Tag Archives: Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning

Experts Discuss the Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Business and Education on The Gail Shane Show

I recently had the privilege of co-hosting The Gail Shane Show on WSRQ – Sarasota with, of course, Gail Shane.  The subject of the program explored the critical role Emotional Intelligence competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Awareness, Relationship Management skills and Empathy) have on creating and sustaining competitive advantage in business, education, and in our own personal lives.  We were fortunate to have on our panel neurosurgeon Dr. Ravi Rao, the author of “Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness To Grow Earnings And The Economy, Becky Canesse, CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the Principal of the Just For Girls Academy.

I’ve edited the podcast replay into three segments, which you can listen to by clicking the audio players below:

Segment One ~ Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray discuss the neurology of human emotions, leveraging neuroscience to develop engaging and inspirational leaders, and how organizational  mastery of our emotional landscape contributes to competitive advantage, engagement, productivity and business performance (13 minutes).

Segment Two ~ Becky Cannesse and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom discuss how they’re educating the whole child by cultivating empathy, compassion, resiliency, and Emotional Intelligence skills in young girls and how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, conducted by Performance Transformation, LLC™, has contributed to the girls’ development (8 minutes).

Segment Three ~ Ravi, Terry, Gail, Becky and Jennifer discuss methods for teaching emotional awareness skills, how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning accelerates and supports the emergence of Emotional Intelligence competencies, and strategies for cultivating a positive, emotional landscape in organizations, businesses, and families (13 minutes).

Thanks again to Gail Shane, WSRQ – Sarasota, Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), our collaborator and host for Equine programs, and Neal Communities, the sponsor, for having us on the air!

© 2013, Terry Murray, The Gail Shane Show.

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Filed under Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Sales Training, Strategic Planning, Talent Management, Team Building

Performance Transformation, LLC™ Announces The Launch Of The Kanthaka School™ For EFEL

iStock_000001412655MediumFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRLog (Press Release) – Jun. 4, 2013 – VENICE, Fla. – Performance Transformation, LLC™ (Venice, FL) announced today the launch of The Kanthaka School™ for Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.  The school integrates five years of research, development and validation in the field of relationship-based EFEL.  Delivered using the firm’s proprietary, educationally-based Accretive Coaching Process℠, the program is designed and priced to bridge the gap between highly expensive and time consuming programs and abridged, short programs that deliver little in value to the students.

“As we travelled the country over the past five years, conducting workshops, it became painfully apparent there was a gap in the various training programs available for people interested in doing the work,” commented Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation.  ”On the one hand are programs that cost upwards of $30,000 and take eight weeks of travel to complete. On the other hand are the weekend wonder programs that offer little value to the students or the horses.  We wanted to address this problem with a viable solution.”The Kanthaka School requires only two weeks of onsite, workshop intensives, conducted at the beginning and the end of the six month program.  The curriculum and coaching are delivered remotely using state-of-the-art, online collaborative learning tools and one-on-one developmental coaching and instruction using Skype.  Students are encouraged to record each of the 24 weekly modules for future reference.“The other significant challenge we continue to witness is the struggle many graduates, of the most costly programs, encounter trying to build a successful EFEL business,” added Terry.  ”After investing tens of thousands of dollars, they’re out the door and on their own, without formal curricula, training materials, marketing or a formal, strategic business plan.  From our perspective, that simply doesn’t reflect the spirit of this work.”

Students attending The Kanthaka School are provide with the tools and materials necessary to launch a successful practice.  The program includes a custom, strategic business plan, sales and marketing materials, and access to sixteen formal curricula with full-color, bound, companion workbooks.  The workshop curricula includes programs for health care providers, first responders, veterans, corporate leadership, collaborative team building, at-risk youth, parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and more.

“As the work continues to gain momentum and notoriety in the mainstream, it is important that comprehensive, mindful training is available to those that wish to pursue this as their life’s work,” said Terry.  ”Abbreviated programs that were originally designed to train a horse-handler assisting a psychotherapist are attempting to move into the EFEL world, but they simply don’t have the chops for the work.  You can’t master this approach over a long weekend, and worse, their attempts to create equine exercises have resulted in dangerous and abusive practices for the horses and participants.  It’s an example of good intentions gone awry. At the other end of the spectrum are programs that take more than they give, which is also not in the spirit of the work.  How many people have eight weeks of free time to fly back and forth to a training program over the course of a year or $30,000 for tuition? That just seems exclusionary.”

