our clients

Clients Speak


Justin Segall and Yoav Lurie

“The COS is everything they promise and more!”
Justin Segall and Yoav Lurie, Founders, Simple Energy, Denver, CO

Derek van BeverThe Collaborative Operating System teaching team have a slogan that they use that sums up nicely the need for this new approach: “Because the way we’re working is no longer working.”  Wow, is that ever true.  The time is ripe for spreading this new way of working, because businesses and organizations that attempt to bring the same old approaches to the new challenges we are facing will find themselves slipping farther and farther behind.
This is not to say that it will be easy.  While the core COS principles of ownership and alignment and transparency sound appealing, they threaten long-established, unexamined assumptions around hierarchy and control and so will require passion, skill and patience to introduce and to spread.  The COS faculty possess these qualities of passion, skill and patience in abundance, and they have organized their teaching into one of the most intelligent, engaging and fun seminar experiences I have ever participated in.
Whether your challenges lie in  the private or public sector, an entrepreneurial start-up or a global enterprise, managing yourself or leading a team, you will find much that resonates in this teaching, and you will apply the lessons from the seminar every single day.

- Derek van Bever, Senior Lecturer in Business Administration
Director, Forum for Growth and Innovation
Harvard Business School



Bill HunterThe Collaborative Operating System has been the gift that keeps on giving throughout my professional career. I completed my COS training four years ago, and I utilize the skills I learned in that incredible training session daily. I work with a wide range of clients, from technology start ups to healthcare providers.  I have found with every client, in any situation, there are always opportunities to apply the COS to develop ownership and alignment, and together, achieve a goal. My COS background allows me to look at problems through a different lens, and offer a different perspective which ultimately results in a more effective training or solution. The impact of the COS training on my consulting practice cannot be quantified, it is one of the cornerstones of my success.

- Tiffany Shubert, PT, PhD
Shubert Consulting


Rose McConnell

Since understanding the nature of the problem to be solved is critical to achieving success in all work, I really appreciate the COS's focus on how to get a good problem statement in a group setting. I have so many experiences where individuals or groups commenced solving a problem without a good understanding of the problem they were attempting to solve. The result was always frustration, inefficiency and disappointment. The COS teaches one how to identify and involve relevant stakeholders and how to keep the team focused on the same issue at the same time. And I particularly appreciate the specific skills that are taught for working well in groups. 

The COS doesn't tell you that you ought to collaborate. Instead, the COS teaches a specific set of skills that one can use and build upon to build a collaborative organization. This is the best professional training I have received since I left law school. I highly recommend this course.  

- Rose McConnell, McConnell Law Firm



Bill Hunter

The shift from “tell ‘em, then sell ‘em” to collaboration has revolutionized my work in organizational change. Since attending the COS seminar in 2007, I never start a meeting, conference call or coaching session without having alignment on the purpose, outcomes, and usually the process.  As a change consultant, I have used the COS methodology on many engagements, and it is the core of my firm’s collaborative decision-making process, as well as workshops for strategy, planning, or system and process design.

- Bill Hunter, Director, Organizational Change & Development
The Structure Group


Jim Blue PortraitMy organization invested in the Collaborative Operating System to improve our internal and external relationships while simultaneously increasing efficiency and productivity. The investment in terms of dollars and hours was substantial. The results were quite impressive. We were able to improve the culture through the language, exercise and strategies we learned from the collaborative operating system. While difficult to measure in specific terms the return on investment easily eclipsed a 5:1 ratio. We are quite pleased with the results!

- Jim Blue, CEO, The Bostonian Group
Boston, MA

Shannon Rush-CallThe COS was a powerful career and life experience that changed the way I look at ownership, engagement, and commitment. I highly recommend COS to any person who wants to change their paradigm for engaging with and leading others.

- Shannon Rush-Call, Senior Organizational Effectiveness Consultant, Micron Technology, Inc.
Boise, ID

Hamish MacphailI am now armed with a set of practical tools and templates to carry out my work more effectively, and collaboratively.  Along with those tools I have an understanding of the psychology underlying the objectives of the COS, what the benefits of working collaboratively are, and what true collaboration offers to deliver when realized - in a work environment, but also in a social or family environment too.

- Harnish Mcphail, CFO
San Francisco Bay Area


Melissa SemcerLearning COS catapulted me to the next level, both in my thinking about how to solve difficult problems and in moving me forward in my career. As a young person and a female, I found myself working in the predominantly male-dominated field of utility energy policy, and I was trying to engage stakeholders to take on some of the world's most pressing problems. COS gave me the tools and confidence to earn the respect of my colleagues, engage in a difficult settlement process, and resolve 30 years of litigation between multiple parties. By engaging in a collaborative process, I was able to address not only the technical issues needing resolution, but also the very real human factors involved in letting go of an old way of thinking and adapting to our changing times.

