Synthesis Episode 8: Claritee Co-Founders Triana Newton & Doug McRae taking on Smokestack Thinking

LISTEN HERE (audio + video)

Synthesis is a Root + River hosted webcast featuring nonconformist leaders whose ideas make them — and us — see the world differently.


Our eighth episode of Synthesis features Claritee co-founders Triana Newton & Doug McRae. Doug and Tri were friends with Emily and Justin before there was either a Root + River or a Claritee!

Based in Canada, Tri and Doug are long-time veterans of the corporate world. Tri is a former top executive at Dale Carnegie. She has an extensive and successful background in organizational transformation, designing and implementing learning and development programs and overall leadership development acumen. Doug’s background is an executive in the tire industry, then a long-time organizational consultant. Both Doug and Tri have an extensive array of global business experiences – which makes them even more interesting!

Earlier this year, we engaged with Doug and Tri to help them articulate and launch their Claritee brand. Claritee believes the most undervalued leadership competency is simplicity.

The challenge is 80% of leaders are addicted to complexity.

Claritee works with aggressive, thoughtful leaders to take on the addiction to complexity that results in smokestack thinking, an attachment to antiquated business models and practices. Their remedy is Organizational Simplicity, a 21st century discipline which re-engineering the company’s core beliefs, zero-basing it’s strategy and structure and powerfully mobilizing its people.

In short, Doug and Tri are non-conforming, heart-centric, highly credible and deeply committed leaders – the exact kind of humans we love to be friends with and have as guests on Synthesis!

‘Organizations that don’t have a soul don’t have core beliefs — or at least positive core beliefs.’

Some of our favorite takeaways from our visit with Doug & Tri:

  • “’Smokestack thinking is kept alive by managers who don’t have the energy and drive to do something different. Smokestack thinking has people thinking that systems are going to save us,” – Triana Newton
  • “[I’m motivated by] appreciation for unusual people with interesting and quirky skills making stuff happen that no one else can do.” — Doug McRae
  • Problem-solving came early to both Doug and Tri. Doug shares that “if something is broken, I can’t resist tearing it apart and fixing it.”
  • Both Doug and Tri can trace their individual non-conformist, free-thinking roots back to childhood – but from two very different experiences, both of which caused them to see patterns differently.
  • A lot of core methodologies being used today are still old-style management thinking, just presented with prettier Powerpoint decks and new words.
  • Many leaders, especially those immersed in the old ways, are addicted to complexity. As such, they assume that complex problems require complex solution.
  • “Big C” consulting has built a model on a long-term relationship with a client by keeping them in a state of complexity.
  • Organizations that don’t have a soul don’t have core beliefs — or at least positive core beliefs.
  • Simplicity, often in the form of essentialism, is a must-have 21st century organizational habit.

LISTEN HERE (audio + video)

To learn more about Claritee, go here. Their definition of Smokestack Thinking is here. Connect with Triana. Connect with Doug.

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