Recent peer-reviewed, published research studies are scientifically demonstrating the efficacy of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.  One study, conducted by Washington State University, demonstrated the efficaciousness of the approach with adolescent children.  Another study, conducted by the University of Kentucky, showed statistically significant results imparting Emotional Intelligence competencies in nurses.

“The recent research is validating what we’ve been witnessing first-hand for years,” added Terry. “Done properly, the approach is a remarkable accelerant for personal and professional development.  The Kanthaka Approach℠ frames each exercise using a scientifically-substantiated concept.  We then allow the participant to experience the concept first-hand using ground-based exercises with the horses.  The result is an immutable lesson, delivered on a neurological level.  The metaphors that rapidly emerge inaha moments, for leadership, collaboration, and positive relationships are astounding.”

The onsite, intensive workshops are conducted in partnership with Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART).  SMART, a 501(c)(3), is in their 26th year of service to the community, providing scholarship programs for children with developmental disabilities, educational programs for at-risk children and programs for wounded combat veterans.  Twenty percent of the Kanthaka School’s tuition goes in direct support of SMART.

“We talk about congruency of vision and intention, of how our work can help transform business to be a force for good in the community.  It’s imperative that we walk our talk.

Performance Transformation has been doing just that for over four years through their pro bono Warriors in Transition program.  The workshop is designed to assist combat veterans and their families successfully transition the journey back to civilian life.  It also is employed to assist veterans and families struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Since 2009, Performance Transformation has introduced the program in six states.  The workshop received a formal commendation from General David Petraeus in 2010.  They’ve also conducted workshops for at-risk girls, women leaving county jail, and leaders from Native American tribes.

“We’ve worked diligently over the past five years to help bring this work into the mainstream.  We’ve very excited to be working with SMART in launching our first class this coming October.”

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.

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Research Demonstrates Efficacy of Cultivating Emotional Intelligence with Nurses Through Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning

Back in 2009 we introduced, “The Emotionally Resilient Nurse”, a relationship-based, equine facilitated experiential learning program designed specifically to cultivate Emotional Intelligence(EI) competencies in nurses.  This program came right on the heels of our pro bono program, “Warriors in Transition”, designed to help combat veterans and their families wrestling with PTSD, and quite often PTSD/TBI.  For anyone participating in or monitoring our warriors program, the efficacy was remarkably apparent.  Sleep patterns improved, agitation levels diminished, and family relationships improved almost overnight.  The program, which we’ve helped to introduce in six states, was formally commended by General David Petraeus in 2010.

Having worked in the health care field for two decades, I had personally witnessed the challenges nurses face on a daily basis.  Their environment is emotionally toxic and they are constantly walking a tightrope, without a net, of expressing authentic empathy through healthy, professional boundaries.  It is not a task for the faint of heart.  Having witnessed the success of our approach with combat veterans, migrating this approach into acute care hospital settings, specifically designed for other front line professionals, seemed like a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, at the time, hospital administrators were still laying off nurses to cut costs.  In the very short term, this may have helped the bottom line, but over time, lowering staffing levels only exacerbated the costly problems of nurse burnout, high turnover rates (the Florida Nurses Association reports that it costs a hospital an average of $64,000 to backfill an open nursing position.  Extrapolated across the nation, this problem adds approximately $17 billion in hard dollar costs to the health care delivery system, adding absolutely no value whatsoever.) and perceptions of quality of care with patients and their families.

As we do with the development of all of our programs, we dove into the peer-reviewed, published research on the effects of cultivating emotional intelligence in nurses on the delivery system.  Here’s a snapshot of what we discovered:

