B State: A New Roadmap for Bold Leadership, Brave Culture, and Breakthrough Results

B State: A New Roadmap for Bold Leadership, Brave Culture, and Breakthrough Results

by Mark Samuel


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Transforming Business, Organizational Culture, and Self

In business and life, there are often moments when one simply can't seem to find a way forward. Searching in the past for solutions to persistent problems results in frustration and confusion. Issues in corporate teamwork and individual relationships can feel overwhelming and even insurmountable. There’s a lack of control and a sense of being stuck. B State provides a clear roadmap from point A to point B to rapidly achieve measurable, breakthrough results. It’s about a true transformation that removes old mindsets and silos, while replacing inefficient behaviors with desired habits to quickly create the highest performing culture for groundbreaking business outcomes.

Equipped with over 30 years of professional and academic expertise, author, speaker, and change agent Mark Samuel helps companies (and the individuals that comprise them) achieve their B State, enabling them to make the necessary changes they didn’t think were possible. His strategies for finding and enacting solutions to complex challenges use real life examples to help readers embrace accountability and envision their success in order to achieve the transformation they need. This book focuses readers on where they want to go, and it helps them get there fast.

​Written for business executives, managers, supervisors, and leaders at all levels, this is a book about how to not just do business but also live life. It brings about the dynamic forward launch readers are looking for, creating results that are both unprecedented and sustainable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626345690
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mark Samuel is a thought leader and the CEO of IMPAQ, an award-winning international consulting firm that helps organizations and leaders worldwide to produce measurable results that transform their businesses and culture. He’s the author of Creating the Accountable Organization: A Practical Guide to Improve Performance Execution and Making Yourself Indispensable: The Power of Personal Accountability, once named the Best New Business Book by the International Book Awards. Samuel has been featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fast Company, Forbes,and in Fortune magazine as a top authority on accountability, teamwork, and leadership. 

Read an Excerpt


Stuck in "A State"

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.


A manufacturing company experienced too many injuries because plant employees didn't follow posted safety protocols. As in any A State organization, management's solution was to send those employees to a safety-procedure training program. That is the definition of an A State, after all: using past and current mind-sets and behaviors to try to make changes or improvements. But after putting in the time and effort to schedule the program, management discovered their plant employees had already completed the exact same program seven times. They'd even earned certificates of completion.

Naturally, everyone was frustrated about the waste of time and resources — and obviously, another round of training would not solve the problem.

Does this circular trap sound familiar? How many times do we send people to training programs that do not produce any meaningful behavior changes or performance improvement? We think we're doing something, when, in fact, we're simply moving from being stuck in an A State to being stuck in an "A+ State," wherein we make one or more incremental improvements toward our goals but nothing really changes. We're still bogged down — just at a slightly higher, more educated level. We still haven't addressed the real challenges blocking our success.

That's where transforming to a B State culture comes in. B State — short for "breakthrough" change — encompasses a new mind-set and habits of behavior that rapidly produce and sustain a transformational future. B State is a paradigm shift in thinking and behavior that produces a dynamic forward launch.

A Different Perspective

Culture is how decisions are made, challenges are faced, and problems are handled.

When visiting any organization, the culture can be felt.

— Sue Bingham, author of Creating the High Performance Work Place

Tom, the CIO of "Milstun Corporation," a large multinational manufacturing company based in Germany, had been given three and a half years to reduce costs and duplication of effort, streamline processes, and improve internal customer satisfaction by centralizing his two thousand–person information systems (IS) department.

Tom knew his leadership team had to assess all the systems that needed changing, develop a model to centralize the organization, and create a strategic plan to get the job done, so he brought in the most recognized, best-in-the-world consulting firms to help. For two years, the leadership team attended team-building programs, leadership-development workshops, change-management presentations, process-improvement seminars, and project-management training. After developing new skills for two years, all the leaders considered themselves a "better team."

But nothing actually changed. No real movement toward centralization could occur because the team members reneged on the commitments they made (in whatever the latest "outside" program they'd attended) just as soon as they got back to their respective divisions in Asia, the United States, and Europe.

All that training merely moved them from being stuck in A State to being stuck in an A+ State. After two years, they still equated "centralizing" with "giving up control," and no one was willing to do that — yet. But Tom knew that if they didn't centralize by the board's deadline, his entire department would be outsourced, which meant a lot of his people would lose their jobs. As outrageous as that sounds, he'd seen it happen before.

By the time he called me in, Tom felt like a failure — an exasperated, angry failure.

"It may be too late for your help," he admitted when we first met. "I've already wasted two years on too many failed change efforts. Now we only have a year and a half to completely restructure, change our technical processes across the entire organization, and create a new culture. I don't think we have enough time left. I blew it."

"No, you didn't," I assured him. "We can produce a centralized organization, complete with culture change, in eighteen months or less. We just have to create a clear 'Picture of Success,' focus on middle management instead of your senior team, and develop new 'Team Habits of Collective Execution.'"

"Wait a minute," Tom protested. "Every other consultant has said we have to change our senior management team first, not our middle managers."

"I'm sure they did," I responded. "And they've taken up two years of your time trying to do that. We've discovered that middle managers are the true change agents — if they operate as a unified team."

"Really? Okay, I guess that makes sense. And I have wasted so much time trying to change the senior managers without any progress. So it's great that we can put the focus on middle management to make this change."

"Oh, there is one more thing." I said. "You'll have to tell your people we only have a year to get it done — not a year and a half."

"What! I can't do that! There's no way we can make such a massive change in a year! It's physically impossible!"

"Then I won't do the project."

"Are you kidding me? Why not?"

I smiled. "Because people need a sense of urgency, or they'll put off any kind of change to the last possible moment — especially if that change is uncomfortable, disruptive, and increases their workload. That's just human nature. So we need your team's 'last possible moment' to be right now! Plus, there's a built-in sense of uncertainty in this kind of thing, especially since no one knows how to do this and everything else they've tried so far has failed. We need that sense of urgency to overcome all that.

"Besides," I added, "if we get off schedule, we'll still have six more months to make it work."

Tom's shoulders dropped. "Okay, okay, that makes sense. Not to mention you're my last resort. I'll tell you what — if you'll commit to not try to change my senior management team and just focus on my middle managers, then I'll commit to telling my people this needs to be accomplished in a year. I just don't want the lack of change in my senior management team to become the excuse for you like it was for other consultants."


"Fine," he said. "Write up the proposal. We've got a deal."

My proposal was completely different from anything else Tom had ever experienced. It didn't include developing shared values, solving breakdowns, or implementing a traditional change-management process. Tom admitted he really didn't understand our approach, but when I started to explain, he cut me off.

"Forget it. I can't afford to keep using the same traditional approaches that haven't worked for two years," he said, clearly exasperated. "I'll take a risk on you and ... whatever your 'B State' is."

We began our weeklong assessment by talking with various middle and a few senior managers. "I know you don't want senior management to be part of this," I told Tom when he protested, "but we need to include them to identify breakdowns and ensure appropriate linkage with middle managers. We need to find out if people really understand what it means to be centralized."

As it turned out, most of them didn't. Only Tom and Frank, the brilliant but hot-blooded subject-matter expert (SME) who had created the model they'd been trying to implement for two years, had any sense of what a centralized organization looked like.

After completing all the other interviews, we visited Frank to make sure we understood his vision and model. It seemed pretty simple to us, but we weren't technical experts in their industry — maybe we were oversimplifying his concepts. But as we explained our understanding to him, he jumped up excitedly.

"Yes! That's it! Finally! Someone gets this! I'm so frustrated and angry with all the other managers. How can they not understand it? Why do they keep trying to make it so much more complicated?"

It's human nature to make change more complicated than it needs to be, especially when we don't really want to change, even if we know we have to. That's why people don't go to doctors, leave bad positions or relationships, or move forward in their lives. They don't want to leave their comfort zone.

We gathered about sixty senior and middle managers from three continents to a single meeting in Munich. We didn't talk to them about centralizing the organization, or about creating a new leadership model, or about any of the other topics they expected. Instead, we introduced the B State concept and transformation process, and we talked about creating a clear Picture of Success for the fully operational and effective centralized IS department:

That picture will include not only your final result, but also new behaviors about cross-functional coordination, teamwork, and problem-solving that need to become new habits. Your role as leaders will naturally expand during the course of this process. It's unavoidable. You're going to move from only controlling your own area to sharing leadership and ownership so you all mutually get to where you need to go.

While some of the managers were excited to hear about our different approach, most were admittedly skeptical — but they were all willing to participate because Tom and I presented the change as nonnegotiable.

"There really is no choice here," I told them. "If you don't centralize, your department will be outsourced. It's that simple."

When those sixty people left the working session after going through our B State transformation process, they not only understood Frank's model, but had aligned their expectations with it, formed task forces to implement the "Team Habits of Collective Execution" necessary to create a B State culture, chosen the eight projects that would take priority during the change, and accepted a shared-ownership project-management process — if one of the eight project teams failed, they all failed. Plus, they created their own follow-up system to support and hold each other, and the group, accountable.

They did all that in only three days.

The major centralization shift was completed in nine months — three months sooner than the "urgent deadline" we gave them and nine months sooner than their real deadline. They completed the full transformation by month twelve — six months ahead of the CIO's schedule.

Although we never addressed performance improvement, several side benefits of transitioning to the B State surfaced. The top-prioritized technical projects came in 100 percent on time/on budget for the first time. Overall project performance rose from 25 percent on time/on budget to 75 percent. Key performance indicators (KPIs) went up 50 percent. Operating expenses decreased and internal customer satisfaction increased, producing breakthrough results.

Best of all, fifteen relationship factors — including trust, support, and conflict resolution — improved 35 percent throughout the entire management team.

For me, the icing on the cake came when one of the company's primary vendors stood up at the meeting where all these statistics were revealed and said, "You know what? Before we started this change effort, we considered you our worst customer. Now you're our best — thanks to the problem-solving and decision-making improvements in our partnership."

