Growing a Collaborative Culture

November 2019

Rich Grady first learned about Liddell Consulting when he attended a leadership seminar ten years ago at Bentley College where David Liddell presented.

The president of Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo), Mr. Grady leads a team of more than 40 employees in multiple locations across the U.S. completing projects in more than 43 states. AppGeo is a leader in GIS (geographic information system) consulting and provides geospatial solutions that serve government and private sector clients.


Rich Grady, President of Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo)


Hiring talented people to perform in complicated roles can be difficult in any industry. Niche industries that serve clients that are spread across the country compounds the leadership challenge. When we first met AppGeo they knew they were hiring people who had the right technical skills, but what was starting to become apparent was that they could benefit from a more diversified interpersonal skillset. Coming from a big company background where consultants were consistently in play, Mr. Grady saw the benefit of a third-party perspective. He knew that the right expertise could help uncover exact needs and a pathway toward achieving their goals.

“We’ve always been fortunate to have good technologists and that was how we hired and grew people. But how do you amplify good interpersonal characteristics in a growing organization to establish and articulate a collaborative and wholesome culture? [Liddell Consulting] helped steer conversations and focus us toward making the right and sometimes tough decisions.”


Sometimes leaders, especially at the top of organizations, believe they have consensus where they don’t. In order to gain perspective on the situation within AppGeo, we facilitated conversations with the leadership team. An initial strategic assessment including a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, uncovered several areas to be prioritized. What we discovered reinforced some of what the leadership had already identified, as well as several new areas with potential. The results of the Everything DiSC 360 Assessment, which is used primarily to evaluate the skills and effectiveness of managers and leaders then provide actionable next steps, showed us that some difficult conversations and changes needed to take place.


“[Liddell Consulting] has a structure to their approach and a process, but it is not a one size fits all – we always reserved the right to tweak it to work for our situation. They have helped us manage our conversation of change the whole time they have been working with us.”




The initial focus of our work with Mr. Grady and AppGeo was on how to hire smart people with the right leadership skills, and how to draw leadership capabilities out of smart people. For the past 10 years, we have worked with them on multiple projects with a different focus each time. The result has been stronger communication, more appropriate hiring, and a greater understanding of how to cultivate leaders within their organization regardless of whether they are in Boston, Connecticut, Texas, or elsewhere. By continuing to reflect and identify areas where they can improve, AppGeo will continue to grow and find new opportunities for success.


“There will always be problems that could benefit from outside attention. Not continuously, but periodically. The breaks give us time to execute on [Liddell Consulting’s] final findings and recommendations, and figure out what more we need to do. We don’t do it for the fun of it. Sure, we like Dave, but we continue to bring him back because we need the kind of insight and facilitation he can offer.”


  • Leaders can benefit from third-party perspective, not only to introduce new insight, but also to reinforce your instincts.
  • Organizational challenges are rarely one and done.
  • Regular evaluation keeps companies on track.
  • Providing opportunities for growth and professional development helps engage top talent.
  • Businesses don’t always follow standard structure, so standard solutions may not apply.
  • Finding consensus and discussing difficult topics can be the key to finding your organization’s potential.


Since 1991 AppGeo has been a value-driven, full-service GIS consulting firm with a mission to empower our clients to solve problems effectively and create value by applying geospatial IT technologies. An industry and thought leader, we employ dedicated, innovative, and talented people who enjoy varied and challenging work in a collaborative environment.

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