    • Patient satisfaction is a widely recognized measure of medical care quality and a predictor of several positive consequences for organizations and patients (e.g. patient adherence to treatment regimens, fewer malpractice suits, hospital employees’ satisfaction, and financial performance).2
    • Compassionate behavior is threatened by technological concerns and economic constraints.3 “Continually, we experience situations where patients received excellent technical care but, when the emotional side of their care was not met, they believed that their care was inadequate”.4
    • By understanding the patients’ emotions, and being more empathetic, nurses are more able to understand the values, worries, and fears of patients. They are more apt to automatically connect with patients, appreciate the patients’ perspectives, understand the impact of their actions, understand and satisfy patients’ needs5 and respond appropriately.6
    • Nurses need to interpret and understand how patients feel, to ascertain their motives and concerns, and demonstrate empathy in their care. They also need to understand and manage their own emotions, not just for high quality care, but for their own self-protection and health as well.7
    • Nurses capable of a self-reflective process become aware of their own emotions.  When nurses recognize their own feelings they are more likely to manage them and communicate in appropriate ways.8
    • Non-verbal interactions play a vital role in nurse-patient perceptions.  The non-verbal interactions include patient-directed eye gaze, affirmative head nod, smiling, leaning forward, touch, and instrument touch.9
    • Emotional Intelligence in nursing leads to more positive attitudes, greater adaptability, improved relationships, and increased orientation towards positive values.10
    • Emotional Intelligence has a positive impact on nursing team cohesiveness and patient/client outcomes.11
    • Emotional Intelligence minimizes the negative stress consequences of nursing.12
    • Emotional Intelligence is important in managing stress and reducing nurse burnout.13
    • Emotional Intelligence is an important characteristic for building successful nursing leadership, enhancing nursing performance, and reducing nurse burnout.14
    • Emotional intelligence scores in clinical staff nurses correlate positively with both performance levels and retention variables. Clinical staff nurses with higher emotional intelligence scores demonstrate higher performance, have longer careers, and display greater job retention.15
    • Emotional Intelligence should be integrated into the nursing profession by a model of transformational learning for nurse education.16

It seemed as if we’d made a fairly strong case for how cultivating the soft skills in nursing could save hard dollars in health care.  Unfortunately, we were in hindsight, more that a bit ahead of our time.  With the coming of HCAHPS, and the effect these patient satisfaction surveys will have on 30% of a hospital system’s reimbursements from the Medicare, perhaps it is time to revisit the value this approach represents.  An approach that is capable of delivering an ROI that soars into the thousands of percent.

Adding to the evidence, a pilot study has just been conducted and released from the University of Kentucky that warrants attention.  The study, authored by Patricia Dyk, and Robyn Cheung, et al, entitled, “The Effectiveness of Equine Guided Leadership Education to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Expert Nurses“, demonstrates statistically signifiant improvements in Emotional Intelligence competencies with nurses employing this approach.  This comes as no surprise to us, as we’ve been traveling the United States for the past four years, conducting our evidence-based approach to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, seeing consistent, reproducible results in very challenging populations.

The fact is, we’ve crossed a threshold into a period of adaptive challenges.  Unprecedented challenges that require unprecedented solutions.  The complexity of the challenges institutions and enterprises face today will require the integration of seemingly disparate disciplines and methodologies in order to find sustainable solutions.  One thing’s for certain, investing in our nurses would be a major step forward in improving the health care delivery system in the United States.

Copyright 2013, Terry Murray.

 1.)  Daniel Goleman, (1995).  “Emotional Intelligence”, Bantam Books, New York, NY.

2.)  Gesell, S.B. & Wolosin, R.J., (2004).  Inpatients’ Rating of Care in 5 Common Clinical Conditions. Quality Management Health Care, 13(4), 222-227.

3.)  Godkin, J. & Godkin, L., (2004).  Caring Behaviors Among Nurses:  Fostering a Conversation of Gestures. Health Care Management Review, 29(3), 258-267.

4.)  Kerfoot, K., (1996).  The Emotional Side of Leadership:  The Nurse Manager’s Challenge.  Nursing Economics, 14(1), 59-62.

5.)  Ibid., 59-62.

6.)  Vitello-Ciccui, J.M., (2003).  Innovative Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence.  Nursing Management, 24(10), 28-34.

7.)  McQueen, A.C.H., (2004).  Emotional Intelligence in Nursing Work.  Journal of Advanced Nursing, 47(1), 101-108.

8.)  Ibid., 101-108.

9.)  W. Caris-Verhallen, (1999).  Effects of Video Interaction Analysis Training on Nurse-Patient Communication in the Care of the Elderly.  Patient Education and Counseling, Volume 39, Issue 1, 91-103.

10.)  Kristin Akerjordet & Elisabeth, (2007).  Emotional Intelligence: A Review of the Literature with Specific Focus on Empirical and Epistemological Perspectives. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 16(8); 1405-1416.

11.)  Quoidbach & Hansenne, (2009).  The impact of trait emotional intelligence on nursing team performance and cohesiveness.  Journal of Professional Nursing, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp. 23 – 29.

