Sue J. Ebbers Ph.D., Change by Design

When Sue Ebbers earned her Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Design from Florida State University in 2007, she never imagined the incredible adventure awaiting her as head of a start-up. “I was gung-ho and ready to solve the world’s problems… right up until the world economy collapsed in 2008.” She chuckles about how the first five lean years in practice really taught her some hard and profound truths. But she said they equally sharpened her resolve as a pre-eminent organizational problem-solver and formidable change agent for companies in the manufacturing, communications, banking, transportation, energy, law enforcement, social service and public health sectors.

Since opening her company in March 2008, Dr. Ebbers’ professional practice has gradually shifted from the emotionally aspirational to the inspirational and practical. She considers the oft quoted “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” African proverb to be personally-earned wisdom, because of her own 15-year entrepreneurial transformation from a lone wolf mentality into leader of the pack. Most of her Change by Design pack members are equally accomplished in their functional areas, with most holding an MS degree and at least a decade of experience developing their capabilities. Dr. Ebbers added: “We build success at Change by Design – both internally, and for our clients externally. I hire talented professionals with the right values of respect, integrity, great work ethic and a strong willingness to learn and grow. Then we mentor and watch them build great work.”

Dr. Ebbers has observed the difficulties that extremely large organizations like hospital systems or even the military face while looking inward to address performance challenges. During the discovery phase of an early project with GE Energy, Dr. Ebbers documented internal buy-in deficiencies (including outdated work instructions) which were compromising product quality. She worked closely with leadership and helped executives shift perspective from a narrow, immediate focus that was hamstringing progress, into adopting all continuous improvement practices which advocated for and included preventive measures. By implementing a week-long basic auditing curriculum she designed and developed, GE Energy gained a more effective, strategic auditing system. As a result, the company reaped increased profits over the period, and this was correlated with increased customer satisfaction because of the improved quality various departments experienced.

The Sweden-based big truck company faced a different problem. They had expert sales associates who were exceptional at their jobs. But the multi-national company applied an ineffective appraisal and mentoring methodology that could not successfully identify the “magic sauce” for replicating proportionate business results from rising intermediate associates or beginning team members. Dr. Ebbers developed and validated multi-level competency models. Next, she delivered a gap analysis of requirements compared to their current training regime. Finally, she designed a curriculum architecture for training three levels of sales associates so the client could build a continuous pipeline of sales excellence. According to the company’s project liaison out of their Greensboro, NC national HQ, “we increased profitability, increased market share and increased sales force retention.

Strategic leadership buy-in and biased systems are some common themes across many industries, including non-profit, government and associations. In the past five years, Dr. Ebbers and her team was hired by a prominent state legislative department to help address low effectiveness and inconsistent performance from new and returning legislative aides. After thorough research, Change by Design identified the path to success meant training each staff member the right way to put all the correct knowledge together so they could make the correct decisions. As a result of the eLearning courses that Change by Design produced, today the state legislative aides now operate independently of their internal training department far earlier, and they make quantitatively better decisions on behalf of their representatives.

As Change by Design marks this milestone anniversary in 2023, Dr. Ebbers is proud to celebrate the success she and her team have cultivated for clients over the past 15 years. She remains a stalwart champion for companies who seek to align their workforce to desired business results and says, “it all begins by facing internal challenges. Although resources may be slim, and change might seem illusive, focusing inward today will help you realize outward results tomorrow.” To learn more about the services Change by Design offers, including training, change management, business process improvement, legally defensible certification and licensure solutions, and customer service and satisfaction systems, please visit

Dr. Sue J. Ebbers is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee Class 36 and resides in the eastern area of Leon County. She has four children and a loving husband Paul, with whom she enjoys going on long hikes and outdoor adventures across the country.