Companies can take on a life of their own, and strengthening the culture sometimes requires examining the business's collective preferences and quirks. At Dixon Schwabl, a $21.6 million advertising firm in Victor, New York, employees assess their company's culture by giving the firm an annual personality test, as if it were a human being.

When CEO Lauren Dixon first conducted this exercise, which was created by the organization Companies Are People, Too, her staff concluded that Dixon Schwabl was too deadline-driven. The company remade the culture to allow more time to achieve the highest-quality results; in the 14 years since, employees have made numerous small tweaks. Dixon says the exercise grounds everyone in the company's values. Here are a few of the traits that employees ascribed to Dixon Schwabl's collective personality in a recent assessment.


• Creates a harmonious workplace that draws the best from people

• Can construct meaning and opportunity out of ambiguity and complexity

• Projects a desirable image through showmanship, salesmanship, and contagious enthusiasm

• Has good instincts about customer needs and motivators


• Tendency to drop current projects in favor of exploring new opportunities

• Occasionally will implement change for the sake of change, without sufficient rationale

• Could overly rely on intuition and fail to support it with critical analyses


• Teamwork, fun, innovation, and integrity

Communication Style

• Prefers face-to-face interaction

• Thinks out loud, and patter is rapid

• Flowing, exaggerated, and often redundant

Behavior During Conflict

• Prefers to avoid conflict at all costs if possible, but will defend values tenaciously

Approaches to Managing Change

• Will get everyone involved and encourage extensive discussion, often centered on possibilities