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Breakthrough Collaboration
Helping Transform People and Organizations
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How do you ensure that your campus community embraces the diversity of thought, cultures, and sense of inclusion that positively represents what you stand for while attracting top students, faculty and staff?

What are the strategies you can employ when conflicts within departments threaten to paralyze the people and the work?

How can you develop and inspire your best leaders and managers and keep them engaged, current, and ready to lead?


“I have worked with Breakthrough across many assignments and have found their honesty, transparency and humanness to be unique and refreshing. In my role of leading people across academic departments, it can sometimes feel like you are facing considerable odds. But Breakthrough gave me a sense of someone in my corner, someone who can provide us openings for the right conversation — and have on more than one occasion — got us unstuck.“

Abe Feurstein, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences - Bucknell University

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How do you ensure that your campus community embraces the diversity of thought, cultures, and sense of inclusion that positively represents what you stand for while attracting top students, faculty and staff?

What are the strategies you can employ when conflicts within departments threaten to paralyze the people and the work?

How can you develop and inspire your best leaders and managers and keep them engaged, current, and ready to lead?

What do you do when the colleagues of a gifted professor complain that his or her behavior is disruptive or is challenging the boundaries of what's appropriate?

How do you handle the changes and transitions associated with the merging of two organizations and/or two different cultures?

You talk to Breakthrough Collaboration.

What does Breakthrough Collaboration do?

We help to transform people and organizations — in ways big and small

How do we do that?

- breaking down interpersonal barriers (silos) that inhibit or block progress
- growing leaders and leadership potential
- inspiring action and interaction that builds trust
- making it safe to be "real"
- building a foundation for good communication
- providing strategies and tools that help heal
- empowering leadership to expand perspective, to broaden vision, to grow and manage talent
- helping people realize what's possible

"Breakthrough Collaboration has been an invaluable resource for me. Our executive team and members of our faculty and staff have benefited greatly from their unique approach to improving collaboration and communication at all levels of the University. Their honesty, critical feedback and conflict resolution strategies allowed us to get to the heart of issues on the table quickly. It was refreshing to work with a company that understood the barriers within academic organizations and could bring new thinking and approaches that were anything but 'cookie cutter' techniques."

Dr. Carol Leary, President
Bay Path University

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Below is an overview of the categories in which we work. These areas represent a springboard from which we create our programming that is reflective of need, challenges, organizational goals and cultural make-up and realities.

Strategic counsel
- trusted advisor
- thought partner

Professional development
- individual, team, leaders, managers, supervisors
- coaching and counseling
- skills building and training
- engagement and inclusion

Organizational development
- discover: cultural assessments — "what shapes how we do things around here"
- connect: "the dots" in what we've discovered
- recommend: initiatives, programming, actions
- activate: on ideas and chosen recommendations

- transformative
- transactional

Programming — some examples
Here are just a few examples of programs we have built and leveraged in order to solve complex challenges and needs within our clients organizations. These programs can be customized, combined, or provide a starting point based on the unique issues, participants, and the specifics of the "fabric" of each organization or institution.

Breakthrough 360 —
In today’s complex and fast moving environments individuals are often unable to step out of their day-to-day challenges to gain a clear perspective on “how they are doing”... more . The Breakthrough 360 provides an excellent tool in planning and mapping paths in development and performance. Designed with an academic focus, the 360 marries feedback from a number of key stakeholders in the individual’s circle (including managers, peers, and direct reports) with the individual’s own self-evaluation. Using this “balanced performance portrait” as a starting point, we join with the individual in identifying both where they are doing well, and where they are challenged. Most importantly, we partner with them in developing both short- and long-term actions focused on their own professional growth within the context of the institution’s mission and purpose. (less)

Positive Workplace —
A significant factor influencing how employees feel about work is their work environment. Beyond just the physical space there are the elements of relationships with co-workers... more , supervisors, the culture at large and the opportunity for personal development. Positive Workplace, grounded in real, real-time scenarios, helps organizations look at the set of factors that influence achieving a positive workplace for all. From reinforcing the elements that are good within the organization to clarifying boundaries of behavior and policies around bullying, harassment, and workplace violence to moving beyond compliance to behavioral change, each program component is designed to enhance the environment in which your people work and keep them motivated and engaged. (less)

