Continuing the changing culture theme fromlast month, let’s explore Mark Bodnarczuk’s Island of Excellence® Change Model.

According to Bodnarczuk, understanding the See-Do-Get Process® can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  For example, the safety staff sees plant operators as having to be constantly monitored (the ‘do’) so they don’t injure themselves, and then wonders why safety gets a bad rap from operators.  The See-Do-Get Process® applies to our worldview, which builds and accumulates patterns of thinking, emotions, behavioral responses, and other characteristics over many years.

 Most of these patterns operate on automatic pilot for us to navigate the decisions and demands we encounter each day.  Bodnarczuk draws upon Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, noting the vast majority of knowledge that causes behavior is tacit – just below the surface of consciousness.  Unconscious knowledge and beliefs allow us to skillfully perform tasks and make decisions in the blink of an eye without consciously thinking about what we are doing.  Without this ability it would be virtually impossible to manage the responsibilities in our personal and professional lives.

When we take apart the See-Do-Get Process®, Bodnarczuk presents four distinct elements as depicted below.

Events in the World are recorded much like a video recorder with no bias applied.

We Select Data from these events based on our worldview and our personality. Our personal See-Do-Get Process® creates a strong bias. We select data that affords us comfort and reinforces our worldview.

We Impose Meaning when we interpret world events through the lens of how we see ourselves, other people, and the world.

We Identify a Potential Course of Action from the first three steps.

As Bodnarczuk points out, we establish friends and enemies based on how we project ourselves to others and how we interpret what others project to us.

Back to the plant operators with the bad safety attitude.  As a safety professional, what if you started to see the plant operators from a different perspective?  How would this positive change affect your professional life?

The Island of Excellence® change model

Transforming the See-Do-Get Process® from a negative problem paradigm to a positive resource paradigm involves making a conscious decision to explore the process in the Island of Change® Excellence Model as shown in the following illustration.

To use the lower loop of the Island of Excellence® Change Model, Bodnarczuk states you have to hit the “interrupt button” on the See-Do-Get Process®.  You must deconstruct the way you currently see a situation or a person.

Next, you reconstruct alternative ways of “seeing,” then reconfigure your worldview to support this new means of seeing.

Building a shared understanding between the people or organizations involved, based on the value it will bring to everyone, follows.

Finally, you move from awareness to action.  Now the new “Do” from the lower loop “Gets” different results, which support your new way of seeing. 

The Island of Excellence® Change Model rests on two principles: 1) Individuals are led, managed, and changed one person at a time; and 2) Deep change is unlearning, then defining new ways of “seeing.”  Remember to move into the lower loop when you encounter a problem and cycle through the lower loop as often as needed to adjust your worldview to the current situation.

Hypothetical case

Here’s how the four steps might be used: 

Background: A large government organization’s mission is to oversee operations of multiple facilities through a contract with a prime contractor responsible for safety at each of the facilities. Contracts also exist with other subcontractors. It’s decided to have one subcontractor hire safety professionals for each facility to oversee the management and conduct of safety by the prime contractor. Within weeks, conflicts surface between the prime contractor’s safety professionals and the newly hired subcontractor safety professionals. 

Application: The safety directors from the prime contractor and the subcontractor meet to determine how best each can accomplish their missions and satisfy the government client. They agree to utilize the See-Do-Get Process®.

Deconstruction: A collaborative team deconstructs the current reality of conflict. Eventually all parties seriously question how the safety professionals, operators, and government see themselves and the roles they are expected to play.

Reconstruction: The team conducts a three-part reconstruction process:

1. The safety professionals from the prime contractor and subcontractor, the operators, along with the government representative clearly define the desired new results.

2. Ways are identified so all can operate as an interdependent team. The shared purpose: delivering consistent safety practices and advice to site operators.  Each faction on the team has different roles, so it is critical roles are clear and concise for everyone to agree with.

3. Actions, attitudes, policies, and procedures are reconfigured to support the new way of seeing. The team cycles through the Unlearning Change Process as often as necessary to obtain desired results.

Building shared understanding

The stage is set for a shared understanding among all the individuals and organizations involved to start a new way of seeing.  This new way of seeing allows everyone to work for the mutual benefit of safety professionals, operators, and the client.

From Awareness to Action

Since the parties “SEE” each other differently, the new “DO” that emerges from the lower loop “GETS” different results; these results reinforce the new way of seeing.  Cycling through this process multiple times strengthens the new normal.


When selecting your team, be sure to choose individuals who are at least open to the idea of change and seeing situations and people differently. 

Limit the scope of the issue you want to tackle the first time you use the model.

Bodnarczuk concludes with the following insight, “When you see differently and configure your world to support this new view, the new more effective behaviors flow as naturally from this new way of seeing as the old ineffective ones used to.”



1  Bodnarczuk, M. 2005. Will Science Survive in the DOE Bureaucracy? Breckenridge Consulting Group, Inc. Breckenridge, CO.

2  Gladwell, M. 2005. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY.

3  Op. cit. pp. 13.

4  Ibid. pp. 14.

5  Ibid. pp. 15.

6  Ibid. pp. 16.