The following is an edited transcript of a conversation between Sujith Ravindran, Mark Vandeneijnde and Geoff Swannell on the Human Potential Method, a unique methodology for helping organizations, teams and individuals to recognize and achieve their highest potential.
The HP Method utilizes data gathered from an online survey tool- the Human Potential Assessment – that measures the extent that people, teams and organizations are realizing their innate Human Potential. Used in conjunction with the HP Method, the methodology generates breakthrough results.
I’d like to discuss the HP Method, which is summarized in Peter Leong’s article ‘Leading evolutionary change in organizations through Human Potential realization’. The diagram [see below] shows the 7 step Human Potential Method. In that article you say: “The assessment [the Human Potential Assessment], important as it is, is merely the beginning of an organization’s Human Potential journey.
The Human Potential Method has three phases: ENQUIRE, DISCOVER and HARNESS.
GEOFF: In your article, you go on to say: “The journey starts with the ENQUIRE phase, first by Sensing the dilemmas and critical business questions that are “keeping the client up at night”. These are rarely fully articulated and therefore often require a deep sensing into the unconscious reality of the client, their fears and vulnerabilities. This is followed by Assessing [using the Human Potential Assessment tool] and looking at what the data and insights [from the HP Assessment] are revealing along the 4 states and the 23 underlying dimensions.”
“The DISCOVERY phase is about processing and integrating the insights, so they can be transformed into actionable next steps, fully owned by the organization. During these workshops the client is invited to look deeply into the current beliefs and assumptions that drive their business decisions today and make very deliberate choices on who they want to BE going forward. This typically involves “Subtracting” (the process of understanding the disconnects or the shortfalls among the various states and dimensions of the HP Assessment), “Passaging” (releasing control of the familiar processes used to arrive at solutions) and “Arriving” (seeing opportunities in uncertainties and allowing new possibilities to reveal themselves).”
“Finally, in the HARNESS phase, the organization is encouraged to visualize and speak about its new intentions in full details (via town-hall meetings or other means) and start shaping them into a new implementation plan (Re-Scripting).”
“Targeted training and coaching programs are rolled out at the individual and group levels to make the new inner states a reality. Collectively, new language and customs are adopted so that employees are engaged in more empowering ways. Management embraces new leadership habits, and the new consciousness is reflected in the management objectives and tools, like in the Business Balance Score Card (Re-Sculpting).”
GEOFF: What was the evolution of the HP Method? How did it come to be?
Mark, you and I have both been on 8 day pilgrimages in Italy with Sujith, where everyone goes through Subtracting, Passaging and Arriving over those 8 days, so I’m wondering how you came to move that process over into the organizational domain, and what your experience with that has been?
During the 8 days of the pilgrimage we journey together as a group, but my experience was that the transformation that occurs happens at an individual level. So, I’m wondering is this the same process that you use in the HP Method for organizations and teams? That’s the same process isn’t it Sujith, that we experienced on our pilgrimage?
SUJITH: Maybe it is the same experience. We could say that. It is the same experience that we take the client through, whether it is in the pilgrimage or whether it is in the organization. The type of interventions used might be a little different, though.
GEOFF: Sujith, I heard you say that the experience was the same, but the specific interventions might be different. In other words, when you are designing and facilitating DISCOVERY workshops for organizations and teams, you might say some different things and you might get people to do different exercises, but the objective is the same: for people to identify what they are ready to let go to of, to somehow deal with the confusion in the Passaging phase and set some new standards in the Arriving phase. Is that correct?
SUJITH: If you remember Geoff, during the walk, what we did was we deliberately took quality time to get all of us into a heightened state of awareness. It’s engaging the intuitive mind. In the more recent neuro-scientific breakthroughs, they refer to whole brain experience. That is what we did in the first three days of the walk: really getting us to that heightened state of awareness.
GEOFF: It was beautiful and truly amazing. I remember we were hiking up to a high mountain pass. It was raining and we came to an abandoned stone shelter that St. Francis had used. You called the group to a halt, and right then a large tree fell across the trail only 10 feet in front of me! It was a remarkable experience. Talk about a sense of awareness! Something happened in our group or in me that very likely saved my life at that point. You had somehow decided that this was the right place to stop! Then, we left the path downhill to a depression in the forest to discover a rock circle, where somebody had had a fire. You led the group in the first step of the DISCOVERY phase: Subtracting. My experience was profound.
