Improving Company Culture – A Case Study

This is a featured post from one of our facilitators, Cecelia Flint.

Many organizations today are constantly talking about their “company culture.” If you were to ask seven different people in the same company to describe their company’s culture, you would get seven different answers. Company leaders and employees alike, all want a positive, interactive and comfortable culture to come to work to each day. When this happens, people like their work. So how does this happen? What does it take to create this type of culture? Let me tell you how I personally saw this happen:

I was working with as a trainer/consultant with a company that designs and manufactures medical equipment, used in clinics and hospitals. The company has medical research teams, working with scientific engineers to design this highly sophisticated equipment. Those engineers then work with manufacturing teams to create the instruments. Marketing, sales, and other types of departments assist in getting the equipment to outside clients and medical facilities.

I had been asked to conduct a variety of leadership programs to leaders in management, and leaders who were individual contributors. As part of this I was asked to teach problem-solving training and a decision-making course. This training began with their senior leadership team, going through the entire program. Then managers at various levels, intact work teams, and also many individual contributors participated in the same course.

One day everything came to a screeching halt when it was discovered, the equipment was malfunctioning. The instruments were not reading the biopsies accurately, giving an incorrect diagnosis.

The CEO sent someone to call me out of a session I was teaching, and asked me to go immediately to the conference room. The CEO and all of the senior Vice Presidents were waiting for me. The CEO spoke up and said, “You have been teaching all of us at this company how to solve problems, well, we have a problem and it’s a big one. Until we solve this problem, our company will have to shut down work. Nothing can happen here until this problem is solved. Let’s use those skills we all learned in class, to solve this critical problem.” He continued, “we have set up a “War Room” where we can work. You may have whatever resources you need, and everyone in the company will be helping any way they can.”

Will you facilitate this session? I said “of course.”

Making a ‘safe space’; a level playing field to foster collaboration and problem-solving

A group of all different professions came together, from Ph.D. scientists, to engineers, to the people who actually assemble the equipment. The first thing we did was to establish a ground rule that titles, do not matter. Everyone in this room is equal. Whatever your title is, or leadership position you hold, put it aside, we will be working on a level playing field. We also can’t be worried, thinking “Is it ok for me to speak up”? “It’s OK.” Employees from all departments came together, because this impacted the entire work force.

Putting problem-solving skills training into practice – under intense pressure

Everyone had been trained on the problem-solving process, so we started right up, using all of the tools and techniques from the workshop sessions.

As we worked together, whenever we came up with a possible cause, we would set up a team to run tests and check it out. Looking for causes and testing potential causes continued over and over, until 2 and ½ weeks later, we finally discovered what was causing the problem, and moved quickly to implementing a solution.

We did it! We found the problem and fixed it. The company was up and running again.

Later, that day, I had an engineer come up to me and say, “You just saved the company millions of dollars.”

It was an interesting outcome for the company. Everyone had worked together as a cohesive team. They worked as one mind. Titles hadn’t mattered and all individuals listened to each other and had shown respect.

This is a great example of how working as a team, and putting egos and titles aside, can create a culture where there is exponential growth for the company as well as their employees.


This is a featured post from one of our facilitators, Cecelia Flint. Cecelia is devoted to helping people discover what talents and abilities might be “inside the box”, waiting to be realized and developed. She has been a Leadership Development Consultant and Coach for 32 years and worked with half of the Fortune 500 companies, across all industries. Visit LinkedIn to learn more and connect with Cecelia

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