You’re in for a special treat today. My guest, Dr. Tacy Byham, is the CEO of Development Dimensions International, or DDI, a global leadership consulting firm that helps organizations hire, promote, and develop exceptional leaders. A few years ago, I worked with Tacy and her team as they incorporated subscriptions into their business model. The results have been extraordinary. Three years into the launch, over 50 percent of DDI’s revenue comes from subscription clients.

I’ve been asking Tacy to share her journey for quite some time, and I’m thrilled that she finally agreed. In today’s conversation, we’ll talk about how subscriptions can smooth out the lumps in B2B services, how to put together the right team with the right mindset for subscriptions, and how to keep up the momentum after the initial experiments with subscriptions are over.

Listen to the podcast here


How a Subscription can “Smooth the Lumps” in B2B Services with DDI’s Dr. Tacy Byham


You’re in for a special treat today. My guest, Dr. Tacy Byham, is the CEO of Development Dimensions International, or DDI, a global leadership consulting firm that helps organizations hire, promote, and develop exceptional leaders. A few years ago, I worked with Tacy and her team as they incorporated subscriptions into their business model. The results have been extraordinary. Three years into the launch, over 50 percent of DDI’s revenue comes from subscription clients.

I’ve been asking Tacy to share her journey for quite some time, and I’m thrilled that she finally agreed. In today’s conversation, we’ll talk about how subscriptions can smooth out the lumps in B2B services, how to put together the right team with the right mindset for subscriptions, and how to keep up the momentum after the initial experiments with subscriptions are over.


Robbie Baxter: Tacy, welcome to the show.

Dr. Tacy Byham: Hi, Robbie! I am so glad to be here. And with your listeners today.

Robbie Baxter: I want you to start by sharing a little bit about the history of DDI. And how you got to this point?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Absolutely. DDI is a global leadership company. We’re known for services in the HR space. We do leadership, development, leadership assessment and succession at every level of leadership from emerging first-time leaders into the C suite. I think it’s important to share that our purpose is better leaders for a better future.

DDI’s Purpose: Better leaders for a better future

Now, there are a lot of companies out there that offer leadership development. So I want to share a little bit about our story, because what sets us apart is how rooted we are in the science of leadership. Our founder is my dad. I’m a second-generation CEO. His name is Bill Byham and he is an adventurer and an entrepreneur, and in the 1960s, he was the first industrial organizational psychologist at JCPenney.

Robbie Baxter: Oh, wow! I didn’t know that.

Dr. Tacy Byham: The company was expanding from its anchor stores and downtowns into the suburbs. So they had to mass find a whole number of store managers to be able to run these new anchors in malls that were cropping up in suburbia. These were critical selection decisions that were needed. And he brought in a new selection process that’s called The Assessment Center Method into JCPenney. This method is all about one where you use simulations with the candidates to predict how they’re going to perform on the job in a leadership simulation or situation. Think of it as a flight simulator. In a lot of ways candidates are behaving in a simulated conversation, and then they’re evaluated by trained assessors to see whether they can build trust with their leadership team, whether they can give performance feedback, whether they can plan and execute on the company’s strategy, and he had tremendous success with the model, because you can see specifically that the high performers from the assessments translated into the most profitable stores for JCPenney. Smart guy that he is, he wrote a Harvard Business Review article and all of a sudden companies around the world were calling him, saying, “Hi! We’d like to hire you to do for us what you did for JCPenney.” So Dad calls himself an accidental entrepreneur. He walked in and had a meeting with JCPenney himself, and JCPenney said, “Listen, young man, you’re on a great opportunity. I think you should go out there and start a company,” and DDI was founded in 1970. So that’s the first part of our origin story which I find so captivating.

But in the early years of assessment, the DDI team that was growing was going around the world and assessing inside of different companies. And one of the things that struck them was you had companies that had a training budget and we’re investing in their leaders.

