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Tom Devane is a consultant, author, and co-author of provocative bestselling books on achieving extraordinary results using methods that systematically engage people in organizations and communities.
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    The Change Handbook

    Over 60 methods that engage groups quickly and produce extraordinary results.




    Barnes & Noble


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    Integrating Lean Six Sigma and High Performance Organizations

    A leader's guide to blending technical and people aspects of performance improvement.


    Barnes & Noble

    Wiley & Sons



    White paper on Positive Deviance




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    How we're different


    Tom Devane has seen consulting from both sides of the fence.  As a practice leader for a Big Six consulting firm, he mobilized diverse resource sets to solve complex client problems.  As a program manager for an alternative energy firm, he had a chance to experience first hand some aspects that he didn't like about temporary, expensive, external purveyors of advice.  His experiences, coupled with extensive client input have shaped the approach that Tom Devane & Associates, Inc. takes in partnering with clients.

     Our approach may not be for everyone, which is why we want to be crystal clear about who we are and what we're about right up front.  Here are five key characteristics that distinguish us from other firms that provide external consulting assistance.  







    Expanded Description

    Extensive use of “group methods” for mission-critical client purposes, like strategic planning, rapid process improvement, organization design, large-scale change, and building high-performance teams.

    A "group method" is a pre-set agenda with accompanying principles and target outcomes.  They produce high-quality solutions because they tap into the collective knowledge of an assembled group.  They save time and reduce costs because they have been repeated and refined over time.  Well-known group methods include Future Search, World Cafe, Scenario Planning, and Appreciative Inquiry.  Group methods enable us to simultaneously compress the time required for successful implementation AND generate extensive buy-in and commitment. 

    Our business model relies solely on experienced consultants who provide maximum client value within short time frames.

    Tom Devane is the principal consultant for all engagements.  If additional professionals are needed for a large project, Tom calls upon his network of over 20 experienced affiliates to help out.  We do not sell projects with experienced people and then bring in junior people to do the work, as is the case in some consulting firms. And we don't have a staff room of people we’re trying to keep busy.

    We combine "hard aspects" and "soft aspects" to help clients achieve truly extraordinary results.  

    The "hard aspects" (such as strategic planning, process improvement, and systems thinking) provide excellent direction and technical scaffolding for the improvement effort, while the "soft aspects" (such as group dynamics, psychology, and culture change methods) generate energy and commitment toward the end client goals.

    We have a passion for unlocking human potential  for extraordinary results

    Our belief is that if you provide people with the right agenda, principles, tools, and conditions, then you’ll get extraordinary results.  Having seen the raw power of people energetically committed to implementing solutions they’ve co-developed, we design those elements into each client project.  And we’re happy to transfer knowledge to clients.  Tom has already made many of his insights and pragmatic tips available by co-authoring The Change Handbook, and authoring Integrating Lean Six Sigma and High-Performance Organizations.

    Our philosophy is that the client is the expert in their industry and organization -- and we're expert in processes that enable them to be extremely innovative in a short period of time. 

    Our approach is NOT to come and start fixing things based on a brief review of a client's situation.  Instead, we engage clients in proven processes and group methods to collect and analyze data, and then use the collective intelligence of client groups to develop action plans that people are truly committed to implementing.


    My personal engagement evolution

    As I look around at the various work environments I consult in, engagement opportunities abound.  I now see them everywhere.  But I certainly didn’t start out thinking that way.  As most students in our education systems at the time, in my university days I was taught the “right” answer as an individual, and gave it back – as an individual -- on tests.  And upon I starting at Accenture in the Big Six Consulting on my first few small projects I was convinced that through my superior university education, brief consulting training at a prestigious consulting firm, and natural intelligence I had the right answers for clients and they would be just dying to hear me spew my gems of knowledge.  Boy, was I wrong.

    It wasn’t until I connected with several highly successful partners on their projects that I found that the really, really great leaders, when faced with really, really complex challenges, didn’t exhibit this “I’m-the-expert” persona.  The most effective, well-regarded consulting leaders in the firm painstakingly took time to build a solid, functioning group of consultants AND client people to get a complex job done at the client. 

    These highly effective leaders encouraged questioning of the status quo and proposed changes to it.  They sought out answers to tough questions from all people on the project, irrespective of organizational level.  And these, and other behaviors yielded phenomenal results.  I didn’t have a name for this high-impact approach at the time but as I look back, it was “engagement” pure and in its simplest form. 