Civil Campus —
What influences someone's desire to be part of any campus community? The ability of that community to welcome that individual, offer a sense of full inclusion, and allow for... more that person to contribute, thrive and be successful. Civil Campus is a program that brings together all members of the campus community - faculty, staff, and student populations — to build collectively, a place where all can flourish. The program helps look at and reduce tension points, create a safe space for productive conversations and action, helps to build and reinforce the standards and policies that provide a critical platform for behavior, and design specific efforts and practices that unite these populations around their shared goals for their community. The benefits include a reduction in campus incidents, enhanced reputation, and better results in recruiting for students, faculty and staff. (less)

New Managers Boot camp —
Many people find it challenging to move into a supervisory role and become responsible for achieving results through the work of others. This highly interactive program focuses... more on building core supervisory skills, and is designed to be especially helpful to those new to a managerial role or new to any organization. The program combines the "nuts and bolts" of managing the employee lifecycle (legal issues, recruitment, motivation/engagement, performance management) with a variety of exercises and content designed to jump-start or re-charge essential supervisory skills basics, such as owning your role, having challenging conversations, and managing change. (less)

Leadership Institute —
More than ever, today's leaders face a long list of challenges. Best practices and staying current, motivating and mentoring people, articulating where the organization is going in an... more ever changing, academic environment, and encouraging diversity of people and thought. And, to be successful, you need a blend of hard and soft skills, analytics, policy sophistication and systems understanding. This is an intensive leadership program designed to nurture creativity and innovation as well as build leadership skills. Through a series of concentrated, practical, knowledge and cohort sharing sessions, leaders work on their personal gaps and test strategies in - experiential and adaptive transformational leadership practices, critical thinking and action, enhanced policy decision making, thinking and working institutionally, forming better partnerships, and ways to build a high performance organization. (less)

Faculty Behaving Badly —
Managing—- problems that are relatively simple, problems that are time-consuming but ultimately manageable, and problems that are so intractable that they seem to defy resolution.... more What do you do when the colleagues of a popular, gifted professor complain that his or her behavior is disruptive? What steps do you take when complaints give way to statements of concern for physical safety? How do you respond to questions regarding what actions the institution can or will take to address the situation? What legal concerns need to be considered?

This program helps Chairs, and their institutions, to intervene effectively with faculty in a manner that addresses the needs of the department, the faculty member, the institution — and the students.

"I have worked with many people in  organizational development and I believe Breakthrough truly stands out. They are authentic, passionate, fun  and strongly focused on delivering  a significant impact, creating a  partnership with HR and our clients.  From helping us to envision and bring to life what the future of Learning and  Development at Bentley would look  like, to the development and delivery of multiple pieces of that curriculum, they have brought deep knowledge,  provocative thinking, and eye for what  works and what doesn't. And, as we continue to build and evolve our L&D  function, Breakthrough provides  on-going counsel that helps us make it better."

Ann Dexter, Executive Director, Human Resources - Bentley College

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If you'd like to talk more about what Breakthrough Collaboration can bring to your organization, please contact either Hamish or Adam or click the "please contact me" link below.

Hamish Blackman
cell # 508.397.9848

Adam Sutton
cell # 617.470.0334

Please contact me...

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Breakthrough Collaborations' highly skilled, passionate, experienced organizational development professionals bring the best practices from over 30 years of doing the work. Creative ideas, strategic brains, compassionate hearts and an ability to turn ideas and strategies into action. Each component brought together and custom crafted based on our clients' specific needs and unique organizational culture.

Hamish's career extends for more than 30 years focusing on advising organizations on factors impacting productivity, morale, and work dynamics. As a trained mediator and frequent industry speaker, Hamish has brought his deep expertise to the corporate sector as well as to departments and programs at dozens of colleges and universities across the US. Hamish has developed and delivered a vast array of programming and tools that address transformational change management, responding to loss, a drug free workplace, violence prevention, mergers, takeovers and transitions, constructive confrontation and growing leaders and managers.

Prior to joining Breakthrough Collaboration, Hamish served in many positions, including as President of The Wellness Corporation.

Adam is a dynamic, inspirational speaker, sought-after coach and corporate trainer and a thought leader in the fields of positive psychology and human development. During his 20-year career he has worked extensively in a variety of settings and for a number of different organizations in the not-for-profit and for-profit arena. His passion is for helping individuals and organizations become their very best by bringing a down-to-earth, real-time and real-life approach to topics ranging from employee engagement to effective communication to emotionally-intelligent management.

Prior to joining Breakthrough Collaboration, Adam worked as a trainer, program manager and organization development consultant at Harvard University, partnering with hundreds of staff at all levels. His work included managing the open-enrollment professional development courses, designing and delivering many of the most popular workshops on interpersonal communication and relational skills, and the creation and leading of on-going organizational development initiatives - including the rewards and recognition, performance management, employee engagement and new employee orientation programs.