Now, in my current role as an administrative law judge, I am leading a 50+ party stakeholder process to determine how to appropriately spend over $15 billion dollars to mitigate the impacts of climate change on electricity ratepayers while reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions. I employ the tools of COS regularly to engage all parties as well as to manage our internal process in addressing this issue. Perhaps most importantly, I use the tools on myself to keep clear on the problem we're solving and our trajectory forward. Whenever things go awry, I bring myself and my team back to the fundamental problem we are trying to solve and why we are trying to solve it. It helps keep us motivated, aligned and energized.

- Melissa Semcer, Administrative Law Judge, California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco, CA

Jason StallcupEverything will be different now.  Since everything we do is about solving problems this course has affected the way I look at everything.  The change is very fundamental and that's why it's so important and difficult.  It's not easy to have a paradigm shift but a truly worthwhile pursuit.

- Jason Stallcup, Owner
Stallcup & Voie
San Francisco, CA

The core principles of COS, clear articulation of what it means to build ownership and alignment, and how to do so effectively, have proven invaluable to me in leading and working across teams and defining and tackling wicked problems in an increasingly complex organization.

- Beth Anderson, Executive Director, The Hill Center, Durham, NC

Jeff KnappAs a Human Resources executive, my experiences with Rachel and the COS are an invaluable part of the toolkit I use every day. I have known Rachel for over ten years, and during that time, her insightful leadership, constant encouragement and profound coaching have been instrumental in my personal and professional growth. Additionally, the fundamentals I learned in the COS provide the strategic and tactical backbone that has allowed me to create sustainable and measurable cultural change in the organizations I’ve served. Done well, it is truly a differentiator for any organization or leader. I would highly recommend both the content and the process to anyone desiring a truly better, and more effective, way of leading and living.

- Jeff Knapp, Vice President, Human Resources
Harvest Power, Inc.
Boston, MA

Jennifer CavallariThe COS has influenced so many aspects of my work both in process and content. It has revolutionized the way my research team works: collaboratively and more efficiently.  I have also found that the core principles of the COS are relevant to grant writing and manuscript preparation.  I highly recommend the COS course which not only gives you the content of the COS, but helps you engage and practice the principles.

- Jennifer Cavallari, ScD. CIH
Assistant Professor
University of Connecticut Health Center

Mohamed TalaatIn COS, I found a group of motivating people who operationalized core principles of what I have long believed are near-ideal ways of interacting in our personal lives and our community groups into a an integrated system that can function and scale up in the for-profit business domain. I was at first pleasantly surprised and somewhat skeptical. Working with the COS team, I emerged highly empowered and significantly less skeptical…and still surprised! Yet my surprise pales next to the surprise of family and colleagues at my newfound strength and ability to confront difficulty and to execute nonconventional solutions for complex problems.

- Mohamed M. Talaat, Ph.D., P.E., Senior Engineer
San Francisco, CA

Julian WongLearning and applying the Collaborative Operating System has been game-changing for me. It has armed me with a simple and systematic approach to tackle any problem, and made me much more aware of what works and what doesn't in any collaborative endeavor. The beauty and power of COS is that its underlying principles are so simple, and broadly applicable to almost any situation.

- Julian Wong, Fullbright Fellow
Attorney for Start Ups & Emerging Companies, Palo Alto, CA

Sheila Kelly


If you are looking for an effective antidote to issues like employee disengagement and leadership fatigue, the Collaborative Operating System offers sensible, leading-edge, and easy to implement strategies. As a corporate coach for ten years, I find COS to be the most relevant professional development tool in my toolbox. The training is comprehensive and the trainers, masterful.

- Sheila M. Kelly, Leadership Coach
The Big Yes
Nova Scotia, Canada

The Collaborative Operating System is the most powerful tool I use to get people on the same page (literally) and moving forward together. It transformed my consulting work, from Silicon Valley startups to the Fortune 50. It works well across cultures - I've used it successfully throughout Europe, where a client said, "I just love how our team works together". If you need to lead people, or work with people to get things done - at companies, departments, projects, customers, alliance partnerships, teenagers, families, and communities - I highly recommend the COS. (And I'm not even joking about teenagers.)

- Steve Tennant, Consultant
Tennant Consulting
Orinda, CA

Joanne ChuCOS is an ideal framework for engaging multiple stakeholders in complex problem solving. COS has irrevocably changed how I view and approach collaboration and teamwork. It is a language and way for all to engage in our work as empowered adults. I believe COS is a critical skill for anyone engaged in the facilitation and implementation of institutional change, especially in the areas of environmental and sustainability initiatives.