After the meeting broke up, Tom told me, "Our results have been so dramatic, Mark, they've blown everyone away. I mean, most of our managers were so skeptical when you first walked in the door, but now they understand the real meaning behind B State Collective Execution and how you can really take us to another level! They want to expand it to other areas of our department, but I was wondering about something else — especially in light of what our vendor just said."

"Okay. What do you need?"

"We operate in an us-versus-them customer-supplier environment with most of our vendors. Can you help us improve our partnerships with them?"

"Sure! But we'd have to work with them first, by themselves, to improve their own execution. In other words, we'd have to change their mind-set and habits of execution to prepare them to be better partners."

"Let's do it!" Tom said. "And we'll pay for it."

I'd believed in the B State before, but this success was so enormous it made me realize B State transformations not only worked faster than I thought they would, but could cross every kind of barrier, be it language, distance, individual resistance, time zones, or even culture.

It was a life-changing moment for me.


My B State Discovery Journey

The same thinking that has led you to where you are is not going to lead you to where you want to go.


As a typical team-building facilitator back in 1983, I had just completed a program with a leadership team, using all the standard methods. We created an aligned vision statement. We did a styles survey so people could better understand each other. I had the participants do team activities and action plans to apply their "awareness" and "team experience" to their "workplace goals and challenges."

If the positive evaluations at the end of the program were to be believed, my program was a huge success.

Three months later, I visited the company to do a follow-up meeting with the team leader and ran across several team members. They were all excited to share how much they had benefited from our work together. One person even said, "It changed my life!"

I was on top of the world, my ego and self-esteem growing with every word of praise. Of course, I had to ask: "How's the leadership team doing?"

"Oh, it's still as dysfunctional as usual — everyone's still fighting about everything — but we all agree the team building was great for our individual growth!"

So much for my swelling ego! I felt like a failure as my heart sank to the floor. Sure, I was happy for everyone's wonderful personal growth, but that wasn't what I'd been hired to do. I was supposed to build the team.

And I hadn't.

"For a while," the woman continued as I barely listened, "the team was working better, and the impact was very positive. But two months later, people were back to their old behaviors.

"We're stuck again."

I don't even remember whether I met with the leader that day. I know I went home depressed. After all, I had used the methodology learned from my graduate-school mentor, a leading organization-development expert, professor, and practicing consultant. I had carefully followed in his footsteps so I could provide substantial value to my clients by building teams and helping people in a meaningful, long-lasting way.

Had I been fooling myself ?

I prided myself on my high level of integrity, so I decided right then that if I couldn't figure out how to help teams last on their own in an improved state for at least one year, I'd change careers. I was tired of consultants and trainers who made promises of better effectiveness but didn't deliver lasting results, and I wasn't about to join that group and live in hypocrisy just because it paid well.

My mentor trained me better than that.

I went back and analyzed every team and organization I had ever worked with, looking for some commonality, some pattern of breakdown. And I found it — at the same point after every team-building program in every organization. Even though everyone reported feeling improved trust, support, and dedication while we worked together, their day-to-day challenges had undermined those commitments after three months back in the workplace. Follow-through soon broke down, and the trust and support they'd so eagerly built together fell apart.

It didn't take me long to realize why: none of the teams — or the team members themselves — felt answerable for their commitments or agreements, so they had no reason to live up to them.

It all came down to accountability — which, I discovered over the next two years, is a moving target. No matter what I did to change my team-building methodology, each solution only worked for about three months before another issue popped up. People would take responsibility for their behaviors — they stopped bickering, for example — but six months later a lack of follow-through on priority projects created another breakdown. Nine months later, another issue popped up when new hires weren't properly "on-boarded" into their team culture.

Enough was enough. Even though I'd been a "good student" all my life and followed my professors' teachings diligently, I stopped reading popular management books during those two years. I did not refer to what I'd learned from other consultants and advisors. I divorced myself from my core beliefs about change management and building teams. I even gave up my "sacred cows" — those theories I knew for a fact were correct because they made perfect sense.

If I'm going to truly approach this challenge as a scientist, I have to be as impartial as possible. I have to let each situation be my teacher. I have to "pray" for solutions when I have none, using an instinctive self-hypnotic meditative state to let my subconscious show me the answer.


Excerpted from "B State"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Mark Samuel.
Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xv

Introduction 1

1 Stuck in "A State" 3

2 My B State Discovery Journey 11

3 Raising Consciousness 15

4 Becoming a Lifelong Student 19

5 Safe Environments for Growth, Expansion, and Evolution 29

6 Optimizing Energy 41

7 B State Energy 53

8 External Drivers That Lead to Transformation 67

9 Create Your New Reality-The Key Step for Transformation 73

10 The Purpose Statement 87

11 B State Priorities and Shared Ownership 93

12 Are You Playing an Amateur or a Professional Game? 103

13 The Professional B State Culture 111

14 The Missing Link: Team Habits 121

15 Measuring Team Habits of Collective Execution 129

16 The Middle-Management Miracle 141

17 Evolve and Develop Leaders 155

18 Three Essential Competencies 163

19 B State Staff Success 173

20 B State Transformation Challenges and Failures 183

21 The New Frontier: Partnerships between Companies 197

Epilogue 203

Acknowledgments 205

About the Author 209

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