Trans: *across, beyond, on the opposite side
Formation: *established foundation; material form
A fundamental shift in perspective or worldview that results in an expanded understanding of self and the nature of reality. Transformation can lead one to a greater sense of meaning and purpose and a reorientation of priorities toward wholeness, integration….of self and the larger community. A shift in the way an individual defines one’s self, e.g., from classifying one’s self as an identity -a point of view, a series of stories, a personality, one’s possessions, positions, or roles, etc., to a person who is able to create an expansive, holistic world view, which includes multiple, diverse perspectives, is not stuck in a particular position and provides a context that encompasses situations, people and conversations. Individuals are clear that who they are…is NOT an identity, rather, the one responsible for creating their life and their experience of life.
Transformation in the cultural domain brings a continued reawakening of consciousness to the basic assumptions people in groups determine to be valid, essential to follow and taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, feel, think and act. This includes significant changes in the way people perceive and shape their reality…collectively ……people experience more meaning and purpose in their lives…..and experience more responsibility and awareness for themselves and others. To transform a culture, it is essential that people model the transformation in their own lives and support others to shift the way they listen, speak, behave, think, feel, act and be in their world.
Organization transformation is a fundamental change to the way a business or educational institution operates. The “form” alters by people enlightening the way individuals and groups interact together. This is accomplished through 1) creating a culture, e.g. the way people listen, speak, behave, think, feel, act and be with one another, that calls in a new way of collective being, and 2) people embracing new organizational structures, habits, “rules of engagement,” principles, skills, processes and technology that are consistent with the organization’s newly co- created vision and the agreed upon results to be produced.
Conversations, Structures and People that together make THE difference
Because of its integral focus, this ICOT approach supports people to addresses bias, getting them on the same page for effective dialogue, i.e., having conversations for coordinating action effectively, from an idea to a powerful conclusion, and deals with strong conflict (breakdown to breakthrough). I saw this methodology in two completely different contexts, one strategic on building a delivering community of practice (Process) (the entire community) and another with a business strategy.
The cultural transformation initiated by this integral approach is still present in the company and that has been over 10 years. The Process area went from male dominated and unconnected to a healthy balance in regards to gender and with cross functioning deliverables. Both of these were achieved without direct reporting relationship and hard line accountability. People chose to invest time and energy and made it happen within the framework an integral approach provides. It creates a cultural mindset of “we are all in this together.”
We became much more aware employing this integral way of being; people became more observant of themselves and of their teams…more reflective and “mindful” of how best to listen and speak in ways that produced very different outcomes together.
Power of Purpose, Declaration
Through a process of integration and reflection, I created a clear purpose for myself and connected what I do both personally and professionally to that purpose, “To make the world better every day through creating big and small, positive spirals and energies via my connections and interactions with others.” I shifted from “doing a good Quality job”, to “being a model for living our vision for Quality”. It all started with ME! Transforming me in terms of our quality approach transformed others throughout the organization. My assignment in Europe turned to be my best assignment not only because of the amazing business results the team has achieved – more importantly the quality culture transformation in our business became the blue print of the company.
I really appreciate the ICOT program through many means and conversations have helped me understand…what it means “to be” had been missing from my leadership. This integral experience supported me to re-create myself! I am still in my journey of transformation with my organization, and I know for sure I am a much better person /leader today vs. years ago…
Power of Partnership, Listening, Honoring Commitments
I supported my spouse to follow “what really mattered to him,” e.g., opening an elderly care company in Beijing to address the compelling needs of the accelerated aging population in China. We both understood it was not about the money. It was about living our lives in a way that makes a difference to us and others. I played a crucial role to help his company define the purpose, value, and strategies of the enterprise. Only after one year of start up, they won the highest elderly care award from the government. Equally importantly, the relationship between me and my husband has also transformed since we have discovered something we never know about each other.
Co-Creating a Committed Community
I found that the ICOT approach gave me insights and a vocabulary that made me better able to understand others and connect in more fulfilling ways. Professionally, this has been the best professional development I’ve had in the last 10 years. It changed the way I think about myself and my role. This enabled our organization to grow a community committed to transformation and make progress on both our culture and our business that otherwise would not have been made.
