CASE STUDY: Organizational Culture Change
Symptom: Team members afraid to talk to each other to offer constructive, timely feedback.
Diagnosis: Lack of cultural supports or practices for building trust.
- Creation of cross-departmental teams that participated in fact-finding and problem solving projects together.
- Annual retreats and monthly events facilitating conversations and shared meals.
- Active encouragement and intentional structures to allow employees to break out of siloed departments/teams and to spend time with other groups in the organization.
- Onboarding process that included orienting new employees with each department to learn about the problems, needs, and strengths of that department.
“I think the most impactful part of the work was that it helped break down the barriers to communication. We worked really hard to create a team that tried to see the best in each other. The work centered around building empathy and understanding so we wouldn’t jump to unsubstantiated and sometimes damaging conclusions. Turning toward one another was transformational for the team.”
“Some of the conversations required us to get really vulnerable. It was really interesting that the conversations were honest, emotional, work related, and always very appropriate. I remember that most people were really respectful and thoughtful. It was really amazing to watch everyone really show up as the best version of themselves during those facilitated conversations. It was definitely hard work, but it also felt effortless.” — Dafnah Alsheh, former IceStone Team Member
CASE STUDY: Leadership Team Development & Culture Change
Symptom: Students, staff, and faculty not feeling connected or empowered to decision making about the program.
Diagnosis: Lack of shared leadership culture and practices.
- Co-creating the structures and systems for a shared leadership model for a four person management team.
- Co-designing and implementing a suite of environments and cultural practices which have embedded shared leadership practices into each sector of the program (students, staff and faculty)
- Identifying and reinforcing core values and practices to maintain a the integrity of the guiding principles of the school while managing and integrating change
“. . .the culture that has been created around holding all of us to show up in our full humanity is actually the core practice that has held the school together through many changes, including some traumatic and significant changes in leadership, programming and campus. The strength of the culture has been intentionally cultivated through circle practice, faculty culture and through countless conversations for which Lori created space and trust.
“I am aware of significant changes in my own skill set for engaging in productive interactions around emotionally charged issues and also for how I listen and how much risk I am willing to take in exposing myself more fully in service to the needs of the group. My personal transformations have been possible because the community culture supports the learning and practicing of these skills and creates an environment of deeper authenticity. My experiences are not unique; as a program chair and mentor, I can testify that our students want to build this level of authenticity in their non-Marlboro lives because they can see (and experience) how transformative it is to be more fully present.” — Tristan Toleno, Management Program Co-Chair
CASE STUDY: Executive Coaching
Josh Knauer, Founder of Rhiza, a Nielson Company
My work with Lori Hanau helped me to be able to gain a much broader perspective of the business ecosystem that I was navigating as my business grew. She helped me to understand others that I interacted with in new ways that gave the perspective necessary to succeed in my business objectives, while not sacrificing the deep values that I hold around fairness and equity. When it was time to raise venture capital for my company, I was able to use this broader context to choose the right partners that were value aligned with my business.
With Lori's help and guidance, I ended up bucking the trend of most tech entrepreneurs of using bravado and superficial over-promising to woo potential investors and instead focused on depth of relationship, seeking mutual respect and being highly transparent about the planned direction of the company. The results were astounding. We ended up landing a small group of venture capital firms that cared deeply about the values we shared, and who supported us far beyond just their monetary investment of over $8 million. Our partnership helped our company survive many ups and downs, because we were in it as a values-aligned team.
When it became apparent that it was time to take our company and its mission to the next level, we decided to seek a partnership or acquisition from a much bigger player in our business space. Lori and I worked on a strategy for making sure our investors and shareholders were aligned, and then a plan to approach some of the more obvious potential partners in our market. The process took a lot longer than we had anticipated, but throughout Lori helped me to continually go back to our mission and trust in the larger vision that we had created. As a result of that patience and a good bit of skilled business navigation, we closed on a successful acquisition of Rhiza by Nielsen (NLSN) in February of 2017.
Lori's work with me did not end at the closing of that transaction. We have continued to work together to help me transition from leading a 25 person company to a senior management position in a 44,000+ person company. Guided by my values and personal/professional mission that Lori has helped me clearly define, I'm excited by this next chapter in my life and looking forward to continuing my work with Lori to reach even greater heights.