SUJITH: There you go! And of course, in the organization world we can’t take these people through a three day walk.
SUJITH: But there are other techniques that we can use to get them to that heightened state.
GEOFF: Can you talk about that a bit?
SUJITH: Absolutely. Just this nutshell, and then Mark can fill in more of the detail. The nutshell is that in the DISCOVERY session in organizations, what we do in the Subtracting step is essentially getting people into the deeper heightened state of awareness, and then we get them to engage the problem – whatever that problem definition is. From the HP Assessment, whatever key insights are coming out, like maybe we will notice a divide between the management and the rest of the organization, or men versus women, or we might notice that there is something interesting there between the older employees and the younger employees.
GEOFF: Or it could be something like innovation, or new product development, just depending on how you slice and dice [set up] the Assessment, right?
SUJITH: Exactly! Indeed, Inventiveness might be under expressed. But whatever the problem definition is, we get them to engage the problem definition at a heightened state of awareness, rather than in their mundane awareness, in their wakeful consciousness. Like Albert Einstein said: “You can never find a solution to a problem at the same level of consciousness at which the problem exists.”
GEOFF: He was a genius in so many ways, wasn’t he?
SUJITH: Oh yeah. He was a sage.
GEOFF: So, to recap, in the ENQUIRE phase, a problem definition emerges and gets refined. You support the client to do some initial Sensing of what the business problems are, and the HP Assessment helps identify possible root causes in the human domain.
In the DISCOVER phase [normally a 2 day client workshop] you identify and take a deep dive into these human dimensions – the drivers of behavior and thinking in the organization – by helping the client team achieve a level of higher consciousness, to go deeper, to become aware of and leave behind some of the beliefs that that may contributed to the business problem, to have more authentic conversations and less resistance to new ideas. Is that one way to characterize it, or is there another way?
GEOFF: The heightened level of consciousness gives them what ability? I’m wondering: The heightened level of consciousness that you are able to lead people to in this step, enables them to do what?
MARK: To resolve issues that they were not able to resolve before, and I think one of things that might happen is that the issue might not even exist anymore. Because they are starting to look at it from a very different angle, a very different perspective, they might actually begin to see that there is a tremendous opportunity that is starting to show itself. Where before they were only able to see issues and problems, and barriers, now they might be able to see new creative ways forward. They might actually see opportunities for innovation, for doing something differently.
GEOFF: Right. I understand. Can you give me a couple of examples where this has happened? Could you give some examples without naming the organizations?
SUJITH: In fact, I am thinking that all of our clients Mark – except for the very first one – the discovery travels organization – other than that, every other situation haven’t we really taken the client through the DISCOVERY process as we have it at this moment?
MARK: Pretty much. I wouldn’t say all of them, but yeah a good number of them sure, yeah.
SUJITH: If you look at the recent one, the wellness organization from the Netherlands, we took them through our process. Of course we can discuss the specific interventions that we used, but then that is more of as a guidance for you Geoff to develop your signature way than anything else. We took them through a process of first getting to a heightened state of awareness and then we introduced the problem definition to them. When the team looked at the data, we saw these big divisions. We asked the client: “Where do you think the divisions – this divide – is coming from?” We got the entire group to look at these insights – based on the findings that came out of the HP Assessment – from that heightened state. I remember Mark, Annelieke [a Being at Full Potential coach] telling me that for one of the subgroups, it was the younger group that brought insights that were previously unknown to the management. That caught the management literally by surprise, a pleasant surprise that “Wow, these people, they are able to mirror the dynamics of their clients.” That was the second group, the younger folks. For me, I remember going like “Wow, I’m having goosebumps.” listening to the update from Annelieke. It was clear that there was this powerful openness, a receptivity that came from the different demographics who were there in the room to deeply sense into, listen into each other, and give merit to the feeling that each demographic was sharing.
GEOFF: in that heightened state of awareness without getting the trust that you were able to generate in the room, that wouldn’t have been possible.