The ICOT program supported me in being more self-aware regarding what I think/say to myself and how I listen to others; the quality of choices I make, e.g. where I place my attention and intention, and being more responsive/responsible, and less reactive. I’ve become more physically active, running marathons and being much more aware of my physical wellbeing. The integral nature of this work has empowered me to coach my kids to shepherd themselves through some very tough life challenges. This self-awareness has transferred to my professional life by being aware that I am the one who is creating my life, and the future into which I am living. I feel my decision making abilities have improved and have paved the way for much more clarity in the way in which I work with others.
The ICOT program’s emphasis on the power of language and conversation to create work “cultures” was impactful for me. The language of ‘what conversation am I in’ has allowed for more clarity and objectivity with less emotion and confusion in all my work. The personal coaching on ‘what activates my negative emotions’ has helped me recognize my own assumptions within my relationships that may be faulty, judgmental, or just in a negative space.
The idea of “generative” listening has caused me to be more ‘in the moment’ and more quiet to really listen in meetings and conversations.
ICOT, (Individual, Cultural and Organizational Transformation) work has been significant to at least two groups I worked with during my career. The most important elements in both cases were based in the power of conversation and transparency. In the first case the company was transitioning to a new advancement and evaluation system that impacted a major portion of our employees. In my business unit, we knew we could have chosen to let that change do whatever it would to our organization or we could use the change to create a transformation. Using ICOT, a conversational education —importantly, examining both the conversations going on in our own heads and the quality of conversations showing up in our organization, we created a level of transparency, which opened up the dialogue throughout the organization and increased trust. In fact, in the middle of this (ICOT) Organization Transformation initiative, the company announced a program designed to make major personnel cuts—and then stalled in its execution for six weeks. Many areas throughout the company ground to a literal halt. We kept moving—even though we were slated for a 20% cut—because our organization trusted we would let them know everything we knew as soon as we knew it.
The company made a major acquisition, with few surplus resources available to staff it. Historically our acquisition transferees leave the company within two years and are never highly rated. It was imperative we move as many people as possible from the acquired company’s city to our corporate headquarters and we needed our “new colleagues” to be successful. We used the ICOT (Individual, Cultural, Organizational, Transformation) educational approach, which includes generative listening, speaking, relating and behaving, in service of our desired future. This meant all of us needed to model our desired end state as a template from which to operate “backwards from the future,” (versus the classic forward from the present). As part of the ICOT approach, we continued to question …. [What is “missing that if it were present” or “present that if it was absent” that stood in the way], this allowed us to meet our objectives. All but one person were still with the organization two years later; they were well rated and some were even promoted into other work areas and many retired from the company.
The experience of Individual, Cultural, Organizational Transformation, (ICOT) has been an integrating journey for me, through many different initiatives over the years, and it has had a profound influence on me and my life. Being a leader in a company can cause people to shift away from themselves, as a whole, integrated person, to have a singular focus on career. The ICOT education supported me in living my life as a connected individual, i.e. my work and home, myself are not separated; my life is not compartmentalized. This approach has supported me staying grounded in and true to, who I want to be wherever I am, at work, home, community, traveling, etc.
This integrated educational approach provided me with a number of life changing opportunities. It provided many openings to 1) take on accountabilities/responsibilities that were much bigger than I ever imagined possible, and to 2) navigate difficult situations by co- creating the quality of relatedness needed inside of a crisis to move from a breakdown to a breakthrough; the results produced fundamentally transformed how our company does work. One of the major discernments that became more and more evident, as I embodied the practices of ICOT, was the ability I have as a leader to create “space, energy” for others, rather than, follow a prescribed agenda, or having to know the answers and provide them to people I lead. I learned how to listen and respect the unique contribution people have to make, and gave them room to express their intentions, commitments and passions. The most powerful set of actions emerged from these conversations and people walked away excited to participate. The fundamentals of transformation, e.g. being safe to be myself, deeply listening to, knowing and appreciating those with whom I work, speaking with commitment and awareness of the conversations I am in, and developing and integrating my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual intelligences all have contributed greatly to the quality of leadership I provide and results I have co-produced with others
Today…..I am living the retirement speech that I want to have
I believe that our teams have had much more constructive dialogues than we had in the past as a result of introducing our organizations to the ICOT, (Individual, Cultural, Organizational, Transformation) education. That, to me, is the biggest impact I am seeing and it is quite significant. This is the only way that we ultimately get everyone’s ideas on the table and get to the best place as a team.
