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True North pgs, Inc. helps all the members of a project community -- executives, project sponsors, project leaders, customers, suppliers, teams, as well as individual project workers -- achieve exceptional results by building their capacity to resolve their challenges themselves.

Adults learn best what they discover for themselves. This is the foundation of True North's training and consulting. Help people catch themselves being themselves, and most feel impelled to immediately address the often profound discovery and begin adapting more successfully. Propose the possibility of a more generous interpretation for a puzzling experience and people almost instinctively invent more useful explanations for the curious behaviors they see in themselves and in others.  Help them acknowledge their real challenges of working in ambiguous contexts, and most begin redesigning their projects to better deal with their real world.

The Difference That Makes a Difference

Rather than trying to engineer 90- or 180- degree shifts, True North’s project guidance strategies focus upon the small adjustments that can make a big difference. Few individuals need more than a 1- or 2- degree change in course. The most lasting change follows significant minor adjustments, and individuals, teams, and communities are capable of successfully adapting to almost any difficulty they encounter if they are awake and moving. The key lies in helping them discover for themselves how to cope with the barriers that seem to be blocking their own, natural adaptation.

True North’s products include Training, Brief Consulting, Mentoring and Coaching, and Books by David Schmaltz -- The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work,and This Isn’t a Cookbook: Elements of Project Style.


True North provides training that helps participants learn how to teach themselves to reach their objectives.  Instead of the usual methods of telling or showing participants what we think they need to learn, we invite participants to experience for themselves the lessons they most need for themselves by catching themselves being themselves.

How does this work? Our simulations engage participants in observing themselves at ‘play’ in situations that simulate project work. By becoming observers as well as participants, they are then better able to reflect and experience for themselves their most needed lessons.  Having seen for themselves what was not apparent before, participants gain access to a broader range of choices in future situations -- at the moment they most need these options. 

For more details, including the dates, locations, and registration for open enrollment workshops, click on the name of each product.

True North’s Mastering Projects approach introduces proven strategies for effectively coping  with the real world of projects where the rules of the game are distinctly different than ‘regular operations.’

Our Mastering Projects offerings include the Mastering Project Workshop and Mastering Project Work.

  • The Mastering Project Work workshop helps each member of a project community, especially the project workers, find their own power and authority to make the project work. 

BeyondLeadership is an experiential leadership development program intended to evoke the deep learning, lasting insights, and profound lessons upon which an authentic leadership practice is based. 

True North’s Brief Consulting is designed to produce significant change from remarkably short interventions by focusing on what to do next rather than what's already done,

True North’s Coaching and Mentoring supports teams and individuals through the chaos and awkwardness of real change.

True North also offers custom training and facilitation in adaptive project guidance strategies, leadership, and related areas for executives, sponsors, project managers, teams, and project workers.  Whether team building, facilitating a project start-up, or post-project retrospective, our masterful facilitation can add the difference that makes a real difference.  For more information on our customized offerings, contact us.

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Brief Consulting

The Difference That Makes a Difference

"The problem is not the problem. Coping with the problem is the problem." 

-- Virginia Satir

What do we mean by Brief Consulting?

Brief Consulting interventions are remarkably short. Most of our interventions last less than a week. Meaningful change often occurs after a day. Because we focus upon what's next, change is inevitable and resistance is rarely an issue.

How can this be?

True North's Brief Consulting is intervention-based. It focuses upon observable phenomenon rather than identifying root causes because no one can fix the past or the future, only the present. Furthermore, we believe that it is not anyone's job to fix anyone else. Attempting to fix others is the most common cause of working poorly together.

Our Brief Consulting is resolution-focused. We identify resolutions rather than "solve" problems. Here's an example of a masterful Brief Consulting intervention:

A Japanese coastal village was once threatened by a tidal wave. A lone farmer in the rice fields high on the hillside above the village spotted the tidal wave far out on the horizon. At once, he set fire to the fields. The villagers, who came swarming up the hillside to save their crops, saved themselves from the flood. 

--Japanese Folktale  For more information on how Brief Consulting could benefit your organization, contact us.

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Coaching and Mentoring

Doing well isn't the same thing as feeling good about the result.

We rarely experience difference as better or good. It's weird first. When communities begin changing the way they work, they need some help identifying what better looks like, because it first feels worse than what they are used to. Under these conditions, many communities simply flee back into a comfortable old status quo, stiff-arming rather than embracing inevitable changes. Such is the process of "learning to unlearn" what might have worked in the past but no longer serves us well.

True North provides on-site Coaching and Mentoring to those actively engaged in changing their approaches. By helping translate theory into practice and helping the community catch themselves in the process of doing it better than they think they are doing, coaching provides people with the support needed to learn from their experience and persist through the chaos and awkwardness of real change.  Coaching can provide a much-needed outside perspective, reminding people of where they started, how far they’ve come, and helping them focus on their real purpose for the journey. 

For more information on how Consulting and Mentoring might support your organization’s change efforts, contact us.

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Books by David Schmaltz

The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work -- 
 How to Transform Fuzzy Responsibilities into Meaningful Results

We are pleased to announce David’s latest book, The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work, published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 

From the back cover:
“If you work, you probably manage projects every day -- even if “project manager” isn’t in your official title -- and you know how frustrating the experience can be.  Using as a metaphor the familiar story of six blind men failing to describe an elephant to each other, David Schmaltz, identifies the true root cause of the difficulties in project work: “incoherence” (the inability of a group of people to make common meaning from their common experience).

Schmaltz exposes such oft-cited difficulties as poor planning, weak leadership, and fickle customers, as poor excuses for project failure, providing a set of simple, project coherence building techniques that anyone can use to achieve success.  He explains how “wickedness” develops when a team over-relies on their leader for guidance rather than tapping their true source of power and authority -- the individual.

Using real world stories, Schmaltz explores just how much influence is completely within each individual’s control and undermines the excuses that maybe keeping you trapped in meaningless work.  Most importantly, he offers practical guidance for overcoming the inevitable difficulties of project work.”

Those attending the Mastering Project Work workshop will receive a copy of “The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work”.  Click here to order your own copy.

This Isn't A Cookbook:
  The Elements of Project Style

This Isn’t a Cookbook: The Elements of Project Style highlights the important principles of project style that can help a project leader cope with their real world projects. This little book is subtitled “The Elements of Project Style” in homage to William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s [authors of The Elements of Style] understanding that we don’t need to understand all the rules, just the more troublesome ones. "Even if we could somehow catalogue all the rules," the  book's introduction continues, "we'd probably only create a cadre of rule rememberers, who could quote the chapter and verse without really understanding the underlying principles. Let's instead highlight the important principles of style that, when combined with specific context, can help a project leader and their projects survive.”

Those attending the Mastering Projects Workshop will receive a copy of This Isn’t A Cookbook. Click here to download an order form for an updated edition of This Isn’t A Cookbook: The Elements of Project Style.

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