All-Star Case Studies

Learn from the "Best of the Best" - the Great Game™ All-Stars

2020 Case Study - HLB Lighting Design

New York, NY

2019 Revenues:
$16.3 million

Employees: 90

Critical Numbers™: Profit Before Taxes and Bonuses, with a Cash Kicker


Organization Background

HLB Lighting Design is the largest independent architectural lighting design firm in North America. HLB, which got its start in 1968, is an acronym for the last names of the three of the founders of the firm Barbara Horton, Stephen Lees, and Teal Brogden. While the firm’s original office was in New York City, the firm has since expanded with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Denver, and Austin. They also employ other remote workers who are deployed across the country.


HLB has always been proud to have a forward-thinking and inclusive culture; what they call “HLB One,” which is based on the value pillars of: Leadership, Artistry, Legacy, Integrity, Balance, and Curiosity. The team saw an opportunity to expand a deeper knowledge among employees about how HLB generates revenue and creates balance as a way to reduce financial risks and preserve valuable resources in economic downturns.


When HLB hired their new CFO, Beth Cantavella, in 2017, she shared her knowledge of The Great Game of Business® (GGOB)—after which the team recognized that Great Game™ would be an ideal enhancement to their HLB One culture. They kicked off their GGOB journey with the help of their coach, Anne-Claire Broughton, in October 2019.


Prior to embracing GGOB, HLB had enjoyed constant, double-digit growth for several years—coupled with the strongest backlog of work in company history. But the financial awareness and open communication tools the team learned prior to the onset of COVID-19 has already helped them navigate the crisis. “I am grateful that we were about one-year into GGOB when the global COVID pandemic hit, our culture of transparency has been, for our team, a reassuring counterbalance to all of the uncertainty and turbulence in the world,” says co-founder Teal Brogden.

“GGOB has empowered and equipped me to be a part of building our company's financial legacy. As an entry level employee, I would never have had the opportunity to contribute and pursue my own ideas in such a tangible way if our company hadn't adopted GGOB. I am thrilled to be a part of crafting something bigger than myself.”

~ Shelby Allen, Senior Designer

Spotlight on the Pandemic

A positive aspect inside the business during the pandemic crisis is that, thanks to playing GGOB, the entire company has jumped in to help weather the storm. “The kinds of conversations we’re having as a company about the financials and how people are coming up with ideas and recommendations to bring to the board wouldn’t have happened just a few months ago,” says Cantavella. The team also volunteered to pass on receiving their bonus payment from the prior quarter to help the company preserve cash. But the firm’s board opted to pay it anyway as a thank you for their incredible performance.

“Prior to GGOB, we had a strong culture and respect for all employees. With the addition of GGOB, we now have a high level of understanding with regard to financials and the inner workings of the firm. Each employee now understands how their daily efforts affect the firm and has respect for the responsibility they hold.”

~ Maura Reinhart, Senior Designer

MiniGame™ Spotlight

HLB has kicked off a variety of MiniGames to target different areas of improvement inside the business. Examples include a game called “Social Butterflies,” which was designed to boost awareness of the company’s brand on social media. Another example was named “HLBack to the Future,” whose goal was to improve the timeliness and accuracy of time sheets to make the invoicing process faster and more accurate. The team also played a MiniGame with a focus on building awareness on the staff about rising healthcare costs and how employees could do their part to stay healthy.

What’s Next

A big next step for the HLB team is to begin engaging their team in the High-Involvement Planning™ process. A related effort will be to find a way to coordinate projects spread across the company in a way that helps the entire team forward forecast their workloads more accurately. There are also opportunities to improve their MiniGame play, especially when it comes to picking more focused goals to aim at.

“After working at HLB for 6 months, I love the company and workplace culture, and I think a huge part of that is business transparency. It builds trust between everyone in the company and helps us grow more efficient, productive, and successful, both individually and as a company.”

~ Ethan Neslund, Designer



Get Started With The Great Game of Business

Learn More About Coaching-2


Attend An Event


Access Tools and Resources