Project Portfolio – Facilitation Skills Training

Syncrude Canada, Oilsands Producer 1995-96


In 1993, Syncrude Canada began a major reorganization of its workforce with one key objective. It had to reduce the cost of its production to justify continuing operations and to set the stage for expansion which would secure the long term viability of its business. The new organization was based on a high involvement philosophy, with the assumption that this would result in better decisions, faster implementation and a higher level of ownership from all of Syncrude’s staff. Success was dependent on Syncrude’s formal leaders adopting a much more open style.

Fall Line’s Role

Fall Line Systems provided Facilitation Skills Training for all of Syncrude’s supervisors and managers. We also provided support for Syncrude staff who acted as coaches for the leaders when they were first applying their new skills; and we helped assess progress and identify areas for further action.


The changes at Syncrude produced remarkable results. New ideas and procedures were quickly identified and implemented throughout the entire operation. Safety performance and plant reliability improved, and the operating cost per barrel of oil went down from $14.20 in 1993 to $12.95 in 1996. Most supervisors succeeded in adopting a more collaborative style, and everyone grew more confident as they experienced the positive technical and financial results.