12.)  Montes-Berges & Augusto, (2007).  Exploring the Relationship Between Perceived Emotional Intelligence, Coping, Social Support and Mental Health in Nursing Students.  Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 14 (2);163-171.

13.)  Linda Gerits, Jan J. L. Derksen, & Antoine B. Verbruggen, (2004).  Emotional Intelligence and Adaptive Success of Nurses Caring for People with Mental Retardation and Severe Behavior Problems.  Mental Retardation: 42, (2); 106-121.

14.)  Vitello-Ciccui, Joan M., (2002).  Exploring Emotional Intelligence:  Implications for Nursing Leaders.  Journal of Nursing Administration.  32(4):  203-210.

15.)  Codier, Estelle PhD, RN; Kamikawa, Cindy MSN, RN, NE-BC; Kooker, Barbara M. DrPH, APRN, NEA-BC; Shoultz, Jan DrPH, MPH, (2009).  Emotional Intelligence, Performance, and Retention in Clinical Staff Nurses.  Nursing Administration Quarterly:  October/December, Volume 33, Issue 4, 310-316.

16.)  Dawn Freshwater & Theodore Stickley, (2004).  The Heart of the Art:  Emotional Intelligence in Nurse Education.  Nursing Inquiry. 11(2); 91-98.

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What Neurosurgeons and Horses Can Teach Us About Leadership

_PPH5798Sounds strange, doesn’t it?  I’ve grown accustomed to the quizzical looks over the years when I tell people we work with horses to help leaders develop the critical competencies necessary for today’s volatile workplace.  It isn’t a gimmick, an arcane game or ropes course.  It is a scientifically substantiated approach to experiential learning.  One that greatly accelerates development thanks to the fact that our carefully structured exercises ferry participants through all four modalities of Kolb’s Adult Learning Style Inventory.  Our approach also draws heavily from the neuroscience research of such luminaries as Dan Goleman, Rich Davidson, Jaak Panksepp and Ravi Rao.  Going beyond psychology, the brain research that is continuously emerging enables us, as leadership development experts, to address the causal, neurological pathways that result in demonstrated behaviors. Traditional leadership development methodologies, focused on behaviorism (i.e., mainstream psychology’s embrace of cognitive behavioral therapy), have had thirty years on the main stage, and left us with a dearth of effective, mindful leaders.  If anything, traditional approaches to development have added to the inertia in leadership we see all around us.

If you don’t believe me, ask Dr. Allen Hamilton, neurosurgeon at the University of Arizona Medical Center.  Dr. Hamilton is employing a form of relationship-based, Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.  An approach very much in alignment with our own.  If you happened to have missed it, here’s a story about Dr. Hamilton employing horses to cultivate emotional intelligence competencies, heightened sensitivity to non-verbal communication, and empathy with medical school students:  http://www.today.com/health/open-say-neigh-horses-help-teach-med-students-6C9790792.

Need a second opinion?  If you have a few minutes, I’d like to invite you to listen to Dr. Ravi Rao, a Harvard trained neurosurgeon (who also holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins), who joined me on a radio interview, sharing his thoughts on our approach.  

So, why is this approach so effective?  The research demonstrates our brains have plasticity.  We can, through conscious effort, literally change the way we interpret and react to the work around us on a basic, neurological level.  

Neuroscience also provides insights into why human beings resist change.  The brain consumes 25% of the blood glucose in our bodies at any given time.  The majority of it is used to support our visual cortex and our near-term memory, the two parts of your brain you are using to read this blog.  After that, the brain is very conservative in its use of energy.  It takes far less energy to follow a well established neural pathway than it does to create new ones.  Think of our established neural pathways as dry river beds cut deep into the side of a mountain.  Every time it rains, the water follows the path of least resistance, cutting an even deeper rivulet down the mountain.  Trying to get the water to flow in another direction takes significant effort.

Neuroscience guides our approach to sparking neurogenesis, particularly in the pre-frontal cortex, the brain’s executive center where the competencies of emotional intelligence emerge (self-awareness, social awareness, self regulation, and relationship management skills).  By introducing novelty, (having a professional enter into a round pen to co-create a shared goal with a horse without the use of language, touch, or dominating behaviors is pretty novel) we disrupt the established pathways associated with problem solving.  As the participant connects, engages and motivates the horse, fall-back behaviors emerge.  Interpersonal behaviors.  When we don’t know what to do we do what we know, and the leadership behaviors people demonstrate with their direct reports are revealed to the participant on their own accord.  These are powerful, breakthrough moments of self-awareness bursting to the surface of consciousness.  No one is telling the participant a thing…other than the horse.  The participant is seeing their own behaviors reflected back to them through the behaviors of the horse.  And horses don’t lie, shade or judge emotions.  Emotions are information to horses (this is also a neuroscience finding based upon the work of Dr. Jaak Panksepp), as they should be to us as well.