And companies they were walking into had nothing, and guess what? The leaders were no better in the companies where training had been there. So DDI found a way of training that actually worked that change behavior that made for better leaders for a better future. And it’s called Behavior Modeling. And so you might know that the fundamentals of it are where you get the fundamentals, you try it on, you practice, you get feedback, you repeat with more challenges. Think of learning tennis for the first time. It’s like you get the basics, you practice and that’s how you grow and how you improve. And that’s a big difference between, just say learning a book or watching a video. It’s really getting practice to feel comfortable in these people’s skills. That’s how we got started in the other half of our business, which is leadership development. So that’s those origin stories

Robbie Baxter: Something that I’d love for you to focus on as you as you share the last piece of the story is. How much of this is replicable and ongoing? In our world of subscriptions, we’re always thinking about that forever promise and how much of it was transactional? We come in, we do assessments, we find the right person and then, we’re done. We did a good job of accomplishing what the client had asked us to do

Dr. Tacy Byham: See, that is the crux of what helped us move to subscriptions. In the first place, because for decades we have been working on events like single buys with our clients. We have fundamentally changed the way we are by the side of our clients, and not just by the side of HR, we are by the side of leaders. And we need to do that because there’s so much more expected of leaders, and the world keeps changing around them, and getting a single dose of training, learning, and help. One time is not enough to carry you through. So that’s really what brought us to subscriptions with our secret sauce of insight and development. That’s our foundation there.

First use of assessment center in retail at JCPenney. Dr. Bill Byham with founder, James Cash Penney

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, interesting. Incorporating subscription. It sounds like a part of the inspiration, for that was recognizing a need among your clients that the problem didn’t go away. They sometimes and I’m speaking for myself here, work with many companies. The clients are great we worked really hard with you and now we’re done. Now we’re going to move on to the next thing, and then you watch them kind of spiral. Because the problems keep coming, the challenges keep coming, and so talk to me a little bit about how you thought about solving this problem, this ongoing problem that you’re seeing with your clients, and the role that subscription played in that strategy.

Dr. Tacy Byham: Yeah, after decades of these sorts of transactional models, like many B2B businesses where there’s risk. Of course, you’ve got a lot of good years, good quarters, etc. The challenge for our clients is that they were having to buy things with a new purchase order every single time they wanted to implement something. So that was part of what was pushing us towards the button of subscriptions. There was a lot of transition that went on, but to meet our clients we needed to meet them where they needed us to be with more flexibility and more options, that they could get versus just the simple transaction buys so they could do things at different times and different modalities, and not having to do contracts and purchase orders all over again. We needed them to be able to have at their fingertips the resources that they needed. And so that’s what started us on this journey. We didn’t start with subscriptions. We started with licenses and that did work for some clients.

Now, we’re defining licenses, and you can tell me this is how your definition of licenses as well, as to give away the entire library of content to the client and that went right into HR, as the librarians who found this a great improvement because they got the flexibility, they were able to get the resources that they wanted. Our business, which, if you think about training, is the resources mean, you need to have the Powerpoints, the facilitator guides, the workbooks, I mean everything it takes to run a training session, these one-off sessions. But it was really manual for our clients to implement and our reach wasn’t there so we moved to subscriptions, and what we did in subscriptions was open our content access much broader, and into the users or the learners themselves, not just HR. It helps learners and users be able to self-service to get the help they needed when they needed it, because the promise we’re trying to help them with is to help them build confidence, help them build competence and be ready to apply the skills, if you don’t know how to have a tough performance conversation. It’s a lot better to have had an opportunity to practice that, do that in a psychologically safe environment, and be ready to help leaders with the new challenges that happen every day. We try to be by their side of leaders as they step through into every moment of leadership that they’ve got, and undoubtedly everything changed because our reach moved from touching HR to a broader reach into users and they get much more personalized development.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, so you know something interesting that I just thought of on the consumer side, in retail and consumer package goods, a lot of companies have moved to a direct model for similar reasons. Right? Instead of going to the store and buying from a shopkeeper or buying your car from a car dealer you buy directly from the manufacturer. It’s better usually for the end user. But sometimes the gatekeeper is either worried for good reasons or afraid of giving up their power, right? Which may be a less good reason. Saying, ”Hey, if I’m not meeting this out to people as they need it, if I’m not interpreting it for them, they might misuse it, or get the wrong results.” But also, if you’re going to direct them, what’s my role? I’m wondering if was that an issue or how you work with HR to balance their concerns about giving the keys to the kingdom to every leader in the organization or every leader on the team?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Yes, such a good question. And it wasn’t as much worry on their side, mainly because they’re wired to want to help people but at the same time they’re overwhelmed, they’re overworked, they’re shackled in some ways. So this was a liberating change for them in their role. It also has been super interesting, because usually we’ve got clients who are doing programs but then the users have broader access, and and you can see where they’re going. You can actually see the pulse of what’s happening. And if one whole department inside of an organization is looking up information on how do I lead through a change, or how do I deal with burnout? Well, contemporary issues that are always hitting our subscription. You recognize as HR that something is going on there. As a psychologist, it needs analysis of what their needs are, and it helps you be prepared with data to be ahead of the curve, to meet your constituents, which are your leaders inside of your organization.

