Our Approach

Looking for a boxed approach? You won't find it here. Our approach is an exchange; an exchange of dynamic listening and deliberate question asking. We ultimately identify the key leadership and talent factors that influence your organization's issues and successes. Then we apply our breadth of experience in working with companies like yours and people like you to develop a model of your company's leadership culture, language, symbols and values. As partners, we collaborate with you to mold, customize, and implement an application uniquely designed for your people, values, and systems, and strategies.

Conversation with Norbert Shulz


Alcon Laboratories is the world's largest eyecare company, and consistently ranks among Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work for. Alcon has been growing globally in sales and market share and has an active and innovative Global Performance Development Team.

Leaders of the global sales force recognized that effective leadership development of their sales managers, along with consistent processes were fundamental requirements to serve their global market growth goals.

I4R was approached to help assess and refine the sales leadership development process for the Commercial Divisions of Alcon. The objective was to systematically improve sales leader's effectiveness and allow the reps to make better decisions and focus on growing market share.

Identified Need

I4R's approach to fulfill the client's objective covered four aspects of leadership development.

  • Create a Sales Manager Developmental Pathway. This pathway offers graduated levels of learning and development and includes assessment and mentoring.
  • Develop a customized coaching method for the Managers to use with their reps. Specifically, create a coaching process that is so culturally fitting to Alcon and so intuitive to use that the Managers will choose to apply it consistently.
  • Produce a benchmarked screening assessment to help the Managers select candidates into their districts and use the screening information to form targeted development coaching for the new reps.
  • Structure Alcon Culture Centric learning modules for leadership, coaching, accountability, team management, and business acumen. As the overarching success factor, all learning and development interventions were developed using Alcon culture, language, strategies, and processes. A tight focus was maintained to make the learning seamless to the Managers and immediately applicable to their environment.


I4R partnered with the Global Performance Development Team to fully grasp the Alcon Culture and create custom leadership programs for their Managers. Key to success were collaboration with Alcon, a vigorous dialogue with stakeholder and executives, and a staged deployment of learning interventions that systematically built Manager competence and confidence.

The new Leadership Development Process consisted of these elements:

  • A clear model of Leadership Competencies and Effectiveness providing an outline for effective leadership development and promotion.
  • Staged learning and mentoring for achieving continuous improvement of leadership practices.
  • A customized ALCON coaching model that embraces the sales management culture and offers immediate improvement to rep performance.
  • An internally benchmarked screening assessment that measures candidates thinking patterns and provides immediate targeted development for new hires.


The customized Leadership Development was the most well designed, well executed, and well received program of its kind for Alcon across the globe.

The leadership chain from District Managers, to Regional Directors, to VPs and GMs have participated and are applying the tools and processes to improve overall effectiveness and market share.

Representative engagement has increased even uncertainty has loomed with the sale of Alcon to Novartis.

Managers apply the tools and processes to improve decision making, team commitment, and overall accountability toward the strategy of Alcon in general and increasing market share in particular.

Conversation with Cathy Final


Barney and Barney is a 100 year old company, it is one of California's largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms and is among the top 40 privately held firms nationwide. It is managed by its principals who are committed to maintaining steady, organic growth of 18-20% since 2000.

Their passion for growth was evident as they drive to continue to outperform themselves and the market. People are Barney and Barney's competitive advantage, and leadership is the way they energize their great people.

The executive team envisioned accelerating top performers and practice group leaders from good to great.

Identified Need

Insights4Results and Barney and Barney partnered to engage a facilitation in three acts:

  • Act 1: Guide the CXO executives to define, articulate, and calculate the ROI for an intensive Good to Great leadership initiative.
  • Act 2: Facilitate an executive team retreat to map out and quantify the Barney and Barney Model of Extraordinary Leader - the kind of decision making and judgment required for current and future leaders.
  • Act 3: Facilitate an all owner retreat for their three dozen leaders - a facilitation focused on awareness, tools, and decision making for the leaders.

Our unbending commitment to understanding and incorporation Barney and Barney culture into all our work was a powerful success factor. By treating their culture as the shaping force of our interactions we were ensuring that the outcomes would be integrated into action without resistence.


  • Act 1: Dialogue Model facilitation - guiding the CXO team through a process of investigation, analysis, exploration, organization, and reflection. As a result we successfully articulated the ROI for an initiative to develop leaders from good to great.
  • Act 2: Success Factors Facilitation - the executive team examined 108 success factors for leadership decision making and judgment. We narrowed the factors through the filters of strategy, market conditions, and a commitment to nurturing and sustaining the Barney and Barney culture. The efforts resulted in a custom assessment screen that allows all leaders to evaluate themselves.
  • Act 3: Retreat Facilitation - over the course of a full day three dozen leaders reflected on their definitions of leadership, digested the Barney and Barney Leadership Model, and studied their assessment results. Each of the leaders left the experience with increased awareness about their strengths and areas of interference and an action plan for their leadership journey from good to great.


The executive team crafted a clear and well defined vision for leaders. They compiled a customized map for how to identify, develop, and improve their perpetuation and succession process.