Research from the field also provides new assessment tools that enable us to hone in on specific areas of development.  Here’s a short, video white board describing this application:

As we move deeper into the 21st Century, adaptive challenges will continue to confront us.  Challenges in which we don’t know all the answers.  Challenges that will require collaborative efforts from a multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce to resolve.  And resolve at speed, in real time.  Working with horses from a neurologically substantiated perspective imparts learning agility in leaders.  Horses require us to park our ego at the barn door as well.  They aren’t impressed with titles, paychecks or artificial authority.  They are impressed with presence.  This approach enables leaders to learn how to dance in the moment, acting with mindful discernment even when confronted with highly novel challenges.  And to do so while maintaining congruency, transparency and authenticity.  Horses, and humans, demand no less.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

 

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May 7, 2013 · 8:43 am

The Dimensions of the Next Productivity Breakthrough

We’re on the threshold of a very exciting time to be in leadership.  Having survived the shocks of the Great Recession, business leaders are recognizing the traditional approaches to increasing productivity, engagement, collaboration and innovation have run their course.  Fresh thinking is needed to spark the next wave of prosperity.  Interestingly, insights from the broad and burgeoning field of neuroscience are validating the approach and philosophy we’ve been pursuing for five years.

Sophisticated neural imaging is providing hard evidence of what’s occurring in our brains under a variety of controlled inputs.  Our brains have plasticity, which is a relatively new understanding of what was once thought to be a staid organ once the developmental process was complete.  Our brains are constantly changing based upon our experiences and the neural input we choose to, or unconsciously, consume.  By developing intentional, neural development strategies, we can change the way we interpret and respond to the world around us.  To quote Dr. Richard Davidson, Affective Neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, commenting on the brain’s experience-dependent neural plasticity, “Neural plasticity refers to the idea that the brain can change in response to experience and in response to training.  The brain is literally built to change in response to experience.”

Dr. Davidson’s work goes on to identify that the practice of compassion activates the part of the brain that processes our perspective of people, events and the world around us.  Cultivating compassion also activates the part of our brain, the insula, that is in two way communication with our organs and body, and gamma waves expand that are associated with the creation of new neural connections.  New neural connections, initiated by novel experiences, are the foundational spark of creative thinking and innovative problem solving.

How does this relate to productivity in the workplace?  Let’s look at what CEOs and senior HR executives have recently acknowledged and are currently seeking to cultivate in their organizations:

1.) CEOs have identified inspirational leadership, customer obsession, and leadership teaming as the most important traits they are seeking in their leaders.

2.) CEOs surveyed in 2012 see human capital (71%), customer relationships (66%), and innovation (52%) as key sources of sustained, economic value creation.  They are also recognizing the need for more openness, transparency and collaboration.

3.) According to IBM’s 2012 research, CEOs are most focused on three organizational attributes; ethics & values (65%), collaborative environments (63%), and purpose & mission (58%).  CEOs in growth-market industries are 79% more likely than their mature market peers to make significant changes to their organizational values over the next three to five years.

4.) According to a SHRM 2012 survey, the three biggest challenges HR executives anticipate over the next ten years are:  Retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%), developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%), and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to their organization (36%).

5.) CEOs have acknowledged they will require an improvement in productivity of 20% from their current human assets in order to maintain competitive advantage moving forward.

If we reference the recent research from the Corporate Executive Board’s Executive Guidance – 2013, we can see today’s high performers and high potentials are already demonstrating many of the so-called, soft skills necessary to succeed in highly volatile, ambiguous times.  Skills that are grounded in Emotional Intelligence competencies (in particular and from the report, self and social awareness) and a passion for the customer and business that are a result of full engagement (both cognitive and emotional).  Skills that demonstrate nimble, neural plasticity.  Skills that can be taught to others.

