Finding the O-Ring in Your Organization

I was perplexed that the CEO was not understanding why we could not “record” the facilitated conversations around race that she was proposing that I conduct. I am a #culturefacilitator. A certified culture facilitator is responsible for assessing a company’s health and giving feedback to the head of the organization. The purpose is to determine how to make workspaces “great places to work” for everyone.

 Recently, I was interviewing a client to determine if I wanted to take on a diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging (DIE&B) assignment. The CEO was concerned about what might come out of these sessions. I explained that – we want whatever is being “covered up” to come out and that my co-facilitator and I would take good care of their organization (which means taking care of their people). 

Finding the O-Ring

She was very conflicted. Then, I recalled and shared this story. In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger was headed to outer space. 73 seconds after lift-off, the shuttle exploded, killing all 7 crew members – including the first teacher included on a mission. I happened to be home caring for my small children at the time. I sat there for days, mesmerized by what had happened. All I could think was, how did this happen? I waited for months to hear what caused this.

Finally, it was reported that there was a catastrophic flaw in an O-ring. The tragic part of all of this was that there were staff that knew that under certain barometric pressures, the O-ring would not maintain the seal around the rocket booster.

I shared with the CEO, that my job is to find your O-ring, to find that “thing” that is a potential catastrophic problem waiting to blow up your organization. She agreed to let me proceed in the manner that I thought best. It was a powerful experience using culture facilitation to uncover a problem that she may never have found.

We Found it!

When I turned in my final report, I said to her, “I found your O-ring.” When I explained what I found, she commented, “Thank you for being direct and telling me this. We can and will fix this.”

I love the work I do. How would you answer the question? Is your workplace a #GreatPlaceToWork (for everyone)? 

Lead at Any Level® works with organizations that want to build inclusive cultures and diverse leadership pipelines. We offer quantitative and qualitative assessments (including the culture facilitation described in this article), consulting, and training services to organizations across the country. [Learn more…]

This article was originally published on LinkedIn and reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at

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3 responses to “Finding the O-Ring in Your Organization”
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