SUJITH: It is one thing to have standards. You can deploy standards to say: “Yes, a standard should be “deep listening” or “having trust in each other.” It is one thing to establish standards, and yes, we always do establish standards before we get into any process. If you remember during the walk, it was like that during the Barlow [Organizational level] training. Absolutely, that is a very important aspect because the standards are essentially codes – it is language or even symbols – that constantly remind us of how we want to show up in the process. There is something else that happens, though. Like remember in the Barlow training, remember we were doing these deep re-centering processes, we had chants and poetry and dancing, and we had the incense or the candle in the room and all of that. There is something very powerful that happens.
You [Geoff] have just come back from the 10 day Vipassana training, so it will be much easier for you to relate. When you come out of an experience like that, where you may have carried resentment for somebody, you will just automatically notice you have a sense of compassion or understanding for the person. Where you felt anxiety with respect to any situation, now you feel a sense of opportunity with respect to that situation. That is all done by the left prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is considered to awaken. This is modern scientific research. They even call it the compassion brain, really. If you would Google all of this, the science behind Vipassana or Zen meditation, all of that, there is so much research that has been done. This is modern scientific research!
GEOFF: In the Subtracting phase, what is Subtracting here?
SUJITH: The wakeful consciousness. The beta.
GEOFF: And maybe some habitual ways of thinking about things, the mindsets?
SUJITH: Yes. The belief systems, the limiting beliefs, our current way of dealing with each other, especially if you are working in an organization, there is an organizational culture effect.
GEOFF: Just what I was thinking, the assumptions that people make about the way things are supposed to be around here.
SUJITH: Yeah. In every relationship we get into these conditioned patterns. That is all conditioning. I remember 15 years ago, I was in the corporate world in the tech sector, in a Fortune 500 tech company. There, it was straightforward and simple. Peoples’ sensitivities never mattered. What mattered was your argument. Literally when you have a Program Managers sitting there around a table, having a conversation about: “Do we invest in this, or do we invest in that? Do we kick off research in this area, or in that area?” Literally what they say, around the meeting table, is: “So, what’s your argument?” Or they would say: “Please defend your point of view.” And it turns into, if you look at it, it is like a pack of wolves going after a catch. Energetically, they are fighting with each other – throwing accusations, and if I have a point of view or I have a certain recommendation, the others are hell bent on cutting it down. And that was a norm in that company.
GEOFF: These are cultural ways of Being. What you are saying is, we are getting them into this heightened state of consciousness that is able to cut through these previously unconscious assumptions that are driving their behavior, and they become aware of them.
SUJITH: Even if they become aware of it, I know many people who have actually become aware of their toxic patterns from that deeper state but if that happens, that’s a bonus. It is important, it is valuable. But when you look at the DISCOVERY process, whether you use music – Annelieke uses poetry – I use the sacred Indian chants. If you remember from the 10 days Vipassana, in the end there is a chant – the goodbye chant – that is the same goodbye chant I use when I am closing any ceremony. Different people use different techniques to get people into that heightened state of awareness. You can design your technique for that. The important thing is you must do this first and foremost – before you introduce the HP Assessment data, because if I am in my wakeful awareness – in my beta state – there is a very, very high chance that if you introduce some of the discrepancies in my organization to me, chances are I am going to enter a state of defensiveness and denial. And you are finished!
This is one of the biggest issues that I noticed, the reason why consultants have often failed. I remember – this is statistics from more than 12 or maybe 15 years ago, maybe things have improved – but I remember seeing statistics that said that 80% of consulting projects do not create any added value.
GEOFF: I agree with that. It’s reinforced by what McKinsey found based on 15 years of research – that 60 or 70% of change initiatives in organizations don’t meet their objectives, or they fail outright. And they found that 10 or 15 years later, there was no statistically meaningful improvement, despite all the professional advice given on change management. So this rings absolutely true to me. It is pivotal! It is crucial, it is what we can do to overcome this big problem in organizations and society.