Robbie Baxter: So two key points, I want to call out that are great. One of them is to know your gatekeeper. You already have a relationship with HR. And you understand what motivates them, helping people be impactful, being able to track what’s happening, make better decisions, and prove their impact. That was really important.

Then the second thing is designing your subscription offering, especially on the B2B side, not just for the end user, but also for that distributor, that gatekeeper, that manager, that leader so that everybody is benefiting from the subscription. I think sometimes people underestimate the importance of each layer in the subscription. All the different people who are responsible for making the buying decision, for driving engagement, and for getting the benefit of the impact.

Dr. Tacy Byham: We just had our a big client summit where people were talking about what they do in different implementations, and the work with DDI. The thing that makes me so proud is that when you listen to them speak about us, they’re not saying, “Oh, DDI is one of our preferred vendors.” They’re saying, “DDI is our partner.” And that is different from what you get from these one-off implementations to being by their side.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah. That is exactly what people want when companies move to subscription. We want this ongoing relationship. We don’t want to stop and start but it’s also really important to remember that it’s important, that the customer also feels that way. When a subscription is done well, the customer says things are better with a subscription, we’re getting so much more value, and we’re reaching so many more people who can track the impact of our investment. And I think you did a really nice job with that sort of thinking through what is it on their side as well as on our side that’s going to be better.

Dr. Tacy Byham: And let’s not underestimate our friendship with purchasing who just likes the one price.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah. I think purchasing is a little behind on subscription and the finance area is very fearful of ongoing fees, what a widget should cost, I don’t know what access to content should cost and how to think about it. That’s definitely another challenge.

Where did you want subscription to fit in your bigger business model?

Dr. Tacy Byham: So earlier, I painted the picture that we have two sides to our company, the assessment and the leadership development and they were equally of size. And what has evolved is subscriptions which is on the content, the leadership development side because of the complexities of assessment. Unless they’re automated is where this is all fitting and so it’s an opportunity for us. And I’ll give you some data coming up of how we have significantly shifted the profile of our company, and we’re going to market with subscriptions. We also have the add-on services which are very deep and rich in the area of assessments for selection, for promotion as well as our executive services, where we work with executive teams, do executive coaching, do executive succession. So all these things, when you become less of a vendor and more of a trusted business partner, we’re actually able to be broader and deeper, providing our value to our clients.

Robbie Baxter: Okay, the subscription, does that come first for a customer, and then these other services are kind of layered in overtime as needed?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Oftentimes, we’ve had legacy work in the add-on services, and we are expanding over to subscriptions around there. But the entry point, our first door is the subscription business.

Robbie Baxter: That’s also a big question that I know a lot of people that are thinking about subscriptions, consider and struggle with is for the people that are coming in the door for the first time is the subscription away of expanding and deepening relationship with best customers. Or is subscription a way of reaching and appealing to a different new segment? And I always say, pick a place to start, and then and then you can expand over time into the other areas. But, understanding the role of what subscription is doing for your business model is a really important element of your early strategy.

Dr. Tacy Byham: Yeah, we’ll talk about adoption and transition because we have taken what was more, events-based buyers and moved them into subscriptions and the success about that coming up because I agree with you.

Robbie Baxter: What role models helped you structure your subscription offering? Who did you look at other organizations to get inspiration and best practices as you moved into subscriptions?

Dr. Tacy Byham: If we look outside, within our market and industry, we looked around and we were looking at who had launched subscriptions, and there were one or two others, but really not a lot in our space. And plus, we didn’t want to be a me too, just like everybody else in the space, we want to do something totally different

What’s very prevalent in the leadership development arena for subscriptions is access to these big online learning libraries. And in an online learning library, you get a huge amount of content and nothing’s wrong with that. But people are buying because of the volume of content or famous people who have created videos of the content. The dark side of that is, that there’s a low usage because leaders themselves aren’t prioritizing them, not making time for it, doesn’t feel particularly personal that I’m getting just what I need for where I stand as a leader at this turn in my life. And where’s the accountability for actually learning and growing and applying, and you know, practicing my tennis serve. Shall we say to get better at that? I wanted to bring that back up because our roots in the science of leadership are about helping leaders change behavior. Not just theories and ideas, not just watching videos on tennis, so we really want to help them practice to apply to get those better results. So that’s what’s unique about DDI’s goals in the market. We wanted to set up a subscription that’s by the side of leaders to help them handle all the things that come to them in their careers as they progress through the ranks of leadership. So we look internally and externally.

Our roots in the science of leadership are about helping leaders change behavior. Not just theories and ideas, we really want to help them practice to apply to get better results. Share on X

Robbie Baxter: No models. That’s what I’m taking away from your responses you didn’t see anything out there that was useful. It was mostly based on sort of starting from scratch and saying, “These are our goals. This is what we want to do. We see that other people are doing things more focused on famous people and not getting used. We’re just going to start from scratch.”

Dr. Tacy Byham: Yes, with, of course, pulling from little glimmers of seeing this in an adjacent business to ours. We’re seeing competitors go to market in this way, we would either adopt that or not. So again, it wasn’t one model that we took. It was a combination of a number of insights.

Our licenses, we launched those in about 2016-2017, but by 2020 we knew we needed to do something different we needed to meet our clients where they were and advance our model. Then COVID hit. The timing was both terrible and an opportunity. Like almost every business in the industry, we took a big hit. We had layoffs, we temporarily cut salaries and all of this at the time when everyone’s dealing with their own personal crises around COVID. It was some incredibly hard moments for businesses and individuals personally, and in those tough times, I felt that people needed hope that DDI had a future.

Robbie Baxter: For your employees.

Dr. Tacy Byham: Yes, my employees. That things were going to be different. Things were going to be better so it was time to take a risk for a different and better future.

As CEO, the risk we were taking was, let’s go all in on subscriptions, and you can imagine we have people who worked in different parts of our business. So here we are going to say, our primary got-to-market is going to be subscriptions and this is a change. When times are uncertain and when people are feeling challenged, a natural inclination is to push back on something that is not familiar. But we had to go in a different direction, and I had not been CEO for very long at that time. We had a lot of tried and true things that had been working for us. We had a lot of things that were untouchable. We had a lot of things that we paradigms that we never would have challenged and it felt very personal to make some of these changes and to give some things up, particularly for things that were a family legacy. So I think one of my greatest strengths is I had tremendous strength and trust in my leadership team and the team around me that was charging forward with subscriptions. That’s a little bit about the timing and risk.

Robbie Baxter: I appreciate you shared it. Being so candid about the risks, and especially the piece about reminding us what it was like during COVID. When your business is a very relationship-oriented physical business, where people are physically going into companies, having conversations with leaders and with HR leaders. And suddenly all of that is shut down.

It’s fascinating to me that you sort of said, “Okay, here is a next mountain that we can climb together and let’s go for it.” Even recognizing that it’s a big change, and that there might be some cultural drag or cultural pushback. I sometimes say to clients, sometimes what’s holding you back is your past success. The risk of doing damage to something that people have invested in and built, and that is working.

You depended on your team, you were confident in them. What did you task them with, and kind of what kind of timing? And how did you innovate?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Well, a spun up a cross-functional team. As you can imagine we had people in marketing and product and sales and field enabling. And we had an existing innovation team and we pulled into adjunct partners as we needed to so the team was sprinting, using the Jake Knapp Sprint approach from Google Innovations. We were doing one-week sprints where we would draw up a prototype, and a concept, and we would be talking to our target market by the end of the week and getting their feedback. So that’s everything, from messaging to what the package looked like to what their access would be. Lots and lots of feedback.

