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!
USDA Agricultural Research Service
US Postal Service
Lightwave Division Research and Development
Collaborative Leadership Skills, Training and Coaching
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.
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
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
- 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
- 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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San Jose Technical Assistance Center
Culture of Support Consulting and Learning Program
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.
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.
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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Manufacturing Professional Development
Syntax integrated with a simulation of a manufacturing company
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.
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.
By integrating Syntax into
Advantig for "just-in-time" learning delivery,
weve 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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Account Support Organization
with business simulation
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.
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.
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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Professional Services Organization
College Development Program
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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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An engineer had attended a number of internal IBM courses and
yet continued to demonstrate behavior that lessened rapport with
his internal customers.
IBM sent the engineer to a Syntax open enrollment workshop after
hearing about its effectiveness for technical professionals.
As a result of the explicit how-tos 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 couldnt. This
man is now a successful customer service representative. Thank
-- J. Luchessi, IBM
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OEM Platform Solutions Division
Customized Learning Program with Coaching
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 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.
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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OEM Marketing, Human Resources
Communicating for Personal Effectiveness
Customized Learning Program with Telecoaching
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.
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.
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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Syntax Customer Satisfaction Training
for New Hire Orientation
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.
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.
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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Relationship Development Learning Program
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
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.
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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Strategies to Work Smarter
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.
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.
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.
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
"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!"
-- Kevin Benko, Broomfield, CO
-- Terry Porter, Internal Technical Training
"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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Agricultural Research Service, Northern Plains Area
Keynote presentation: Thriving on Change
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
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.
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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Syntax Consulting Skills Training for Industrial Engineers
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.
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.
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
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