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Projects

Syntax has been a learning partner with many organizations over the past twenty years, with projects taking a variety of forms to best suit the clients' needs. The examples below represent some of the situations that have led organizations to choose Syntax; the courses, consultation, or coaching that was provided; and the benefits that resulted from the work.

Whether your situation is similar to these or is completely different, contact us to explore the best options for you!


Agilent Technologies

Cisco Systems

EDS

Hewlett-Packard

IBM

Intel

Netscape

Oracle

Pearson Communications

Sun Microsystems


USDA Agricultural Research Service

US Postal Service

Agilent Technologies
Lightwave Division Research and Development
Collaborative Leadership Skills, Training and Coaching

Situation:
Agilent's Lightwave Division is racing to keep up with technological advances and customer needs in their flagship line of products that support the telecommunications industry. Their manager had been introduced to Syntax when he was assigned outside of the US and brought the knowledge and practices from our book Smart Work with him when he came to the Santa Rosa facility. Supported by a longtime Syntax user, he invited Syntax to work with his management team and their direct reports.

Syntax solution:
Using a combination of learning sessions and two forms of coaching on application of Syntax skills, we provided a two-tiered approach. The management team was so pressed in their current growth phase that they received compressed briefings on Syntax, and then sat in for portions of their groups' classroom sessions. The people who reported to them attended several full- and half-day Syntax sessions and participated in telephone group coaching to ensure that they were supported in applying what they learned. Several additional intensive three-day learning programs on Collaborative Leadership have been provided for administrative leaders as well as technical contributors since then, with a continuing commitment to learn Syntax including ongoing coaching with individuals and teams.

Results:
Consistent use of Syntax in goal-setting, problem-solving, employee coaching, and team meetings improved management of changes such as the entire division's move to a new location. Individuals and teams continue to report ongoing benefits as they apply their skills to new business challenges.

"Your efforts turned out to be a great success! I like to express my deep appreciation for the results you achieved. I have been recommending your services to my colleagues and managers, and I am convinced that many of us will be very interested in working with you again when opportunities arise."
- Joachim Vobis, R&D, DCA Section Manager

"The Syntax course has become my foundation for learning how to work with people. Not a day goes by without using something that I learned from the course. I truly believe that my rise to becoming a comptent project manager was accelerated greatly by the quality time spent in one-on-one and telephone coaching."
- Carol Marsh, R&D Project Manager, Lightwave Division

"I am particularly aware of the value of Syntax when I am walking around those impromptu opportunities for hallway coaching. As I hear how people are thinking and leading, I can remind them of the material. It has given us a whole new language for informal coaching."
- Dave Bass, Vice President and General Manager, Lightwave Division
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Cisco
San Jose Technical Assistance Center
Culture of Support Consulting and Learning Program

Situation:
Cisco's Technical Assistance Center handles calls from customers worldwide and constantly tracks the customers' satisfaction with the analyst's handling of their needs. As stated by a sponsoring manager, some of the managers and team leaders had lost sight of the importance of treating customer feedback as learning rather than as trouble. The satisfaction ratings were not as high as they could be, and more importantly, the atmosphere was less growth-oriented.

Solution:
Syntax collaborated with Cisco in this ten-month culture change effort to move from a purely performance culture into learning culture. In the beginning phase, Syntax conducted a culture and needs assessment which produced a "Culture of Support" document describing goals, desired attitudes and best practices. This Integrated Culture of Support message was then introduced into 12 Technical Assistance Center teams through a series of Syntax-facilitated meetings. Participants were asked how they could take best practices into action. Mentoring sessions, consisting of 1-2 hour modules, were held with managers and mentors.
In addition, coaching was conducted with managers on personal and team
development. In the final phases, Syntax facilitated a New Hire orientation program using Culture of Support best practices and Syntax skills. They matched new hires with mentors and provided coaching to those teams.