The facilitation process accelerated a highly efficient and effective executive team. By increasing their awareness and understanding of their unique decision making patterns and strengths they gained immediate improvement in their collective executive team decision process.

Leaders created targeted developmental plans - not mere best practice formulas from "experts." These leaders who received the time, attention, and concentrated insights increased in their commitment, loyalty, engagement, and performance.

One of the greatest impacts was the dramatically increased clarity about succession; quantifying decision making and judgment paved the road to assigning leaders unique strengths to specific functions and tasks.

Conversation with Mark Filanc


J.R. Filanc Construction is a general engineering contractor that specializes in constructing, renovating, and expanding water and wastewater treatment facilities. Founded in 1952, they have expanded to a team of more than 300 people, completing more than 300 major projects for counties, cities and private companies throughout the Southwest.

Marc Filanc, the current CEO, recognized the need to develop his internal leadership in order to build succession and reach the company's 2015 vision and mission. His target audience was his executive team and the next level of management in the company.

I4R was selected as the firm to assist Filanc with designing a customized Leadership Development Program focusing on the key competencies required to develop current and future leadership in support of succession. The objective was to develop and expand leadership competencies in managing vision and purpose and developing direct reports to assure successful succession within Filanc.

Identified Need

I4R's approach to fulfill the client's objective covered five essentials of succession management.

  • Solidify the critical leadership competencies required for succession at Filanc.
  • Provide a feedback instrument to solicit and provide feedback to participating leadership on the identified competencies.
  • Target specific leadership competencies with training that would support the succession management going forward.
  • Increase the communication and delegation competencies required in Developing Direct Reports and becoming managers as developers.
  • Incorporate coaching for the participating leaders to assist with their development as well as support their coaching of direct reports.

We worked in partnership with the CEO and Human Resources to customize a program that would be most successful within the Filanc culture and become part of their ongoing structure versus a onetime intervention.


A key to the success was our collaboration with the Filanc executives and maintaining an open dialogue on the direction and priority for the time invested. The questions to be answered were "How do we determine the skills, attitudes and behaviors of our staff to fit the emerging changes we are facing with our newly formed vision and mission?" "What types of people do we need running and working for our business 5 years from now and what are we doing today to make sure we will have them in place?" " How should we be adjusting our management, staffing and development practices today to better prepare for the future workforce?"

The new Leadership Development Program that would support succession management consisted of the following elements:

  • Interviewed the executive team to identify the 13 key leadership competencies required for success in reaching the newly formed Vision and Mission and the associated succession.
    • Developed a customized 360 feedback assessment instrument incorporating the13 key leadership competencies. The 360 feedback assessment was distributed to the 20 participants at the front end of the program followed by two 180 feedback assessments distributed midway and at the end of the program. A second 360 will be provided a year later to confirm progress and changes.
    • Designed a customized 9 month Leadership Development Program targeting the 20 Executives and Managers.
    • Incorporated 6 all day Leadership Training sessions with a special emphasis on Communication and Developing of Direct Reports.
    • Provided one-one coaching to the 7 members of the Executive team and group coaching to the additional 13 managers participating in the program. Each member targeted one or two leadership competencies that were the focus of their coaching.


The participating leaders began implementing the newly identified and communicated competencies, tools and processes. There was a new recognition for the importance to build up their bench strength by downloading their knowledge and expertise along with coaching their direct reports rather than continuing to do the work themselves.

Succession was immediately put into action through a reorganization that promoted the VP of Operations to the newly created President/COO position. This allowed the CEO to focus on Business Development with their commitment to expand regionally. In addition a second participating executive was selected to fill the VP of Operations position. Other employees have been identified to move into leadership roles as they expand their presence in new locations.

Managers apply the knowledge, tools and processes to coach and develop direct reports, communicate the mission and vision and move forward with implementing the vision and mission of the company.

Thanks to the work Susan provided, the City of Oceanside's management was thoroughly engaged and the employees saw immediate results in their promotability and job/career satisfaction. Sarah McAfee, Training Manager
City of Oceanside
Winner of the IPMA Agency Award for Excellence, Midsized Agency


The City of Oceanside, with a workforce of over 1.000 employees representing all 4 generations, recognized the changing needs of the younger generations entering the workplace. The City wanted to assure retention of those currently employed and support the City's ongoing succession efforts. They understood the need to invest time and attention with employees at all levels of the organization to assure that qualified applicants existed for each current and future opening.

Recognizing that each generation has its own work ethic, different perspectives on work, preferred ways of being managed and unique ways of viewing work issues as quality, service and showing up for work, the City decided to pursue a Citywide Mentoring Program in support of generational leadership.

The City of Oceanside choose to partner with I4R to help them create and implement a customized Citywide Mentoring program to address issues associated with generational leadership and succession. The mentoring program would provide an atmosphere of shared learning, allow mentees to identify organization and individual goals and enable action to reach them and ultimately improving morale.

