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WHO WE ARE

Inflection Points is owned by Jim Ulrich, Managing Principal. Jim also uses a variety of other independent consultants on an as needed basis to create customized solutions for clients. 

OUR PERSPECTIVE
People use consultants because they believe the consultant can help -- even though the consultant does not know the client's organization and has not lived with the client's problem. What enables a consultant to help is - among other things - having a different perspective. The consultant has a divergent frame of reference from the client's and will see things that perhaps the client doesn't see (or isn't paying attention to). The perspective that Inflection Points consultants bring to clients is a whole systems perspective. 

A systems perspective is one which views the client's organization first as a system - where every element in the system is connected to and has an impact on every other element. A "whole systems" perspective, then, is one that looks at the whole, that consciously avoids breaking the client system down into separate parts. If one determines that a certain problem is "an operations problem," or a "training problem," or an "IT problem," the potential range of solutions is diminished. Addressing the problem from just one department or one perspective within the system almost guarantees that whatever action is taken will be a "quick fix," and more symptoms of the underlying root causes will pop up somewhere else in the organization later -- and will usually be more costly to fix.

Modern organizations are incredibly complex. What Russ Ackoff called "wicked problems" abound. Here are typical characteristics of wicked problems:

bulletMultiple Interconnected Subsystems involved
bulletNon-routine
bulletLots of Ambiguity
bulletNo One Person Understands the Whole
bulletConflict Among Multiple Stakeholders
bulletTo Date, Best Efforts to Solve Have Failed
bulletUsually Critical to Organizational Success

A whole systems perspective is the only effective way to address the wicked problems that many modern organizations face. 

GUIDING PRINCIPLES
In practice, Inflection Points is guided by the following principles:
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Base decisions on valid data

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Give people choices

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Promote internal commitment to action

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Get people involved meaningfully

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Be an authentic, whole person

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Focus on the positive

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Reflect on and learn from what happens

APPROACH TO ENGAGING WITH CLIENTS
The form of relationship that Inflection Points prefers to establish with clients is a flexible, mutually responsive and working partnership that is leveraged to the client's benefit - one where responsibility is shared for planning and executing any particular initiative. Within that partnership, the role played by Inflection Points is first and foremost facilitative - that is, one that shapes and influences process while always honoring the client's need to define the context and direct the content of every initiative. At the highest level of performance, Inflection Points and client leaders will work together to clarify intentions, identify and test assumptions, and design and carry out appropriate initiatives and/or action plans.

A further word about the preferred Inflection Points approach: whenever possible, a client's strengths will be consciously identified in an appreciative manner, then leveraged to help achieve new levels of organizational effectiveness. Particularly in the context of creating a high performance work culture, operating from a 'problem' or 'deficiency' mindset is often counter-productive. The adage of 'building on strengths and making weaknesses irrelevant' helps everyone focus on and reinforce the positive, while addressing organizational liabilities competently and constructively.

A core competence that Inflection Points brings to each client engagement is design -- creatively exploring options and making choices that yield the desired results. As we plan for change within the client's organization, we expect to:

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Get to know and understand the people who will be most affected by the change

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Continuously clarify what our intent is

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Creatively use available resources

bulletRe-design as circumstances change
JIM ULRICH'S BIO

Jim Ulrich (pronounced UL-rick) is an accomplished Human Resources professional with over 35 years experience in a variety of settings. Currently he is exploring opportunities for the next phase of his career. Prior to his retirement at the end of 2014, Ulrich was Associate Professor and Team Leader, Leadership Faculty, having served for 12 years in Duquesne University's School of Leadership and Professional Advancement. He also serves as a consultant specializing in leadership development, training and organization development.

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In his work history and consulting practice, select accomplishments include:
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managing communication and change management during multiple mergers/acquisitions and an SAP implementation;

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facilitating multiple process improvement workshops;

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designing and implementing frontline, middle manager and executive development programs;

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conducting an assessment center for trainer facilitation skills;

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developing and delivering train-the-trainer workshops;

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designing competency-based 360-degree feedback survey instruments and performance management systems;

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designing and facilitating strategic planning / executive team building retreats; and

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designing and developing employee training programs (e.g., quality customer service, healthcare marketing, communications, skill training, etc.).

His clients have included: Aon Corporation, Bechtel-Bettis, Equity Office Properties, Parco Foods, Ameritech, Harper-Wyman, Boise Cascade Office Products, the Baptist General Conference, Evangelism Explosion, Scripture Press Ministries, Summa-Tech, World Vision International and World Relief Corporation.

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His work history includes:
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National Coordinator for Theological Education by Extension (1976-78) and Nakuru District Adult Education Coordinator (1985-87), Africa Inland Church, Kenya

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Education Program Development Manager, ServiceMaster Corporation (1989-94)

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Director of Training and Organization Development, Community Care of America (1994-96)

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Manager, Executive and Organization Development, Tellabs, Inc. (1996-2000)

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Associate Professor and Team Leader, Leadership Faculty for the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2002-2014).

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Leadership Program Manager for the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (2015-2016).

Jim received his B.A. from Brown University with a double major in Mathematics and Logic and Philosophy of Science. He also holds an M.A. in Theology from Wheaton College. Jim earned his Ph.D. in Adult and Continuing Education from Michigan State University in 1988. His cognate major was Rural Community Development. His doctoral research focused on the organizational culture of a voluntary association in Africa and sought ways to promote better management and communication across cultures.

Jim is currently active in the International Leadership Association, and has presented at multiple ILA conferences. Between 2000 and 2002, Jim served as core faculty for Organizational Systems Renewal - Midwest, a Chicago-based masters degree program in Whole Systems Design currently granted by Pinchot University.

Jim has taken improvisational acting classes at Chicago's Second City Theatre, and he is an avid photographer. He is married, is the father of two grown children, and lives in Salinas, CA.

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This page last modified on 8/8/16