- Joanne Chu, PhD, Director of Sustainable Living and Environmental Studies
Georgia Perimeter College

Living the highest ideals of life didn’t seem practical for leading people in business until I was introduced to COS.

- Frank Workman, Owner & Manager, 
Dealers Supply & Lumber Company, LLC

Stephanie NesbittAs a trial attorney for many years, who ultimately became a mediator, I was already aware that a truly workable solution to any problem has to be win-win.  Nonetheless, I still spent lots of time in meetings that accomplished nothing, even when the people present really wanted to create a solution. Then along came Rachel and the Collaborative Operating System!  As a result of using it with my many partners in and out of the court system, teams that historically spent most of their time opposing one another now work together to solve problems without even being asked. Hooray for COS!"

- Stephanie A. Nesbitt, District Court Administrator, 
Durham, NC

In 2005, I was introduced to Rachel and the COS through my business partner.  I signed up and at the end of the training declared it “truth” with a capital “T”.  The COS principles resonate with my spiritual and personal convictions like no other business training I have ever had.  It was easy to see that it is the right way to treat people, the right way to lead and manage.  So much so, that it has become our personal commitment to each other as partners and our highest goal as a business: to lead, manage, and operate collaboratively.  Everyday, we endeavor to work according to the principles of COS.

- Will Sykes, Owner & Manager, 
Dealers Supply & Lumber Company, LLC

KC BoyceIncreasingly, business, NGO, and government leaders are identifying collaboration as an imperative to successfully compete and solve problems in an ever more complex world. The problem is, no one knows how to reliably structure collaboration to achieve their desired outcomes. COS solves that problem handily. It works, it's replicable, and it's scalable. Most importantly, it is the future of how the world will work.

- K.C. Boyce, Principal
Boyce & Company
Atlanta, GA

I have used COS with great success and much positive feedback in facilitating a multi-session strategic planning program for our local senior center. I cannot rave too much about the value of this program. It is extremely well organized. The process is very clear and easily adapted to any organization. The material is simply OUTSTANDING, and it is delivered in the most effective and efficient manner.

- Hardy Hasenfuss, Coach and President
Thriving Business Partners
Boston, MA

Michael Coop CooperAs an executive coach and consultant, I was skeptical about anything claiming to replace hierarchy in organizations, however I was pleasantly surprised with the depth, simplicity and elegance embedded in the Collaborative Operating System. I use the "Problem Solving Template" in every session with my coaching clients and every time I meet with a consulting client. I run my organization with COS and always conduct collaborative meetings with my clients and their customers. I've helped several clients deploy COS in their organizations and they are always struck by how simple and effective it is.

- Michael O. "Coop" Cooper, President
Loving Leaders, LLC
San Francisco, CA

Buzz SztukowskiThe Collaborative Operating System™ provides a foundational framework in which organizations effectively work on the right problems in a manner that engages stakeholder creativity to develop real solutions that make a difference. The COS ensures that all team members become part of the solution. The process is practical and enables implementation that drives meaningful results. I attended a COS seminar in '07 and use the leadership concepts and processes in my business almost daily. I recommended the COS and Seminar if you are seeking a way to make meaningful and positive change.

- Buzz Sztukowski, Vice President & General Manager
Specialty Diagnostics Americas at PerkinElmer, In.c

Paul DownsHaving done strategic facilitation for 15+ years, taking the COS course was a bracing engagement with the best parts of our profession. It sets a very high standard for the potential of collaboration, and for me this was extremely valuable.

- Paul Downs, Strategic Planning Facilitator
Paul Downs Consulting
Berkeley, CA

Organizational changes driven by the new economy can be very complex in nature. COS was helpful in teaching me how to get at the real problem quickly and gaining ownership and alignment from all stakeholders helped assure work force reductions without compromising our mission and commitment to our members.

- Dan Pile, Sr. VP of Operations
Metro Atlanta YMCA, Inc.

Having first been exposed to the Collaborative Operating System™ through a community workgroup that included participants from many agencies, I asked Rachel Conerly if she would facilitate our management team retreat. Our agency was experiencing difficulties in making decisions efficiently. By the end of the day long retreat we had full agreement about a re-alignment and a new decision-making process. Now a small management group uses the problem-solving template to make important agency decisions, inviting key stakeholders as needed. The Collaborative Operating System works. It helps remove a lot of unnecessary clutter from the conversations that really matter.

