News & Publications


Cathy Perme has been writing newsletters, articles, and books since 1990. Scroll through her archive of publications below. 

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Confucius in my Cubicle book cover
FIZZ! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant


Confucius in My Cubicle: Practical Wisdom for the Leader in All of Us. While the world has changed significantly since Confucius lived over 2500 year ago, his teaching still resonates, especially about what it means to be a good leader and how to be human – and humane – with one another. This collection of essays and stories weave Confucius’ philosophy into modern leadership ideas. They reflect lessons from the author’s experience with clients and her own life as a modern American businesswoman. Provocative, pithy, and practical, you will walk away with new insights on how you can strengthen the leader inside of YOU!

FIZZ! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant. FIZZ! is a guidebook for anyone interested in starting their own business, filled with practical advice for independent consultants.

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems Paperback – January 4, 2007. Cathy Perme co-wrote Chapter 28 on “SimuReal: Action Learning in Hyper-Drive.”

Future Search in School District Change: Case studies from members of the Future Search Network Cathy Perme is the author of Chapter 9 in this collaboration of sixteen case studies involving change within the education system.

Simple Purpose: How Women are Purposefully Changing the World: This novel explores a diverse and courageous group of women who are recreating the world and their own lives and includes a contribution from Cathy Perme. Read an except.

The Change Handbook cover pic

Future Search

FIZZ! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant

Published Articles

Does Culture HAVE to Eat Strategy for Lunch?   Cathy wrote this article as a contributing author at Most everyone has heard some version of “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Does it have to be that way? Read Cathy’s tips for including cultural assessment as a factor in strategic planning.

Organizational Culture: The Memory of an Elephant   Cathy wrote this article as a contributing author at If you criticized workers in the past for taking chances, it won’t be easy to convince them that you’ve changed.

Beyond the Handshake: Practical Strategies for Building Successful Associate Relationships Practical strategies that have been found to be effective in creating consulting alliances that work. Click here for more.

Building Organizational Courage in Your Company Fostering organizational courage is difficult — but the key lies in being true to vision and values while at the same time embracing current reality, despair, and fears. Click here for more.

Whole Systems Change  A case study in the use of large group interventions and OD methodologies to effect change in a local school district. Click here for more.

Yikes!! Valuable and Humbling Lessons about Future Search Cathy Perme shares her experience with Future Search facilitation. Click here for more.

Featured Article

Does Culture HAVE to Eat Strategy for Lunch?

Cathy wrote this article as a contributing author at Read Cathy’s tips for including cultural assessment as a factor in strategic planning.

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Newsletter Archive

Action Calendaring: How to create a comprehensive, near-term action plan in less than two hours, even with complex projects. Also includes: Tips for Better Planning Sessions – Four tips for better planning sessions.

Adjusting Your Sails: “We may not be able to control the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” — James Dean A colleague’s confrontation with incurable cancer reminds us all: we can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control the way we respond. Also includes: Tips for ‘Adjusting Your Sails’ – People don’t resist change, they resist loss. In adapting to change, we succeed to the extent that we can face loss and make new choices.

Agents of Change: Real Change agents are not simply hell raisers-here’s what it takes. Also includes: Anatomy of a Change Agent – The elements which make up an effective change agent are enumerated.

Becoming a Team Player: A course in improvisational comedy (improv) can teach a lot about being a good team player. Also includes: 8 Basic Rules of Improvisation – Because few jobs come with a script, these rules can be handy for the organization.

Beyond the Mission: What Leaders Really Need to Change a Organization’s Culture: What really shapes organizational culture are the systems, structures, technology and skills used to actualize its mission, vision and values.

Boundaries: Defining the Playing Field: Continuing the discussion of empowerment with the importance of managing personal and organizational boundaries. Also includes: What Do Boundaries Look Like? – Boundaries come in both healthy and unhealthy forms. Here are some examples of each.

CMP-HSDI Announcement: Change is Inevitable; Growth is Optional

Coaching and Counseling: The Leader as Guide: Coaching and counseling play a necessary role in organizational leadership. Also includes: Coaching and Counseling Tips – The “sandwich” approach to coaching and counseling preparation tip.

