In this episode Peter talks to attendees at the BRMConnect conference 2019 in New Orleans. We would like to thank the BRM Institute for the opportunity to record the podcast at the BRMConnect events.


This podcast is sponsored by Lead the Pack Consulting. Welcome to BRM cafe with Peter Lijnse

Peter: Welcome to BRM Cafe Episode 19. I am your host Peter Lijnse. This episode was recorded at the BRM Connect Conference in New Orleans in October 2019. In this episode, I talked to several attendees from the conference about their experiences. I would like to thank the BRM Institute for the opportunity to record the podcast at the BRM Connect event. Lead The Pack Consulting is a leadership coaching and education company focused on business relationship management in organizations. Contact us if you want to advance your career, improve your team and get better business results. Lead and succeed.

[background music]

Welcome to BRM Cafe Episode 2 from the BRM Connect Conference in New Orleans. So I have some new guests at this session so I am just going to go around than actually will ask them to briefly introduce themselves.

Terra: Hi everyone, my name is Terra Ierasts, I am the senior manager for data implementation science and the Princess Margaret Cancer Center site lead which is one of the 4 hospitals for the University Health Network located in Toronto, Ontario.

Nicole: Hi everyone, I’m Nicole Van Heerwaarden, the senior business process and data analyst of data and implementation science. I support each of the 4 sites leads at UHN.

Maureen: And I’m Maureen Jesuthasan. I’m a senior manager at West Monroe Partners. We are a consulting partner of BRM Institute.

Mark: I’m Mark Rovers with Interprom Training and Consulting, what we do.

Urijah: Urijah Leyva with Log Me In. I’m the business relationship manager for corporate IT.

Peter: Great thanks. Thanks everyone. So I’m just going to start the first basic question and I’ll go around the room and again around okay, what did you see today that you said that impressed you, that you loved, that you actually said “You know what, that was a great thing that I learned.” So I’ll start with Terra.

Terra: Hi. Thanks Peter. So for me today, the day has really been focused around value but also around understanding and defining sort of the business purpose and really embracing that business purpose. I really appreciated, the sort of focus that Purdue, one of the sessions we saw today, had on that upfront discovery phase. So we need to actually go out there and you should be and embed and live within your business unit to really understand their purpose. So it’s something that really resonated with me.

Peter: Great.

Nicole: Yes, that was a great point, Terra. It definitely resonated with me. Something that stuck with me was actually a quote that Jim Brushnahan had mentioned in his breakout session. He has this motto of seek to understand. And I think that goes along the lines of discovery which is before you can go and push or provide solutions to your business partners, you really need to seek to understand what their pain points are. Understand what their work is, what their value is before you can build up that trust and credibility to sort of provide some of the more foundational elements.

Peter: Great, awesome. Maureen.

Maureen: I think the highlight was starting the day at the Women and BRM Breakfast. I mean it was really quite amazing to see all the women who were attending and to see that you know, the future is not only just female, it’s a female BRM. All of these women are basically developing a brand new presence, many of them in IT and for the very first time, they are actually, they’re encouraged to be able to share their voice and be that leadership self that they truly are and it was really great to be able to be around such a good, amazing power and energy so early in the morning.

Peter: Yes, [inaudible] that was an actually great initiatives that..

Maureen: Yeah, indeed.

Peter: I think unfortunately couldn’t join but I wanted to. Of course I’m male but it’s– But I know there were a few people. I was invited but it’s absolutely and I loved the diversity bustling off of these conferences that the amount of people. I had the feeling that it’s at least 60 percent is female at this conference. I think there is way more females than in any other conference I’ve ever seen. So that was good. It’s a good initiative.

Nicole: I wish I could start everyday with the Women in BRM Breakfast. You just left feeling so good, so energized. It would be great to start every single day that way.

Maureen: It would be nice.

Nicole: Great.

Peter: That’s good. Well, and Mark and Urijah, we’re gonna just shut up and let them [laughter]

Mark: We could talk about forever. It was the 2 ladies of the University Health Network doing the simulation and now they simulated the simulation in the room and how it could serve so many purposes and a really powerful tool such as getting cross functional parties involved and getting them then to collaborate as in “Hey, we’re in this together”, or another form of ideation on most as in how do we, I mean your 50 action items out of one simulation, that’s fantastic. So really, really educational.

