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Innovative Management Training
Combining the Wisdom of East and West

Jerry Biberman
University of Scranton
Scranton, PA 18510
Bibermang1@uofs.edu

Michael Whitty
University of Detroit Mercy
P.O. Box 19900
Detroit MI 48219
313-993-3357
313 993 1673 (fax)
whittymd@udmercy.edu

Judi Neal
University of New Haven

Sandra King
California Politechnic and Frostburg State University
sandraking@mindspring.com



Biographies

Professor Jerry Biberman, chair of the management department, University of Scranton Business professor Michael Whitty, of the University of Detroit Mercy has co-authored several articles on spirituality and work with Jerry Biberman. They are currently working on a book concerning organizational transformation. He has applied the work of new paradigm spirituality to higher education by teaching the whole person through the use of techniques such as yoga and meditation. Whitty's transformational workshops apply powerful techniques for reducing "blamology" and "victomolgy" in workplace attitudes. He pioneers the application of spiritual philosophy to work and to business higher education. Whitty also trains and consults on workplace issues, global trends and futurism.

Abstract

In order to help students bring spirituality into the workplace, innovative teaching methods, which include the tools and techniques of eastern and western spirituality, are utilized. The authors have improved the quality of their teaching and students' ability to implement spirituality into the workplace, as well as their responsiveness, by utilizing psycho-spiritual techniques. As a result, the students have experienced a deeper and more relevant learning experience.

To educate the whole person, college educators and business trainers can learn from techniques that deepen the impact of management education. The use of innovative education for body, mind and spirit pioneers a new learning system for the whole person - both teacher and student. Through this process, business students can begin to integrate spirituality in their workplace.


Introduction

The authors have successfully used psycho-spiritual philosophies and techniques in teaching business courses. Herein we describe the benefits and offer suggestions that can facilitate deep process- oriented learning regardless of the backgrounds of the students.

At the end of the 20th century, a new paradigm for business management and business education has been emerging in response to the world business community's need for a different educational product. Much of traditional higher education is trying to match its inputs and processes to the requirements of prospective employers of its graduates. The ways students are trained must be relevant to career preparation and the style and content of on-the-job training. Ongoing training looks to continuous change in the context of a learning organization. Tools and techniques which enhance person's ability to become self-aware, to learn and to grow have been increasingly accepted in business training (Senge, 1990). These are survival tools for the coming era. In turn, this is prompting a developing exchange between the academic and business communities as to the "whats," "whys" and "hows" of spirituality within the organizational setting (Neal et. al, 1998).

The main components of this emerging new paradigm for business education, as well as for business management, include a need to connect peoples' public selves with their personal or private selves. In a recent survey of business educators, which the authors conducted, the need for finding work that integrated the whole self was mentioned from both the students' and the teachers' perspective. This appreciation of the whole person in education, as well as in the business community, can also be seen in the move toward higher student and employee participation and involvement in classes, and or teams at work.

This holistic approach is beginning to express itself in new teaching styles, and leadership styles, that in some cases include philosophies and techniques from the eastern and western spiritual traditions. These psychological and implicitly spiritual techniques can include virtually any of the self-help processes, as well as exercises associated with spiritual retreats.

As Parker Palmer (1997) suggests, in The Courage to Teach, leaders of any kind, which include teachers, must begin to find ways to teach the whole person. In the process, we must consider how to address the individual's intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs. Our approach is meant to be inclusive of the many different styles, strategies and systems for opening an individual to their fullest potential. This means that some facilitators may choose to frame their work in the context of transpersonal organizational development, while others might use a more explicit spiritual psychology.

Through our recent research with various academics and consultants that are attempting to integrate spirituality in their management education, the actual techniques appear to be divided into two basic modes. To integrate spirituality in the workplace through an in-direct method, the first mode, or style, de-emphasizes the overt language of spirituality; while the other mode or style openly addresses the benefits of spirit work. For some consultants and academics, the first mode has been less threatening. As individuals are becoming more open the second mode is becoming more prevalent.

An illustrative list of commonly used psychological and spiritual techniques follows:

Table I

Modes to Classroom Delivery

Mode A
(Transpersonal Psychology)

Mode B
(Spirituality)

group facilitation meditation
process-oriented learning (Senge) guided visualizations
active uses for creativity and intuition yogic breathing exercises
group encounter values clarification processes
role playing/simulations Tai Chi and other marital arts
psycho-drama sacred ritual
dance/movement art as meditation
drumming/music reflection in nature

Even if these techniques were called by other names, the techniques referenced above have been used for years in executive business training, educators and consulting. They have value to prospective graduates since the complex, ever changing business world can be better served by a whole person employee rather than the one dimensional model of 20th century business education. Our experience has been they are: a) good for learners, b) renewing for educators and c) beneficial and needed by employers.

