Q&A with Tekara Partner Ryan Williams, Part I: My Path to Creating Healthy Organizations

Ryan.1You were already running TWI Surveys successfully. What brought you to Tekara?

A big reason was my values alignment with Peter. He has a strong interest to partner and walk with others. Plus, like me, he has a curiosity to learn about other businesses—exploring how they operate and what they do. Beyond values, there was a distinct business opportunity for us.

Fundamentally, TWI is a communications, research, and planning company.  For a few years, what I had seen in our company planning and research was the importance of transparency for organizations.

Historically, people see message control and consistency as the necessary pieces in communications. By following this approach, what we have seen is an inability to create brands customers and stakeholders can trust. So, despite the best efforts of communicators, people are losing faith in institutions.

So, I asked myself, what is the answer to that? There might not be a silver bullet.  But, creating a courageous leadership group who are brave enough to reveal who they truly are is the first step. Working with leaders and organizations to be transparent means showing who you are, who you’re not, and what you’re doing to get better. This is the work of organizational development.

I see communication as integral to the courageous work of building strong, authentic leaders and businesses. Likewise, I see organizational development as critical to effective and trustworthy communication. By marrying organizational development and communications, this business gap could be bridged.

How much of the partnership with Tekara was opportunistic, and how much of it was a personal desire to expand your impact and reach?

It’s absolutely the latter. The vision for TWI is simple: healthy organizations. We believe if people communicate effectively and “see each other well,” they’ll be healthier and more successful and so will the organization. If we support leaders to be better communicators, the rest of the organization will follow suit.

To do that on a bigger scale meant I needed to expand. I could have expanded as TWI Surveys, but we had a challenge: the company is named “surveys.”  TWI offers some great expertise and excellence, but it doesn’t include all the ingredients to create a healthy organization.

Tekara’s mission is to have an impact on the energy of business, helping people make better decisions. Fundamentally, it supports the development of great leaders who push businesses reach beyond the quarterly profit. This means helping them make tough choices and build strategies to grow the resiliency needed to reach that grander vision of success.

I think it’s been a great marriage, allowing Tekara to understand the brain and heart of an organization more completely.

Ultimately, Peter and I have this vision of creating a leadership centre—a site that embodies Tekara’s mission. The leadership centre will allow us to deepen the work. It will be a place where leaders can get away from their organizations. They’ll be able to retreat and reflect on their team, leaving with a clear perspective of ‘what next.’

Leadership Center

Can you talk a bit more about the Leadership Centre. Why is it essential to have senior leaders retreat out of the organization?

One of Peter’s dreams is taking senior leaders out to wine country. This is a region where he’s experienced rest, rejuvenation, family, and connection. His vision is to offer a similar experience for senior leaders—to create a space where they can rest, connect, have important conversations, and rich experiences.

Can that ‘retreat’ experience be created in a boardroom or hotel meeting room? The space where people get past the elephants in the room; remove the masks; and enter a place of depth and vulnerability, where they’re willing to tell the truth, and ask themselves and each other if they’re up for the task of being an exceptional leader?

In our experience, this kind of space can’t be created in a meeting room in the midst of one’s regular work routine. We process too much there—multiple meetings, innumerable data, analysis, phone calls, emails. The best way to get there is to pull people out of their routine, to turn off the cell phones, and let them just be.

In this place of “being,” they get to breathe, enjoy each other, and, finally, to dream. The retreat experience cannot take place in a vacuum, though. It has to be practical. So, we put a framework in place to see the dreams and plans applied back in the office. Combining the retreat with practical structure and support upon their return is how we’ll make impactful change.

Nathanael Baker


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *