Sandplay for Life

Corporate Consultations, in partnership with Simple Idea

Hire us if you want:

People taking pride in their work.

To attract and retain high quality employees.

To restructure or merge groups without losing productivity.

Effective communications throughout the organization.

Good will and harmony among groups and people.

High standards of safety, integrity, and work ethic.

People caring about profit and productivity.

There are three ways we work in an organization:


Individual Leadership Coaching
One-on-one coaching, perhaps including interviews with boss, peers, subordinates.


Leadership Team Effectiveness      
Assessing, preparing and managing a Leadership Team Retreat and on-site follow-up for implementation of new ideas.


Cultural Change in the Whole System
Long-term work with the whole organization, focusing on improving operational outcomes by engaging the work force.

Leaders must be mature – that is, they must control their own impulses, and be able to think abstractly and psychologically about the meaning of behavior. 


Good leaders hold together the hard and the soft, the steel of production with the fragility of human relationships.  They maintain high standards of safety and productivity while also caring about people.


We bring a set of theories that, together with you, help us think, interpret, and shape our actions.  We have no programs, binders or reports.  We join you, in the trenches, where you are.


Together with you, we think about:


Character Elements of Leadership


  • Courage
  • Change, by definition, means swimming against the tide.


  • Collaboration
  • Ability to work cooperatively with others to create a critical mass; no single person can effect lasting change in an organization.


  • Self-reflection
  • Leaders must be willing to look at their own beliefs and behavior, and if necessary, attempt to change them.


  • Relationships
  • Leaders routinely need to talk one-on one with a cross-section of employees and develop person-to-person relationships.


  • Openness

The team must observe their own interactions and talk openly, as a group, about how they address operational issues.


Knowledge Elements of Leadership


  • Values
  • Leaders must know what they value and live those values in every interaction.


  • Systems Thinking and Context
  • Leaders understand that any change affects the whole organization, and context defines meaning and what is possible.


  • Group Dynamics
  • Leaders must look for conscious and unconscious influences in and between groups.


  • Authority, Power and Role
  • Leaders must be hyper-aware that authority and role are always active and affecting behavior.


  • The Person

Leaders respect that each employee is an agent of his/her own life.


Many leadership teams avoid addressing real issues facing them because they don’t know how or it doesn’t feel safe. This avoidance inhibits people from providing powerful, effective leadership. We help make it safe to address how people work together on operational challenges.


We enter a system quietly and respectfully. We work within the operational context and primarily with line managers. We use everyday English.


To do a cultural intervention or work with a leadership team, we always work in pairs. We have worked together for over twenty five years.


“I was both a line and technical manager, and I found it took courage to pioneer cultural change efforts in a difficult environment.”

– Mike Holmes, Manager, Chevron

“Productivity is up and people like coming to work. Before you came, we used meetings to blame each other. Now that would be unthinkable.”

– Operations Manager, Manufacturing Plant

“Our plant repeatedly won the corporate Prize for Excellence. Two laid-off labor groups were combined. You feel like you’re walking on a precipice, a ridge. If I’m too harsh, I fall off; if I’m too easy, I fall off. We had to broaden the walking area.”

– George Weston , Vice President, Anheuser-Busch

“I was recruited to lead a $19 billion financial services corporation. I discovered the most vexing obstacles were embedded within the organization’s culture.”

– Brad Nordholm, President/CEO of U.S. Central Credit Union


Richard Burg has over thirty years experience in group development, team dynamics, process facilitation, and change management. He has applied these skills to organizational tasks in both external and internal roles, as both management and staff, and in technology, health care, finance, and design.


Terry Geiser after decades of experience in leadership roles in industry, focused his study on the development of people at work; this specialty has resulted in a long and exciting consulting career.  In addition to having been on the staff at the White House, he has worked in and consulted to organizations large and small, including brick-and-mortar companies, technology-centered companies, and labor-centered companies.  He always fosters the idea of holding productivity and people together.


Catherine Hartshorn has worked as an organizational consultant for twenty-five years, both in start-ups and large manufacturing organizations.  She has helped leadership teams improve communications and productivity.  In addition, she has worked with individuals as a sandplay therapist for thirty five years, helping people achieve their dreams.

Nevitt Sanford Symposium - 1995, 1996, 1998

Nevitt Sanford (1909-1996), a leading thinker of the 20th century, was a pioneer in the integration of social issues and clinical psychology. His response to the rise of Nazism was to develop a scientific method to study hatred and prejudice, resulting in the foundational book, The Authoritarian Personality, and then followed by Self & Society, and Sanctions for Evil. In 1950, he relinquished his professorship at UC, Berkeley when he refused the sign the loyalty oath. He founded the Wright Institute in 1968 to train people to change cultures by influencing the interactions between social systems and personality.

Dr. Sanford envisioned organizations that allowed people to be productive, respected and adult. He believed that with courageous leadership, organizations had the capacity to bring out the best in human beings while also being highly productive. Values, theory and action were united.

Dr. Sanford was Dr. Hartshorn's intellectual mentor (and chairman of her dissertation). To honor his contribution to cultural change in organizations, Dr. Hartshorn co-founded and helped run (with the principals of Simple Idea) the Nevitt Sanford Symposium, an invitation-only, hands-on practicum for corporate leaders held in 1995, 1996, and 1998. It combined action with theory in a small group environment.

   “There is nothing more practical than a good theory.”

      – Kurt Lewin

Working Hypothesis of the Symposium:

  • People are more developed than the cultures in which they work.
  • Future-oriented companies must help their managers shift from a command-and-control stance to a relate-and-respond stance.
  • The future of the free-market system rides on its ability to adapt to a new world context.
  • Only profit-making corporations have the leverage to take a leadership role in improving the human face of capitalism.


Previous clients, who had already worked with us, participated in the NSS, discussing their successes and difficulties of changing a corporate culture:

President of Teamsters, Local 70
Vice President, Lucky Stores
Distribution Manager, Lucky Stores
Manager, Chevron Refinery
Vice President, Anheuser-Busch
Operations Manager, Ethyl Corporation

“Everybody but the management team was ready for opening the culture. Once the lightning bolt struck, everyone was ready.”

– Karl Mohn, Vice President, Caltex, Philippines

“These theories gave me the ability to do now what I thought I had been doing in the past – but I wasn’t getting results. Now I have the tools.”

– Bill Bruner, Refinery Manager, Chevron

“Labor issues with the Teamsters were tense. Working on relationships over several years, we were able to extend the contract for three more years, well in advance of the contract expiration date. Encouraged, the company invested $46 million in a new plant.”

– Dan Currie, Vice President, Lucky Stores

Participants of the NSS said:

“A year and a half later, I’m still thinking about the Symposium. It’s the best professional development I’ve ever done.”

“The NSS is not a strategy to carry into the Monday morning meeting; it is a dramatically different way of looking at culture.”

“Usually I tune out after a half day. I stayed intellectually excited and involved for the whole three days.”


Call today to make an appointment: 510-845-0999