Confucius in My Cubicle: After some reading and research, I’ve come to think of Confucius as the original consultant. His advice from 2,500 years ago is still relevant, and provides a common-sense approach to our problems today. Also includes: Confucius’s Big Ideas – With sincere apologies to Chinese philosophers for any oversimplifications, here are some big Confucian ideas that I’ve found useful in my life as an American mom and businesswoman.

Coping with Super Charged Change: Leaders and staff alike should recognize three basic needs for individuals coping with wrenching change. Also includes: Tips for Coping with Change – Five tips for the individual coping with super-charged change.

Creating Your Future: How to use “creative tension” to realize your vision – drawn from work by Robert Fritz and Peter Senge. Also includes: How Can You Create Effectively? – Six steps to effectively creating your future.

Empowering Others: What does it take to be an empowering leader? Also includes: How Do Empowering Leaders Behave? – Common phrases and patterns of speech signal whether a leader is empowering.

From the Heart: An essay on courage. Also includes: Facets of Courage – Four facets of courage are named and explored.

Front Line Leadership: Examining the meaning of leadership in creating our future.

Future Search: A New Way of Planning Together: Future Search is an effective method for large group action planning. Also includes: When Should You Consider a Future Search? – The Future Search method is not for every situation. Here are indicators for whether your situation is right for the method.

Getting Trapped in Your Success: How a leader can remain vibrant as an individual and maintain a vibrant organization when things are going well. Also includes: Are You Trapped? – Self-test to determine if you, as a professional, are trapped by your own success.

Go Forth and Grow: In an age of continuous change, the successful leader needs to go beyond managing change to building changeability into the organization. Also includes: Flying Chaos Factory – This article recounts a workshop experience demonstrating how different types of organizations respond to unpredictable and changing environments.

I’m Not Done Yet!: Reflections on aging…The reality is that most people will have another 20 to 30 years of life after age 65. How do you want to spend that time? Also includes: Seven Signs of Agelessness – Make the choice to be happy and engaged in life! Here are some characteristics of people who remain truly ageless.

Leadership Case Study: Delegate or die! This case study covers an entrepreneur who discovered unknown talents among his staff, when he learned team management and delegation skills. Also includes: Reflections on Being Too Tired to Smile – Cathy learns the difference between customer service and “people pleasing.”

Leadership Lessons for the Year of the Ox: These are such scary times that the easiest thing to do would be to crawl into a shell and stay there until everything sorts itself out. However, as the Chinese New Year on January 26th reminds us, this is not the “Year of the Turtle” but the “Year of the Ox”. Lucky for us the Ox carries some excellent advice about how to approach what could be a challenging year.

Leading and Following: Dance is used to illustrate the responsibilities of leader and follower. Also includes: Teaching Leaders How to Lead – The five steps of expert leadership.

Leading in Turbulent Times: You are expected to strengthen your products, services, and client relationships, and to come out ready to compete and win. As a manager, what do you do? Also includes: Simple Rules: Why They Help in Turbulent Times – One of the most useful concepts to come out of complex systems theory is the concept of “simple rules.” “Simple rules” must be short, direct, and few.

Leading Your Organization Through Chaos: Here are the steps used by one executive to bring a large organization through rapid change brought about by external forces. Also includes: Tips for Steering Through Chaos – Six keys to leading an organization through chaotic times.

Managing Change in a Changing Culture: Every organization has an “invisible web of values and expectation that bonds the group together.” An organization may experience rapid and disorienting culture change. How do we manage through such a change? Also includes: How Can You Manage Change? – Dos and don’ts for managing change on a personal level.

Notes from the Trenches: In times of recession and war, when things seem most turbulent, the technique of making strategic choices based on the core vision and values is effective for corporations. Also includes: Reflections on One Year in Business – Cathy reflects on the lessons learned in the first year of C.M. Perme & Assoc.

Old Dogs: Beyond New Tricks: Achieving mastery in any specific area can provide a false sense of security. When the job or environment changes, “old dogs” may be forced to learn new skills that challenge their sense of mastery. Also includes: Leading “Old Dogs” in Change – What kind of leadership helps “old dogs” go beyond new tricks to create new realities? The answer is DxVxF>R.

