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Founded in 1982, Autodesk, Inc. is a multinational software corporation that makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries. The organization is headquartered in California and has global, virtual teams throughout the world. As of 2020, Autodesk has more than 10,300 employees worldwide.

Birkman has helped Autodesk improve their team effectiveness with the team coaching program, High-Performing Teams: Building the Foundation. After the workshop, Autodesk has noticed more collaboration, innovation, and psychological safety.

The Objective

Because Autodesk has teams all over the world, it was important for the company to set the overall goal that each team needed to achieve. The goal of each virtual team is to grow business with new and current customers. However, Mark Harrell, the Director of Team Effectiveness at Autodesk, realized that the organization was missing a tool to help their remote teams manage conflict that would often arise while attaining their goal. Because the teams manage high-profile customers, each cross-functional team needed to be on the same page and have the same priorities to be effective.


Each team consists of an Account Executive, Technical Solution Executive, Customer Success Manager, Support Specialist, Consulting Project Manager, and others. “We have very complex, cross-functional virtual teams that are working together where there is no direct-line reporting structure,” Harrell explains. “And so, as they interact there can often be conflict. And so, the thing that gives us access into where the conflict may be originating from is the Birkman.” Harrell realized the teams are complex with various key factors, such as different roles and Key Performance Indicators while reporting to heads. For each team to be successful, the individuals needed to create an environment to be creative, collaborative and accepting of feedback. It was important for Harrell to find a tool that worked with the already established “courageous conversations with radical candor” model Autodesk uses for providing feedback to peers.

The Solution

As a fan and avid-user, Harrell turned to Birkman for a solution. Autodesk used Birkman’s High-Performing Teams: Building the Foundation workshop with numerous teams as a trial run. Harrell was impressed with the product because of the virtual or in[1]person delivery options and the type of content targeted to develop teams successfully. “The content is pretty compelling. And it’s simple, it’s easy to understand with the differentiators built into it, and it delivers very well in a virtual environment,” says Harrell. The solution-first product helps teams learn skills and strategies to build three important elements to be effective: Purpose, Clarity, and Psychological Safety. High-Performing Teams intentionally leverages specific, relevant aspects of Birkman data to achieve these goals. The individual and team’s Birkman information is presented in a way that allows individuals to interpret the data quickly and easily, and move right into workplace application, and problem-solving.

The Result

Since the trial-run, the High-Performing Teams: Building the Foundation workshop has been facilitated virtually and in-person through the company and has helped teams collaborate better cross-culturally. The teams have been able to work together better and have grown their business by utilizing one another’s strengths. Because each team has created a psychologically safe environment, they are more creative and innovative with their ideas. “Is it planning that we are trying to do better at? Is it feedback that we are trying to deliver in a more effective matter? What is it that we want to take and tailor the tool to?” Harrell first asked himself before utilizing High-Performing Teams. He needed to contextualize what he wanted the tool to do, adapt it to the role each team member had, the job they had, and the challenges the Harrell states that his teams are embracing it; the teams hear the information, learn about it, and put it into action with their teammates to have a positive impact on the business

For example, one teammate had an aha moment after realizing he was pushing his ideas on his team. After understanding how different strengths can be beneficial, he learned to be more suggestive when presenting ideas. Since then, other members of the team have been more open to providing input or ideas to further grow their business. After the workshop, individuals gain awareness of their tendencies, acknowledge that current processes may not be working, and establishes new goals to be effective—all to attain their main goal: grow business with new and current customers. Harrell is ecstatic about the results he has seen from the workshop. He states, “The impact we’ve seen with Birkman has definitely been teams working together better, and for us, the end goal is better results. And so how we believe we get better results is because if teams are working in a psychologically safe environment then they’re going to be more successful.

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