Paul has extensive experience in organizational diagnosis, group facilitation, leadership development, and project design. Paul's expertise includes helping clients transform critical insights into effective action while creating an environment supportive to positive change. This includes aiding clients to identify, understand and prioritize the core organizational issues that need to be resolved. He has consistently helped organizations benefit from increased individual commitment to achieve greater effectiveness. Paul has worked across the public and private sector, community groups, non-profit organizations, and institutions of higher education.

Prior to joining Breakthrough Collaboration, Paul was founder and principal of Spector Associates, and the managing partner at Good Work Associates, a leader in executive coaching, strategic planning, and organization culture assessments. Paul has also served as a City Counselor for the city of Northampton, Massachusetts. Paul's clients have included the Education Development Center, Albany Law School, University of Richmond, Centre College and Vassar College.

Aviva's practice draws on 18 years in the nonprofit and public sectors facilitating group processes, creating generative workplace cultures and building relationships among diverse stakeholders. Routinely recognized for her aptitude and fluency in group facilitation and public speaking, Aviva's passions center on inspiring professional and personal resilience, modeling authentic leadership, and developing cross-cultural competency.

Aviva's professional experience has focused on higher education administration, social sector leadership and bringing voice to historically marginalized communities, including work with the RAND Corporation, Los Angeles County, and Coro leadership centers.

Most recently, Aviva directed Harvard University's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations where she managed global civil society research teams, and taught courses on transformational leadership, collaborative team design, nonprofit finance and fundraising.

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Below is a series of publications, on a variety of important people, development and communication topics, that we believe serve as an excellent resource base for any organization.

Managing Challenging Conversations - Crucial Conversation

De Bono, E. Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them,. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.

Fisher, R., and Ury, W. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In,. New York, Viking Penguin, 1983.

Fournies, Ferdinand F., Coaching For Improved Work Performance,. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998.

Patterson, K. Crucial Conversations,. McGraw Hill, 2011

Rosenberg, M. B., Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion,. Puddledancer Press, 2003

Stone, D., Patton, B., Heen, S., and Fisher, R. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most,. Penguin Group, 2000.

Sutton, R. I. The No Asshole Rule: Building A Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't,. Warner Business Books, 2007.

Tannen, D. That's Not What I Meant!, New York: Ballantine Books, 1987.

Leading Without Authority

Bacharach, S., Get Them On Your Side, Platinum Press, 2005

Hirschman, A. O., The Rhetoric of Reaction, Harvard College, 1991

Kotter, J. P. A Sense of Urgency, Harvard Business Press, 2006

Kotter, J. P., Leading Change, Harvard Business Press, 1996

Problem-Solving and Decision Making

Macklin, D. The Team Building Tool Kit, AMACOM, 2007

Vroom, V. H. and Yetton, P. W., Leadership and Decision Making, University of Pittsburgh, 1973

Leading and Succeeding Through Change

Bridges, W., Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, De Capo Lifelong Books, 2009

S. Maddi, D. Khoshaba., Resilience at Work: How to Succeed No Matter What Life Throws at You, AMACOM, 2005

The Inner Leader

D. Goleman., Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, 1998

Caruso, P. Salovey., The Emotionally Intelligent Manager, Jossey-Bass, 2004

T. Rinpoche., Open Heart, Open Mind, Harmony Books, NYC, 2012

Managing Performance Proactively

M. Gilbert., Communication Miracles at Work, Conari Press, 2002

B. Wall., Working Relationships: Using Emotional Intelligence to Enhance Your Effectiveness With Others, Davies-Black, 2008

M. Adams., Change Your Questions, Change Your Life!, Berrett-Kohler, 2009

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A sampling of our clients include:

Assumption College
Bay Path College
Bucknell University
Bunker Hill Community College
Colgate University
Harvard University
The College of the Holy Cross
Lahey Health
Mass College of Art and Design
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Northeastern University
Penn State
Shepley Bullfinch
Trinity College
Union College
Wellesley College
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Williams College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University

"Breakthrough Collaboration does very  important work. I brought them in to  help streamline and better our team  communication and to help me in my efforts to build stronger academic departments. They were just terrific to  work with. They are true professionals,  thoughtful, good listeners who are incredible attentive to the particulars of our community. Besides their  extensive, relevant backgrounds in the academic arena what they also bring to the table is a type of pragmatic wisdom and a sense of humor that  shows they don't take themselves too seriously but do take their work very seriously. - I would highly recommend them to any of my colleagues or  people in my professional circle."

Doug Hicks, Provost, Dean of the Faculty — Colgate University