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The Change Conversation Continues

by Lucy Freedman

Like you and your own organization, Syntax is living the whitewater of change in an accelerating, technological, team oriented world that is calling out the best of what we teach. We are inspired by the current wave of thinking in organizational learning and management. These conversations are relevant to our own company at least as much as to our work with corporate clients.

We're noticing the increased degree to which practices such as inquiry, reflection and dialogue are becoming accepted in the business arena. The conversations drawn from chaos theory and other new sciences, experiments with large group change processes, and the use of corporate coaches for individuals and workgroups, all say that there is a need for new ways of communicating in our new forms of organizations. These practices are indicative of a prevalent yearning for mutual understanding, and the search for tools to achieve it.

Leaders are coming to grips with the fact that change is not optional. Many have been disillusioned by poor results from initiatives they thought would manage the changes in their organizations and markets. No short term solution will alleviate the steep learning curve we face.

Adapting to change is a continuous process, which may be given direction from the center of an organizational web, but must allow for local design and implementation. Leaders are searching for tools to ensure that those local solutions reflect organizational direction, vision and values, and that organizational direction, vision, and values reflect "local" input -- often from all over the world.

Critical to this process is the ability of each member of the organization to create and maintain effective relationships. Indeed, this is not merely a pleasant personal quality, but a crucial business need. When your competitors can replicate your technical achievements (sometimes within weeks), the ever-increasing reality is that "it isn't what you do, it's how you do it."

Relationships vital to business operate at every scale of the enterprise —within work teams, between departments, with client companies, and with business partners. It is well known that customer and employee loyalty are the gold that has enduring business value. To maximize opportunities in these varying situations, employees must communicate flexibly, yet hold clear direction. That is, they must be able to notice behavior—both their own and others’—and choose what works to get desired results. Employees must possess these fundamental skills at a much higher level of mastery than was previously required.

Propelled by these central business needs, Syntax is in a new phase of expansion and partnership with our client companies. Internally, we've been undergoing our own change process, managing the opportunities and challenges of a new growth curve. Teams are collaborating on client work, material production and public presentations.

We also continue to explore what kinds of support and reinforcement will best serve those who have learned Syntax. Given the pace of change, our attention is on learning that sticks. Corporate investments in learning must be managed intelligently for the long haul.

Fortunately, the true "people skills" don't change every few months the way the technology does. Our work has been to learn about how people learn behavioral skills and concepts that serve them so well that they want to apply them. Our highest compliments have come from people saying, "I'd rather be in a meeting with someone who has learned Syntax. It's much easier to get to the result." If there were one thing that we would recommend as a continuing reminder as we run the rapids, it's to keep your goals in mind. These allow you to keep "your feet downstream" -- as river rafters know, important advice when you fall in the water!

What has become clear is the value of a shared language about how to communicate more effectively. The language must be suited to people's work situations, yet generic enough to be a cross-disciplinary bridge. We believe that there is economic sense in delivering shared solutions not only to technical audiences, but to go enterprise-wide with Syntax as the behavioral foundation for other organizational change initiatives.

We know there are many individuals and organizations seeking this kind of partner. We enjoy working with like-minded leaders who share our awareness of and enthusiasm for the challenges of this unique time. The solutions to these challenges already exist hidden in the web of our relationships. By extending ourselves deeper into those relationships, the right resources
invariably surface. We invite those of you who are ready to collaborate in this way to make a connection with us. We offer you our resources, experience, and solutions in achieving the learning goals that are important for you now.
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