SUJITH: Indeed, you understand it, you understand that, the fact that you are referring to that study already shows that you understand how our wakeful mind works. It is typically the kind of reaction that you can expect especially when you have some kind of structural findings on the table and very often that is one of the great things – when we do a sincere job with the data and look deeply within, invariably 9 out of 10 times, we stumble upon some very deep divides within the organization. The funny thing is if you are going to introduce this data, or these foundational findings, to the management, what is going to happen to the amygdala, the reptilian brain? I am going to become defensive. I am going to get into denial, I am going to get into this not invented here syndrome, I am going to feel very territorial, I am going to get into invalidating your status. These are all mechanisms of the reptilian brain. This is what happens, if you engage the wakeful mind of an organization with such profound findings. So, for us it is extremely important to do the Subtracting of all that conditioning, and then from that heightened state of awareness – where the left prefrontal cortex is active and the amygdala is by-passed – from that place, you get them to engage the findings. Rather than feeling defensive, being in denial, minimizing the finding and trying to poke holes through the data, or challenging the accuracy of the tool – all of this happens!
Yes. Instead of that, there becomes this beautiful openness, kind of a sense of innocence and curiosity towards the finding, and it’s a grace-filled space to problem solve.
GEOFF: Which is certainly an unusual experience in an organization. Perhaps this will be the first time that in an organization these people have experienced anything like this personally, let alone together.
SUJITH: Mark would you like to reinforce what I am sharing? Plus, also I am reminded of your experiment last year in Cincinnati, where you ended up creating that space that was becoming like a contagion for the rest of the office.
MARK: Sure. Indeed, Geoff it’s something that most people will not have experienced, and they will very much learn to – or get to – enjoy it! If the workshop is at least 2 days, I think they will enter into it. I have seen everyone – no matter how resistant they have been at the beginning, and there have been some very resistant people show up into some workshops – ease into it. And at the end, embrace it and very much step out with very different perspectives on how they are looking at challenges and problems.
However, I have to say to be very honest, it’s one thing to get people into a certain state and it’s another thing for that to last, and for people to truly take it with them on ongoing basis. I have also seen situations where the experience has been so intense and so profound, so kind of taking people out of their comfort zone, people who have no further experience with personal development work and have had a very profound experience and then when that space is not held for them anymore, by their boss, by their colleagues, by their spouse at home, by their friends, when that space is not held for them anymore, that it feels like they have been …, it’s almost like a pendulum, it swings all the way to one end. Like there is someone in the middle going along in life and feeling ok – not great but just kind of going along – and then we pull them all the way to one grace-filled end where they have this peak experience, and it’s like the pendulum doesn’t go back to the middle, it swings to the opposite side of confusion, of disappointment, of a “Now what?” kind of a feeling, and eventually comes back to the middle somewhere, may be little bit more towards that other side, who knows. But what I have seen and what I believe is that when we don’t continue to hold people and when they are given an experience that is not followed up in the correct way, it has the risk of doing more harm than good. That’s a bit of a controversial statement but yeah, I am …
GEOFF: It is a risk associated with a heightened state of consciousness?
MARK: I think there is a little bit of risk associated with it. Yes.
GEOFF: In other words, I imagine the sustainability, as well as bringing about the that need to occur – that are discovered in the ENQUIRE phase – happen in the HARNESS phase. And so I am wondering if the HARNESS phase is about not only coming up with concrete ways to impact the business problem, but also to put in place the space and caring, and mechanisms that enable the organization to sustain that kind of receptivity to this new way of Being, and to maintain it, as well as to harness the potential that’s been realized or that’s been made clear.
So there are two things that go on in the HARNESS phase [Re-scripting and Re-Sculpting] but let’s just leave that until we finish the DISCOVERY phase if we may, just to elaborate on steps 4 and 5, the Passaging and Arriving stages – because having experienced the pilgrimage, we have some familiarity with that – but in organizational context, now that you have got these people into a heightened state of awareness where they are able to escape their conditioning, and their cultural norms – which maybe they have become aware of – what happens in steps 4 and 5?
I imagine in Arriving, we are putting in place some new standards. We talked originally about setting standards earlier, and how an organization might have some standards already, but that these are espoused values. But knowing how culture works, the actual values that drive behavior are generally different [from the values statements up on the wall]. So, is what we are doing in this stage recommitting to some existing standards, or do we have new insights into what is driving actual behaviors in the organization? And are we looking at the difference between these new deeper, felt standards and the espoused standards that the organization has had before the consulting project started, and highlighting that discrepancy? How do we actually get to the insights into what is driving current behaviors that are problematic and how do we change that? Is that what’s going on in that phase?
MARK: I don’t think we as facilitators change anything. I think they need to come to a point where they feel ready to change, and come to their own new insights on what is it that they need to make commitments towards, towards each other, towards how they are going to act on the insights that they have gotten from the DISCOVERY, from the HP Assessment. And it could be that it is very little things and that’s perfect, or it could be it is very foundational things that they are going to agree on. But for me Arriving is kind of new agreement, the new commitments.
GEOFF: Or re-commitments?
MARK: Yeah, and that is going be different every single time. That is completely up to the group and up to their context, up to their Assessment and the findings they have from the Assessment. All of that is going to inform where they end up, and I think as coaches all we can do is help them navigate through that. And feel when it is time to move to a phase of going beyond, to “What does this mean?” What are we going to do differently? If we go too quickly there, then you are going to miss some things out. If you stay too long in that open space of… I feel like we need to just tune in to when is the energy ready to shift, and into what? What does all of this mean? Where do we take it? What are we going to do differently? But that’s different with every group, with every intervention.
GEOFF: But that’s the intent? To create a felt need to change around a different way of Being in the organization, whatever that means to the client.
SUJITH: This thought that Mark shared, the last one, it also gives you a sense of Passaging. There is an element of allowing ourselves, allowing the client to be in the experience, in the mud. Rather than trying to salvage or rescue them. If I am a consultant and I have been a consultant, I know my tendency would be to rush from Subtracting to Arriving. I want to get them immediately engaged into problem solving, instead of kind of “allowing” them [to sense the ambiguity of the Passaging stage].
GEOFF: Thinking about it, we got a problem, we want a solution. But this is the part… that helps them to feel the pain of their current situation, and come to realize that there is an opportunity there.
SUJITH: Yeah, just Be with it. If you are going to push somebody because that you as an expert, you know that is a right way to go. That is different than you being a coach holding space, and allowing them to dictate the pace of their problem-solving process. The parallel – the example that you will remember -during the walk, if you remember, we had to make decisions about our dinners. Sometimes we had to make decisions about the “Pay it forward.” Remember we had a “Pay it forward” custom?
GEOFF: I sure do.
SUJITH: I – not just I, but every one of the participants in the walk – we are all quite knowledgeable about “What is the right thing to do?” and we can just simply take 10 seconds, enforce our own preference, and then move on to the next thing. Yet that would be MY preference. I am pushing what is right for me, what I think is right, using my authority. Instead, my responsibility there was to be a coach, introduce the problem definition and simply hold space. And people will start building their own relationship with the problem, their own relationship. If you are an Italian, the chances are the way you are going to build your relationship with the problem is: you are going to go back to your childhood and talk about a situation where you had to actually give money to somebody, but you felt deeply inside that that person was undeserving of this money and you felt traumatized, and before you know it, the Italian is standing there and weeping about some childhood trauma. My responsibility is not to truncate that process. It is that person’s process of building his relationships to the problem definition. Ad when he is ready, he will himself take the next step forward. The best part is – instead of 3 minutes it will take 30 minutes – but the best part is he automatically becomes the leader, the champion of that way forward.
GEOFF: Doing this in a group context, is it the same thing? Is it that the group then becomes engaged in the problem and takes responsibility for it as a group, to work together to solve it?
SUJITH: Exactly. That Passaging is for me is a process of just not rushing the foreplay! 😊
GEOFF: What does it look like in terms of the kinds of things you do for the organization at that point? What do you tell them about Passaging and allowing that space for this change – this felt need for change for their group to take ownership of their own relationship to the problem? Do you speak in so many words, or what does that aspect to the workshop look like?
SUJITH: I am sure that Mark can also add to this one. You must remember from during the walk I kept the process a bit mysterious in the beginning. And this is one of the biggest traps that consultants fall into. This is one of the biggest traps that we are trained in, when it comes to public speaking. The public speaking mantra is: You get up on stage, you tell the audience what you are going to tell them, then you tell them what you are telling them. After that you tell them what you have told them. You lay out the overview, then you take them through the substance, then you close by again laying out the overview.
GEOFF: it is a great framework for public speaking.
SUJITH: It is a very stimulating framework. It engages people. But something worth asking yourself is” “Which part of the mind is the audience engaging there?”
GEOFF: The intellect?
SUJITH: Yes, and the big part of our problem is that we kind of intellectually try to approach all the intellectually created problems around us. At the expense of receiving criticism, I still kind of keep things fuzzy during the minutes before taking somebody through it, simply because if I would tell you right now: “You are in the Passaging phase and I am just allowing you to build your own relationship to the problem and build your intimacy with the problem definition, etc. This is exactly what you are going through at this moment.”, the problem is your intellect will kick in, you will constantly cross-check your lived experience against your framework. You are never fully in the process.
GEOFF: Danger is the framework will win out?
SUJITH: Yes, your intellectual brain will continuously be engaged and nothing is changed. Mark you do this quite effectively in the visualizations, and also the process that you take your clients through.
MARK: I think the one thing we have established very clearly is that we don’t start by showing the data, no matter whether it is a two hour debrief online, such as the one we did with the Being at Full Potential team in Canada, or if it is a 2 day workshop. In the case of a 2 day workshop, the data may come at the end of day one. That in itself is hugely different… it throws people off a little, it gets them into a different state of mind, especially because they are expecting … they have all filled in a questionnaire [the HP Assessment], they are all expecting to see a PowerPoint with some nice graphs and slides and data. And they are all sitting there with their intellectual mind ready to go in and tear it apart. Not giving people what they are expecting to receive, can be a very powerful method.
GEOFF: Takes them out of their comfort zone that’s for sure.
MARK: That is something you can say upfront. I would say I know everyone is expecting to get the data, but we are very deliberately not doing that. We are very deliberately choosing to invest quality time upfront to create the right environment for us to receive the data. People understand that. I think that is quite important to say that up front as it does put people, somewhat at ease: “Ok, there is method here to the madness. There is some design here.” But very clearly position it this way without giving everything away, just saying we are choosing to really invest the whole morning or the first 5, 6 hours into creating the right conditions so that when we do get into the data we would be able to do so much more with the data. Intellectually people won’t be able to really get that, but they will be able to say “Ok, I am willing to go with this. It’s coming. There is a plan here.” I do find that quite important, because otherwise you have when you don’t set that clear upfront, then it’s going to be more difficult to get people to stay present and focused, because part of their mind is going to be like “Oh what’s going on here? When are we going to see some results? When are we going to get into the data?”
GEOFF: Yeah they will be very uncomfortable.
MARK: We don’t want that. We don’t want them to be distracted in that way.
GEOFF: No. it’s a different kind of discomfort that you want. If that’s the right word, It’s like the Passaging phase isn’t necessarily a [linear] follow-on to the Subtracting phase. There’s something about both going on at the same time maybe.
MARK: I think that’s a good point. I don’t think they have to be sequential.
GEOFF: Yes. The Passaging phase is more like creating acceptance for the uncertainty, where Subtracting is about overcoming conditioned ways of thinking and feeling about things in the organization, and maybe that in itself creates some uncertainty. And Passaging is about Being with the uncertainty, the ambiguity that [workshop participants now] find themselves in. And creating a container for that so that people can tolerate that degree of uncertainty and ambiguity that would have been intolerable otherwise.
MARK: Yeah. It is about calming the brain, calming the intellect. The same thing with the listening stick and the candle, and the fact that people are sitting in a circle. You set all that up and if you don’t address it , if you don’t talk about why you are doing it. Again, people in the back of their mind, they keep … half of them is kind of listening and the other half is sitting there still asking themselves “Why are we sitting like that?” If you say upfront we are sitting like this for a very good reason, because of this, and this and this. We have a stick here, in the room with us because of these reasons. Then people can relax. It’s like: give the brain what it needs, so that people can show up fully, so that there are not these distractions happening in the background. I feel like that is taking the mystery out of the mysticism.
GEOFF: Putting them in a mindset where they are willing to experiment with something new. Right?
