READ ON FOR THE WHY IN HER OWN WORDS

READ ON FOR
THE WHY
IN HER OWN WORDS

Executive leadership coach & facilitator at Harvard Business School (and privately), Harvard Senior Researcher, and author & speaker who's dedicated to bringing you and your teams evidence-based solutions to reach your potential and goals.


PhD Harvard University and Harvard Business School
MSc University of Oxford 
BSc McGill University


THE FORMAL INTRO

Lisa Kwan

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EXECUTIVE COACH, THOUGHT LEADER, RESEARCHER

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I've cared about three things for as long as I can remember: human potential, organizations, and effectiveness.

I had my first sip of the Kool-Aid of human potential and how "the group can achieve more than any individual" at age 7.  Left to my own devices at home - without adult supervision but with a working landline telephone - I got into my head that my class should throw a surprise event for school staff. I called classmates (or their parents) to get ideas or to fill them in on the plan, and...short story, a few weeks later we ended up with a school afternoon playing games, hanging out with our teachers, and eating chips, donuts, and other things dreams are made of.

The belief evolved over the next several years to become "a well-led and well-organized group can achieve more than any individual" as I took on leadership roles, and as a 15-year-old, cold-called Fortune 500 company leaders to learn at their feet.

While I felt called to do a science degree in college (the scientific method seemed to support my affinity for "effectiveness"), my head was always turned by businesses, teams, and leadership. Fast-forward to a fateful day when I attended a talk at my college's business school, which made me realize you can do science in organizations. My mind was blown. What a way to make a difference, marrying effectiveness with human potential and organizations

I've cared about three things for as long as I can remember: human potential, organizations, and effectiveness.

I had my first sip of the Kool-Aid of human potential and how "the group can achieve more than any individual" at age 7. Left to my own devices at home - without adult supervision but with a working landline telephone - I got into my head that my class should throw a surprise event for school staff. I called classmates (or their parents) to get ideas or to fill them in on the plan, and...short story, a few weeks later we ended up with a school afternoon playing games, hanging out with our teachers, and eating chips, donuts, and other things dreams are made of.

The belief evolved over the next several years to become "a well-led and well-organized group can achieve more than any individual" as I took on leadership roles, and as a 15-year-old, cold-called Fortune 500 company leaders to learn at their feet.

While I felt called to do a science degree in college (the scientific method seemed to support my affinity for "effectiveness"), my head was always turned by businesses, teams, and leadership. Fast-forward to a fateful day when I attended a talk at my college's business school, which made me realize you can do science in organizations. My mind was blown. What a way to make a difference, marrying effectiveness with human potential and organizations.

So I often get asked,
"How did you get into this?"

So I often get asked,
"How did you get into this?"

Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, I didn't set out to do a PhD or to become an organizational and leadership researcher or writer/speaker.  

I wanted to be a CEO.

I completed my BSc at McGill, my Masters at Oxford, and my PhD at Harvard, joint between psychology and Harvard Business School. I've conducted research on elite performers' goal resilience in the face of failure, cross-boundary teaming and collaboration, bridging silos, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. 

Because my purpose was to make an impact on real leaders and organizations from the start, I conducted my research with as many leaders and companies as I could, and in 2008, I began consulting, teaching, and coaching executives and facilitating mission-critical teams. My PhD research has included leaders across 50+ companies, and my executive work to date has included clients from 170+ companies in industries around the world.

the world of rigorous research
is surprisingly separate
from the world of
on-the-ground leaders,

those who could benefit most from the knowledge researchers are amassing.

those who could benefit most from the knowledge researchers are amassing.

One of the things I learned through this process is that

Researchers at top universities are incentivized to publish research that other researchers will read in order to collectively push the boundaries of knowledge - that is what tenure is based on.

Meanwhile, the world of practitioners has exploded in instructors, coaches, and development programs that too often are based on frameworks that sound catchy but guided mainly by anecdote and alliteration. Further, while some intentions are well-meaning, and some even initially aligned with research, they are not supported by or updated with latest high-leverage, evidence-based knowledge. 

In my frequent movement between academia and leadership and team development, I have seen the full spectrum -- from the most dense and cryptic research publications to the glossiest, cotton candy frameworks built on "just trust me", and many of the points in between. 

But let's not sacrifice getting compelling results 
that are based on principles with robust evidence. 

I get it, we're human and we are swayed by compelling stories and punchy frameworks.


But let's not sacrifice getting compelling results that are based on principles with robust evidence

Given your limited time and resources, my belief is that you are better served by strategically experimenting with customized changes and interventions that have been shown to work repeatedly; rather than caught by the tempting, catchy frameworks that have only worked in a couple situations, possibly heavily biased by the story teller.

Sure, success might be found at the end of both scenarios - but your chances are much higher in one than the other. 

I feel grateful for the training, background, and executive experience I have had and the possibility that they make me well-positioned to say "Let's focus over here." Or "This is something that evidence suggests works. You (or your team, or your organization) might want to try it too."




The purpose of my work (and this website and my mail-list) is to get evidence-based knowledge in your hands and the hands of the leaders and teams who want it. I want to forge a bridge between what we know in research and what leaders, teams, and organizations can find, use, and make their own - within their individual leadership toolboxes, team toolkits, and organizational toolsheds

This brings me to you

On this site and through my mail-list, I strive to communicate what could be most effective for your, your team's, or your organization's aspirations, challenges, and puzzles - whether it's from my own research and ideas, from my angle on existing ideas, or from other brilliant people whose focus is not necessarily on spreading their ideas on a large scale. I'll do my best to get these ideas, concepts (and thought leaders) out to you so that more people, teams, and organizations can do better -- for their potential, goals, and the world.

Thanks for joining me.

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