In the Spring of 1997, I wrote a detailed business plan for Prism Decision Systems. That July, in a leap of faith, I resigned my mid-level manager position and launched the business. Just shy of 25 years later, I will retire June 30, 2022. While hundreds of blog posts will remain available on this website for now, Prism Decision Systems, LLC will cease operations then.
A cascade of opportunity
I could never have imagined back in 1997 how rich my professional life would become. There were the high-profile gigs with such clients as McDonalds, the National Institutes of Health, The Los Angeles Times, and Standard & Poors. And there was the time my work with The Times Mirror Company ended up prominently on page 1 of the Sunday New York Times Business Section. But my driving passion was to improve outcomes for kids by rolling up my sleeves with my school district clients, some serving as many as 20,000 and some as few as 350 students. Many of those clients were with me for 10, 15 and even 20+ years.
Grateful for mentors and collaborators
First and foremost, I thank my long-term collaborator Andrew Tait (Decision Mechanics) who taught me profound lessons about all things decision-making. Others I learned from, especially early on, include Sid Parnes (The Creative Education Foundation), George Land & Tom MacNamee (Leadership 2000), Gary Merrill (Emergent Systems), Chuck Anders (Strategic Initiatives), Mary Crannell (Idea Sciences), Don Stier (Maplegate Technologies), and Greg Zlevor (Westwood International).
I especially thank the following talented leaders and long-term clients: Jim Lee and Mike Melamed (Binghamton CSD), Marc Baiocco (Elmsford UFSD), Joe Ricca, (White Plains CSD), Michelle Bradley (Lockport CSD), Lesli Myers (Ithaca, Brockport & Rochester CSD), Mark Davey (Champlain Valley Ed Services), Perry Dewey (Dryden CSD, Madison CSD, & DCMO BOCES), John Sipple (Cornell University), Jason Van Fossen (Maine-Endwell CSD), Patricia Follette & Jo-Ann Sexton (Whitney Point CSD), Joann Chambers (Potsdam CSD), Patrick Brady (Massena CSD), Terry Dougherty (Hancock CSD), Carl Mummenthey (Cobleskill-Richmondville CSD), Ellen O’Donnell (Chenango Forks CSD & TST BOCES), and Larry Kiley and Denny Sweeney (BT-BOCES, Union-Endicott CSD & The Rural Schools Association of NYS.)
A vision fulfilled?
Back in 1997, Sidney Parnes’ A Facilitating Style of Leadership was in the back of my mind as I wrote Prism’s Vision Statement: “Maximize the potential of client groups to make and implement decisions that achieve their preferred future.” I wondered, Can an outside facilitator lead?
A recent note from Eric Bell, Assistant Superintendent, Champlain Valley Educational Services, confirmed that for at least for one client he can: “Your work has helped transform our organization to be what it is today. Your leadership has helped thousands of students and staff and will continue to impact them for years to come.”
Now, on to the next reinvention: retirement on the Front Range in Longmont, Colorado!
Jackie Visser says
Congratulations, Sean. I remember the planning with Post-it notes and colored dots in the old board room in Union-Endicott. You had a very positive influence on the district for many years. Thank you.
Rev. Robert Peak says
Congratulations Sean. Your leadership, guidance and wisdom has helped, inspire, motivate so many. The vision that was on your heart 25 years ago has blessed thousands over the years. I have been privileged to work with you at different times over the years and have learned a lot that I use still. Enjoy your retirement and new adventures.
Kim Collavo says
Congratulations to you Sean for having the foresight to recognize the need for collaborative decision-making services, the initiative to create a clear business plan to address that need, and especially, the talent to execute multiple roles in that business to fulfill the promises to your clients. I have always admired your intellectual flexibility and rigor and your skills to apply those smarts to help people achieve consensus and move forward. That’s one of the definitions of leadership – and one that we need today more than ever. I hope that you will continue to contribute your skills and perspective to groups in your new home. You will make every community that you join better.
Scott Kurkoski says
Congratulations Sean. It’s been a body of work to be very proud of. Great work and good luck to you and Pat with your retirement!