The Wathen Group incorporates a change management point of view, a reputation management approach, and a cultural change process to guide public and private organizations through significant events or changes in leadership and direction. In creating a clear vision, a strategy to execute on the vision, and a business model to further effectiveness, profitability, and expansion, The Wathen Group strives to build capacity for organizations at all levels.

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About Us

In 2009, with more than 25 years of executive and officer-level experience, Deborah Wathen Finn founded The Wathen Group.

Our team includes leaders across transportation, infrastructure, engineering, and technology industries in order to offer the depth and breadth needed to support client needs and achieve objectives.

From working with a global technology company to expand throughout the Northeast market; conducting safety assessments of major transit authorities; to implementing quality service/product delivery programs, we use our broad base of expertise to lead transformational change in complex, crisis-driven, and high stakes situations.

The Wathen Group has built, designed and implemented effective programs for large and small scale organizations. Our areas of expertise include:

  • Organizational Assessments
  • Growth Strategy
  • Community Blueprint
  • Safety Culture
  • Employee Engagement
  • Customer Experience

Building Capacity and Executing Your Vision

Organizational Assessments

For any public or private organization undergoing transformational change, from new leadership teams, turnarounds or creating strategic plans, The Wathen Group takes a methodical approach combined with high-level strategy and decades of experience.

While some models of organizational effectiveness have gone in and out of fashion, the McKinsey 7-S framework has persisted. Developed in the 1980s, the model involves seven interdependent factors that have direct influence over each other: shared values, strategy, structure, systems, style, staff, and skills.

The Wathen Group uses the 7-S Model based on the theory that for an organization to be high-performing, these seven elements need to align and be mutually reinforcing.

At the beginning of our efforts, we will design a process for identifying contributing factors to advance your organization’s strategic goals.

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Growth Strategy

Key to The Wathen Group approach is a collaborative focus which engages various levels of your organization. Our associates have decades of experience with facilitation, team building, and mediating differences.

Depending on your performance objectives, TWG provides a customized outline to identify key stakeholders, opportunities, and necessary action in order to lay out a strategic framework to measure your organization’s performance and facilitate effective change.

Our portfolio includes: Individual Interviews; Focus Groups; Team Workshops; Employee Surveys; Competitive Analysis / Benchmarking; SWOT Assessments; Market Research; and Go-To-Market Roadmaps.

This then informs us for assisting you in formulating a strategic plan aimed at achieving your organizational goals and effectively creating a high-performing team.

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Community Blueprint

How do public and private organizations develop a social responsibility strategy to link to their performance objectives?

We find that over time, a strategy, that engages the affected community interests and embraces the unique nature of the community by offering opportunities for others to benefit as well can often create support for the initiative and organization if done effectively and credibly.

We help organizations to identify and conduct proactive outreach to small and local businesses with particular attention in creating opportunities for Minority and Women Business Enterprises and build local capacity. We also develop strategic plans for private sector organizations to incorporate economic development into projects to enhance the larger community and gain support for key initiatives.

Why? Because it makes a difference and is the right thing to do.

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Safety Culture

An evaluation of the impact of safety culture at over 600 US based organizations in diverse industries revealed that better work methods and reduced absenteeism had contributed to improved organizational performance, while also affecting product quality and service delivery.

Creating an effective safety culture relies upon an organization that adopts an approach that includes effective employment engagement, leadership commitment and ongoing feedback and measurement to constantly raise the bar on performance.

The Wathen Group uses Dr. Reason’s Framework that identifies five elements to define an organization’s safety culture: an informed culture, reporting culture, learning culture, flexible culture, and just culture.

Through safety assessments using industry standards, focus groups, workshops and various other tools, we help organizations to identify their strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, shape strategies to respond to that assessment and adopt cultural change to support strong safety and customer-focused behavior.

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Employee Engagement

High employee engagement drives strong performance. An estimated 70% of the US workforce are disengaged. This is a serious challenge, particularly in the transportation industry. Imagine the impact of a disengaged workforce on safety performance? Operational delivery? Customer experience? Employee morale?

A 2013 Gallup poll highlighted that when organizations successfully engage their customers and employees, they experience a 240% performance boost. Specifically, the poll found an engaged workforce results in a 21% increase in productivity; 22% in profitability; and a 48% decrease in safety incidents.

Organizational models suggest the delivery of optimal performance occurs when there is a balance created by empowering employees and leadership guidance.

The Wathen Group uses strategic frameworks to identify critical issues as well as engage key management and staff to ensure buy-in and effective implementation with measurable results.

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Customer Experience

Customer-focused delivery can enhance productivity through increasing confidence in employees, promoting better judgment and reducing employee stress.

Understanding your customers’ experiences to the point where customers become champions for your organization can ultimately create more effective service delivery, improve the roll-out of new initiatives and streamline the communication of changes to service.

Critical elements of organizations are interconnected to deliver quality service: leadership, middle management, measurement, front-line employees and the customer.

However, there are often challenges for effective customer-focused delivery ranging from organizational structure, resource constraints, or evolving customer expectations.

Through implementing customized tactics and strategies for clients, The Wathen Group has achieved various outcomes across transportation, infrastructure, and technology industries.

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Certifications and Associations

The Wathen Group is certified throughout the US:

  • State of New Jersey DBE & WBE
  • State of New York DBE & WBE
  • Houston METRO SBE
  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) SBE
  • State of California DBE
  • Connecticut Department of Transportation DBE
  • Maine Department of Transportation DBE
  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation DBE and WBE
  • State of Illinois DBE

The Wathen Group is a business member of APTA – the national public transit trade association.

Deborah Wathen Finn has been a member of WTS International since 1981, including service as National President in 1982-3. She continues to play an active role and is on the Advisory Board of the Greater New York Chapter. She also serves as Vice Chair of the Yarmouth, Maine Economic Development Advisory Board.


    The Wathen Group is a nationwide company with clients throughout North America. With an intense understanding of strategic positioning and managing relationships, we can assist you no matter where you are located.