- Tim Brooks, MFT, Director
Carolina Outreach

Mandy MahoneyPersonal empowerment
COS has empowered me to be successful at at very young age. The program equipped me with the skills and the confidence to engage in work with people of any age and any level. COS creates a framework and path that works in any meeting or project big or small. People are innately drawn to the clean, efficient process the COS establishes. COS helps me because it builds trust and confidence in me, my abilities, and my work with all people I work with. As a 20-something in world of 50 year olds, establishing trust and confidence quickly so we can get into real work is critical.

Community engagement
COS is a critical tool in working with the public/community. The public comes to me with anger and frustration over an environmental issue that they don't like in their community. I have to unpack the emotions so that we can get to the actual problem that they'd like solved. COS allows me to cut right through the emotion and get to the heart of the problem. I have watched many people turn quickly from a feelings of anger and angst into feelings of excitement and empowerment. COS is the tool by which they learn I am here to work with them and be their partner.

Team work
My staff and I have studied under the COS system for the past several years. It is the model we use for all of our work. It has been amazing to watch everyone of my staff grow and blossom through use of the COS tools. We have tremendous transparency and openness within our team that has created strength, trust, and incredible team work. People we work with often comment about how impressed they are at the level of honest communication and dynamic nature of our team. It's because of COS.

- Mandy Schmitt Mahoney
President, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance

I've always been a change agent. I was the VP of HR for a 600-person organization when I learned and used the Collaborative Operating System (COS). We started by training our associates in Collaborative Meetings; next we trained the administrative assistants as facilitators. These two steps began the transformation. I later commissioned what has become COS, and it is indeed, a paradigm shift and the most effective approach to work that I know of. My company was making the shift from a command and control organization to a more collaborative one. Rachel and her staff introduced the COS and the culture shift began. As our meetings became more collaborative, there was ownership for actions. The process was a strategic one as well as a tactical one. Ownership, Alignment and Trust became the new mantra of the organization.

I highly recommend the COS to any organization, no matter the size.

- Bill Goad
Former VPHR of Style Crest, Inc.

COS empowered me to become more confident in my role as an engaged employee in addition to helping me become more organized and efficient in my personal work every day.

- Sydnee Grushack
Program Coordinator, Town of North Hempstead
Greater New York City Area

Valencia RayI have had the opportunity to take both the 12 week COS (Collaborative Operating System) course and the advanced facilitator's course with Liz and Mark.  I have found it to be invaluable!  Not only has it given me a collaborative facilitation tool that gives structure for a process that can engage the heart and mind of the team, I have used it to help my clients - and myself - with vision creation and strategic planning.  There is also a wonderful community follow-up and forum that allows for continued growth and honing of skill.  Liz and Mark are so very committed and helpful as well.  I feel fortunate to be a part of the community and cannot be more enthusiastic about recommending this COS training.  I give it my highest enthusiastic endorsement!

- Valencia Ray, M.D., Coach and Consultant, 
Chicago, IL

Jeb BrugmannRachel Conerly was introduced to me as I was assuming 'turnaround' responsibility for an organization in crisis. She had previously trained one of the organization's managers in the COS approach. I noticed how effective he was, by using some of the techniques, in helping his colleagues navigate the crisis. We invited Rachel to join us as a resource in an early transition conference call to offer process reflection. The COS framework develops a group's mentality and facility for tackling tough challenges: if people can be aided to clearly define and agree on the problems over which they wrestle, then they can establish a framework for working together with greater equanimity on developing the solutions. Some of the COS techniques were introduced into our manager's weekly group work activities. Rachel also worked with us to design and co-facilitate a culminating retreat with the board and managers to finalize the re-organization plan. The retreat was a great success, and with Rachel's engagement we also identified new issues for future work. Throughout her engagement, Rachel was intensive, responsive, generous, and an accessible fellow-traveler. We concluded our engagement with her with a sense of great progress and an awareness that she still had more to teach.

- Jeb Brugmann, Managing Partner,
The Next Practice

James DerkitsJesus taught that the last should be first, and the first should be last; in the church we seek to listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit; St. Paul taught that every person has an important part to play as a member of the Body of Christ. Those are some of our highest teachings, and sometimes it is a challenge to live out those teachings in the day-to-day workings of the church. The Collaborative Operating System Training gave me tools to help fulfill those teachings in a surprisingly productive way! More than one time during the course I thought to myself: this is how our community can be open to the movement of the Spirit! Since I completed the course, we have started been using the COS strategies across our community, from the way we engage newcomers to the meeting design of our church's governing board. I would encourage other clergy to be open to the rich gifts given through COS...and of course you can translate into churchy language as needed!

- The Rev. J. James Derkits
Episcopal Priest, Trinity by the Sea
Port Aransas, TX