In this short essay I want to discuss some actual examples and aspects of creating and developing a training system in Russian and international companies as seen through the perspective of the Integral approach. I will briefly review some methods and tools which have proven to be successful and been applied in business organizations.
Ken Wilber in his Integral AQAL code uses the I-WE-IT-ITS system of quadrants, or basic perspectives on or dimensions of human systems; and this principle can be applied in a learning context inside the company. I, We, It, and Its (with “Its” being a 3rd-person plural of the It pronoun—it can be also signified with the “they” pronoun) are used to designate the quadrants in the Integral AQAL approach.
The I-Quadrant (Q-I)—shows employee’s needs who asks a reasonable set of questions such as “what can I personally get from one or another type of training,“ “If I do or do not involve in this how will it influence me.“ If we speak about international practices and companies that work in Russia we will see that those companies use “career paths“ or “career development spreadsheets“ which fill in Q-I requirements and expectations; they allow to highlight various needs which are, in turn, focused directly on specific needs of an individual employee. In a common Russian approach to clarifying individual needs of employees there is a tendency towards generalization and unification; and this in turn leads to unmotivated participants who attend educational events without an intentional purpose (they participate in trainings, workshops, only in order to fulfill a formal obligation of sorts). In this case coaching is a good tool to elucidating and satisfying Q-I’s expectations. If there are an employee, an awareness of his or her need, and a coach who could work as a facilitator, then it results in setting clear goals, specific steps, and interior motivation.
The We-Quadrant (Q-WE) includes employees’ need to form groups and common field of communication, take part in corporate events. Now, an important question here is, “What benefits in this are for us as managers and salespeople?” In the context of this quadrant one may use various formats of sharing responsibilities, where each employee can contribute to others’ training and learning. Here I’d like to highlight such Q-WE tools that facilitate learning as Lunch & Learn, World cafe, brainstorming, Kaizen system. The main ideas of those formats are communication and solving specific business tasks on a regular basis (for example, every second Tuesday a session of Lunch & Learn can be conducted where only managers and employees who are in High-Potential personnel reserve take part. During this event employees have an opportunity to discuss difficulties in work, methods of solutions or ask advice in an informal atmosphere while everybody drinks tea or coffee). In Russian companies going outdoors or to a different place outside the office—whether a specialized conference, a roundtable discussion or an exhibition—is more popular. Some training companies invite their business clients into their own work space and provide public or open events there.
The ITS-Quadrant (Q-ITS) includes individual needs of departments that follow a particular “we work this way, that’s our standard” principle. This principle guides creation of large training projects through the effort of the internal HR department, corporate business training or with a help from external consulting and training companies. In my point of view, the advantage of this approach is that it allows employees to get acquainted with general training and learning culture. However, if a continuous post-training practice of acquired skills and post-training support is not offered, such skills might disintegrate and the whole learning process will only serve as a field of communication and familiarization of participants with each other.
To prevent this scenario post-training formats may be conducted—such as a series of meetings devoted to a theme explored during the last training and individual (or small-group) coaching sessions. Currently, in Russian companies there is an E-learning trend for post-training support or even instead of full-time training sessions. E-learning can significantly reduce costs of full-time training and standardize the learning process for everyone. Yet it is important to note that most difficulties with the motivation of employees appear in Q-ITS because employees perceive learning as something important for their superiors (HR, direct managers, directors), not themselves.
In the IT-Quadrant (Q-IT) corporate mindset of a company and a systematic approach to learning in organization in general are included. I like the idea of self-learning organization when each employee contributes to the development self and others. But it’s possible only in highly conscious and responsible corporate culture. As of now, Russian companies mostly attempt to ”sell” ideas about learning to employees and HR’s who are accountable for this are struggling with the distribution of responsibility for the employee’s development between direct managers and HR. I’m sure that at first in Russia it will be small, easy-manageable companies that will use the Integral approach in their business; after that it will probably be regional departments of global corporations that work in Russia; and only then large and somewhat inert Russian corporations will follow. When will it happen? It is hard to predict; Ken Wilber suggests that such an large-scale advancement may happen when the percentage of people who think Integrally will reach 10% (see A Theory of Everything).
I believe that the Integral approach in education and learning is a system which includes tools from each quadrant, programs for every employee and their department, joint projects between departments and the underlying principle of equal responsibility shared among an employee, his direct superior and a Human Resource department.
This can be done through the emergence of integrally-informed awareness in key decision makers (HRs and managers) and through proactively involving employees in building their organization’s learning systems and intentional development their own career.
About the Author
Elena Ryuse is a business trainer; a certified coach, an alumna of the International Ericksonian Coaching University (Canada); a certified assessor (completed the ACDC program of CEB’s SHL Talent Measurment Solutions); a DDI-certified business trainer. Elena creates and facilitates Leadership programs, works with HiPo and also trains internal coaches. She has worked in such companies as International Paper and Hyndai Motors. At this moment she works as the corporate programs manager in Alcoa AGP Russia. Elena has facilitated more than 2500 hours of business training and more than 150 hours of coaching sessions. She continuously works on her own self-development and learning, participates in supervisions, trainings, personnel development programs. Currently, she is enrolled in the Holoscendence program (facilitated by Sergey Kupriyanov and Eugene Pustoshkin). Her interests include various meditative practices (Zen, Vipassana) and participating in the life of the Russian Integral community. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org