Management Requires New Approaches to Education

An exact teaching strategy largely depends on the confidence, which Palmer (1997) suggests is a result of self-awareness and competence of the facilitator. This leads to the receptivity of the group. As a result, the individuals are empowered by involving their emotions and heart, as well as their intellect, in the educational experience. Once any educator takes empowerment seriously, the door opens to all the process-oriented psychological and spiritual techniques that evoke a deep emotional and spirited involvement that creates a true learning community.

The inclusion of spiritual techniques in management education supports similar trends that are occurring in schools at all levels in several countries which include medical schools (Mangan, 1997), seminaries (Niebur, 1997), public schools in the United Kingdom (Neumark, 1997), and in undergraduate psychology of women classes (Powers, 1995). New ways of learning (i.e. the learning organization - Senge) require business educators to revamp their approaches to include the psychological and spiritual approaches to classroom teaching - particularly in management education. Cultivating spiritual and emotional intelligence of teachers and students contributes directly to creativity, leadership skills, basic learning styles and coping with the stress of constant change. Since interpersonal skills are crucial to success in any business field, they are part of our learning objectives.

Teaching techniques that increase student involvement, empowerment and interpersonal skills are needed by 21st century students and their prospective employers. Indeed, management training styles for more than a decade have been seeking to open up the human potential of the workgroup to optimize team work, quality, creativity and competitiveness. Business schools, with leading edge management educators, can apply many of the training processes and group activities to the curriculum, both at the undergraduate level and at the graduate level.

The philosophies and techniques we have used are effective management education for body, mind and spirit (Agor, l986). We further believe a holistic management education that taps more of the human potential of both teacher and student will better prepare the graduate for the unpredictable and ever changing business world. The training field has already been trying to deepen its impact on trainees via more open-hearted programs using psycho-spiritual techniques (Covey, l989).

Creativity and intuition in business can be understood as necessary complements to practical hard skills. The training field has come to accept the transformational and transpersonal schools of management consulting. This is simply because the world business paradigms have themselves been changing rapidly, transforming the playing field of organizational life (Popcorn, l997). Thus, open, adaptable and creative people and organizations are highly prized. Educators and the business community are always looking for a better fit between school and the real world. As a result of our individual efforts at realizing our true potential, both personally and as teachers, the authors have discovered ways to make our work more meaningful, and through the process business more human. Our commitment is to continue to put a human face on management education.

The authors' experience, in teaching and consulting, in addition to the current research, has led us to believe that an important part of training and organizational leadership in the future will require increased respect for inner meaning at work (Covey, 1989; Conger, 1994). Business needs employees who have discovered a place within themselves where relaxation, creativity, and the ability to co-create with others springs naturally (Brisking, 1996). As consultant and educator Peter Vaill (1989) suggests, management is living in a world of Permanent White Water. The changing workplace requires assessing inner intuitions and drawing forth the best solutions to the demands and challenges of personal and professional life. The future professional must learn the inner and outer balance of being responsible, while being able to be vulnerable and receive support from others.

In order to create a holistic harmony in work of "being and doing," it is very desirable to have prior exposure to opening the body and mind through yoga, movement, breath and meditation. Management education, as well as training sessions, has a strategic spot in the learning life cycle to introduce the connection between developing interpersonal skills and soul work. Higher consciousness, or increased self-awareness, leads to creativity and self-confidence (Conger, 1994). These traits are required for our leaders in the future and can be developed (Mitroff, 1994). They are the mark of success in both the outer world and the inner world.

Traditional teaching needs more of the human touch if it is to offer a balance or life-changing alternative to high tech, extreme emphasis on profits and efficiency, and the on-line electronic delivery systems of tomorrow. Many writers have argues that the need for spirituality in the workplace is a direct result of organizations, and their management practices, which are out of balance (Briskin, 1996; Marcic, 1997). The authors have appreciated these needs and as a result, taken an additional step in their teaching. Each author, through their personal experience and training in a variety of spiritual disciples and techniques, has introduced meditation and spiritual philosophy to their students and colleagues. By a spiritual philosophy, we mean presenting core values or world views that include cultivating of virtues associated with civic and corporate responsibility. In doing this we become more whole as teachers and learners. Our open heartedness has its own rewards. It provides a model that many business students embrace. Thus, an emotional contact is made with our students, who are better prepared for the workforce. This often has empowering features, if not explicit soulfulness, for our students and the community. Businesses have discovered that soulfulness, or its secular cousin, corporate wellness, is supportive to their own profit motivation. Concrete tools and techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, are helpful for reframing attitudes towards work and career. A philosophy based on spiritual values found universally can also prepare graduates for coping with harsh, competitive and ever transient career situations.