We also recognize we couldn’t do it alone. And this is when I called you, Robbie, I’m so grateful for the partnership because you have provided some incredible mentoring services to us. You worked closely with me. You worked closely with the team leaders who are responsible for this strategic change. You became part of the change team, listening to what our clients were saying, questioning us, and helping us go forward. And you still provide some good ongoing guidance to our head of products. Thank you for being by our side. As we went through this innovation process.

Robbie Baxter: It was a delight. I’ve been asking you to be on the podcast for a pretty long time because of how thoughtfully, deliberately, and rapidly you moved forward with these sprints. The amount of learning and adjusting that happened was marvelous frankly, something that I encourage other organizations to move that deliberately and quickly at the same time is quite rare.

Dr. Tacy Byham: You’ve made us focus on our forever promise which still stands today. Which is being by the side of leaders at every moment of leadership to help them make development, a way of work, not just something you do in January. Apply it all year long. It’s part of the way they’re working, in the fabric of what they’re doing. Thank you for that. But innovation does not stop. We have continued to evolve, and our focus on innovation is not on the retention of our clients. That means feeding the subscription promise with content, making sure that there’s a regular stream of new content. So, for example, quiet quitting is something that has hit the market for our clients as part of subscription, you don’t have to do an extra buy of that it’s again built into the subscription. We also recognized that when leaders themselves find out about subscription, they don’t want to be overwhelmed with the giant library. Where do they start? So we have created something. It’s called My Pathway, where they take some simple tests, and out of that, they get guidance on where to go and where to get started on, how they can acquire and then start to practice and apply the new skills.

We’re weaving an assessment into the actual courses that we’re creating. For example, if you’re learning about emotional intelligence. You might take an assessment. You might find out that self awareness is a problem that you have, and you get direct information on what you can do, and to behaviorally start to change and be more self aware, to be a better leader for your team.

I can’t not mention the words artificial intelligence. I’m sure everybody’s talking about that. It’s in every podcast I listen to and so what we are doing with artificial intelligence is creating little practice simulations based on our 50 years of data. So these are very responsible and trusted artificial intelligence simulations that we know from millions of data points of how leaders have responded in the past and how we’ve graded them. What is the right behavior? So like the flight simulator, we’re creating actual practice on-demand flight simulators, to help leaders there. That’s the journey that we’ve been on from the timing and the risk to how we did it to how we continue to innovate and evolve.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, I’m glad you brought up AI. The way you incorporated AI is with these simulations, which are such a core part of the DDI way. That’s really lovely. It. So talking about innovation. There’s a concept that you and I’ve talked about that JB Wood popularized or came up with, called Swallowing the Fish. It’s this idea that there’s a period in time where your costs are going up, even as your revenue is going down when you’re moving to subscription, and that there’s a period of time that it kind of looks like a fish, the 2 curves, and organizations have to go through that same painful and simple process. How did you think about wallowing the fish inside of your organization?

Swallowing the Fish: The idea that there’s a period in time where your costs are going up, even as your revenue is going down when you’re moving to subscription

Dr. Tacy Byham: We were prepared for that. We were preparing our bank that we had to let them know that you know that our performance curve was going to look the way it was expected for a period of time and here’s why. There was the opportunity for people to take risk. I was empowering the organization to take a risk this way as we were investing, and as our costs, our revenue were changing, the curve there. What’s interesting to us as we look at this in retrospect is it wasn’t as bad. Our fish was kind of skinny and that’s because we had the benefit of clients who had had licenses, and they bought a 3-year license. So we had that revenue that was helping us come through as we were moving into the subscription revenue.

Robbie Baxter: Let’s go back to those early days. What were the benchmarks you were looking for, if you weren’t expecting profitability right away? What were you looking for to tell you that this was the right path?

Dr. Tacy Byham: The first question which came out of our early sprint reviews was, did our forever promise making development a way of work resonate?

The answer to that was, we knew it really quickly. Yes. This was what our clients were looking for, and this is proven to be the case where we have clients who have 100 seats or so, and then enterprise clients that have 5,000 seats or so. So that was the first question.

