’s my goal.

Me: That is great that you have your goals written down in visible places.

Mentee:  Yes.  It actually helps remind me.

I am not attributing 100% of his success to the fact that he had written and shared his goals, but it certainly did not hurt!  Research conducted by noted social psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini has concluded that if people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image.

I was personally so inspired that I have written out all of my goals for 2014 and have laminated the list.  I now carry the laminated list with me everywhere I go (along with my driver’s license, credit cards, etc.).

I am encouraging each of you to spend the next 15 minutes on this “homework assignment.”  By completing this, you may just be amazed at what you accomplish before the end of the calendar year:

  • Write down personal and professional goals that you want to accomplish in 2014
  • Write down the names of 5 people that you are going to share your goals with
  • Write down any potential obstacles that are standing in your way
  • Write down the names of people that can help you side step these obstacles
  • Share your goals with these 5 people, and set up checkpoints throughout the year to provide them with status updates

Please share your success stories with me as you achieve your goals!


4 Things to Consider with Your Aging Workforce

Monday February 10th, 2014 at 8:22am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

Do you know what your workforce is going to look like in 5 years?  

During the recession, a large group of retirement-eligible employees put their plans on hold. For an employer, when experienced employees stay to help manage a successful path as they anticipate retirement, it is certainly a benefit. However, impending retirements and the increasing use of technology in the workplace have most organizations wondering what their workforces will look like in the near future. The picture may not be clear, but that doesn’t mean that organizations can’t start planning for the future. 

Here are four things to consider with your aging workforce:

1) Do you know who and how many of your seasoned employees will retire in the next year?  Within three years?  Within five years?

2) Do you have a way to capture the knowledge and experience of your soon-to-retire employees?

3) Do you have a plan to transfer knowledge from retiring workers to current or new workers who will be their successors?

4) Do you have a plan for recruiting new employees to either replace the retiring workers, or backfill positions current employees will vacate as they assume positions of retiring workers?

Most people close to retirement are hesitant to provide an exact retirement date, but a simple calculation based on the person’s age and years of service can give you an idea. More importantly, instead of looking at just one or two employees, look at the whole department or company and load all employee data into a spreadsheet. This will show you who’s near the top of the list for retirement, and more importantly, what his/her role is in the organization. Knowing this information will give you a true roadmap for proper training plans and hiring decisions.

It is important to know when people will be eligible to retire.  Many of these key baby boomer employees are the people who know all of the in’s and out’s of the business; it often takes 2 or 3 new people to do their jobs – they are critical to your company’s success.

So, what if you just found out that one of your key employees, who has been with your company for 30+ years, is retiring?  This person has been with you through all of the company changes, good and bad.  He/she knows exactly what needs to be done in almost every situation.  Implementing a process to gather and catalog this person’s knowledge and experience is vital for a seamless transition to his/her successor, and keeping the business operating as smoothly as possible. 

With high unemployment numbers, many organizations think recruiting new talent is as easy as placing a want ad.  But if your goal is to find someone who fits the job requirements and your company culture, the process will become more complicated and take longer than anticipated. Creating a training plan and using it to evaluate the skills of new hires will help ensure they have the required skills. Cataloging the skills of the internal experts before they retire will give you the key puzzle pieces to develop your training plan.

5 Things to Know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer

Friday January 10th, 2014 at 8:15am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

Are you prepared to answer the questions, “What are the current skill sets of our employees?”  or “What specific training do our employees need?”

For those companies who are already having these discussions internally, it is an important topic that deserves a lot of attention.  To meet long-term strategic objectives, many companies are concerned about concurrently increasing the skill level of their existing staff, while developing the skills and bench strength for their future needs. 

Sales professionals know that it’s easier to develop a great relationship with a current customer than it is to create a relationship with a new customer. The same is true for organizational talent; it’s easier to develop from within than to reach outside their organization. Today most organizations have to do both; fortunately, the steps to develop current and new workers are the same.  It is important to identify strengths and areas for improvement among your current employees and use that information to develop training for future employees.