I want to highlight three of the discernments, e.g. practices in experiencing with new awareness, we employed while working with my organizations that I have found to be particularly powerful in transforming people and the way we work together in our company. Listening Generously: I can honestly say that this is the one skill that has most improved in my personal and professional life. I am the type of person who is always thinking multiple steps ahead, and often when I do this, I (a) have already made my decision about the question in hand and (b) am not fully engaged in the conversation because I have moved onto the next part of the interaction. The concept of listening generously has taught me, quite frankly, how rude it is to the people with whom I am in conversation. It is also very presumptuous that I actually think I know the right answer vs. them. I have really heightened my self-awareness in this area, and although not always perfect, I believe I have stepped changed my performance. I get feedback that people are comfortable coming to talk to me about their ideas, even if different than my own. Also, it has helped me more in my personal life to ensure I minimize the multi-tasking…especially when in conversation with my wife or kids on the phone. I make sure they experience the conversation we are in together as the most important thing to me at that point in time. The Little Voice: (Internal dialogue) This may be the simplest of concepts, but oh so effective in creating action or dialogue around your thoughts, or around other’s thoughts (as often body language will tell you if the person you are talking to has their ‘little voice’ going off. I am now extremely aware of my little voice and I make conscious choices on whether or not to verbalize what the voice is saying. I can honestly say, as a result, my openness and transparency around what I am actually thinking has significant increased. By asking others what their ‘little voice’ is saying, I often see it is a positive way to open up the dialogue to get their real POV. Being For: I simply think of this as ‘if I am for all the people I work for like I am ‘for’ my children, I would behave completely differently. I would do anything to ensure the success of my children….and although it is not realistic to think anyone has the same time and energy to devote that much to everyone they encounter, it is clear that I have not always in the past displayed as much of this “partnership with,” as is possible, and as I believe I do today. This has been a powerful framing of being a true coach.
The ICOT approach for me is about creating space within the teams and relationships I have, which brings out the very best in others. The quality of relationships I have developed and the conversations I have engaged in are totally different when I apply the principles and behaviors I have learned; they are more effective, and on a personal level more rewarding.
Individual, cultural and organizational transformation, (ICOT) is often hard – one of the main shifts for me has been moving away from my ‘automatic’ responses in a given situation towards behaviors more representative of the changes I want to make. I experience myself being more effective in reaching the goals I set. Whilst participation in this systemic change requires dedication and effort to fully understand what this quality of transformation takes, and what it means inside an organization, the program really has supported me to make some significant improvements in my personal and professional life and it has stuck with me for years afterwards. In my organization, a small yet critical mass of people committed to this transformational method and the ripple effects benefitted far more of us.
I have had the opportunity to work with the ICOT, (Individual, Cultural, Organizational) educational approach for several years and in different occasions with various teams around the world. While the principles we used and learned were the same, every occasion revealed a new perspective of what Individual, Cultural and Organizational transformation could mean, both for me personally and for the organizations I was leading. This was not what we would call regular culture trainings, it was a deeper connection to our ability to understand and communicate with each other in ways that enabled very powerful forward action.
I cannot say that it was easy to get started, it required significant mindset changes in all of us to open up to the concepts and practices that this approach requires Letting go of our natural practices was hard but as our engagement continued, we went into a deeper level, a level where real transformation and breakthrough happened. Eventually, things started to fall in place and the nature of the program resulted in very practical solutions for our teams to improve how we work together.
The ICOT education supported me with many different relationships, e.g. family, colleagues, and managers, to have more authentic quality of conversations. I began initiating conversations, which were essential to my producing results, with people that were difficult to relate to, which required me to be more assertive, confident and responsible for my contribution. More and more I saw myself as becoming more self-aware, interested in others and engaging with colleagues to produce breakthrough results.
I learned how crucial leadership commitment is in the modeling of behaviors, relationships, communication, trust, etc. to individual, cultural, and organization transformation. As a result, I engaged in this educational experience to empower me to move from being an administrator to being a manager. I knew that my intention to create my work life experience was paramount – making declarations is a powerful use of language, and a potent catalyst to transforming an organization.
Morristown, New Jersey
New Orleans, Louisiana
St Louis, Missouri