Michael Sales

592 Chestnut Street, Waban MA, 02168
Phone: 617.335.9776
Fax: 617-332-9565
e-mail: mjsales@comcast.net

Michael Sales has over 25 years experience as a change agent, coach, and trainer facilitating strategic conversations for a wide variety of clients. He combines a detailed knowledge of personal, group and organizational development technologies with a broad background in business, entrepreneurship and education. Michael's experience provides him with insight into a wide variety of industries and organizations. Michael has extensive knowledge of the challenges of participatory management, the introduction of technologies into organizations, and the dynamics of life in family-owned businesses. Having worked closely with Chris Argyris, Lee Bolman and Barry Oshry, Michael's ideas for creating dynamic learning organizations draw on a set of well-tested theory and research. His expertise: The mobilization of energy and talent in support of results. His style: playful, fast paced and very task oriented.

Vision and Strategic Planning

Michael understands what it takes to align the rhetoric of vision and strategy with every day practice. He focuses clients on the linkage between organizational vision, strategic plans, and operational goals and tactics. His work has helped research scientists, financial units, non-profit agencies, engineers, sales people and academic organizations develop clarify on their core business purpose and their core values. His approach has supported the introduction of new technology paradigms in health care, helped entrepreneurs build success cultures, and promoted the accomplishments of an association that specialize in new product development.

Leadership and Change Management

Michael is a partner in change. He works with individual managers and executives as well as teams on personal development and organizational transformation. Many projects reflect his facility for collaborating closely with the men and women who are creating knowledge-based, entrepreneurial work cultures
Michael has been involved in many different sorts of change efforts, and he has worked with men and women and teams from every level of organizational life. Here are some examples:
His work with the research division of a Fortune 500 corporation resulted in a shift from a reactive, depressed work culture to a positive, "can do" climate.
He coached a group of worried supervisors to organize a team research project that greatly enhanced their influence on a change process that frightened them.
He designed and facilitated a process through which the leader of an environmental organization responded to critical feedback and enhanced her credibility while increasing the commitment of her team to the success of the organization
He helped the Vice President for Research Management of a large health care system create a new climate of curiosity and seriousness toward technology strategy
Michael's coaching helped the director of Environment, Health and Safety at a mid-sized company find a new, and very fulfilling, position as an external consultant
He facilitated a process by which a group of multidisciplinary scientists and physicians reinvigorated the strategic focus of a key innovation center
He helped change the mindset of a leadership team responsible for marketing pharmaceuticals from an orientation that relied on command and control to one that emphasized independent action within the context of shared values

Process Redesign and Business Issue Solutions

Michael custom-designs consulting programs and training activities to meet client specifications. He draws on an extensive set of tools to address any business process or issue in a way that enhances motivation, innovation and creativity

Michael is one of New Context's Fast-Track Change Process consultants. This participative, self-organizing program is highly effective tool for change that can be applied to big, pressing and long-standing business issues. He has also provided extensive support to socio-technical redesign programs

High Performance Teamwork

Michael helps teams at every level of organizational life develop a more dynamic, creative, task oriented, problem-solving ethic. He has custom designed programs for teams of senior managers in research, manufacturing, human resources, finance and sales. He draws on a wide range of models and tools to clarify and resolve key issues confronting a team and standing in the way of its success.

Peak Performance Training

Through programs he has co-designed and led, as well as through individualized consultation, Michael has broad experience working with all sorts of people on their team skills, interpersonal effectiveness, and consulting expertise

Dialog and Community-Building Forums

Michael designs and leads events and forums intended to raise consciousness, build commitment and reduce tensions. These dialog sessions accomplish objectives which are distinct from problem solving. Antagonists in social policy debates have used his designs and his leadership to facilitate honest conversations instead of open conflict. Several organizations have institutionalized a "Community Day" concept based on his ideas about open inquiry and celebrating success. Michael also co-developed New Context's Facilitation for Results a training program for facilitators which empowers others with the tools he uses as an agent of dialog and community-building.


