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Case: team building for the new CEO

How the CEO of a small charity used Synthetron to understand the real story of why things weren’t working.


As new CEO, he was struggling with team building. He needed to find out what was really going on. Who’d have thought that such a small charity would have such complex personal dynamics? In their large open plan office it was proving hard to get to the bottom of what anybody thought.

He was keen to improve the effectiveness of the organisation, increase its impact and demonstrate how he could add value to a cause he really believed in. But first he had to understand the real story of why things weren’t working.


A donation in kind had given him access to a Synthetron dialogue. He decided to invite everybody from the London office plus some of the regional managers who dealt with volunteers and partner organisations.

The topic was simple – what is working and what’s not. Synthetron helped craft the questions that would give him the answers he needed and he watched the session closely. “Maybe you don’t need to do a report” he ventured afterwards, “Since I saw everything already.”

But the Synthetron consultant suggested doing it anyway to look at what was going on below the surface. Not just WHAT people were talking about but also HOW. Understanding the team building dynamics, their motivations and sources of resistance.


The most surprising discovery was the crisis of confidence inside the organisation. He knew there had been some bumps in the road under the previous leadership but he hadn’t realised how deep it ran for employees. No wonder they were struggling to convince partners to get on board if they felt so unsure of the mission and vision of the charity.

He was happy to get such a clear steer on the problem blocking team building, and on how they wanted to address it.

He set up small action teams straight away to address the issues of what they offered partners and the materials and prospect lists that people needed to get cracking. Let’s move from shy and uncertain to clear and confident he declared.