Since 2008, we’ve intentionally chosen to work extensively with at-risk populations in our society and have come away with some powerful experiential lessons.  Segments of our society that present significant challenges in their engagement levels, awareness, sense of purpose, and ability to function as productive members of society.  Veterans and their families struggling with PTSD.  Teens incarcerated in juvenile detention.  Women coming out of county jail.  At-risk girls living in poverty and surrounded by crime.  Diverse populations that cling to the fringes, almost entirely excluded from participating in, and contributing to, our collective prosperity.  Populations that are dealing with challenges that are significantly greater and more deeply engrained than what we typically see with our business clients.   We’re happy to report we’ve witnessed remarkable results!

Here’s an example of a recent program for young, at-risk girls in our community:

So, as a business leader, where do you begin?  We suggest looking to the types of values your organization is leveraging for engagement.  Are they purely extrinsic (compensation, power, prestige) or a balance including intrinsic values (authentic relationships, personal development, purposefulness…feeling a part of something important and larger than one’s self interests)?

Extrinsic values, while highly effective during the Industrial Age, when the workplace was culturally homogenous, no longer resonate in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.  Intrinsic values transcend the differences stemming from generational perspectives and cultural orientations.

These values resonate through the emotions of compassion, empathy and caring for one another.  These were, and still are, the survival skills that enabled human beings to survive, evolve and flourish.  Research from the neurosciences supports this insight.  It is only through the intentional creation of a culture that propagates these emotions and strikes a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic goals and values, that the targeted 20% improvement in productivity can emerge.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

References.

1.) “Leading Through Connections – Insights From the Global Chief Executive Officer Study.” IBM® Institute For Business Value,  May, 2012.

2.) ibid.

3.) ibid.

4.) “Challenges Facing HR Over The Next 10 Years”, Society for HR Management, November, 2012.  http://www.slideshare.net/shrm/shrm-futurehr2022final.

5.) “Breakthrough Performance in the New Work Environment – Identifying and Enabling the New High Performer”, Executive Guidance for 2013, CEB, December, 2012. http://www.executiveboard.com/exbd/executive-guidance/index.page.

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From Knowledge Management to Content Collaboration – Unleashing Value Creation in the 21st Century

I’d like to share some exciting research and insights from several business thought leaders that have come to light over the past seven months that point to the remarkable business opportunities that are right before us!

In the November, 2012 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly®, research published in the article, “Capturing Business Value With Social Technologies” provides us with a glimpse into the breathtaking potential of creating real business value through the targeted application of social connectivity platforms.  Obviously, we’re not talking about Facebook here, but emerging media designed specifically for business.  What the authors of the article have discovered is too important to paraphrase, so I’ll quote them directly:

“An in-­depth  analysis  of  four  industry  sectors  that  represent  almost 20  percent  of  global  industry  sales  suggests  that  social  platforms can  unlock  $900  billion  to  $1.3  trillion  in  value  in  those  sectors   alone.  Two-­thirds  of  this  value  creation  opportunity  lies  in  improving  communication  and  collaboration  within  and  across  enterprises.”

As promising as this sounds, technology, in and of itself, is not the entirety of the answer.  Capturing this promise will require a shift in leadership perspective.  One that ferries organizations, and most importantly, organizational culture from an orientation forged during the Industrial Age to one that truly fits what author and thought leader Don Tapscott calls The Age of Networked Intelligence.

In an interview (also from the McKinsey Quarterly) that was published last month entitled, “Making Internal Collaboration Work”, Don Tapscott shared his views on the subject.  First, he states that Knowledge Management has failed.  According to Mr. Tapscott, attempting to containerize knowledge in repositories is futile.  Why?  Because knowledge is not a static entity, nor a finite asset.  Tapscott also points to the false assumption that a company’s knowledge assets exists within the walls of the company.  In the interview, he states that the most important knowledge exists outside of the boundaries of the organization and the way to tap into it is through open collaboration.

Tapscott goes on to identify the problem with email, humorously pointing out that, like Mark Twain once said about the weather, “Everybody’s complaining about it, but no ones doing anything about it!”  (In actuality, we are…and I’ll share more below.) Email sequesters valuable information and knowledge resources.  Not only does email make access to knowledge difficult, it’s a time and productivity sink.  Referring again to research from the November McKinsey article, the researchers discovered that the typical interaction worker (i.e. knowledge worker) spends 28% of each day reading, writing and responding to emails.  This figure represents 13 hours a week or the equivalent of more than 80 days a year working on emails!  All to further lock away valuable, company knowledge into an unsearchable, uncatorgorized tomb.  The authors go on to identify that the productivity of interaction workers could be improved by 20% to 25% by migrating away from email and onto collaborative, open media platforms.  This is the exact productivity improvement CEOs have identified as necessary to maintain competitive advantage in today’s economic climate (as reported in the Corporate Executive Board 2013 Executive Guidance report).

Knowledge sharing on email, once initially exchanged, falls into a virtual safe deposit box that requires two keys to open; knowing exactly what it is that you’re looking to retrieve and remembering who that email was sent or received from.  The first iteration of Knowledge Management attempted to pull the knowledge out of the safe deposit boxes, but still left it in the vault.

Let’s take a look at this opportunity through another lens, one that will help us focus on how we get from where we are to where we need to be.  In order to incorporate and successfully orchestrate emerging social technologies for value creation we will need to prime the knowledge pump.  Here’s where traditional corporate training, another artifact from the Industrial Age, falls short.  In a white paper written by thought leader Jay Cross for Citrix® entitled, “Why Corporate Training is Broken and How to Fix It”, the author points to the challenges traditional training represent in a collaborative, networked world.  In his paper, Mr. Cross identifies the fact that 3 out of 4 Chief Learning Officers are dissatisfied with their corporate training programs and lack of results.  He points out as Industrial Age hierarchies begin the slow migration to collaborative networks, corporate training must follow suit.

Here’s a great example.  I got into a debate the other day on a LinkedIn discussion group focused on team building.  Having suffered through seemingly endless, nonsensical team building programs during my corporate days, be it ropes courses, game playing, or building toy boats in a resort swimming pool, I hold some strong opinions as to the vacuous nature of such investments.  As an executive, I sought a truly meaningful, efficacious and aligned approach to building cohesion and collaboration in the organizations I led.  It was a framing perspective for the development of our own, scientifically-substantiated Adaptive Team Building programs that focus on cultivating soft skills, that are truly causal skills, that positively effect team cohesion, creative thinking and collaboration.  The ropes course advocates took great offense.  Yet, with ten minutes of research, I discovered that by the year 2000, there were more than 20,000 such courses offering team building programs to businesses in the country.  The CAGR of courses was adding an additional 250 sites per year to the landscape.  Sitting here today, with somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 of such programs in operation, why are we still searching for tools that support collaboration, cohesion and creative thinking in teams?  This Industrial Age approach to training no longer delivers value, if in fact, it ever did in the first place.

Jay Cross makes another insightful observation in his paper regarding the limitations of applying social technology without additional support.  He states, “Simply bolting on informal and social learning as a new technique doesn’t work.  A company cannot take full advantage of networked learning without shifting its values, culture and practices.  It must move toward becoming a collaborative organization.”  This migration requires the alignment and optimization of leadership, strategy and organizational culture; the fundamental premise and philosophy we at Performance Transformation have been discussing for five years.  Mr. Cross goes on to offer a four step approach to solving this dilemma.  Here are his recommended steps and Performance Transformation’s tools and solutions for igniting the value creating, collaborative flywheel:

1.) Create a Collaborative Culture.  This requires engagement well beyond the approximately 30% of associates that are actively engaged today (Gallup and the Chartered Management Institute).  Trust must be repaired.  This begins with adopting a fresh approach from transactional leadership toward transformational leadership.  Affective Leadership development focuses on cultivating the interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills that help leaders get off the dance floor and into the balcony by gaining insights into how their leadership neurologically and biochemically affects those they lead.  This approach literally invites engagement, the prerequisite for successful, open collaboration.

2.) Impart Collaborative Motivation.  Once again, we’re back to leadership, but also organizational structure.  Command-and-control leadership is as outdated to Gen X and Gen Y workers as an Etch-A-Sketch, and hierarchies can stifle motivation, especially in younger workers.  Introducing an Open Network Strategy Accelerator (“Accelerate”, Kotter, Harvard Business Review, October, 2012) that can thrive along side the efficiencies of the hierarchy opens the door for multi-generational, multi-cultural collaboration across company silos.