    After learning from the pros on this, I’ve spent the rest of my career honing my engagement skills and acquiring practical tools, techniques, and practices to make engagement as effective as possible.  And it’s enabled me to help out places with complex challenges like Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, the US Forest Service, Rose Medical Center, and the government of South Africa.


    Short bio for Tom

    Tom Devane helps organizations achieve extraordinary results in the areas of developing executable strategies and improving organizational performance.  As a former Big Six consultant with industry experience who now runs his own firm, Tom helps leaders and individual contributors at all levels tap into natural strengths to develop robust solutions to complex, contemporary challenges.  

    Armed with a unique combination of technical expertise and knowledge of how to deploy human capital, Tom works with leaders to create conditions where people can perform at their best and organizations can achieve their strategies.  Tom wrote the book Integrating Lean Six Sigma and High-Performance Organizations to provide pragmatic tips to today's leaders who are implementing contemporary quality improvement programs.  Specifically the book is for leaders who wish to simultaneously address the technical and people aspects of Lean Six Sigma for energized solution implementations and extraordinary, sustained results.  He co-authored and co-edited The Change Handbook, which outlines methods to quickly engage groups of people and generate audacious goals and implementation plans.


    Longer bio for Tom

    Tom Devane is a workshop leader, author, coach, speaker, and consultant who helps organizations achieve extraordinary results.  His unique blend of technical expertise and human dynamics experience enables him to help clients develop sustainable strategies and performance improvement solutions that employees feel energized to implement .  With 32 years of global experience in Big Six consulting, industry, and private consulting practice he has helped organizations achieve performance improvements ranging from 35% to 1,285%.

    Representative clients include Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley, Porter Memorial Hospital,  Blue Cross Blue Shield (IL, TX, OK, NM), General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, the US Forest Service, Rose Medical Center, AT&T, the state of Colorado, SEMATECH, and the government of South Africa.

    Tom's primary focus areas are: large-group strategic planning, change management, quick-hit project for process improvement, leadership effectiveness, high-performance teams, methods for group productivity, and the human factors associated with implementing Lean Six Sigma efforts.

    Practical leadership tips and tools for senior managers, middle managers, and change agents appear in his books The Change Handbook(Berrett-Koehler, 1999, 2007), Integrating Lean Six Sigma and High-Performance Organizations(John Wiley & Sons, 2003).  His articles in, The OD Practitioners Journal, Industrial Biotechnology, and Executive Excellence magazine provide additional pragmatic implementation advice.  

    Tom also stays active in the academic environment. He has been an adjunct faculty member and guest lecturer at Cornell University, the Daniels College of Business, San Francisco State University, Queens University of Charlotte, Neumann University, and Sonoma State University. He is a four-time recipient of the Diamond Award for Teaching Excellence at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver for his work in the Executive MBA program. 

    Tom holds BS and MS degrees in Finance from the University of Illinois.  Prior to founding his own firm 23years ago, he held leadership positions with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), Tosco Corporation, and Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers).

    Having had a successful consulting career for which he's extremely grateful, Tom believes it's important to give back to society.  Favorite non- profits include Habitat for Humanity, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and D-REV.  Tom has also dedicated a substantial share of his time and resources over the past two years to helping recent college grads get jobs, and succeed in their first year on the job.  The website he has set up with free resources for upcoming grads is

    Tom lives just outside of Philadelphia with his wife and two children.  As a Pennsylvania transplant, originally from Chicago and then from Denver, Tom has searched for, and successfully found local areas to satisfy his ingrained needs for mountain biking and skiing.


    Certifications and continuing professional education


    Certifying body

    Business value

    Organization Design

    Marshall School of Business, USC

    Connect strategy with structure to excel.

    Denison Culture Assessment

    Denison Associates

    Quickly diagnose culture, activate culture levers, and improve organizational performance.


    Advantage Coaching & Training

    Improve individual and group performance.



    PeopleSmart Associates

    Teach interpersonal skills such as influence, communication, feedback, and negotiation.

    Organization Workshop

    Power & Systems, Inc.

    Analyze organizations and improve performance.

    Registered Corporate Coach

    Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC)

    Help leaders achieve ambitious aspirations for themselves and their organizations.

    Contemporary Leadership

    Harvard University ( R. Heifetz)

    Effectively lead organizations amid complexity.

    Contact information


    tomd (at) tomdevane (dot) com

    610.873.6030 (voicemail)