Some of the Organizations I Have Worked With
How do we maintain a high level of internal communication as the company grows?
The two entrepreneurs who founded Curaspan, a healthcare technology company in the Boston area, understood the through line from communication to employee engagement to performance. As their company grew, both in team members and remote locations, their historical communication mechanisms no longer met their standard for transparency and information flow.
A clear vision
I worked with the founders to write down the clear vision and unwavering core values that inspired them to start their own company. I helped them express their ideas in their own voice, drafted the vision document, and facilitated a strategy to share the concepts with everyone in the company through a series of small group meetings.
Collaboration and Transparency
To further accelerate strategic thinking throughout the organization, we developed a company Hackathon and built the first ever intranet site. To increase transparency, we overhauled the monthly all-hands meetings, which increased participation from 50% to 80%. The company was eventually sold at a premium.
Can we create one shared vision that people from both sides of a merger will care about?
Curaspan, a software company with a team of 150, was acquired by naviHealth, a Nashville-based services company with 750 team members. Each company had its own history and identity, and each had a vision and an established set of core values that were unique to the organization and embraced by the separate teams. naviHealth wanted to identify and articulate a common set of critical attributes and values that people in both legacy companies cared about, one that would help drive the combined organization’s strategy forward.
Finding Common Ground
I worked with the new company's executive leadership team and across multiple levels of both legacy companies to find the values that overlapped for the two organizations, and navigate the discussion around values that were either not shared or prioritized in a different way. With a new vision and a shared set of core values in hand, I led the effort to design and execute a program that utilized trained internal facilitators to extend the vision and values throughout the organization and accelerate adoption. My team completed 80 small group discussions in 13 cities in two months, covering 720 team members (over 80% of the new organization).
What does our next ten years look like, and how do we mobilize to get there?
RODE Architects, a mid-sized, full-service design firm in Boston, is led by its two principals and founders. They had moved beyond the early imperatives of a start-up business and were experiencing the growing pains that come with rapid expansion. More success meant less time to communicate with each other and no time to think about a long-term strategy. They were looking for help in two areas: setting the growth trajectory for the next ten years, and making meaningful improvement in communication with each other and throughout the organization.
Rediscovering, Reaffirming, and Reconnecting
I facilitated a series of discussions with the founders to help them create a vision that they were both excited about and committed to achieving. As part of the exercise, I drafted a document that presented their vision, the reason they founded the firm, and the core values by which they operated. The document, written in their voice, expressed the uniqueness of the firm which was most evident in their relationships with their clients and their team. It created a framework for recognizing and accepting only the projects that would move them closer to their vision, for recruiting new colleagues, and presenting themselves externally. The most important outcome of the exercise for the founders was that it reconnected them in a meaningful way by reaffirming their shared love of architecture and reminding them of why they wanted to work together in the first place.
Can we improve the culture of a challenging operation through increased communication and engagement?
American Airlines at Boston's Logan Airport was a famously difficult operation with 500 union and nonunion staff and a long history of contentious employee relations. The station operated 36 domestic and international flights per day from a substandard facility with ongoing construction projects. Many of the obvious remedies either violated union contracts or the policies, procedures, and norms of the larger organization.
Better Communication, Accelerated Performance
We made a number of measurable improvements to the operation by increasing both the quality and frequency of communications throughout the organization. Many performance improvements were achieved by adopting several changes to the collective bargaining agreement that had never been implemented in Boston. The introduction of cross utilization and part-time ramp workers improved productivity by 12%. By organizing the workforce around customer-centered units of work, like departures, instead of functional activities, we reduced baggage mishandlings by 600% and improved on-time departures by 16%. We grew freight and mail revenue by almost ten times when we shared financial results with the freight staff. None of this would have been possible without directly engaging the workforce and utilizing their ideas and feedback.
How do we design our treasury manual so that it is both easier to use and easier to maintain?
The Treasury Department of an agency of the United Nations needed to upgrade an outdated print manual to an online procedures guide. The print document had been developed piecemeal over time, which resulted in multiple voices, styles, and structures. The organization needed the manual updated to industry standards and redesigned for online delivery of the information.
Streamlined for the Digital Age
I reviewed the existing print material and conducted interviews with key users and contributors. Based on their input, I updated, expanded, and redesigned the content for maximum usability and readability, supplementing text with process flows, organization charts, and other graphic tools. The final file structure supported easy navigation and ongoing maintenance and the redesigned manual was used as a model for the rest of the organization.
Why doesn’t anyone read our quarterly investment reports?
Essex Investment Management Company, a Boston-based investment adviser, wanted to upgrade their quarterly reports so that clients would find them both more interesting and more informative.
A New Voice and Improved Client Experience
I did a complete redesign of the client letter, changing the format to be more readable and the writing style to be more engaging. I used attribution models to identify the drivers of each fund’s performance for the quarter and presented those results, along with a discussion on investment style and fund size in the client letter. Essex took the template I created and used it across all their funds.