Updated: Jul 25, 2020
This week we're talking with James McKim, Managing Partner at Organizational Ignition. Over his 30+ year career, James has helped small and large organizations in many industries to spark efficiency and growth through the aligning of people, process, and technology.
He has played diverse roles including Developer, Trainer, Facilitator, Consultant, Director, Adjunct Professor, CIO/CTO, and President for organizations such as Digital Equipment Corp, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and FIRST and is recognized by organizations such as Atd, Brandon Hall, Bersin Associates, Axelos, and PMI.
He has also co-founded several companies ranging from a management consulting firm that specialized in facilitating strategic use of information through both non-human and human means to a provider of asset tracking products & services. He is well-versed in the impact of public policy on technology and employees having served as Chair of the Software Association of New Hampshire, Chair of the Education Committee of NH Public Broadcasting, member of the NH International Trade Advisory Board and advisor to governors and legislators.
Now as a consultant, facilitator, frequent conference presenter, and guest on radio and television shows, he focuses on the topic of organizational performance through diversity.
We asked James a few questions to gain insight on his experience so you can get as excited as we are about him joining us this month for our Rise & Diversify Virtual Event!
Tell us something about you not in your bio...
I have been working with the State of NH on the economic vitality to NH initiative where I just facilitated the retreat for a number of people from 10 different organizations from across the state. My wife and I also harvested approximately 150 tomatoes from the garden over the last two months. Our favorite meal with those yummy tomatoes - homemade soup!
What attracted you to your current industry and role?
After being in the world of technology for a number of years and progressing into doing more IT strategic planning engagements, I moved into an HR role in learning and developments space. I started to see that technology is not always, and is usually not, the challenge in the organizations. The challenge is the people. Seeing that businesses tended to look at everyone as cookie cutter – when I myself was not cookie cutter – it caused me to look at what is the value that diverse people can bring into an organization. Because I was thinking of that myself – what can I as a diverse person bring into an organization – who is pushing for cookie cutter? Along with that I have been inspired by the work I do for the Episcopal Church for Race Reconciliation, dealing with performance though diversity.
What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?
Reports from McKinsey and other reports that work to convince people that diversity is very powerful. To me it is all about change management when you are trying to implement changes around diversity. Change management best practices are tools I use every day. Doing analysis of organizations and looking at stakeholders by using Stakeholder Analysis tools for example. Those are the kinds are tools that are invaluable in this line of work.
What is your proudest achievement?
Defining for the Episcopal Church what training should include, the standards and rubric and training for racial recognition. In the vocational world, it would probably be when I worked at FIRST as CIO. I drove an initiative to improve the infrastructure around the registration for FIRST robotics competition. People were frustrated with the process because it took hours to register. I took the system and built a new one. I got feedback from people like Dave Lavery - a scientist and roboticist at NASA- who said he had not experienced any process that was so smooth.
What do you think needs to happen or have you seen done successfully in the past to create an inclusive workplace/corporate culture?
Change has to be driven from the top. Working with my current client, they have been very impressive in that their board passed a resolution to make D&I a priority. It has been so critical in setting a tone for the rest of the organization. Now there is motion around this area. I always like to start with assessing where the organization is today. From the bottom up – interviewing the representative number of employees to get a feed of where they are and to get their buy in for this effort. Then based on that benchmark, we define an action plan for D&I. Ultimately it comes down to good change management techniques and ensuring representation from staff in developing the plan.
Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
It is a tough slog – but we already know that there is economic benefit for an organization to embrace D&I.
Want to join the conversation with Cornelia? We thought so!
Register for the upcoming Rise & Diversify Virtual Event on Wednesday July 29!