Results:
This insightful commentary states in the client's own words the value that Syntax helped to provide: " can't overstate how important a learning culture is to the overall success of our Technical Assistance Center, maintaining high customer satisfaction and retaining quality people. Most support centers within large companies consider themselves to be 'trouble centers.' That's a negative descriptor, and the atmosphere in a 'trouble center' is depressed by the negative feelings that go along with that frame of mind. People focus on the fact that they deal with problems all day long.

"At Cisco, we are a 'learning center' and it is within that context that we 'solve' complex networking problems. The discovery-based atmosphere of a learning center is what keeps intelligent motivated people from leaving here. They are invigorated by the amount of new information they receive on a daily basis and they enjoy their opportunities to apply that knowledge. We, as managers, became complacent about that atmosphere and we obviously began to take it for granted. Our obsession with performance was one manifestation of that. You and your group helped us to see that. We were able to back off and guess what? Since then, the employees have gone back to reveling in learning while our results have continued to improve."
-Lorne Braddock, Manager, Cisco Systems

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EDS
Manufacturing Professional Development
Syntax integrated with a simulation of a manufacturing company

Situation:
The Automotive Division of EDS provides information services to large manufacturers, with much of their business coming from General Motors. As information systems professionals, they need to develop strong consulting and team skills as well as an understanding of their clients' industries.

Solution:
Syntax worked with the developers of the business simulation Advantig to integrate Syntax skills with an intense role-play simulation of a manufacturing company, from the boardroom and international finance to suppliers and workers on the shop floor. Each participant receives direct feedback on the results of his or her communication style with an opportunity to put new skills into practice. While learning about the interrelationship of technology and people issues, participants receive off-line coaching during and after the program, now in its 10th year of delivery.

Results:
By integrating Syntax into Advantig™ for "just-in-time" learning delivery, we’ve created a life-changing opportunity. Past participants consistently describe those 3.5 days as one of the most powerful learning experiences of their life. This module on Leading Change has served as the linchpin for EDS University's advanced professional development program for hundreds of technical consultants. It is consistently acknowledged as a significant growth step for the participants and something that they retain throughout their careers. The long run of this course demonstrates its perceived value in a company that tends to run lean and has been through a number of challenging periods where other internal programs have been eliminated.

"The Syntax simulation, with all its intensity, absolutely forced me to rethink the basics of how I related to others, and this has had a profound effect on me, my relationship at home, to my colleagues and my value to EDS. The subsequent team activities allowed us to further explore these experiences in an evironment that could pick us up and dust off each time we got it wrong. The MEL staff, the external consultants, and the rest of the class were all integral parts of the experience."
-Past Participant, EDS

"We were in negotiations with this customer for quite some time before closing the deal, and the Syntax and personal development skills I acquired really came into play. The global skills we learned greatly helped in dealing with this customer's international parent company."
-Mike Bass, EDS

"This was the best training I have had at EDS. MEL has probably enhanced my ability to handle all aspects of my current job. My team primarily supports manufacturing customers, so I have a better understanding of manufacturing, better relationship with management and people skills."

-Jim Finch, EDS

"Syntax has been the most important and useful aspect that I have been able to use. I have practiced a lot of skills with my customer base and my team members. It has been very beneficial in that I am more able to get the root of issues before they explode."
-Mitch Valentine, EDS

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Hewlett Packard
Account Support Organization
Syntax integration with business simulation
Situation:
The Account Services Organization needed to develop a culture in which customer needs were adequately anticipated and solutions provided proactively. This culture change involved the field management team and engineers involved in these projects. The field management wanted to gain the desired behaviors to win and keep customers. The engineers to develop anticipatory and customer focused behaviors.

Solution:
Syntax developed a learning program combining many of our most effective learning processes with a business simulation called Tango. Syntax provided assessment, delivery and reinforcement through our Performance Challenge learning methods, followed up by mentoring, coaching and telecoaching for both groups.

Results:
The participants received intensive leadership training as a new organizational initiative was being introduced. The emphasis on learning and fully integrating new skills supported them in taking the initiative back to their regions and creating momentum for the service orientation.
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Hewlett-Packard
Professional Services Organization
College Development Program

Situation:
HP was recruiting top technical talent to bring into their consulting organization and recognized that the new hires would need support on polishing their client relationship skills as well as integrating rapidly into HP's multidisciplinary customer teams. Recognizing that recent graduates have been immersed in learning but not necessarily interaction skills, the Education Managers engaged Syntax to design a program that would bring them up to speed rapidly so they could succeed in a high-pressure, rapidly changing environment.


Solution:
Syntax provided a learning process so that beginning consultants would acquire the skills to establish a "trusted advisor" relationship with customers. Two full-group meetings and telecoaching sessions supported participants in their new jobs; they practiced the skills and developed heightened awareness of effective communication behaviors in team consulting situations.

Results:
New consultants entered their new groups with an awareness of how to come on board as solid team members, building rapport and learning rapidly on the job. They had the opportunity to role-play challenging meetings with customers and benchmarking their existing skills and ones they still needed to develop. Accordingly, these new hires found their way more easily and effectively than if they had been sent into their team assignments without this support.
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Hewlett-Packard
Customer Education
Consulting Effectiveness
Situation:
Assisting Customer Education Consultants in clearly understanding the needs of their clients and in framing the value of Hewlett-Packard's Education Solutions to meet those requirements.

Solution:
The Syntax learning program focused on methods for effectively gathering and verifying relevant information and strategies for establishing credibility and improving relationship skills during a three-day conference. Pre-work and on-the-job follow-up support were coordinated with participants' specific customer engagements.

Results:
Participants came away with what they described as some of the best professional learning experiences they had had. The customized Syntax course showed them how to enter the world of the customer rather than imposing their own world, and how to elicit and confirm workable agreements that resulted in exceeding customer expectations.
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IBM
Situation:
An engineer had attended a number of internal IBM courses and yet continued to demonstrate behavior that lessened rapport with his internal customers.

Solution:
IBM sent the engineer to a Syntax open enrollment workshop after hearing about its effectiveness for technical professionals.

Results:
As a result of the explicit how-to’s and the low-risk feedback on his personal syntax that he received in the Syntax seminar, he opened up a whole new awareness of the responses he was producing in other people. This was evident by the positive feedback he received from his customers and colleagues.

"I sent one of my best technical/worst people skills engineers, and you were able to do what all our in-house programs, and even Dale Carnegie couldn’t. This man is now a successful customer service representative. Thank you."
-- J. Luchessi, IBM
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Intel
OEM Platform Solutions Division
Customized Learning Program with Coaching
Situation:
The OEM Platform Solutions Division invested considerable time and effort researching effective decision-making processes in order to help ensure that project teams consistently make high-quality decisions. The result of this effort has been the development of a "Best Known Method" (BKM) approach. After a key decision-maker used Syntax's goal questions to probe the value of a high-visibility decision, he realized that a significant course correction was needed.

Syntax Solution:
Syntax was asked to provide a program for Intel to support the development of high-quality conversational skills that enhance communication and a collaborative approach to decision-making. This learning program was directed at the team leaders who are responsible for consistently modeling and demonstrating the BKM so that it becomes an integral part of OEM Platform Solutions Division's culture.

Results:
Sixty or so key influencers learned Syntax by attending a two day intensive learning program followed by small-group telecoaching and a one-day reinforcement six weeks later. The shared language kept them focused on the critical business issues as they rolled out their BKM decision-making approach. The combination of group learning sessions and on-the- job application of Syntax skills supported the cross-functional implementation of a shared method. Their comments indicated that while other classes focused on what to do, Syntax focused on how to do it.
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Netscape
OEM Marketing, Human Resources
Communicating for Personal Effectiveness

Customized Learning Program with Telecoaching
Situation:
Corporate HR staff were assigned the task of facilitating global workteams, across many differing time zones, cultures, and organizational units. They sought a practical hands-on learning program that combined strong interpersonal skills with strategies for remote communication and facilitation. As this was in the first few years of rapid internet expansion, the time pressure was intense.