Identified Need

I4R's approach to fulfill the client's objective covered the following fundamentals of mentoring and attention to the importance of generational leadership:

  • Create a customized inclusive application process to encourage a broad cross section of applicants for mentee and mentor roles
  • Incorporate both individual and group mentoring into the program
  • Focus on the importance of the individuals responsibility to manage their own career
  • Provide the tools, resources and support for individuals to craft Individual development plans to target their career goals
  • Incorporate 9 face to face mentoring meetings over a 12 month period

We worked in partnership with the Training Officer and Human Resources to customize a program that would be most successful within the City of Oceanside culture and become part of their ongoing development culture versus a onetime intervention.


The customized program was successful due to the partnership we shared in designing, developing and rolling out the program elements. The shared dialogue included identifying the best way to market the program internally, the questions asked on the application and the content for the policy guide that provided the structure and added resources to the participants.

The new Mentoring Program that would support generational leadership and succession consisted of the following elements:

  • An invitation to attend the orientation session on the Mentoring Program, 170 individuals attended the sessions.
  • 105 applications were submitted to participate as Mentors, Mentees or both.
  • 93 applicants were approved to participate as Mentees or Mentors in the program
  • Delivered a customized Mentor training and Mentee training for the 93 participants in the program
  • Incorporated a DVD call "Mixing the Generations" shown to both mentors and mentees in a shared meeting at the start of the program
  • Incorporated 9 face to face mentoring meetings over a 12 month period. Meetings could be scheduled on work time and last 2 hours each meeting.
  • Each Mentee was required to submit their Individual Development Plan by the 3rd month in the program


The program had the support and involvement of the City Manager and the executive leadership team, many who served as mentors in the program. The mentoring program was well received and benefited each of the participants. The Training Officer was the glue that kept the program moving forward. She was the key internal contact that mentors or mentee could contact if they had any questions, needs or challenges. The Individual development plans were all submitted to her so there was a level of accountability woven into the program.

Approximately 10% of the participants were promoted or saw their jobs enhanced due to the program. The majority of the others engaged in the program received huge benefits in job clarity and personal interests.

The City's Tuition Reimbursement program sky-rocketed as participants took action on their goals established in their Individual Development Plans. In addition, employees made invaluable contacts with upper management.

The Mentoring Program won the IPMA Agency Award For Excellence Medium Size Agency 2009.

Susan Curtin Executive Coaching Brochure

Conversation with Vince Diaz


Jeff was a newly promoted VP at a very large housing agency. His staff was 115 strong and their annual budget was north of $100 Million. Jeff had risen through the ranks over an eleven year span and was well regarded by the C Suite leaders. His division had very strong performance for five years; and the executive team had just announced growth expectations for the division. Due to industry cherry picking, three of his top managers had been recruited away and he was facing growth demands while forming a new senior team.

In addition, there was growing pressure from his peers to divide some of Jeff's growing responsibilities among them; this appeared to be motivated by internal political land grab rather than strategic intentions. Simultaneously, his new managers, recruits from the outside, while adjusting to the corporate culture, were faltering and negatively affecting their team morale and engagement.

Jeff wanted to streamline his department, reduce competition with his peers, and continue to grow his division.

Identified Need

Jeff worked with his I4R coach over nine months to address the following objectives:

  • Internal Focus:
    • Establish a clear mission for the whole department
    • Collaboratively develop team norms and expectations
    • Help the new managers adjust to the corporate culture
  • External Focus:
    • Engage peers more directly in leadership team meetings
    • Offer increased contribution to the strategic planning process
    • Increase Executive Team clarity and support for his projects

As the overarching success factor, all department employees completed a satisfaction and engagement survey to establish a baseline of the current mood and internal stability. A clear focus was maintained to make the coaching seamless to Jeff's tasks and objectives and immediately applicable to his environment.


  • Using a methodology that directly measures actual talent, we objectively, quickly, and accurately measured competency. We learned what each manager pays attention to as they make decisions - and also what they don't pay attention to. Therefore, we had a helpful indicator of the sources of each manager's strengths and vulnerabilities.
  • Jeff initiated weekly coaching meetings with his new managers to provide them immediate and focused problem solving and strategic thinking.
  • We partnered with Jeff at three internal supervisor meetings over four months to establish the team norms and expectations. These norms were integrated into their performance evaluations and expectations were integrated into department plans and goals.
  • Jeff used our executive coaching process to conceive, visualize, and articulate a cross departmental committee. This committee was to focus on improving the speed and accuracy of client experiences. The committee members were Jeff's peers with whom he needed to improve communication and collaboration.


Jeff and his managers, with solicited input from staff, created a mission for the direction of the department. It led to a better understanding between staff and the managers and a greatly improved the work environment because staff knew their opinions were appreciated and considered.

With Jeff's regular coaching, the new managers were able to hyper accelerate their integration. A satisfaction survey administered nine months after the initial one revealed significantly increased engagement.

Over six months the New Committee was formed, met, and struggled to reach their goals. While the experience did not yield the intended benefits, Jeff's working relationship with his peers improved as they grew more familiar and collaborative in the process. One of the greatest result was that Jeff's time was freed up to concentrate on what he enjoyed most, developing and implementing novel strategic initiatives that drive the organization's mission. Moreover, the senior executives developed greater clarity about Jeff's abilities and invited him to play a more central and consistent role in forming corporate wide strategy.