South Texas Nuclear Project: From Worst to First

Facilitative leaders at STP keep the nuclear plant efficient, safe, and profitable.


Until 1993, STP had struggled with a number of management and safety challenges, and had received low ratings from both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the industry's self-regulating group, INPO. The plant was forced to suspend operations in its first year. To address this crisis, a new management team was formed. The team realized that the old “command and control” method of management could not continue. The new organization model emphasized teams, continuous improvement, and a high degree of involvement in the workplace. The management team realized it was essential to the plant's future to make collaborative behavior and problem-solving a permanent part of their culture. Based on the success Interaction Associates had achieved with other power plants, STP hired IA to transfer skills in teamwork, leadership and facilitation throughout the plant.

How Interaction Associates Helped

Interaction Associates and the STP team developed a new organizational and leadership model that emphasized employee involvement, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Key elements of the change process included:

  • Adopting the Facilitative Leadership© model for all leaders in the organization.
  • Immediately training all leaders, in a cascading process, in the collaborative tools of Facilitative Leadership©.
  • Reorganizing the facility into teams chartered to address specific corrective actions identified by the company and the NRC.
  • Chartering cross-functional teams to address work processes.
  • Supporting team-based decisions throughout the operation.
  • Partnering with outside consultants to coach leadership teams through the change effort.
  • Actively promoting a trusting work environment.

Return On Involvement

In 1996, after a one-year turnaround, the plant was rated in the top 10 of all U.S. nuclear power plants. NRC and INPO gave the plant an overall rating of one, citing two specific reasons for the turnaround: industry experts that coached the management team on a daily basis, and the integration of Facilitative Leadership© throughout the plant. As a result of improved rating, insurance costs are reduced as is cost of compliance to regulatory requirements.
Competitors are looking to this plant for ideas and solutions to operational problems.

IA Services Provided

  • Collaborative Culture Change.
  • Facilitative Leadership©.
  • The Coaching EDGE™.
  • Essential Facilitation©.

Project at a Glance

Nuclear power facility.

Second-largest electrical generation capacity in U.S.

Approximately 1500 employees and contractors.

Serves nearly two million homes.

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