Open Space: Unleashing Passion and Responsibility: Open Space is a meeting method based on the principle that people who are passionate about something will naturally focus, manage, and hold themselves accountable for progress. Also includes: Open Space Ground Rules – The ground rules are simple, but may challenge our notions of how meetings “should be.”

Organizational Courage: Courage is necessary to make organizational vision and values real. This article spells out the elements of organizational courage. Also includes: What Does Courage Look Like in an Organization? – Here are two examples of organizational courage in action.

Organizational Culture: What Every Leader Needs to Know: What company culture is and what characteristics of culture predict organizational success.

Personal Empowerment: People who are empowered give themselves away in their speech. Also includes: What Does Empowerment Look Like? – The way we speak signals whether we feel empowered or not — what to look for.

Post-Recession Workplace Stress: Once bitten… once they’ve had personal experience with layoffs, people are hyper-aware of the possibility of job loss, even when things get better. Rebuilding trust is key to re-engaging employees and boosting productivity after a recession. Also includes: Can You Keep Your Most Talented People? – As the economy improves and jobs start opening up, employees will be asking themselves about working for you and your company.

Real Time Strategic Change: This is a method for very large group interaction, from 40 to 4000 participants. Also includes: When to Consider Real Time Strategic Change – Here is a list of good indicators for whether this approach will be effective for your organizational challenge.

Seeking the Balanced Life: There may be no such thing as a balanced life, but you can certainly balance your approach to life. Also includes: Learning to Balance in the Dance of Life – Dance is used as a metaphor for the balance needed as you move through life.

SimuReal: the Power of an Organizational Mirror: SimuReal is a large group method, which effectively holds up a mirror to an organization. Also includes: When to Consider SimuReal – Conditions which should be present for SimuReal to be effective and conditions which should not exist.

Surviving the Information Age: Leadership does not mean having to know it all. In the information age, leadership is about using the information available in your organization and the knowledge of your people. Also includes: Survival Tips – Six tips to help you adjust to the “information age.”

Teams – Can We or Can’t We?: There is more to creating self-directed work teams than telling your workers that they are now a team. Also includes: Do’s and Don’ts for Building Team Relationships – Not everyone thinks like you. Celebrate!

Terrorized! Dealing with Group “Bullies”: Dealing with the member who is dominating the group.

Thoughts on Trust: What does it take to trust yourself and those that you work with? Also includes: Building Trust – Eight key elements to building trust for yourself and your organization.

Time to Think: At year end, I offer this short piece on how to regain your think time, as I have watched many a client and colleague struggle with getting enough of that this year. Have you found that to be true yourself? Also includes: Tips to Regain Your “Think Time” – It’s imperative to have some time in your schedule to assess your situation. How can you eliminate distractions?

Twenty Years of Building Consensus and Getting Results: In the last twenty years C.M. Perme and Associates has created measurable results for everyone from international bankers to school lunch ladies. It’s been a long road but a passionate drive. Also includes: Critical Success Factors – As C. M. Perme & Associates celebrates its 20th anniversary, it’s time to share lessons learned.

Upside Down and All Around: Tossed on the Waves of Change: Sometimes we all feel caught up in events outside our control. Here is some advice for how to manage the unmanageable. Also includes: Tips for Surviving the Waves of Change – If you find yourself being tossed like a piece of flotsam on the waves of change, here is what I have learned.

Whatever Happened to Cathy Perme?: Cathy has taken a sabbatical from C. M. Perme to pursue other interests and reports what she has learned from the experience.

When Life Intrudes : Life is not an intrusion, it’s life.

When Old Habits Die Hard: It is important to balance the need for change and growth with what is critical and sacrosanct. Old habits became habits for good reason; that may still hold true. So how can we both embrace change and honor what we already know? Also includes: Try a Personal Experiment! – Old habits die hard. Here are a few tips to help you get past personal inertia.

Contact Cathy Perme

Phone: 952.831.4131

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