To Top

Meet Jessica Higgins of Gapingvoid Culture Design Group

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Higgins.

Jessica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I designed and manage the only end-to-end culture design firm in existence today. My team of brilliant and inspired change agents from a holistic set of expertise, from leadership coaching to behavior change, to marketing, to physical space design and even art, We serve the largest and most culture-centric businesses worldwide, including Microsoft, Pfizer, Zappos, L’Oreal and many others.

I came from a classic management consulting background and became an expert in organizations systems management with a specialty in designing new systems entirely.

What I saw over and over is that when you have a system of people who do not care, classic management science works. But when you have people inside your organization who truly do care and desire to make a difference, an approach to management that is based on the mandate, or training, or incentives simply produces sub-optimal results to before the systems were in place.

I met our CEO, who owned a creative agency that made leadership tools that were informally embraced by all the leading CEOs worldwide like Mark Zuckerberg, Seth Godin, the CEOs of Microsoft throughout the years, and so many others.

So we decided to pull from what worked from management sciences in designing systems and combine it with a series of collaborators and our tools to execute large change initiatives using what we call EmploymentUX: where the people and the business just naturally align through social contagion. It’s sustainable change because people don’t even realize they are changing. We move mindsets and behaviors to create work that is meaningful. Everyone wins. Employees, customers, and shareholders.

We believe this is the future of work, and our clients agree.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I came from a world of consulting where everyone had the same background as me: same education, same experience, so we all worked the same way.

When we came together to form this venture, we all knew from the beginning that the only way for this concept to work is for our team to work together from beginning to end so we’re all aligned to delivering the very best for our clients. I work with very creative characters every day and I have an engineering brain. We are complete opposite ends of the spectrum and that means we have serious challenges.

There were times in the early days where it felt so tough I questioned what I was even doing, but then when we started seeing the power and results for our clients, that is what keeps us all here. It took a while to find our flow state, and it isn’t always easy, but regardless of our styles and personalities, we keep our North Star focused on the clients. We found our glue and we stick with it.

Please tell us about Gapingvoid Culture Design Group LLC.
We are the only end-to-end culture design firm in existence today, This makes us 10x less expensive and 10x more effective than any other culture solution. Culture is a tough business problem because it requires so much complexity, and we can manage it all in a cohesive, measured, effective and infinitely scalable way.

By this I mean, if you are a business with a culture problem, the steps you take and the vendors you pay to try to fix this problem will quickly add up. I personally don’t believe in the consulting model at all because you pay for hours with no real solutions and often get up-sold on paying for even more hours as a solution. We are a small team that is very special and nimble, so we can charge our clients flat rate to do everything they need and spike productivity, engagement, innovation, and really any other human system up in around 3 to 6 months. Culture is really always changing, so some clients choose to have us longer, but we are big on the impact side.

The consulting status quo is completely broken, which is why there are so many business problems and no real solutions. I had one client recently tell me that a big culture design firm (I won’t say who but hint that they have theme parks) projected that their culture change program will take 9 years. Another client told me they fired a big 4 consulting firm for providing a “solution” of 100 onsite consultants. After spending a million dollars in a few months they fired the firm. These stories are just ridiculous.

On the process side, culture design itself can be such a bottomless pit because there are so many moving parts. As a business, if you have a culture problem you can hire a consulting firm to do an assessment. Then you can hire a leadership coach to manage that side, then you can hire a comms team, then hire an employees coaching the team to drive things like innovation, collaboration, etc. And that will result in lots of training, which takes people away from the business they should actually be doing and often isn’t effective or scalable. Then you hire an employment brand firm. The list just goes on and on and at the end, you paid for some consulting hours and a few other things, none of which are tied together or particularly effective.

We are the complete opposite of this model in that we believe in designing for culture, which is social systems that have business applications, so we design social solutions. They meet employees where they already are and change behavior without people even realizing it. It’s not manipulation because everyone wins. People feel more meaning in their work and businesses make more money. This is exactly why the future of business operations is, in my opinion, culture design and management.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I had to completely rebrand an old business which meant a lot of changing an already established online footprint. It’s still a work in progress to develop cohesive brand presence and we’re on year 4. When I do this again, I’ll start from the beginning.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

The New Republic:

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in