“Business practitioners and leaders have begun to detect that solutions demanding better, faster, smarter, and more are no longer relevant. There is a visceral sense that there is a need for a different approach; and while organizations and individuals may not yet know what that different approach is, they understand that the game is not simply more complex, but is qualitatively becoming something else, something new.”
As a Principal of The Center for Leadership Studies, and Managing Director of it’s Advisory Services & Dialogue Bureau divisions, Al supports senior executives in navigating the personal and interpersonal challenges of facilitating business breakthroughs and integrating systemic change. He engages with leaders and executive teams, primarily through one-on-one and small group interactions, across multiple industries and geographies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Al has previously been a Director in a multinational Publishing firm, an SVP and Practice Leader in a global consulting firm and was the founder of Koanetic Consulting International, a consultancy founded on the principle that deep expertise, rigorous methodology and crystal clear problem-solving are simply not enough to address the needs of the 21st century business environment.
“We can no longer assume that top- or bottom-line financial objectives are a sufficient source of sustainability for our organizations. The reality is that organizations live within a complex ecosystem of interdependent constituencies, each serving as a source of significant opportunity or devastating risk. Until we understand the network of relationships that make up our organization’s unique ecosystem it is not possible to design systems and infrastructure that can deliver dynamic, sustainable value versus short-term, one-dimensional results.”
In 2011, Koanetic merged with the Center for Leadership Studies and Al, along with CLS founder Mel Toomey, formed CLS Advisory Services & Dialogue Bureau to extend Koanetic’s mission and practice as well as to create integrated services that leverage CLS’s unique and powerful distinctions and frameworks for Human and Organizational Development.
Al has designed CLS Advisory Services not as a traditional consultancy – with emphasis on content, expertise and methodology – but rather from the perspective that mastery of Context, Conversation and Commitment are the bedrock of 21st century leadership. Each Advisory Services practitioner is a senior advisor with deep content expertise and a track record of success that spans decades. But none of us sees our expertise as the starting point for a client engagement; we do not view the world through the filter of methodology. We are masters of paradox and ambiguity, engaged with clients in the messy, unpredictable, and nonlinear work of creating new possibilities. We do not see ourselves as ‘clinicians’ or engineers working on a client system, but rather as co-creators and collaborators working with a client system. Finally, and perhaps of highest importance, the single greatest factor in the development of our reputation is that our work with clients not only produces results, but produces the kind of breakthrough that seem impossible at the start of the engagement. No amount of expertise and no perfected methodology can produce these breakthroughs; they are the product of a qualitatively different kind of relationship between consultant and client…and they are Al’s fundamental promise to everyone he and the other Advisory Services practitioners work with.
“The Advisor’s role is not to implant ideas, but to present clients with frameworks and tools and invite them to explore how their personal effectiveness, and the effectiveness of their organization, may be focused through them in the context of bringing about breakthroughs and effectively integrating change.”
The Dialogue Services arm of Al’s practice is similarly ‘non-traditional’. The vast majority of public speaking proceeds from a basis of expertise, with the intention of the speaker being to convince the audience of the ‘rightness’ of the the speaker’s view; in this way, much of public speaking is an exercise in Training, in implanting in the listener what is known to the speaker. In contrast, Al and the other members of CLS Dialogue Services, view their responsibility to be, through paradoxical distinctions and frameworks, the creation of space within which the audience ceases to be ‘audience’ and becomes active generators of their own thinking on issues that are central to effectiveness in their personal and professional lives. Said another way, Dialogue Services is an exercise in Education; in creating the conditions within which the listener can think thoughts that are only possible for him or her.
In addition to his Advisory and Dialogue work, Al is an educator in the Graduate Psychology Department at the University of New Haven where he teaches Leadership, Organizational Development, and Communication & Opinion Change. He earned his Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He plays the djembe loudly if not well, produces works of photography with focus though rarely in focus, and drinks enough Formosa Oolong to single-handedly keep three tea farms in Taiwan in business.