International Integral Journey with Coach Institute, Russia

January 2012 / Notes from the Field

Alexander Savkin and Philipp Guzenuk

Alexander Savkin

Philipp Guzenuk

In October of 2011 the Coach Institute Russia, located in St. Petersburg, joined in partnership with our United States strategic partner Dana Carman, to host a two-week adventure in the US that we called the International Integral Journey. At Coach Institute we have been studying and practicing integral theory and its application to coaching and business consulting for the last six years. Two years ago, we realized that we wanted to become part of the global community of integral business practitioners and we invited Dana Carman and Jesse McKay to come to Russia. Dana and Jesse have been to Russia three times in the last 18 months offering seminars and workshops to business leaders and training consultants to have their practices be integral. Inspired from our strong partnership, Coach Institute and Dana designed a program where 12 Russian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian business leaders came to the United States to develop body, mind and spirit in culture and nature. The purpose of this trip was for each of these business leaders to examine themselves in a deep way and then to take their inner capacities and outer skills to the next level in order to take their businesses to the next level. Many leaders don’t realize their potential because they are blind to their own shadow. We made the work on shadow a key component of our integral journey.

Why did we organize this in the US? Of course, we could realize our plan in Russia. Our nature is amazing and there are lots of spots worth seeing. We are trained by our Mexican teachers to work with both hemispheres of the brain and we always apply this approach in coaching our clients. Each of our clients was brought up in a rational European culture. At MBA classes they were taught to use only rational business tools. To be successful you have to be integral. That is why we decided to take our group to the US – to give them a chance to get in touch with different cultures of the US and to visit the unforgettable nature spots they can truly feel connected to.

Our Journey started in Santa Fe, New Mexico and our next stop was in the canyons at Ghost Ranch where we worked for 3 ½ days with Norma Burton, an American Shaman. In terms of the physical journey we have traveled across three American states. We worked deeply with our own shadows using the natural world as a container to take us deeper. Working through translation, each of us received immense value. Our next stop was Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is a lovely city with an amazing history – the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Both cities have a unique entrepreneurial culture. Minneapolis gave birth to more than 10 companies with annual revenue exceeding 10 billon dollars. During our visit we went to the innovation centers for 3M corporation and General Mills. We also had a chance to meet with the founders of the first organic bakery in the United States, called French Meadow Bakery, and Life Bridge Brewery. The focus of these meetings was on innovation and how to make something unique that the market is asking for. The major discovery of this part of the journey was that all of these organizations embodied cultures that supported innovation, collaboration and mutual respect. Each of these companies did it in their own unique ways, but they all recognize the connection between strong, healthy collaborative cultures and business success. Different practices and tools are used by these companies to promote it. For example, when hiring people 3M pays more attention to communication and collaborative skills than to applicants technical background. In 3M they say you have only two handshakes between a problem and its solution. In each one of these companies there was a recognition that leadership to a large degree was not only about business acumen, but also about relationship skills and self-awareness. Each of these companies had a culture that embodies those values

The last part of our journey was in Colorado. The first day in Colorado we spent with Ken Wilber, the second day we spent in the snow and mountains of Rocky National Mountain Park and the final day was spent meeting “integral entrepreneurs” at Jeff Salzman’s Bolder Integral space. We spent over four hours with Ken in the intimate setting of his loft. Some of the key things that the participants were left with from being with Ken was the joy and energy that he brings and the ability for him to hold and embody the integral vision and to be present with the smallest of things and the vastness of reality simultaneously. When Ken spoke about developmental levels and complexity, this was very familiar to us. We operate in a business culture where the rules change quarterly. To succeed as a business person in Russia, you have to develop the capacity to be flexible and take multiple perspectives into account. In this way Russian business leaders are well prepared for the coming age of global uncertainty.

Every participant in our integral journey went very deep. There was real warmth between each of us – a friendly team spirit – and we helped each other throughout our journey. We had a close relationship with each other. We were a warm company. At the same time, people worked on actual problems or tasks they had in their real life. For each participant this journey was a mark in his development as a person and as a businessman. Three months later, we still keep in touch.

One of the things Ken Wilber talked about was global business. We see Coach Institute as an integral and global consulting company. One of our strong capacities is in knowing deeply the psyche and business practices of Russians. We are currently involved in complex projects where merging cultures is critical to business success. The Integral Journey demonstrated to us how Russian culture, Native American culture and American business innovation all can add value to one another. Our experience touched each of us very deeply.

In the Spring of 2012 we will be offering our next version of the Integral Journey. If you are interested in being part of our next journey or have any questions, please contact us at wasko@coachinstitute.ru. If you are also a business leader in the US who wants to meet Russian business leaders please contact us. Wishing you a wonderful 2012.

 About the Authors

Alexander Savkin is the founder of the Institute of Coaching in St. Petersberg, Russia. He was named one of the top 10 coaches in Russia. He worked as a physicist in the Russian space program. He then trained as a psychologist and in martial arts.

Phillip Guzenuk a partner in the Institute of Coaching. A consultant and facilitator, he has developed a program called Happiness in Action based on Seligman’s positive psychology that he has delivered internationally. He has worked in marketing and creative design.