• Principal of Optimal Performance

Ellen Stevenson has more than 30 years of experience in leadership and organization development in a number of positions as an internal and external consultant. She has proven ability to manage both process and task issues. This flexibility enables her to respond effectively to management and employees at all levels. Prior to starting Optimal Performance, she held management positions in manufacturing operations with JP Stevens/West Point Pepperell. She holds a B.S. from Cornell University and a Master of Science in Education focused on the adult learner from Marywood University. She is a certified instructor in numerous programs and has conducted training for audiences around the world.

Title Description

Strategic Thinking

Participants will learn to apply the thinking skills needed for sound strategic thinking, planning and implementations. They will learn how to identify the right questions to ask, set about answering these questions and use the answers to formulate strategies. They will also learn to analyze the impact of change, think critically about the capabilities of the organization to react to change, create new options and formulate strategic plans to meet new challenges. Interactive exercises and case studies will be used to facilitate discussions. Practical guidelines will be discussed for making strategy everyone’s job.

Advanced Strategic Thinking

Designed for those in leadership positions who will be involved in designing and implementing strategic initiatives, this course will allow participants to hone their skills in strategic thinking, tactical planning and strategic planning processes, and systems-level thinking. They will consider how to determine key strategic focus areas, how to identify and analyze critical short-term and long-term issues and how to identify key indicators for performance and success. Practical guidelines will be discussed for translating strategy to operational terms, aligning the organization and strategy, making strategy everyone’s job, making strategy a continuous process and mobilizing change through strong, effective leadership.

Using Your Head: Making Emotional Intelligence Work

This course is ideal for anyone interested in enhancing their leadership capacity, whether in a management or support role within the organization. Drawing on groundbreaking brain and behavioral research, science is proving that one’s emotional quotient, more than raw brainpower (EQ not IQ), underpins sound decision making, dynamic businesses and the most satisfying and successful lives. Participants will assess their individual emotional competencies, attitudes and values. The program consists of a one-day seminar that examines the driving forces of emotional intelligence and culminates in the creation of a personal EQ development plan. During the six to eight weeks following the seminar, participants will execute their plan with the help of a personal coach during three one-on-one sessions.

Six Days to Exceptional Leadership

“Six Days to Exceptional Leadership” is a professional development program of six one-day monthly workshops focusing on helping small business owners and middle to upper level managers become and remain more effective leaders. In a small-group environment of no more than 12 individuals, participants will embark on a customized learning and exploration process to identify strengths and focus on positive attributes rather than “fixing problems.” In addition, participants will develop skills to help them sustain these positive choices through proven behavioral change techniques as well as through individualized one-on-one coaching sessions each month. This will be your opportunity to develop your commitment to excellence for yourself and those around you.

Managing Change

This workshop will use Cynthia Scott’s and Dennis Jaffe’s model of four stages of change and the “Transition Curve” to explore the challenges of managing people through change. Participants will learn to utilize appropriate tactics for coping with change and to identify benefits and opportunities associated with change. You will learn what skills distinguish resilient workers from those who suffer “future shocks,” how and why resistance forms, and how people become committed to change. Practical guidelines will be discussed for implementing change support systems, communicating effectively about change, managing transitions and internal cultural change, and creating positive results in the management of change. Interactive exercises, scenarios, video and case studies will be used to facilitate the discussion and focus on change issues and processes important to the organization.

Root Cause Works

There are many important factors in achieving operational effectiveness and competitiveness in the market place, including increasing machine and equipment availability, reducing waste and rejects, improving quality, reducing operating costs, maximizing change over time, and reducing downtime. Organizations need troubleshooters who apply proficient thinking skills to avoid unnecessary and expensive fixes. This workshop is specifically designed for supervisors and key technical staff of engineering, maintenance and manufacturing divisions and covers fault tracing, troubleshooting and faultfinding.

Advanced Decision Making and Analytical Thinking

Designed for those in leadership positions, this course is based on the latest technology in applied thinking technology and decision-making. Charles Kepner, cofounder of Kepner-Tregoe, has teamed up with Matt-Thys Fourie to create a process that successfully integrates intuitive, rational and creative thinking into a natural, easy to use step-by-step approach called Thinking Works. This one-day program is streamlined for the experienced decision maker. Participants will enhance their existing skills by learning proven questioning techniques to gather accurate information and improve their ability to organize and evaluate that information to find the best possible solution. The key to the success of this new Kepner & Fourie workshop is that it harnesses the natural thinking pattern of divergent and convergent thinking into a practical, user-friendly thinking approach.

Thinking Works (Problem Solving and Decision Making)

Most companies lack a systematic and disciplined approach to solve problems quickly and effectively. The result is a loss of valuable time and money, trial and error approaches, and blame fixing. Kepner & Fourie’s Thinking Works workshop will show participants how to organize their problem analysis and decision-making processes to avoid the most common mistakes. This workshop is a comprehensive, hands-on, skill-building program that will equip participants with the techniques of effective problem solving and decision making. Participants will learn proven techniques to gather accurate information, as well as to organize and evaluate information to arrive at the best possible solution. They will also learn a proven method to eliminate recurring problems and stimulate innovative fixes. The key to the success of this new Kepner & Fourie workshop is that it harnesses the natural thinking pattern into a practical, user-friendly thinking approach. Recommended for all levels of management and professional staff.

Train the Trainer

This workshop is designed to train skilled operators or technicians in appropriate techniques for conducting one-on-one On-the-Job Training (OJT). It is often assumed that any skilled operator can effectively pass along their skills and knowledge of the job to a new employee. But in reality, the degree of success of (OJT) efforts is mixed at best. Failure can result because: a good operator is not necessarily a good teacher; training methods used by operators vary from one student to another, so the resulting skill development is inconsistent; learning styles and skill levels of the new employee vary and instructors fail to adapt their teaching style to fit the needs of the new employee. This training program attempts to correct these reasons for failure. The training involved in this workshop is highly participative and comprises 16 hours of instruction plus up to 16 hours of coaching for a group of up to six future instructors.

Marywood University
Cornell University
Certified instructor in numerous programs

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