Solution:
Syntax for Collaboration learning sessions were provided over a five week period, including full day workshops on building rapport and trust, processes for making clear, concise requests and agreements, small-group telecoaching to ensure practice between sessions, and a half day workshop to deepen the methods for gaining agreement on team goals and expected results.

Results:
Increased clarity on the use of various communication media for various tasks, along with the shared behavioral language for collaborating provided by Syntax, enabled the participants to interact with confidence and understanding across huge distances to help localize their corporate services and meet both diverse and common client needs with more accuracy.

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Oracle
Syntax Customer Satisfaction Training for New Hire Orientation
Situation:
New hires in Customer Support can be overwhelmed as they begin to field customer calls. With highly specialized systems in place, customers can end up being transferred many times as the person with the right knowledge is located. The analysts need to be able to gather information and build rapport very quickly even when they are not technical experts, and they need to be able to document and close out each case successfully. Both customer satisfaction ratings and employee retention are on the line when new hires lack the needed skills to perform immediately.

Solution:
Syntax designed and conducted an intensive experiential one-day program that built a strong foundation in little time. After learning fundamentals and practicing key communication skills in various call scenarios, participants benefited from coaching and feedback by senior analysts who joined the Syntax course leader for the final session of the day.

Results:
The course was conducted for Oracle call centers nationally and internationally approximately once a month over four years, with extremely high evaluations by participants and excellent feedback from their managers. Participants acclaimed this one-day course as a confidence-builder because of the quick delivery of applicable skills and the coaching by experienced analysts
.
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Pearson Communications
Relationship Development Learning Program

Situation:
Rapid growth hi-tech public relations firm with a great attitude toward their employees wanted to provide job enrichment and career development along with management skills to up-and-coming account managers and team leaders. Their dynamic work schedule and constant deadlines meant that both flexibility and a clear, simple approach to relationship development skills were needed to leverage the learning process.

Syntax Solution:
Pearson's customized Relationship Development learning program took place over several months and combined three complementary methods. Information was introduced and discussed in a full group meeting of two to three hours a week, and smaller groups met for an hour each to practice skills. We set up a buddy system and participants had specific assignments to check in on with partners.

Result:
Both business goals and personal goals were set and held the focus throughout the learning program. At the end, participants gave a presentation to the company owners which included a creative story of their learning complete with role plays that demonstrated how they used their skills in both customer relationships and internal team leadership. More learning programs are planned to expand the shared knowledge base on relationship skills and collaborative leadership using Syntax.
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Sun Microsystems
Communication Strategies to Work Smarter
Situation:

SunU provides open enrollment courses for employees in the SF Bay Area in California as well as in other regions of the US and internationally. Needs include communication skills in all kinds of technical, operational, and administrative environments, for many levels of employees of differing educational, language, and cultural backgrounds. Syntax was seen as a solution that provide both individualized learning and a shared language for employees who are pursuing their career growth as well as business results.

Syntax Solution:
We are now entering our third fiscal year conducting three-day courses for SunU. They are held each month in the Bay Area and are being scheduled at intervals in other regions, beginning with the SunU learning center in Broomfield, CO.

Results:
Participant comments such as the following are evidence of the effectiveness of Syntax for Sun employees:

"Very good class - provides solid foundation for communication skills. Provides tools for learning how to best communicate with many different styles circumstances, etc. I am highly satisfied.”
--Software Development Manager

"No-nonsense approach to communication. Take this course - it clarifies and demystifies communication. An excellent communication class - to learn and strategize your communication skills for a lifetime."
-- Logistics Manager

"I'm giving SunU a big thumbs up on the communication course, Communication Strategies to Work Smarter. As you know, some of the students from the previous offering of "Communication Strategies to Work Smarter" have started a mailing alias and have been meeting bi-weekly since the last offering of the class. And at least for the people with whom I have maintained contact from that class, we have all been benefiting from the ideas that are being taught in that class; both at work and outside of work."
-- Kevin Benko, Broomfield, CO

