If Your Firm is Stuck in Old Ways, It’s Probably Time for a Redesign

Organizations can get stuck in their ways, leading to the development of blind spots that hinder their ability to identify new opportunities or innovative ways of operating.

For over 40 years, globally recognized systems change and design educator Carol Sanford has been helping leaders across sectors create sustainable growth through responsible practices while generating innovation streams that continually deliver extraordinary results. Her practical, work systems-centered approach to changing an organization and everyone in it has earned her accolades from leaders at Fortune 500 companies, including Google, DuPont, Intel, P&G and Seventh Generation.

By showing individuals how to go deeper to discover pathways they never saw before, Sanford builds the capability of organizations to immediately start implementing and designing a culture of change.

“I give people the ability to move off the mental models they’ve got, which are usually programmatic templates. Instead, I educate people on framework thinking,” says Sanford, who has been referred to as “the grand dame of business innovation and responsible growth.”

The common thread running through Sanford’s work is an examination of what makes an organization unique, and therefore able to be regenerative. In 1977, she launched The Carol Sanford Institute, an education organization that teaches leaders how to build regenerative businesses that become non-replaceable in their markets. More recently, she and her team have been leading Regenerative Business Development Communities and Regenerative Change Agent Development communities (CAD) around the world.

Sanford’s exuberant, no-nonsense personality is consistently hailed as a source of positive disruption by executives and keynote audiences. In addition to teaching businesses how to responsibly prosper, Sanford has been helping leaders develop innovative solutions around the COVID-19 crisis, and her ability to “design out” practices structured into systems, such as racial bias, led to her launching a program called Radical Roots of Racism, which educates people on the hidden ways biases are unknowingly designed into business and social systems.

As an advisor and educator, Sanford continues to transform businesses in every industry so they can improve marketplace positioning, organizational conditions and the human capability to innovate and contribute.

“In all the work, I embed the idea of examining everything rigorously,” says Sanford. “It helps people become more discerning, to develop the ability to work with very complex situations by using framework thinking, which brings the previously invisible into clear focus. The idea is not to dumb things down. Otherwise you’ll miss what really matters.”


What Leaders Are Saying About Carol Sanford

“Carol is one of those unique individuals who captivates you from the moment you meet her. She is a very engaging, inspiring and talented speaker with incredible insights, thoughtful perspectives and a unique way to make you think. Carol’s work, ‘The Responsible Business,’ continues to be an amazing source of inspiration for Google’s Food program. Her recommended ‘responsible business’ approach is one of the foundational philosophies of Google Food.”

— Michiel Bakker, Global Director at Google

“Carol is a provocative speaker who engages her audiences both in terms of their minds and their hearts. She is able to get people thinking about issues in a new way, to question their assumptions and to discover new questions that lead to new learning during and after her speech. She does this all with clarity and humor, engaging people with her energy and her intellect. I highly recommend Carol as a speaker.”

— Deborah Ranier, VP of Human Resources, Hunt Wesson Foods

“This way of thinking about running a business, offered in ‘The Responsible Business,’ is a critical source of possibilities for a re-imagined future. Rarely a day goes by that I do not call on this way of thinking and looking at the world. It is useful in most walks of life and in taking on the big business decisions that so many of us face every day.

— Chad Holiday, Chairman and CEO, E. I. Dupont Corporation

“Carol has spoken for us at events around the world, always to great audience satisfaction. She is among the deepest thinkers on the role of business in leading the way to a responsible future. Her presentations are meaty, practical AND thought-provoking — an unusual mix! She is bound to surprise and delight your audience and give them something to take home and put to work.”

— KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder & Chief Executive, Sustainable Life Media/Sustainable Brands

“The buzz is that Carol Sanford is building the businesses of tomorrow, working with the world’s most innovative companies to create meaningful change. And that’s why we were delighted that she agreed to keynote our annual Customer Conference. Carol was beyond fabulous. I’ve heard nothing but stellar reviews from our attendees about her presentation. I attribute success to Carol’s attention-grabbing and skillful presentation skills, being easy to work with, and her efforts pre-interviewing key participants, enabling her insights to be more highly tailored and contextualized for the audience. We’re thankful for all she did to ensure an extraordinary kick-off to our event.”

— Ed Rusch, Global Marketing Director, Elemica

Visit Carol’s page for more stellar recommendations.

Whitney Jennings: