Case: addressing disappointing HR survey results

Synthetron online dialogues. Home. Moving forward. Together

How a multinational organization used Synthetron’s crowdsourcing method to address disappointing HR survey results.


The annual internal employee satisfaction survey produced disappointing results for “leadership” and “trust” measures.

Management discussion led to the idea that by reorganising the organisation, most of these issues would be solved. However, they wanted to hear from the floor if this was really the case.

What really matters to the employees?


Synthetron held a series of 8 Synthetron discussions segmented by management level and business unit/country.

In the discussions participants were first asked the same poll question as in the survey for calibration, followed by a discussion of why to identify root causes.

Next, the focus was on identifying the solutions and Key Success Factors. During the discussion, the hypothesis of re-organisation was tested.


Synthetron identified a surprising set of root-causes. The main root cause was the decision making process in the organisation. In none of the discussions did the participants confirm that reorganisation was the way forward. 4 actions surfaced repeatedly as higher synthetrons (broadly supported statements) in all the discussions.

The report gave management insights into what actions would have most impact and which were perceived less important.

Management shared the report openly with the participants and held a set of global web meetings to share what actions were identified through the Synthetron session.

In the end, no reorganisation took place. Rather, the decision process was streamlined and a campaign to strengthen empowerment was launched.

The following year’s survey showed significant better results on trust and leadership.

Case: team building for the new CEO

Synthetron online dialogues. Home. Moving forward. Together

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.

Case: involving staff on strategy globally

How an international NGO involved its staff on global scale to shape its new strategy.


This international NGO was one of the biggest. The winds of change were blowing through the organisation. Therefore, it wanted to update its strategy. Old, defunct processes were swept away and new questions were being asked of everybody.

The changes were refreshing but also felt a bit unstable. There were some murmurings out in the field as people wondered about the new direction. What was it? Did they agree with it? Did they want to stay?

Then in an unprecedented move the Head of Strategy decided to involve everybody. So they could give input into the new strategy for the next 20 years. However they had staff in 80 countries and no shared language. Hence they thought it would take forever. How could they make sure everybody had a fair chance to express themselves? How could they turn all that raw data into meaningful and robust recommendations?


We set up several Synthetron online dialogue sessions in parallel to be able to involve staff across time zones and languages.

We moderated the dialogues and made sure that everyone got the chance to get involved.

In an unprecedented move for inclusion, every single staff member was invited to participate. Hundreds of people inputted thousands of statements and generated a million data points.


After careful analysis the Synthetron consultant was able to give them a single image summing up the story. As well as clear direction on the updated mission and strategy.

Then the board wanted to find out if office staff were over-represented. So Synthetron did a segmented analysis looking only at field staff which confirmed only the most minimal differences of opinion.

The strategy team then incorporated the discoveries into their decision making, confident that their thousands of committed employees were aligned with the new plan.



Case: fair play and diversity

How Synthetron was used to make progress on Inclusion and Diversity.


Now that she was in the second week of the job as Inclusion and Diversity manager she was beginning to realise just how hard it was going to be to make this work. Not only was there a split at board level between those who understood the importance of this and those who thought it quite unnecessary, but it was also proving difficult to find out what people really thought.

She’d seen those meetings where nobody dared speak up, or they all hid behind political correctness. She wanted to get to the real story so she could see how to move forward.

Then she heard how they’d used a platform called Synthetron in another part of the business and decided to investigate if it could help her too.


Synthetron set up 10 online discussions with more than 500 people in the organization.

Next, we developed the questions and script together with the client.

Lastly, we moderated the dialogue together with representatives of the organization.


Two months and ten discussions later the story unfolded before her. Based on what real people in the organisation – over 500 of them – really thought. What they shared about their experiences and when they knew they could do that safely.

There was a lot of work to do but she had a much clearer sense of where they stood. And what the Inclusion & Diversity journey was going to look like.

She had discovered some hazards to be avoided and some great ideas to be spread across the organisation. A surprising insight had been that fairness was something everybody agreed with. It meant much more to everybody than I&D and avoided a lot of the pushback she had seen in some of the conversations.

She had a term that provided a good frame to move forward with. Furthermore it was a way of measuring progress thanks to the classification data of everyone who participated according to how aware, willing and able they were of the issues at stake.

See how we can help you with our Synthetron I&D+ tool.

Articles on Inclusion & Diversity

  • Sallie Crawcheck, former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, considers why we still expect women to behave like men and think that is diversity. LinkedIn article
  • Greg Ward, MD of Transguard group explains why it’s just not that hard to have a diverse workplace. LinkedIn article

Case: leadership meeting needs an agenda

How a large multinational used Synthetron to focus the agenda for a top leadership meeting.


A large multinational was planning the agenda for its Top 100 Leadership meeting. They did this every two years.

This time they wanted to discuss how to implement the new strategy. Head Office had created it and they wanted to see it in action.


Prior to the meeting the team used Synthetron to work out where to focus the agenda. They wanted to discover which aspects of the strategy were most important.

Before developing the script, Synthetron consultants asked if the strategy was well known and accepted. Although the answer was yes, the script allowed for both scenarios. All of the meeting participants were invited to join in the discussion to help shape the agenda.


In fact the discussion highlighted a lot of confusion. This was true at various levels. Many people were not aware of the strategy and few understood it.

Leadership discovered the trouble spots and could start to tackle them. Knowing the Hot Topics for the meeting meant the meeting planners could give them the priority the meeting attendees were looking for.

They fine-tuned the agenda and focused on what would generate energy and engagement. In the end they could all move forward. Together.

Case: getting everyone for the new strategy

How a major electronics manufacturer used Synthetron to engage employees on a new strategy.


A major electronics manufacturer was about to have a significant new strategy launch. They wanted to engage employees to bring it to life in the organisation. But it’s not always easy to create a fair way for everybody to have their say.

Traditional cascade systems and town hall meetings can mean many people aren’t heard. So they decided to use Synthetron instead. To make sure that everyone’s voice was equal, and no matter where they were they would get the opportunity to participate.


We organized 3 Synthetron online dialogue sessions on the same day with a total of 600 employees.

For each session, employees listened first to a webinar explaining the ideas. Then they had their online discussion.

After this session, the CEO came back online to thank them for their participation and tell them when to expect feedback.

In total, more than 2500 comments were gathered through the Synthetron dialogue.

Synthetron consultants were invovled in the development of the script and the moderation of the sessions. To ensure that everything would go smoothly and the script would touch upon the right subjects.


Synthetron analysed all the sessions afterwards to deliver key conclusions on employees’ hesitations and accelerators to the client.

The Synthetron sessions identified practical aspects of the strategy that were important to employees on the factory floor or in the distribution chain. Gathering these points of view built engagement as well as provided valuable data.

This enabled the management to adapt the strategy and set targets which they knew were supported by staff.