The second question was, were our clients ready? Were they ready to adopt? And that was actually quicker than we were expecting this transition for both new clients and existing clients.

In year 2, we grew the number of new subscription customers by 85%. That helped us establish a very aggressive 3-year plan and that subscription customers, again, are not just for the subscription solution, but the add-on services as well. Anything that touches a subscription customer. So here we are, 3 years into our launch, over half of DDI’s revenue comes from subscription clients and we expect that to be over 80% within the next 3 years, which is a huge shift from where we were to where we are now.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, that’s amazing. Wow!

At what point did you determine that the experiment was a success both for you and for your clients?

Dr. Tacy Byham: There’s two sides to success. There’s a feeling that we judge it as a success for DDI. We just talked about that we’ve had incredible interest. The forecast has been strong. We’ve got clients who are expanding and buying more seats. It’s a success because there’s a lot of simplicity inside of the organization. We go to market with subscriptions. So we’re all singing from the same song sheet, and we’ve got clearer accountabilities. But I think the greatest marker of success was I referenced that DDI set a 3-year growth goal, we hit it in 2 years. We’ve reset, and we’re reaching even higher so that anybody would say, that is success.

But for our clients, simpler and more flexible. The lack of more contracting is a big buying. The demand has been there and being able to just reach more leaders directly. So those are on the client’s side. There are two sides to the coin, and I’m glad to say that we’re affecting both.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, that’s amazing. I would imagine from the client’s sid too, they’re better able to measure which leaders are using it. And, as you said earlier, which modules, which elements they’re focusing on what are the big issues so that they can think more holistically about what’s going on at the whole organization.

How did you determine how to expand the experiment?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Because of the success we were having in the US. We were getting a pool to expand beyond the US. So within 18 months we were going from our purpose of better leaders for a better future, to even better leaders, or an even better future around the world with expanding into Europe, Canada, Australia, and South East Asia. So subscription became the way we were doing business, and we were becoming very profitable and exceeding our targets. That allowed us to reinvest in the business with R&D technology, more innovations, and for our employees, we were able to invest and reward them. At every level of the organization, which, of course, is motivation, retention, growth, and opportunities.

Subscription became the way we were doing business, and we were becoming very profitable and exceeding our targets. Share on X

A particularly important moment for me is that earlier I highlighted that DDI, like many companies, had to make the very difficult decision to cut salaries during COVID. Well, within a year, with the success of subscriptions, we turned around and made everyone financially whole again.

Robbie Baxter: Wow! That’s great to hear. People stayed and believed in your vision. During the hard times. And it’s kind of a testament to the commitment of the team to take on subscriptions. As a subscription person, it makes me very happy to see predictable recurring revenue that allows all boats to rise. That’s kind of what it’s all about.

I do want to get some advice from you for the other successful B2B entrepreneurs and executives who are thinking about subscription for the first time, maybe as an element of their pricing structure, or maybe as kind of the big bet for the next decade. What advice do you have for them?

Dr. Tacy Byham: You need to do market data and testing and look at an innovation practice away to consider sprint reviews. Cross-functional teams are the only way to do this. And I think from a leadership perspective, it’s important how me and my leadership team set a tone for risk-taking. That was unprecedented for DDI. We encourage people to break paradigms. We encourage people to lean into values that we have, which is being curious, and learn to challenge the status quo that sort of echoes back to our origins with inventing things that are commonplace in HR right now. And doing that in a way that gives people empowerment but a safety net at the same time. And above all, stay laser-focused on what you’re doing, which is solving the problems for your customers. I mentioned the benefits to DDI as a company. There’ll be benefits to your company as well, but that’s not the guidepost for your decision-making. Solving the clients problems and solving their problems, making the world easier for them is what’s going to make a subscription saying.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, I love that the focus on the client has always been the mission. That’s always the line for subscription, is how are you improving their condition? Then you look through the lens of can we do this in a viable and sustainable way given our resources as a company. I also really want to call out some of your very deliberate leadership strategies. DDI it’s kind of Meta, right? DDI is a leadership company and now you’re demonstrating or performing leadership activities in service of your of your subscription business. Is there anything specific around leadership? That you want to call out as a as a leadership best practice in managing this kind of change.