"I am one of the alumni of the communications strategies to work smarter class. We began an alias from the first class that was offered at Sun in the spring, and from that alias, we have continued to meet about every other week to discuss our communications issues, keep in touch with the principles and tools that we were taught in the class. It has been very useful in every part of my life. My work issues are more managable because of this class. I have a better understanding of what I need to deal with. In my personal life this class has helped tremendously in helping me decide what I really want to concentrate on (I recently, since the class, identified the fact I would love to have mountain property, and because I was able to get clear on that, have found just the "right" piece of land.) This class has truly been a life-changing course for me. It seems to have been just the right thing at the right time. I would be very interested in seeing SunU provide a Communications Strategies to Work Smarter 2 class in the future. I have recommended this class to everyone. And have asked that my single direct report take the class for his own benefit. Kay Sandberg and Dee Kinder did a wonderful job of conducting the class, and following up with us as a group. They have provided continual input to us. I was great to see them both today!"
--
Terry Porter, Internal Technical Training (ITT)

"The class has been instrumental for me to rethink and to practice better, more successful interaction skills (I prefer the word 'interaction' over communication for the skills addressed in the class, I consider interaction broader than communication). The 'hands-on', interactive approach of the class and the two excellent teachers (not only with regards to their communication skills, also concerning their skills as instructors) was ultimately the key to an intense learning experience, generating the desire to not walk away from this class and forget about the material in two weeks, as you easily do, rather to actively apply them and to keep reminding me of the skills. As you know the experience and thoughts are shared by at least four other 'alumni'. The five of us meet pretty much bi-weekly to discuss recent communication successes and disasters. It's the first time that I have felt a class has given me that much - and the need to keep up with practice because of the fear of losing everything otherwies, that I have been interested in regular meetings with other students. All of us are seeking out material to educate us further - during our leisure time and at no cost to Sun (what a return to a class from the perspective of the employer!)."
-- Susanne Janeba, Business Analysis & Modeling
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USDA Agricultural Research Service, Northern Plains Area
Keynote presentation: Thriving on Change
Situation:
USDA's Agricultural Research Service is an agency that must adapt to changing political circumstances while maintaining scientific rigor. Their diverse populations of scientists, government program administrators, and office staff all need to find common ways to communicate and to manage the tensions between the scientific and economic realities in their work. With threats to some of their programs and locations, and demands that are received differently by people in different roles, the agency sought speakers for their 2001 Leadership Conference to help design a collaborative roadmap for change.

Solution:
Syntax President Lucy Freedman traveled to Colorado and met with key people in order to get a deeper sense of the agency and its people prior to designing a keynote session. From this assessment, she prepared a lively ninety-minute talk to bring the important points home to the audience in a personal way. Her session, and reminder cards and pens, set the stage for the remainder of the conference using Syntax tools as well as insights about how to respond to the whitewater of change.

Results:
Feedback on the session came in two forms: appreciation from participants, and use of what was presented during conversations throughout the conference. The learning from this event was carried back to many locations in the Northern Plains Area as the agency prepared to implement policy from a new Administration.
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US Postal Service
Syntax Consulting Skills Training for Industrial Engineers

Situation:
Industrial Engineers in the US Postal Service play key roles in managing productivity, improving work processes, and adding to worklife quality. They face particular challenges, as their backgrounds and training differ from that of their constituents. Employee involvement is crucial to their ability to assess needs and implement programs. Their role is a classic example of being expected to improve results without direct authority.

Solution:
Industrial Engineers, Engineering Technical Unit technicians, and Engineering Management participated in customized Syntax learning sessions. This occurred first in the Western Region, then in all regions under the sponsorship of the Assistant Postmaster General. The courses included a three-day fundamentals course, an application period, and a two-day reinforcement six to eight weeks later.

Results:
Participants rated the courses very high and found the reinforcement sessions to be a major aid to internalization of what they had learned. They were able to document significant cost savings as well as being able to expand their influence, as well as the relevance and effectiveness of the productivity improvement projects they achieved.
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