Here are the 5 things you should know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer:

1) Identify

Internal subject matter experts are the “go to” people who have been with the company for a long time and have full understanding of a job position. Picking the right subject matter experts is critical; they are your content experts and future mentors. 

2) Analyze

Conducting a job task analysis helps to document the relevant responsibilities and tasks needed to successfully perform a job, and is also used to develop training for new hires, or identify training needs of current workers. The job task analysis becomes the foundation for all skill assessments and training. 

3) Prioritize

Are there key tasks that only a few people in the organization are capable of performing? The job task analysis becomes the “score card” to identify critical tasks and prioritize knowledge transfer needs. Prioritizing the need will keep knowledge transfer initiatives focused.  

4) Implement

What is your organization’s track record for implementing a program and following it through to completion? What has worked for you in the past? What hasn’t worked? Creating a solid implementation plan with clear measurables, and ensuring high level management commitment will help make your program successful. 

5) Follow-up

Were your training priorities achieved? Did you measure results and were your outcomes realized? U.S. firms spent $156 billion on employee learning in 2011, according to the American Society for Training and Development. Research suggests that with little follow-up or meaningful assessments, 90% of new skills are lost within a year. 

A well thought-out and implemented program will result in a culture of learning that will benefit both the employees and the organization.



4 Critical Steps in Knowledge Retention

Tuesday December 10th, 2013 at 8:23am

Written by Brian Lester - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

As America's population ages, so does its workforce. In fact, in the first decade of the new millennium, the number of workers aged 55 to 64 increased by 52%. Unfortunately, most companies are unprepared to manage the loss of many highly skilled, older workers. The situation is even more serious in organizations with a culture of employee retention, higher than average ages, or that still offer traditional pension plans. 

The challenge is to identify the skills and knowledge of your workforce and put the right plans in place to ensure your organization's future success. Very few companies will take a systematic approach to this problem since the full scope of risk isn’t immediately apparent, but an ad-hoc approach that may have worked in the past is not sustainable as the turnover in critical positions increases with the age of the workforce. Taking the time to carefully assess your knowledge loss risks can be an important competitive advantage.

1) Identify

Identifying and prioritizing the specific knowledge and skills at risk – When you identify the specific knowledge that is about to be lost when highly experienced employees leave for retirement, you are taking the first step in bridging a potential skills gap.  Identifying the deep, tacit knowledge (“Know-why” and “know-how” instead of just “know-what”) is the most critical step. This knowledge is the reason you value the employees’ performance, and is the risk you face with their departure.  This can save production, customers, and quality of service. Do you have a senior manager with a unique approach that needs to be documented? Is a high % of your experienced employees on the cusp of retiring?

2) Capture

Capturing processes, responsibilities, and tasks of subject matter experts – Capturing this information is critical to transferring experience and tribal knowledge that is crucial to the successful of your business.  Documenting the responsibilities and tasks will give you a play book on how to up skill incumbent workers and train new employees. This process may uncover best practices and successes that have yet to be communicated through your organization.

3) Communicate

Analyzing and communicating areas of risk and skill gaps within the organization – Take the information from the above items and develop a way to communicate it throughout your organization.  There are methods of creating a dashboard of critical information on projected retirements and knowledge loss by location and job role. There needs to be a buy-in factor with upper level management through to the jobs that are in jeopardy of being lost.  This creates accountability and responsibility.

4) Connect 

Developing concrete, actionable responses to mitigate knowledge loss and connect people, tools – This will be a road map on how to be successful in your organization.  This might include skill assessments, job analysis, and training plans.  Utilize on-the-job training or your local community college and work together to up skill your present employees and/or hire qualified applicants. Job shadowing, mentoring, and rehire after retirement programs may also be a part of these solutions.


Founded in 1979, EDSI is a national leader in workforce development, customized training and consulting.

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