EPIC Systems Incorporated

I am the President and CEO of a mid-size design/build firm.  A friend introduced me to Ms. Cookie Boudreaux.  At the time, our company was in year 21 of its existence.  We had much to be proud of but something was clearly missing.  My Executive Leadership Team was not functioning as a team and that was evident to all in the company.  The reality was that we were a group of individuals with our own agendas.  We couldn’t set aside those individual agendas for the greater good of the organization.  Call it pride.  Call it stubbornness.  Whatever it was, it was standing in the way of us achieving greatness, both individually and as a company.

When it comes to “consultants” I am a skeptic.  There are literally thousands of consultants out there that profess to “fix” things.  When I first met Cookie I lumped her into that self-serving group.  Long story short, she proved me wrong.

The best way I can describe Cookie is to say she is a root cause troubleshooter and a catalyst for change. Her straightforward, no bullshit approach broke down the walls we had each created over the years. Each of us had developed feelings about each other that were standing in the way of really taking our company where it could go. 

As the months passed, this is what played out.  First of all, Cookie succeeded in getting each of us to walk in the other’s shoes.  But that was just the start.  There were some negative feelings amongst this top tier leadership group. Cookie taught us how insidious and damaging gossip can be.  Almost always, the root cause is centered around trust.  If trust has been eroded, it is impossible to achieve greatness as a group, no matter how talented the individuals that compose that group are.  Cookie was the instrument that reestablished trust between us.  That was huge.  If someone had told me that I would had the relationship with my COO and other members of our ELT that I now have, I would not have believed them  Cookie fixed the unfixable.  We didn’t have the tools to be able to work through those feelings constructively.  Essentially, we were a group of emperors that didn’t realize had no clothes.

Today, our ELT functions at a new level that I thought we could never get to.  Every member of our company sees the change.  Amazing what you can accomplish when trust is reestablished and you are all rowing in the same direction.  And it didn’t stop there.  Our mid-level managers now also have clearer accountabilities and feel empowered.  Stop procrastinating on deciding whether to “take a chance” on this young lady.  As Nike says…. Just Do It.

I routinely tell Cookie two things. Girl, you’re expensive….. and you’re worth every penny!

John R. Schott, P.E., President