Creating a People First Culture in the St. Louis Zoo


Nichols, Jennifer   (1993, ASQC)   TMI North America; San Francisco, CA

Annual Quality Congress, Boston MA    Vol. 47    No. 0
QICID: 9980    May 1993    pp. 366-370
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Article Abstract

To improve the personal quality of an organization that already had product quality, the St. Louis Zoo focused on service to internal and external customers. The first step in establishing this people first culture was an assessment of the environment in which full time employees worked, by measuring such concepts as teamwork, shared values, willingness to risk innovation, and results orientation. The assessment identified a need for a cultural change that would improve communication of the Zoo's mission and values to Zoo visitors and employees. Key to implementation of the change was a two-day putting people first seminar attended by all full time employees. Goals of the seminar included: improving service to internal and external customers; understanding that service begins with each employee; and knowing the needs of Zoo visitors. After the seminar, many employees volunteered for implementation committees. Within a year these teams have established a new climate of more openness and support. New uniforms have been introduced, compensation plans are being revised, and orientation sessions are now available for part time employees and volunteers. Lessons learned include the need for better planning to handle the large amount of feedback and committee activity generated by the seminar.


Cultural change,Customer service,Employee involvement (EI),External customer,Internal customer,Service sector

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