Peter: Yes, great. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that. Urijah.

Urijah: Mine was a little bit different which it’s in between the sessions when you’re getting to meet your people and that they’re kind of in the same BRM journey that you are and maybe at a different stage but everything is on the same challenges that you’re maybe facing the same time. And that kind of it brings me comfort to know it’s not just me going through this. It’s this whole group of other BRMs that were here too, kind of navigate this journey together and no one’s judgmental of like “Hey, you’re not doing it this way, you’re not doing this.” They don’t judge like “What’s wrong with you?” Their very acceptance and they’ll give you their pointers and their viewpoints of how they’ve reached and you can talk to anybody and even Erin Barnes if you wanted to. They are open to answer your questions.

Terra: “Terra,” Marleen said it today, “you come to this conference and you find your tribe.”

Maureen: That is nice.

Terra: And it’s so true that it’s really that similar, like-minded people and it doesn’t matter who you talk to. They either understood what you’ve been through or they’re going through it right now or they might experience it and they wanna learn more. So it’s really about you found a tribe when you’re here.

Peter: Yes, good point, which is interesting because that is good and absolutely. But it also creates bias and I noticed that for myself. Sometimes I have something like “Well everyone would do this and then you come into an organization.” I was like “Okay, well they don’t”. [laughter]

Terra: There is a little bit of confirmation bias at work here. [laughter]

Peter: Yes, absolutely. But yes, an absolutely good point. Networking is such that can happen at a conference is really valuable so when I look at this is I see so many people just the networking in between the sessions is why you really, I mean the sessions actually generate ideas and then you ask them “Okay, I wanna talk about this, etc, etc.” So, anything else that stood out that you say “You know what, that was good so I had a very clear learning point or something that someone said etc, etc.”. Some additional ones.

Maureen: I’d say Tyrone Greene’s presentation about, really about the value management process and how his journey within Pepsi was I thought very eloquent. For people who are just new to BRM, I felt that was just a beautiful way of just delivering what the value of BRM does from you know, end to end type of perspective and not in a period of an hour. I thought it was beautifully done and you know he’s such, I think it’s a core characteristic of many BRMs, not just Tyrone but emotional generosity is really I think a core characteristic of a BRM because I think we are very free in giving of the wisdom that we have and we want other BRMs to succeed and it’s just was such a verily detailed story that he told to as a keynote which I thought was really generous.

Peter: It’s such a what I call the social relationship where in social relationships, you have the appreciation of someone sharing something. And in a market relationship, there is always something I need to get back. And I think here, BRMs have way more of that social relationship. I give something and then I don’t expect anything back. I just wanna give and people appreciate that. That’s I think the biggest part of us we are foreseeing. But I remember Tyrone, I had him on the panel basically last year in San Diego and around value and 3 people and he started talking about value and everyone has something like “What did you do?” And he was just amazing and in 5 minutes he was actually, half of the group has something like “I don’t know what he has done here. This is so amazing.” So we started actually and Tyrone is also working on the knowledge team etcetera and it’s great to actually see those kind of things. And I think this is where see also the success of moving people basically forward that what one year someone learns, the next year they actually come back and say “Hey, this is what we’ve done.”

Maureen: Yeah, very satisfying.

Terra: So a highlight for me was actually having a post-follow up conversation actually with Leanne McGovern and she kind of talked about how they are breaking out of sort of business relationship management for IT and actually starting to talk about business relationship management for data, which is definitely a sort of area that University Health Network is looking to go in. Data analytics is a huge opportunity, the hottest commodity now or the most valuable commodity is our data. And so, what does that look like in the future and how do we actually bring this skills set to driving forward a data conversation.

Peter: Yes, that’s great. That’s awesome. Other highlights?

Mark: I have another one here, from Jim Brushnahan. It was a quote and basically just like you quoted him. It was based on a question from one of the BRMs and he answered in a very simple manner as in “Don’t be right, be helpful.”