MARK: The experiment is in the Being together in this way. There is so much more that is going to happen, once those conditions are created, that is really the experiment. The experiment is not so much sitting in a circle or passing a stick around. That is not the experiment, the experiment is about Being together in a certain way that we haven’t been together with, or like before.
GEOFF: Yes, which can create an ability to think differently, to be together differently and to trust one another to say things that were formally undiscussable, to think of things from a different perspective, listen to other peoples’ perspectives, to hear those perspectives perhaps.
MARK: Exactly. So many of the interpersonal issues are there because there are things that are not being talked about. There are kind of these uncomfortable things that people are holding for themselves, even are unaware of, unconscious about. And those interpersonal issues can be resolved immediately if you create an environment, if you hold that kind of space, with the standards supporting all of that, where people can express themselves in a way that is non-judging – not judging somebody else – but they are sharing their truth and people can listen in a non-judging way and can receive. And then within 5 minutes, a huge tension that may have existed can be resolved.
GEOFF: That creates incredible value.
MARK: That is extremely powerful. That same tension could otherwise last for years and could prevent people from collaborating, and could prevent projects from manifesting. The implications for business, – – having tensions within teams – the business implication of that is huge.
GEOFF: Can you give us an example? The example where the client said this happened, or you saw it happen.
MARK: This case that Sujith was referring to in the Netherlands, where there was really this big distinction between Millennials and the founders, the owners who happened to be an older generation there. So there is a generational gap. There was this belief [of management] that because these guys are young, we need to tell them what to do. When we were young and we were coming into an organization, our bosses told us what to do, and that’s how we learned, that’s how we grew and that’s how we developed. So, there was this implicit belief that we need to tell them how to, tell them what to do and that way they are going to grow. Millennials looked at things very differently. They were like: “We know what to do, we are very resourceful. We are very creative, we have lots of energy and ideas!”, but they were feeling like they were put in a box. And they weren’t talking about that. They were talking about it amongst themselves, so there were all this kind of gossip happening amongst that group. And then there was gossip happening amongst the other group: “These younger kids, they think they know best, they are high maintenance.”
But when we got them into this space and we showed them the differences in the data, we sent them away and we said: “OK look at your data and look at the data of the other group and then come back.”
The Millennials were together, the older generation were together. We gave them both data sets and we gave them an assignment: to look at it for 20 mins and come back and deliver a presentation to the other group explaining why there is differences in the data. The Millennial group had to come back and say that the Human Potential of the Millennials is less expressed versus the older generation because of this and this. The older generation had to come back and say our Human Potential is more expressed than the Millennials because of this and this. It was incredible to see that their stories were completely different. For the older generation to hear the explanation that the millennials were giving was so eye-opening, and they were just like “Oh my god, how could we have missed the fact that you guys have this high ability, this high propensity for self-leadership? And you guys don’t want to be told what to do, that you are resourceful, that you have all that?”. So it just opened their minds, and opened their hearts, because they saw them in action as well. The way they presented – even the form of their presentation was highly creative and really mind-opening. The older generation presented in a very traditional way, they had like 3 points this, this, and then, so there was a real contrast in the delivery of the presentation which was also fascinating to step back and see “Wow look at that! It’s telling a story in itself.” Within an hour and half session, there was this huge … many multiple insights. Not just insights, there was this heart-opening effect that took place between these two groups, and they started to see each other in a different light. Of course, going forward they can start utilizing each other in very different ways than they had in the past.
GEOFF: Fascinating Mark! That’s a great example. Thank you. It occurs to me to ask in that example, what did the Arriving stage of discovery look like? Was it the presentation?
MARK: Hmm. At the end [of the workshop] – the last half of the last day – was all focused on the action planning that we do in the 5 day training. We took them through visualization and integrating everything that they had learned, what were they committing to, what are their actions, they came up with the whole plan.
GEOFF: I just want to make the observation that my understanding of the HP Method would put that in the Re-scripting stage, the action planning. I appreciate that it is necessary to get there and that’s prelude to the rubber meeting the road, the action planning. But if we step back for a moment and consider the DISCOVERY phase, I am just wondering maybe the presentation itself is the Arriving, the ability to listen and to tolerate different styles of presentation and in particular what you described is the heart-felt reception that people had, would have been different in the old culture which was established by the founders – a more rational and kind of linear approach to things, not accepting of others’ ways of doing stuff. So maybe Arriving was the presentation.
