Most CEOs and managers have a hard time transforming the organizations or the teams they are responsible for. The main obstacle is resistance to change. Many people will fiercely oppose it, others will submit to it. Very few will commit to it, embrace it and drive it. The key to shifting those ratios is the ability to enhance constructive behavior instead of aggressive or passive reactions. That's what Story-based Transformation Process is about. And it starts with one self.
Story-based Transformation Process (STP) is an innovative individual and group transformation methodology. Unlike traditional cognitive change methods (coaching, psychotherapy, counseling, etc.), STP enables implicit and inductive learning of business-applicable wisdom from numerous scenarios and experiences.
In addition to increases in adaptiveness, resourcefulness and productivity, the results are evident in more cooperative work relationships, especially in high-pressure situations. Very often this transformation proves fruitful in the client's private life, improving relations with other adults in the family, children and friends, which supports and reinforces the leaps in performance in the client's professional life.
The aim of STP is achieving personal or professional change by transforming the less-than-excellent behaviors (passive or aggressive) into constructive thinking and behavior that support developmental objectives. Not only do clients improve their own performance, but also improve the attitudes and adaptiveness of associates and direct reports.
The method consists of daily exchange of stories between the consultant and the client. It takes the client about 15 minutes a day, 6 days a week, for about 8 to 10 weeks to accomplish the desired transformation. The process follows 6 stages with specific requests, starting from general stories from movies or books and ending in actual happenings form day-to-day life and work. The client can write the stories at any time of the day, from any place and from any device. The relationship between the consultant and the client is open to feedback and to meeting in-person if the clients feels the need for it.
The most typical business applications of STP are:
- Leadership Development
- Overcoming Team Conflict
- Increasing Adaptability to Change
- Cultural Renewal/Transformation
Story-Based Transformation (SBT) is a systematic approach to human development using the daily exchange of short stories between a professional and an individual or between a professional and a small group. Clients typically are business and organizational leaders. Personal and organizational outcomes include long-term improvements in resourcefulness, adaptability, communications, and performance.
Since before written language, humans have been using metaphorical stories such as fables and fairy tales for teaching human behavior, values, and wisdom.
Many children’s stories endure because they contain a lesson or moral, most notable are stories from Aesop, Persian Queen Scheherazade, Sir Thomas Malory, Charles Perrault, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Lewis Carroll, and Hans Christian Andersen. Many notable teaching tales for adults come from the storytellers Homer, Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Murasaki Shikibu, Liu Ching-t'ing, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Charles Dickens, to name a few.
In modern times, the range of teaching stories is enormous, including parable, myths, fairy tales, fables, anecdotes, biographies, legal and business case studies, and jokes.
In the previous 35 years before his death in 1980, American therapist Milton Erickson is credited with using stories as a primary mechanism of change and development. Dr. Erickson shared antidotal stories from his life and of other patients with his clients to heal old wounds, create new thinking patterns, and stimulate constructive behaviors. These constructive behaviors then become self-reinforcing, by producing better results, making the changes sustainable and permanent. This approach is the genesis of what today is called Therapeutic Storytelling. Further, many of Dr. Erickson’s stories involve overcoming challenges and inspire adaptation and resilience. His story-based work has given rise to self-help books containing Inspirational Stories, such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series that has sold over 500 million books worldwide.
Writing Stories of Self Disclosure
In separate research in the 1970s related to "self disclosure", "experimental disclosure", and "expressive writing", researchers discovered that failure to confide in traumatic events is associated with an increase in stress-related disease. The causal explanation is that maintaining emotional silence takes constant cognitive effort that leads to chronic stress and lower performance. Later it was determined that writing stories of emotional upheaval had a similar effect.
Subsequent studies demonstrate that writing about emotional upheaval, even as ordinary as a job rejection, a poor job review, or a difficult daily commute, creates positive long-term benefits of decreased trips to the doctor, strengthened immune systems, improved working memory, better sleep, improved social relations, and increase job performance. The more writers improve in their ability to construct a story, the greater the effect. In addition, being able to see the same event from the writer’s experience as well as from another’s perspective is associated with greater improvement.
Case studies in law and business teach by analogy. Reading and writing about experiences in a problem format is similar to running multiple experiments in the mind. Experiencing multiple cases stimulates inductive thinking that leads to pattern formation, observations, and general theories. Inductive thinking is more commonly known as having an "Aha" moment.
Starting in the 1940, research has shown that wisdom is best learned inductively. It isn't that principles and wisdom can't be learned explicitly, the problem is that people who learn wisdom explicitly often miss opportunities to apply it. On the other hand, people who learn models and wisdom implicitly from cases and examples are much more likely to apply the wisdom appropriately and automatically in later, real-life experiences. Once a pattern is learned from cases, the brain easily identifies the pattern whenever it appears and responds accordingly.
The automatic application of new wisdom built from inductive learning is the fundamental objective and outcome of Story-based Transformation. In short, the same stimuli and situations that previously led to problematic or less-than excellent responses now produce more resourceful and constructive mindsets and behaviors.
In 2007, Reut Schwartz-Hebron, building on work from her time as a Lieutenant Commander working with elite training teams in the Israeli military, started the first commercial version of SBT for business. Her first company was Kind Excellence.
She is currently the found of San Diego, USA-based Key Change Institute. KCI uses a proprietary story-based assessment tool to assess the underdeveloped mindset/wisdom that when learned implicitly, will create a self-sustaining personal or organizational change.
In 2012, Michael Cushman, the former President of KCI and the Romanian-based consultancy, Wanted Transformation, worked together to blend the scientifically valid Circumplex model from Human Synergistics with SBT and developed the Story-based Transformation Process (STP).
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