Nicole: That stuck out to me as well.

Mark: [crosstalk] where they are.

Peter: I would steal that, yes. [laughter]

Mark: Yes, so that one stood out to me. A major partner where they are and then but don’t bombard and they know tools, concepts, they can use them. The other one that stood out too is “If there is no trust, there is no relationship.” So and so you need to start building that trust with them and the other piece that I remember was that there needs to be a sort of operational excellence before you can get up to those higher levels because that’s what the business leaders really want. Why are you delivering what you said you would deliver? But if you’re not, then you can’t go into those higher stages of trusted advisors, strategic partner. So really you want to get to that but make sure that you’re delivering what you said you would at first.

Terra: Sorry I’m gonna actually quote you, Peter, from your session earlier today.

Peter: I didn’t pay her or something. [laughter]

Terra: One of the things that you said that really sort of resonated with me was business relationship managers need to be the advocate of how technology will change behavior.

Terra: And that technology can drive forward a change in habit as long as you’re focusing on the right trigger of that habit.

Peter: Yep.

Terra: And often I think in the role that we play, we immediately or I see some of my business partners immediately going to, you need to implement an IT solution to fix this, not really clear on what the problem is. And so really are we implementing technology as a fix or are we changing behavior? So that really stood out today for me as well.

Peter: Yes, and I had someone else come to me and that’s something like the same thing. It’s like “Oh I need to talk about habits and behavior first.” I was like “Yes”. [laughter] But it’s a different mindset. You will see the BRM Institute actually starting to look more at not just knowledge and skills but also a mindset and specifically how that’s on behavior. And that is I think one of the biggest changes that we need to get is it’s not about that strategy, it’s not about that process and that system, etcetera. It becomes alright, okay, what are we trying to do with our organization to actually move forward?

Nicole: And that’s hard sometimes. I find when you get a request from somebody or someone says “I have this problem This is what I’m thinking”, you want to or I do at least want to solve their problem. I wanna be helpful, I want to immediately give them what they’re looking for and I have to remind myself to take a step back and ask those questions because they might not have asked them first and I don’t wanna get too far ahead before you end up somewhere but that doesn’t really have any value for the person that you are working with.

Peter: Yes, absolutely. A great point. Let’s talk a little bit about that simulation from Terra and Nicole. Great session, either you already [inaudible] Can you in one minute give the key element of it? I mean you can take two but it’s [laugher] But the key essence of this.

Terra: Okay, so at the University Health Network, we utilize simulations in tabletops as a different way of engaging with our business partners and a way of helping to drive the conversation of hot topics that have not surfaced. So we use them to sort of answer the question and that’s what we went through today, our tabletop lifecycle. Answer the question “What keeps you up at night?” And so you answer that question and you identify a gap or an opportunity on having a different conversation and really started driving those objectives, bringing together a multi-cross sectional functional teams to really have a focus time in conversation on identifying those problems and closing those gaps.

Peter: Uh-huh, Good.

Nicole: I think the only thing I would add is that the other value is just building relationships not between, not just between yourself and the people who are your participants but allowing the participants to build those relationships with each other as well. You get people in a room who might not cross each other’s paths but nothing is in silo in any organization and people tend to think they forget that that’s the case. And so, allowing them to build those relationships as well is incredibly valuable.

Peter: So, I mean Mark, you were there, well did you?

Mark: I was there, yes.

Peter: So, what did you see form that simulation because you said you loved it? But what was for you that the key part?

