By Evolving Strategies
Dated: Jul 23, 2010
Sandy Schwan is an entrepreneur who has helped others successfully navigate change, Schwan recently returned to her alma mater, seven years after earning her MSLOC, to empower other graduate students to tackle challenges and overcome obstacles.
CHICAGO, IL—Sandy Schwan had already achieved success in her career when she enrolled in Northwestern University’s master of science program in Learning and Organizational Change (LOC) in 2003. An entrepreneur who has helped others successfully navigate change, Schwan recently returned to her alma mater, seven years after earning her MSLOC, to empower other graduate students to tackle challenges and overcome obstacles. She is teaching a new group of leaders to make a difference in a changing world.
Schwan is adjunct faculty, teaching “Executing Strategic Change” in Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy’s MSLOC program. Students are working professionals who are building innovative people management skills and learning practices to lead strategic and sustainable organizational change. In addition to being a graduate of the program, Schwan is the founder and president of Evolving Strategies LLC, a consulting firm that helps its clients learn, adapt, and perform. Since starting the company in 1999, she has worked with organizations such as Northern Trust Corporation, United Airlines, Thomson Reuters, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Accenture, Zebra Technologies, and the federal government.
Schwan teaches “Executing Strategic Change” alongside Rose Hollister, who is also currently the senior director of the Leadership Institute of The McDonald’s Corporation. Schwan says this “co-faculty” approach provides a broader perspective on learning and organizational change. In addition, the course is taught both virtually and in-person through a three-day executive intensive session midway through the course. This enables students across the United States to participate using available technologies to connect people across multiple locations.
“Since this is the way most business teams operate, we wanted to mimic the real-world environment,” she explains.
Schwan says the biggest challenge facing today’s leaders is managing “change collisions.” “Change is abundant in organizations across all industries, geographies, sizes, and functions. Because so much is expected of the employees who are impacted by these changes, it is a leadership challenge to ensure that the changes you are introducing are sequenced–or ordered—in a way that helps employees understand and embrace the change,” Schwan says. “If you don’t bring the people along with you, the chances of a change ‘sticking’ are slim to none. Typically, this is why clients come to me for help. They see—millions of dollars spent on a new technology system or business strategy, but have no clear plan to educate, engage, and empower employees to bring these new ideas to life.”