Syngineering book cover

Gain agility, align and thrive!

In the disruptive volatility and complexity of today’s business world, yesterday’s problem-solving is no longer adequate. Organizations need agility: people and process capabilities that can respond quickly to shifts in the external world. Syngineering, the term we have coined for how to meet this challenge, combines the best aspects of human dynamics, organization design, and the applications of technology. It replaces expert problem-solving with ‘design thinking’ and several other agile practices where employees collaborate in questioning, experimenting, and learning what’s needed as they develop meaningful and sustainable solutions.

This book is anchored in the observation that different business landscapes favor distinct corporate cultures. It provides a framework and processes to analyze the current environment and deliver the most effective design and change approach to fit the desired strategy and culture. Case studies from three different culture changes bring our methods to life. This practical and hands-on guide is for anyone working to improve organizational agility and performance.

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New World

Most efforts to transform organizations center on identifying the key few changes that best enable them to deliver on their strategy. To meet the new demands of today’s world, the types of organizations and the complexity of their markets, as well as the methods and practices of change are critical factors. As the industrial age gave way to the computer age, the information age, and the emerging digital age, technologies have increased the complexity facing businesses and driven explosive volatility. Long ago Thomas Jefferson foresaw the implications: “As new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.” 

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New Thinking

The increased volatility requires new thinking about business, informed by insights emerging from quantum physics, complexity theory, and neuroscience. Albert Einstein observed, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Last century’s rigid rules and linear thinking must give way to more experimentation and deeper understanding; experts problem solving the right answers must give way to all employees asking the right questions, learning, and adapting meaningful and sustainable solutions. This is called ‘design thinking’ and it provides the responsiveness to handle today’s increased volatility. 

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New Behaviors

New thinking leads to new ways of interacting and behaving. Charles Darwin noted, “In the long history of humankind and animal-kind too, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Collaboration is required to bring together all those with the needed expertise so they can pool their knowledge to handle today’s increased complexity.

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New Approaches

Consulting approaches have shifted in response. Frederick Taylor’s scientific management rules evolved into Edward Deming’s process-focused continuous improvement projects, and then into Peter Senge’s systems thinking in learning organizations. Now even this is inadequate to help organizations foundering on the diverse realities of people, businesses, and industries in today’s globalized world of information and data access. Approaches must move past discrete organizational engineering projects and interventions and into more continuous design, driven by maintaining awareness and adaptation. What is needed is agility, which Chris Worley characterized as: “the ability to make timely, effective, and sustained organization changes.” 

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Syngineering represents this next wave of approaches needed to address the variety of organizations emerging today. It is a term we have coined for how people collaboratively use design thinking to build agility into the DNA of every organization. The enGINEERING aspect builds agile capabilities into the visible structural components and systems of the organization. The human dynamics SYNergy aspect actually incorporates agility into the design processes themselves. This book is anchored in these concepts and is designed to give you not only a working knowledge of Syngineering, but also some practical skills in how to apply it. Enjoy!