Mark: It was almost like I had in GEM as in of course it took preparation to get to pull it off and how you had 3 parallel sessions going on with different people in each of the sessions of different parts of the organization. And you’re like you said, some of them had never worked with each other but they were all put in a scenario as in there was another identified gap. And then on the fly, they had to figure out what to do because apparently there was no process to follow or procedure or structure. And then throughout the scenario, they were confronted with additional challenges and were given more information and then the question was do you even know what this information is telling you? As in not a [inaudible] more information, are you also going to make different decisions? And then out of these 3 parallel sessions and so this is a real life example, as I said 50 action items came up as in this is what needs to be done better. And then 6 months later, you close almost 80-90 percent of those. This feel good moment of so many people across the organization as in now that we know each other and now that we know we’re better off thanks to the BRM. Now we know why we have BRMs showing value that way and for you, you mentioned that was a way to also start connecting with people you wouldn’t have been connecting with otherwise. So that was helpful orchestrating these initiatives to get the right people in the room and then get the right follow-up actions and you’re basically navigating the organization to higher maturity levels also that way. I mean, the 3 metaphors were right there so really powerful.

Peter: I love the fact that it was, I looked at the facilitation technique and it reminded me so much of the coaching I do regarding you ask a question and see if they come up with the answer themselves. And otherwise you actually steer them a little bit and I know you were doing that because I asked somebody, okay, well and so the two of you will actually look at each other sometimes “Okay, what do we do here?” And then this question came and then so we want cards and there was like [laughter]

Terra: Steer the ship a little bit.

Nicole: I have to give to Terra some credit. She did a great job facilitating a large portion of it where early on, the participants were headed towards our ending and we didn’t want them to quite get all the way there because we wanted to have the journey to get there.

Peter: Yes.

Nicole: And so Terra did a great job of saying “Yes, good point.” But then sort of directing their focus a little bit away from that end goal so that we could have some of those other discussions.

Terra: Forward a different input. [laughter]

Nicole: That doesn’t focus on something else.

Peter: But the thing, I think this is the difficult part of doing those simulations because I’ve done simulation in the past. I see it that you did that but I also had something like my initial reaction was “Why did they do that? What did they not wanna do?” That was my mind that goes to. But I think the participants had no clue.

Terra: No, so for the listeners that might not have picked up on it, we actually pulled participants from completely different sectors as volunteers to actually live and breathe and experience the simulation with help from the audience when they got stuck. But it was as much as it was a healthcare scenario, it was related to cybersecurity what every industry could relate to.

Peter: Easily.

Terra: So we were able to kinda hear lots of discussion and lots of buzz and steer them away from ending the simulation within the first 2 minutes. [laughter]

Peter: Which would not work.

Terra: No,no, there is no value there.

Peter: No, so that is good. Different topic, it was mentioned Leanne McGovern’s presentation. So that was one of the other keynotes that we talked about Tyrone’s and then Leanne’s. Comments on that one, anyone?

Urijah: I liked the water bottle demonstrations she did was so simple. But yes, it drove home the point of when you have an idea and you go to implementation, where does IT come? It goes right before implementation or right after implementation? And that’s where a lot of times IT is brought in too late and oftentimes it’s the wrong solution that the business is chosen. So she is like “okay, move IT closer to the idea, get us involved. There’ll be less lead time we need to do implementation and we’ll help you along to choose the right solution.” So I’m gonna try to use that when I go back home and use that water bottle.

Mark: The visual.

Peter: Yes, I mean she only used the water bottles. And so I’m like “You know what, she’s going to throw out the water it doesn’t work.” [laughter] That would be my intentions. Okay, just that I would see, it doesn’t work, yes because she didn’t involve us early enough. But it’s was great. Yes, that absolutely is a very simple way of showing that.

Nicole: She talked a little bit about how she grabs the water bottle in that scenario because she didn’t have a whiteboard and that resonated with me because I often find if you’re trying to facilitate maybe some conflict between 2 groups, a whiteboard is a great way to kind of just shift people’s focus. So you pick up a marker and you literally stand up and turn to the whiteboard and instead of party A and party B now being adversary, everybody’s facing and looking at the same direction. So it’s a similar sort of tool in the toolkit.

Peter: Yes, you focus possibly the group. You focus on what is the message, yes. Maureen, did you attend that one as well?

Maureen: I did not attend. I wish that I did and I did not. So I’m kind of trying to visualize what actually took place and I’m jealous.

Peter: Yes. Well, you need to ask Leanne..

Maureen: I will.

Peter: To show me your water bottle. Just make sure you have a water bottle already because she is going to take yours. [laughter] Did you see other presentations, you said?

