In this first of a series of blogs written by ‘Expert Structural Dynamics Interventionists’ from around the world about how they are working with Generative Dialogue and Structural Dynamics since they completed their training, we hear from Scott Downing who is Chief Customer Officer at a Technology Company in Australia.
A bit about me……
I have a strong corporate background across the Telco and Finance sectors in Australia, Europe and Asia, having been involved in several Greenfield start-up businesses. This experience allowed me to shape the customer and employee experience from the outset and this is what still really energises me today. I have also been instrumental in outsourcing work to India and the Philippines in several of my roles and have loved working across these diverse locations and cultures. I have also been accountable for on and offshore contact centres with over 1800 employees working across 6 locations. Needless to say, I don’t mind spending time on a plane! One thing that I am absolutely passionate about is helping leaders and teams embed the importance of the customer journey.
Systems Thinking, Generative Dialogue and Structural Dynamics….
During the last five years, I became exposed to ‘Systems Thinking’ and this is when I started to realise that I needed to change the way I thought as well as the way I lead my team if they were to be truly transformational and create amazing customer advocacy experiences. As I integrated Systems Thinking into several organisations, I quickly appreciated that the real way to accelerate systemic change was for leaders and teams to be communicating in a generative dialogue space. This is where I became exposed to the application of a methodology combining Generative Dialogue and Structural Dynamics. I was so impassioned by the approach and its relationship with Systems Thinking, I rapidly accelerated through all three stages of certified training to become the first practitioner globally to achieve accreditation as an ‘Expert Structural Dynamics Interventionist’. Dialogix also accredited me to train others and as a result I co-lead training programs in partnership with Centre for Systemic Change [CSC], Dialogix and Kantor Institute.
Generative Dialogue and Structural Dynamics in action: Professionally and Personally……
Since moving to my new role as Chief Customer Officer for a Technology Company I have not been able to stop the Generative Dialogue and Structural Dynamics journey. It is so embedded into my model or way of interacting both personally and professionally. Members of my team are all using the language and theory to improve their interactions with their teams and as a leader my Direct Reports are all using it to accelerate the pace of change as we are on a massive CX journey at the moment. In fact, right now my team is asking to use the approach with their own teams in more integrated ways!! HR also love the methodology and see the benefit such that I am currently working with them to build it into our corporate leadership effectiveness program.
On a personal front I still notice model clash where, for example, in an interaction, because of the different behavioural preferences we each have, the experience and outcomes are not what I hoped for. And thankfully I am able to use the tools and techniques to change the discourse and meet people more effectively in their behavioural propensities. ‘Reading the room’ behaviourally comes naturally to me now although my childhood stories can still play out! This work on self and with others is most definitely a journey NOT a destination…
Don’t sell it, do it!
The beauty of this method is its simplicity and its moral neutrality and that’s why my team are seeing its benefits. We can now act on behaviour that may otherwise impede excellence and do so without making it personal. I have seen the approach be successfully integrated into our collective practice after just 3 hours working together behaviourally, applying the concepts and developing our skills. As a leader, it also allows me to be transparent and signpost why I might be taking a different approach and show how I’m doing so by design to deliver different results. Often this is when we need to move at pace and we need more ‘Closed Power’, i.e. to focus on structure, order, outcomes and action or getting things done – something I naturally do and at times have to rein back in my day-to-day world.
Using Generative Dialogue and Structural Dynamics allows you to be an authentic leader and coach with ease and I’m its biggest advocate! My practice continues to evolve, mainly around my childhood story and how I catch my movement into shadow behaviour especially when under pressure or in high stakes. Again, this isn’t perfect but I can catch it now and even when I don’t, I rarely slip in to the ‘dark side’ but pull myself back; always with ownership and reflection.
A big learning for me is to not over-intellectualise the models but to demonstrate them in practice. Once people see you lead differently and well you can start to share the what and how. Don’t sell it, do it!
By Scott Downing