Today I’d like to share a story that happened to a friend of mine who is implementing a methodology similar to Integral Thinking. Her name is Julia Chemerinskaya, she is the president of the HR Academy in Moscow, Russia and she also teaches management at the Moscow State University. Julia recently held a management workshop at one of the top Moscow universities and this is an abridged translation of her impressions:

Recently I witnessed a miraculous transformation. I saw how an unorthodox approach changes the entire atmosphere of learning; I saw how the secret of the circle is revealed.  

I had a workshop on “Personnel Management” in one the Moscow Universities with a fairly complex audience – mid managers in their 20’s, aggressive, hyperactive and very opinionated. Their management philosophy is that I am the boss, my employees must obey my orders and I must squeeze every drop of their sweat. There is only one method of solving problems – impose their opinion (the ultimate truth). A thought of respect and support doesn’t really ring a bell there.

Aggression was in the air and I felt that I need to change tactics. After a break I sat all participants in circles of 10 and asked them to build an HR strategy for a company XYZ with the certain strategic directions. The work though must be done according to the special rules: The main thing is to genuinely want to hear all points of view. Participants do not argue, do not interrupt, do not judge (even positively), do not get into dialogs, and direct all thoughts to the center of the circle. Everyone should speak briefly and succinctly and all thoughts should be recorded.

Five minutes passed and I could not believe my eyes. The most notorious debaters got “rooted” in the circle, began following the rules and seemed to value other’s opinion. Metamorphosis was happening in front of my eyes. The atmosphere changed dramatically, the discussion was constructive and respectful. In result, they not only developed effective solutions but also suddenly discovered that you can find ways to solve any problem, even a strategy – just like that, sitting in a circle, with no expensive consultants. There are no secrets in the circle.

And just like them, I felt new energy in the room, the energy of united efforts that is very different from the individual power. I could see the falling initial barriers and how the super-ego debaters become thoughtful contributors.

At the end of the session, participants did not want to finish, they were truly puzzled. What if it is true and this method of solving the problems is actually effective? I asked who will try it at work – 29 hands out of 30!”