3.) Introduce a Collaborative Infrastructure.  While hierarchies can deliver remarkable efficiencies ensuring companies hit next quarter’s numbers, this structure is also stable to the point of being staid.  Hierarchies weren’t meant to be nimble.  Through our partners at Democrasoft, we’ve introduced a dynamic software infrastructure that supports the Open Network Strategy Accelerator described by Professor Kotter in the HBR.  This platform invites engagement and collaboration throughout the organization, cross pollenating creative ideas and insights, delivering remarkable visibility and transparency.  It pulls knowledge sharing and content collaboration out of email threads and onto a highly accessible, open platform.  The software even enables social branding initiatives to reach out into the marketplace as well as enabling segments of the network to open and capture knowledge from outside of the organization.

4.) Enable Collaborative Learning.  Our unique approach to collaborative learning incorporates Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL).  Our relationship-based approach has been commended by General David Petraeus and, most recently, adopted into the core curriculum of a charter school for at-risk girls.  It is not traditional training.  It is experiential learning on a truly collaborative level, both with fellow participants and the horses.  It is no more static than today’s economic landscape and engages the participants in a research-based, statistically substantiated and efficacious approach to professional development.

Touching on what Don Topscott shares in his TED video, he identifies four principles necessary for success in the new, open world.  They are collaboration, transparency, sharing of assets, and empowerment; all dramatic shifts from traditional managerial philosophy.  Again, we’re back to leadership, strategy and organizational culture as the overarching drivers of creating nimble, engaged, and innovative companies.

The point is, there’s no one, silver bullet solution to the challenges and opportunities we face today.  Success going forward will require an integrative approach to how we connect, engage, inspire and motivate human beings to collaborate and co-create in the age of Networked Intelligence; the rapidly emerging source of business value creation in the 21st century.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Learn more about our integrative approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™.

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Scientific Study Demonstrates the Efficacy of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning

leadership-round-pen-2-lo-res.jpgThose of us employing a relationship-based approach to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) in the personal and professional development business know how powerful the approach can be for our participants.  The success we’ve witnessed traveling the country these past four years conducting workshops, from Hawaii to Montana to Florida, has been remarkable.  We’ve seen rapid, developmental progress made in combat veterans, women leaving county jail, VA counselors, juveniles in detention, at-risk children, clinicians and business professionals.  The approach delivers a powerful shift in one’s perspective of self, others and how the interplay between human beings (and horses, too) has a biochemical, neurological and psychological affect that subtly defines the nature of our relationships.  Whether we’re leading a team of professionals, selling to prospects, or simply interacting with our friends and families.  We know this works because we’ve seen it working.

Now there’s a solid, scientific research study that confirms what we know anecdotally.  Researchers Patricia Pendry and Stephanie Roeter of Washington State University published the study, “Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effects of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence, in a 2012 edition of the professional journal, Human-Animal Interactions.  Conducted as an eleven week after-school program, the study demonstrated improvements in the youth’s’ self-confidence, self-esteem, school bonding, positive social behaviors, school grades and achievement test scores.  To quote Pendry and Roeter, “Results echo findings from prior correlational, anecdotal, and case study evidence, which suggest significant positive associations between participation in equine facilitated programs and various aspects of adjustment and wellbeing.  Faced with skepticism about the efficacy of equine facilitated programs by potential funders and third party payers, therapeutic professionals and clients can now point to causal evidence.  This may not only increase the public’s confidence in equine programs’ ability to positively affect child development, but also translate into increased structural support to increase accessibility to such programs.”1

At first glance, working with horses to develop mindful leaders, cohesive teams and highly efficient sales professionals may look a bit woo-woo.  It isn’t.  We’ve canvased over 200 peer-reviewed research studies in everything from affective neuroscience, biochemistry, applied behavioral economics, performance psychology, adult learning styles and even quantum physics to correlate and explain what is actually happening in our workshops.  Our approach incorporates this research to introduce and frame the lessons the participants are about to experience, in specifically designed horse/human relationship-based exercises, firsthand for themselves.  As we introduce business metaphors throughout the exercises, we see eyes widen as that ah-ha moment emerges when a lesson is embraced through self-reflection and self-discovery.  These kinesthetic lessons are not easily forgotten.

The research pipeline for EFEL is beginning to fill and in the coming years I’m confident we’ll see even more validated results to the approach.  Validation of what we’ve learned experientially by conducting workshops these past four years.  If you are interested in learning more about our approach, we invite you to visit our website!

1.) Patricia Pendry, Stephanie Roeter, “Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effects of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence”, Human-Animal Interaction, 2012, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-19.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Sales Training, Team Building