Diversity & Inclusion


The Need

The COO of a national firm is committed to maintaining a positive and productive work environment. The company is proud of the energetic high performers that make up their teams.

But lately there have been tensions. Remarks concerning politics, race, gender, and religion are turning some conversations into arguments, leaving people with hurt feelings; the resulting breakdowns in communication are beginning to affect business interactions.

The client asks, “How can we get them to treat each other with more respect?”

  • reports of disrespectful remarks

  • team members avoiding each other

  • assumptions of racial, gender, other biases

  • bad communication dynamics affecting client relations

  • competent teams drifting into dysfunction

Our Solution

A Culture-wide Approach

We hold confidential Needs Assessment conversations with as many team members as we can in the east coast headquarters and the west coast offices.

Working closely with the COO, we develop an all-day workshop that focuses on identifying and maintaining team strengths, building skills for navigating challenging conversations, and understanding implicit bias. It will be presented in all locations. Our Guided Improv™ method invites participants into scenarios, where they practice communicating respectfully.

A Sudden Complication

During one of the workshops a culturally offensive joke by a team leader provides an “in the moment” unanticipated challenge. The company COO hears the “joke” and feels it is very serious. We agree.

“Should we just stick to the program you have planned, and let this go?” he asks.

No! We discuss the consequences of avoiding it, and quickly design an adjustment to our planned program. A couple of new improv scenes, and a lively conversation bring up concerns that had been hiding just under the surface. What started out as an awkward moment turned into a learning opportunity.

The group practices using our interaction tools (Talk3i™ and 4MPATH) in the new improv scenes to respectfully address the inappropriateness of the “joke.” We then facilitate a calm and focused discussion in which participants share their reactions.

  • culture-wide approach

  • confidential Needs Assessment

  • custom Guided Improv™ scenarios

  • skills for respectful interactions

  • learning how to repair damaged relationships

  • easily remembered “tools you can use”

  • turn disrespectful remark into learning moment

  • an unexpected, inappropriate joke

  • “Should we deal with this now?”

  • in-the-moment adjustments to the program

  • new Guided Improv™ on dealing with offensive language

  • discussion explores hidden issues

  • awkward moment becomes learning opportunity

The Outcome

Our team has a lot of experience in “high stress communication” situations; here, we steered away from “the blame game,” diffused “hot emotions,” and explored solutions in a positive way. Some Guided Improv™ scenes (crafted on the spot) helped to further ease tensions. By the end of the day, the group was laughing, and excitedly sharing the individual lessons they had learned.

Following up with the COO, we recommended leadership coaching and rotating staff for short projects, to help reinforce company norms and values. Since then, reports have been very good: their strong company culture is back on track.

Ready to Talk?