Maureen: Well, I’m kinda curious, just like to ask a question of the group. We started this morning at the general session and we had a beautiful produced video called Relationshipism. And I would love to be able to get just a little conversation going about that. What was the response to that? Do you think that is something that’s an achievable vision? Or is it just a nice idea?

Peter: And then there was silence.

Terra: Very good question.

Maureen: And there was silence.

Peter: It’s new, right?

Terra: Initial thought, so put that out there. It seems like it’s sort of that intangible target where we keep talking about this journey, this BRM journey, and how it’s never-ending and there’s continuously having to move forward and work in different ways and as the landscape changes, you have to sort of adjust. And so, Relationshipism is the goal and then it just seems, like in my mind, it’ll always be that goal and you just, you build new relationships, you foster that Relationshipism and then something is gonna change and you have to just keep working towards that and it might just be that relentless pursuit towards it.

Maureen: Yes, there is always a room for improvement.

Terra: Always.

Maureen: Always a room.

Peter: Anyone else on that before I say something? Okay, I know a little bit more of the background so for me it was, the interesting part is if you’ve seen it a couple of times, you start to actually just say “Oh yes, that’s what it is”. So it comes back from taylorism etcetera, just as a base where we see scientific management, especially in the industrial revolution etcetera. And there, this is coming form a lot of different areas and it’s starting to look at that Relationshipism and I find it a difficult word to say and I always have difficulty with just pronouncing the correct name. For me, it is the future of maybe how organizations work. The recognition that relationships are what drives organizations instead of processes and systems and tools. And I think we’ve especially in the end of last century, beginning of this century, we’ve been so much focused on community and tools and technology and we’re starting to see the not having the link with the people is causing certain challenges possibly. And that’s where it’s coming from. We’re going to see more. What I’m excited about is that it is part of that overall BRM philosophy and I love that whole concept. Is it completely figured out yet? No.

Maureen: No.

Peter: But it is something to start working to towards.

Maureen: Uh-huhm. I agree

Peter: And for me that is part of the future. But yes, I loved the video.

Maureen: Yeah.

Peter: I just need to get my hands on it now. [laughter]

Terra: I love that they posted it.

Peter: I know they posted it.

Maureen: Yes, I love the focus of it because that mean drivers is purpose, people and planet.

Peter: Yep.

Maureen: And which basically goes against everything that you know, was meant to be our main focus which is the profit. Profit is not even a part of the equation. And if you think about how relationships do contribute to one’s purpose because unfortunately we do, I think we do live to work, unfortunately. And if you find the work that is your passion, then you’re not working at all. Now that’s the ideal, but the fact that we’re putting the planet in the focus of our attention and how we all contribute to its thriving, or not, is I think incredibly powerful. It’s also kind of supporting the movements that the young leaders of today, specifically Greta, who basically went to the United Nations and basically said “How dare you, you’re destroying my planet.” And I think that Relationshipism is a wonderful way of being able to take that accountability that she basically threw at our feet. I think it’s something that we could actually show our purpose and actually build something even more beautiful that just our paychecks.

Peter: One of the things I have noticed is that the newer generation that is just coming in and then we’re talking about the 10 to 16 year olds crave personal relationships. And that the older ones, 16 to 24 are all about texting and not having the connection. Just purely connections through technology and we’re starting to see the 10 to 16 year olds and interesting enough through apps for instance. There are apps for that age that they use to see where their friend is and then they walk over to actually talk to them. It’s their apps possibly that are being used in that age and that’s what they are looking for. So they use the technology to find each other, not to actually communicate with each other. And that’s a very interesting thing so that is part of that relationshipism as well..

Maureen: Yeah.

Peter: Is that the brain needs it and I think we went away from it and we now suddenly start to say “Hey no, we need to go back to that.” And the younger generation only picks that up earlier than the older generation.

Maureen: I find that probably encouraging.

Nicole: It feels a bit like a return to past when you’re a child and you go ring your neighbor’s doorbell and say “Oh can Suzie come out to play?” or you call your friend and say you wanna meet at the park and it’s just this new version of that. It’s through an app but it’s still that same concept of let’s meet in person and here is how I connect with you.