MARK: Could be. Yep.
GEOFF: Okay, the Re-scripting could have been the action planning which I think people inherently understand needs to happen. Culture change doesn’t happen without behavior change, and so the action planning then is moving into the HARNESS stage. It occurs to me is there anything more to say about the Discovery phase?
SUJITH: Yeah. You know GEOFF you are doing the right thing here. You are looking at the subjectivity of the process rather than put things into buckets, like ok alright …You are understanding the subjectivity of such a process with human beings, so instead of getting into the trap of literally putting a certain outcome into a certain box, like wait a minute this articulation is literally sitting under Re-scripting… People in the team… you would notice that. When we were in Barlow and we used day 5, day 5 was all about the Arriving. We went on a very profound 4 day journey and then at the end of it, we re-surfaced from that journey with setting clear intentions of how do we want to take this into our next steps. Now you would notice, some of the ideas were just very lofty intentions. Like, I remember in Mumbai, there is this one coach who left saying like “This is going to become my life’s work from here on”. That is just an intention, just a very abstract, very emotionally charged, powerful intention. Whereas, if you remember Marie Josie saying in Barlow, she was kind of like coming out of this and she was like I am going to put my life experiences – my own experimentations of feminine leadership – into a book. You could say wait a minute, stop, stop, you cannot go that far because that’s in Re-scripting. No. Human Beings are very subjective in that sense. It’s good that you are not getting trapped in that in trying to objectify the process.
GEOFF: I understand. I’m trying to flesh out the skeleton a bit, in order to make it real to people, to demonstrate that there is substance here, and to illustrate the various stages by examples. I’m hoping that will give greater understanding and credibility to the HP Method.
SUJITH: Yeah. Indeed. For me always the Arriving is a place of reconciliation. This is very abstract word, but it is a place of reconciliation of everything that happened in the Subtracting and Passaging. They would have gone through a very profound experience of completely looking at their colleagues, at their organization, at the various demographics and all of that in a completely different way. It must have been a very profound self-encounter. Like, the idea of mysticism is so foreign to so many people, yet once they get into the experience, they just can’t have enough of it. They just simply don’t want to close the process. Arriving for me is a really the reconciliation of the Subtracting and Passaging. Of kind of like coming out of that, with this Aha!, this cellular knowing of how my world could be like – and the world could be my own self as a human being – or that world could be my team, or that world could be my entire organization. It could be myself at home, or my family. At a cellular level, coming away with a cellular level realization “Aha!, of how my world could look like next.” That is at a very abstract level what Arriving means for me.
GEOFF: Thanks Sujith. Is that the same as vision? Organizations have been talking about developing vision statements for a long time. It sounds to me that what you are talking about is like a vision, but it is at a cellular level, it’s something that is deeply felt and seen to be part of their identity, maybe even a new identity as a group or as individuals. It’s something that people have talked about in terms of the benefits of having a vision but this is an actual experience, the people are having of a vision as opposed to more of an intellectual exercise as if well we want to be the leading company in our industry or something. It’s an intention isn’t it, that’s what you are saying.
SUJITH: It’s a knowing, and knowingness.
GEOFF: I am so pleased with what we have achieved so far in this discussion. I even think the HARNESS phase is clearer for me – as we have touched on Re-scripting and Re-sculpting – is really putting these action plans into effect, not only from a business perspective but from a Being perspective. What sort of projects, initiatives people need to undertake in order to keep experiencing this level of connection with what’s important to them, and how to be together differently in order to achieve the sorts of breakthroughs that were achieved in the DISCOVERY workshops. Sujith, you made the point in one of your articles about the importance of language, symbols, rituals and ceremonies and this is what is necessary for an organization to achieve that end. And in particular these are different ways of behaving and even thinking and speaking that enables a new way of Being to be sustained and to be carried forward on a ongoing basis. So I think we can say that, is that conception of what happens in the HARNESS phase, is that correct and is there anything more that needs to be added?
SUJITH: I feel that’s a great summary, that’s a great starting point. We should gradually take more time to deepen into that in subsequent call.