Aspen Earth Moving Company, Carbondale, Colorado (2001 to Present)

JKA was hired to assist the Aspen Earth Moving (AEM) Company to rediscover its core culture. AEM is a construction company that handles all of the ground moving and foundation work up to the first floor of construction. As such they are in a market where anyone with a bulldozer and a backhoe can give them short-term competition. The company was started by Steve Kinney and Chris Smith 17 years ago. It has grown to over 110 employees during the construction season and 60 of these employees are now held over due to JKA's work because of their social capital value to the company.

In order to improve their long term market position the owners desired to shift from a technical based to a culture based organizational structure refocusing on underlying values, traditions and beliefs that had gotten lost over the last 8 years in their rush to grow in a high end (Aspen) changing market. The JKA Culture Based Management System was deployed over the last 2 years to restructure with a horizontal or informal empowerment process replacing the vertical-hierarchical structure that had taken over at great expense to the company.

JKA began this project by receiving descriptions from all of the employees about what it was that they liked about AEM, why they stayed and what would make their work world better. From these descriptions JKA found the underlying culture beliefs, traditions and values that made the company unique and a joy to work for until recently. Using The Discovery Process™ actual descriptions of what people did well and what they thought they could do better if the system was cleaned up were gathered in one-to-one and in small group chat session. JKA and Project Managers used these descriptions create actual career path lines within AEM. For instance the Machine Operators who run the equipment shifted from a categorical Level 1,2,3, and 4 to a process competency of Learner, Qualified, Experienced and Master Operator. This allowed for this group to have their own career line in the company, without having to become a Production Manager to make more money or gain more status.

The Project Managers began to look at how they could establish their own company within a company, in essence build towards becoming a Partner in ownership. Assistant Project Managers shifted themselves to Production Managers since that is what they actually did rather than "assisting". The Administrative (A-Team) Team shifted from being the hand maidens of the production people to designing their own competencies and setting up an efficient system in which they are in charge and have contributed greatly to the profitability of the company.

Every unit has been empowered based on the re-discovery of the underlying culture, surfacing the culture through face-to-face contact in their work center, making conscious which parts of the culture were usable for the future given their Goal of Optimum Efficiency and Profitability Using a Culture Based Organizational Structure. The structure is 4 intersecting circles where anyone can easily tell where there needs to be integrated resource management on the issues and where they are operating independently.

JKA is currently working with AEM on its next cultural refinement called: Customer Cost Accounting which focuses on long-term repeat customers and gives up the short term business which led to a technical management model. They are now calling their system a move to a "Better Value Model."

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