Positivity, collaboration, and hands-on involvement from the top down were three of the key themes stressed Friday morning by Nicole Piasecki, chair of the Seattle University Board of Trustees and former senior Boeing executive, during her keynote at the third annual Breakfast at the Cone event at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

Each guest in attendance received one of these Museum of Glass medallions. Photo by Joanna Kresge.

Piasecki — who recently retired as vice president and general manager of the Propulsion Systems Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and previously served president of Boeing Japan, among other high-level positions she held during her 25 years with the aerospace company — cited several examples of situations she experienced in her own career and how she and the people around her powered through difficult situations.

One example Piasecki cited was the leadership of Boeing executive Alan Mulally and his development of Boeing’s working together management principles. Weekly planning reviews under Mulally were mandatory and each employee was to give a status of where he or she was against the plan using stoplight charts.

“Green meant everything was going fine, yellow meant there is a problem but I’ve got a plan, and red meant I’m in trouble and I need help,” Piasecki said of Mulally’s color coding system. “Alan didn’t spend any time on green. Yellow, no time. Red, (meant asking) what are we doing to help this person?”

This plan, Piasecki said, wasn’t about calling out an employee who was behind because being red was OK. Rather it was about asking his employees to work together as a team and trusting them to solve any given problem.

Other examples given included engaging with people in all levels of an organization, attracting talent by having a healthy company culture, and encouraging communication. The latter could be doing with something as simple as posting a whiteboard in a hallway asking “What would you like to say today?” More often than not, according to Piasecki, employees use it as a way to praise others.

The Breakfast at the Cone event ultimately is a fundraiser for the Museum of Glass. Proceeds from the event support community and educational programming at the museum. Information from one such program, the museum’s Hot Shop Heroes, was featured prominently.

Hot Shop Heroes is a collaboration with the museum, the Warrior Transition Unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and the American Lake Veterans Administration that offers participants an opportunity to take courses in basic glassblowing and benefit from its therapeutic value.

MultiCare president and CEO Bill Robertson also spoke to the crowd in his role as honorary event chair, as did Debbie Lenk, the museum’s executive director; Gail Weyerhaeuser, chair of the museum’s board of trustees; and Mary Carstensen, coordinator of the Hot Shop Heroes program.