Dr. Tacy Byham: It’s ways heavy on our mind. We think a lot about how you move people through a change. And as an organization founded in psychological principles, the primer on change in psychology is that you have to pair the business strategy, the what’s and the how’s, the human side. So the people feel engaged, and excited. See how their future is going to be different. Regarding the business strategy you’ve got, you’re affecting all functions and operations inside of the business, and globally. On the human side, you have to be prepared to have the conversations to help people transition because change starts as disorienting. Eventually, people can move into the phase where they’re exploring and they’re investigating. And then they’re finally accepting and integrating it. You have to help people meet, and we know that by the way you manage a team, some are more on one end, continue ready to change, and others are more resistant. But the company is only going to be successful if you can move people through. So the first thing you do is make sure that you recognize that you need to meet both the what’s and the how’s.

The second thing is keep a pulse of what’s going on. Listen and ask for feedback often fact more than you ever have because you have to have awareness of how people are thinking and reacting and what’s happening inside of the organization. So, for example as we launch this and we were rapidly growing, we had some jobs inside of the organization that were really overloaded and wanting to provide the highest level of service that we promised to the clients. But we were going to be getting to a breaking point. So we listen to feedback there. And we changed the structure, we created new roles and it’s a work in progress. We’re getting better on that every day. The investments we’re making in technology, automations and efficiencies, that’s all helping. But you cannot turn a blind eye to feedback where people are navigating through the change. The high performers are challenged. If you don’t address it, you’re going to lose your best people. So that’s another thing. Listen, and change is never done. You’ve got to continue to revise, maintain the energy.

I would also say that it is important to be able to be proud and share what you have accomplished and tell those stories to others, because if you’ve created real change for your customers, that is incredible, and they’re going to be some of your greatest advocates. But those stories also need to be heard across the company and all functions, all associates.

Robbie Baxter: Yeah, thank you so much for telling your story and sharing so many of the details of that journey, it was a fabulous conversation. Before I let you go, are you up for a quick speed round?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Absolutely.

Robbie Baxter: First subscription you ever had?

Dr. Tacy Byham: I think it was the World Book Encyclopedia, that some well-intended college students sold to my mother, and we got all the world books. And then we got one a year for about 10 years. So that’s a subscription.

Robbie Baxter: Your favorite subscription today, besides your own?

Dr. Tacy Byham: Oh, I would have to say, Netflix, since I’m constantly looking at things on media

My son’s a college student who’s majoring in drama. So that gives us all good stuff to talk about.

Robbie Baxter: It’s work-related. Something that you’re learning right now?

Dr. Tacy Byham: I’m learning a little bit more about balance and well-being and self care not that that hasn’t been important over these past 5 years, but I’m at a crux moment that says, “If you don’t do this and you don’t take care of yourself. You’re not taking care of your team, your family, your company,” And I’m glad to be on that journey here in early January. So, checking on me on my New Year’s resolutions in a little bit,

Robbie Baxter: Love it. Thank you so much for being on Subscription Stories. It was a real pleasure to have you.

Dr. Tacy Byham: Thank you very much.

That was Dr. Tacy Byham, CEO of Development Dimensions International. For more about Tacy and about DDI, go to And for more about Subscription Stories, as well as a transcript of my conversation with Tacy, go to

Also, I have a favor to ask. If you like what you heard, please take a minute to go over to Apple Podcasts or Apple iTunes and leave a review. Mention Tacy and this episode, if you especially enjoyed it. Reviews are how listeners find our podcast, and we appreciate each one.

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About Dr. Tacy Byham

Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D., is Chief Executive Officer of Development Dimensions International (DDI). Since its founding in 1970, DDI has grown to become a leading and innovative global human resources consultancy with more than 1,000 talented associates, serving a diverse roster of clients across 93 countries.

In addition to overseeing the organization’s day-to-day operations, Tacy is spearheading DDI’s increased strategic focus on its core of leadership insight and growth.

During her more than 20 years at DDI, Tacy has led multiple strategic initiatives, including the creation of DDI’s Executive Development Practice and award-winning frontline leader development programs. She also managed the development of succession management programs and corporate universities for key clients.

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