Michael is an engaging and skilled presenter who has spoken to professional audiences at programs and conferences such as those of: the International Association for Product Development, the World Future Society, the International Facilities Management Association, the Ecology of Work Conference, Babson College's Family Business Forum, Harvard University, the Boston Trainers' Roundtable and Lesley College

Arthur D. Little
CSX Corporation
Chase Manhattan Bank
Dartmouth College
Donnelley Corporation
Gillette Corporation
Harvard University
Rohm & Haas
Markem Company
Radcliffe College
CSC Index
Manomet Center for Conservation Science
Philips Medical
International Assn. for Product Development
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Eli Lilly
Polaroid Corporation
Partners Health Care
Shipley Company
Mass Corp. for Educational Telecommunications
Ashland Chemical
First Union Bank
Cognex Corporation
Public Conversation Project
Fidelity Funds
Merrill Lynch
The Northern Forest Dialogue Project
The Nature Conservancy

Published Articles

• "How to mentor non-family employees," in Family Business Magazine's Mentoring Handbook, 2004 (Philadelphia: Family Business Publishing, 2004)

• “Futures Thinking by Middle Managers: A Neglected Necessity," in Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 19, 367-375 (2002)

• “Leveraging the Assets of Older Workers," (with Barry Dym and Elaine Millam) in Prentice-Hall's Training and Development Yearbook, 2001, Carolyn Nilson, ed. (Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001)

• "Organizational Maps Guide Managers on the Road to Change" in The Employee Relations Bulletin, No. 1908,July 21, 1998

• "Designing Magnetic Organizations in an Age of Insecurity" in The Employee Relations Bulletin, Numbers 1856 and 1857, May 21 and June 7, 1996

• "Commitment Starts at the Top," Mass High Tech, 9,7:8, February 11-24, 1991

• "Succession Planning for Family Businesses" in Small Business Reports, 15:2, 31-40, (1990)

• "A New Model for Organization Design and How to Use It in the Environmental Industry" in Environmental Business Journal, May, 1990

• "Leveraging the Assets of Older Workers," (with Barry Dym and Elaine Millam) in Prentice-Hall's Training and Development Yearbook, 2001

• "Organizational mapping: A unique learning tool," in The Employee Relations Bulletin, 1997 "Building a magnetic organization," in The Employee Relations Bulletin, 1997

• "Succession planning in the family business," in Small Business Reports, 1990

• "A new model for organizational design and how to use it in the environmental industry," in The Environmental Business Journal, 1990

• "Will Participative Management Be the Recession's First Casualty" in Mass High Tech, 8,21: 8, May 22-29, 1989

• "Four Problems of Organization Development" in The Boston Computer Society Enterprise, 8,1&:24-27 & 16-19, January and February, 1989

Forthcoming Book

Coaching for the Edge: A Human Systems Approach (with Anne Litwin, Phil Novick and Mary Lou Michael)

Multimedia and Video

Michael co-designed a highly innovative, interactive CD-ROM demonstration project entitled "World Class Product Development" in 1996 based on the book, World-Class New Product Development by Dan Dimancescu and Kemp Dwenger. The project was used as an exemplar by the Boston University School of Communication's Multimedia Program. Many of the design ideas used in this effort have been incorporated into high budget programs. (with Dan Dimancescu and Mark Horowitz)

Michael's ideas on developing and using personal vision as a guidepost for career planning were featured in Setting and Achieving Your Goals an American Management Association video targeted to the needs of managers and individual contributors.

Other Papers

• The System Power Move: Tool for History Makers

• The Transfer of Power in Family Owned Enterprises

• Concepts for Collaboration

• Generating Revenues During Downtime

• The Limits to Learning in Current Participation Theory


Michael's doctoral work at Harvard's Graduate School of Education (supervised by Chris Argyris) focused on the interpersonal skills required by participative management systems. [Doctoral thesis: Action Skills for Radical Democratic Organizations]

Michael holds a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, where he majored in Finance.

His Masters work (supervised by Herb Zettl) was at California State University, San Francisco in Broadcast Communication Arts where he studied institutional resistance to the introduction of new technologies. [Master's thesis: A Case Study in the Use of Cable Television by Educational Institutions in Marin County, CA] Michael received a training certificate from the National Training Laboratory (NTL).

Power and Systems training has licensed him to conduct their Organization Workshop and their Merging Cultures Workshop.

He is certified in scenario construction by Michele Bowman of Global Foresight Associates.


Michael lives with his wife, daughter and cat in Waban, MA. He is active in community affairs, an avid reader, essayist and nature lover and he's a poor (but enthusiastic) piano player.