Peter: Yes, but that’s what we’re going to see and this is how organizations are needing to connect as well. What I’m excited about those kind of things from a future perspective is that BRMs needs to start thinking about how can we do this. And it’s, we are, and I said this in my presentation today as well, we are afraid of technology. A lot of people are afraid of technology and I always say nowadays it’s the killer robots in North America and we need to actually have kind robots. So we need to have those kind of things, we need to start switching. We need to start looking at how technology can help us or something. Good, I wonder as a last round basically, quick around basically around give me one word how you see the day of today and then a little bit of description around that and I’ll start with Urijah.

Urijah: Well, the main where they kept on hurrying over and over again was value, value today and I think that is great because when we think about our purpose it’s like what value are we bringing to our family, our team to kind of to think about that and that helps you give you your purpose and drives you. And I forgot where I heard it but it’s just talking about when the hard times come and things aren’t going your way, what’s going and keep you going is that purpose and the value contributing is really what’s going to drive you even though things maybe not going right at the time.

Maureen: Uh-hum.

Urijah: And I’ll weather the storm.

Peter: Yes, great. Awesome. Mark.

Mark: Yes, after the video was shown of relationshipism, the institute put it on social network and I had one comment that said this is groundbreaking and I truly believe that is.

Maureen: I have loved the use of the word “empathy”. Again, I think it basically is connects back to our relationshipism because there is more to living than just fulfillment for yourself. It’s being aware of how your actions basically impact others and how that if you have that awareness, you can actually stop bad behavior and bad decision making because you’re a part of something bigger than just yourself. So I love the fact that we’re talking about empathy in the workplace.

Nicole: I think my word would be “intention” and Leanne McGovern mentioned intentional conversations and the idea of being intentional behind your purpose, intentional behind of what value you’re bringing and intentional behind your work and your personal life as providing sort of everything.

Terra: For me, it would be don’t be afraid to break the mold. You know that’s a little bit ore than one word. [laughter] But I’m gonna be a rebel and say we need to not be the fear emotion and we need to be the joy emotion and joy in finding a way to break the mold and challenge the status quo into something different.

Nicole: Who knew we get all of that from a business conference? [laughter]

Peter: I’m glad you said that. [laughter] So, have you been to other conferences basically like this?

Nicole: I’ve been to one healthcare IT conference and it was very different than this. This has been almost like a motivational life coaching conference, it feels.

Terra: Absolutely agree with that one. [laughter]

Peter: But it’s the community that does that. If you get BRMs together, I mean that’s the social aspect. They wanna talk to each other, they wanna drive things and that’s I think the excitement of this. And then actually for me, this is the word that comes back to me every single time is the excitement, the excitement of this conference. The way people actually interacts. Everyone is like “Oh yes, I know, I wanna talk about this, I wanna talk about that and let’s do that.” And it’s fun for the people that are here. But it also as basically as a provider and as a coach etcetera, for me it’s fun to see how people actually react and people have no issue with talking to you etcetera. Well, I’ve been at conferences where when you’re a sponsor, you’re in your booth and your hope that actually people actually will say something to you and hear people come to you “Oh hi”. And then from last time, etcetera. It’s like “Okay, do I remember you?” [laughter] “We’re here last year. Yes, I was here last year. But were you last year?”, and so. And so those kind of thing, the excitement that people actually come away from this and I remember the last year as well that people said “I’m on this high, now it’s going to take a couple of months and then I’m actually need to have another fix basically.” And that’s what basically is hopefully the community can actually drive that. So thank you very much for participating in this, just having this short conversation. But I really appreciate this and people actually love to hear these things. I keep thinking about okay, do I need to do this podcast? And I hear so many people say “Hi, I’m listening to it and I just wanna hear that”. And for people that are not here, it’s fun to actually hear what people have to say around this. So thank you very much for attending.

Peter: Yes.

This podcast is sponsored by Lead The Pack Consulting. Let’s meet again at the next BRM Cafe.