The fusion of spirit and work can be seen as a further extension of the team concept, beneficial in learning systems. Facilitators can build teams and run quality circles in their courses and or training sessions. Specific spiritual techniques can be added to a class that utilizes high interaction and participation as part of the course goal to improve interpersonal skills. These skills are needed just as much in technical and professional education as they are in management education or the social sciences. For example, the fields of engineering and computer science also need professionals who can work with groups and communicate effectively.

Our experience has shown that the teacher benefits as much, or more than the student, from these approaches, since feedback from involved students leave the facilitator experiencing a greater self-esteem. The open and trusting bridge is created between teacher and student, which leads to a greater sense of self for all involved.

In the course of their life journeys, the authors have been immersed in the philosophies and experienced first hand techniques and experiences from a variety of spiritual disciplines such as Jesuit spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the Kaballah, and Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese philosophy and meditative and prayer techniques. We have found the regular practice outside of our classrooms of certain spiritual disciplines (i.e., yoga and Tai Chi) to serve as a ground from which we are sharing our true intentions with our classroom innovations. As a result, we are truly teaching from the self. Our experiences with these spiritual traditions have demonstrated the similarity underlying all of the spiritual or mystical traditions, regardless of their specific religious or cultural background (Biberman, l997).

It is important to establish with any audience the distinctions between spirituality (something within everyone) and religion (affiliation with specific belief and ritual). Conger (1994) suggests that the ability to separate church and state has provided a space to integrate spirituality into the workplace. The spiritual approach does not require religious affiliation or metaphysical belief systems. It mainly requires a trust in oneself, openness to the psyche or consciousness and a desire for personal growth. Full human potential is provided a space, within the training environment, to grow.

The spirit is our whole person, our transpersonal self. Spirituality can be understood as a universal human tool for higher awareness and personal effectiveness whether or not a person has a religious affiliation. This is why the business world has an active appreciation of employees who bring these qualities to the workplace.

Despite differences in culture and specific language or terminology used, the philosophies of all of these spiritual traditions describe common values, such as spiritual transformation, the awareness and experience of one's higher self, and the interconnectedness of all people with each other and with a divine creator, source, or energy. Presently, the authors are teaching management at public universities and religious institutions. Although the religious institutions provides a natural lead in and context for us to raise spiritual issues within our classes, the public institutions have also been open to facilitating awareness of how to integrate spirituality in the workplace. In showing how the spiritual philosophies of the traditions described above parallel the emerging new paradigm of personal empowerment and group collaboration in business and organizations, both religious and public institutions have been receptive to the new paradigm. We have each in our own way referred to specific aspects of the philosophy of each spiritual tradition to explain and illustrate these relationships.

Similarly, each of these spiritual traditions uses remarkably similar methodologies, techniques and traditions - particularly meditation and prayer - to enable people to discover and experience this interconnectedness, and sense of community in our classes.

How Spiritual Techniques Can Be Used

Theater and music are cousins to psychology and spirituality. If the arts are used to sell in the world of business, why not attempt to incorporate the arts into education and training?

The arts and spirituality are complementary. Gracefulness and style are also part of good leadership. A practical example of the theatrics of spiritual techniques and how they can be used to strengthen teaching is the use of rituals, such as music to start the class.

There can be a number of different types of rituals that can be used to start any class session. It can be short and simple. For example, a brief period of silent meditation can follow to allow the class to quiet itself before a sharing or check-in. In some cases, a guided visualization or mood setting exercise can be used to open a deeper response from a class. Often taped background music facilitates meditation or visualization exercises. Each of these techniques is described below in more detail.

A guided journey accompanied by soft, background music can underline many principles and drive home emotionally the power of the heart and mind working together. These guided journeys can be a form of storytelling or lecture. It introduces a bit of theater to the business classroom. The doorway to creativity is opened for both the teacher and the student. Group brainstorming and problem solving can start with this process and conclude with a talking circle that provides an environment for individuals to share their vision or insight. As a result, we have seen individuals have experiences and share in a way that they would never occurred in the conventional course formats. The format is the foundation for creativity workshops.

Talking circles, which Senge refers to as the Dialogue Model, has been adopted as a method for transforming the divisive dynamics of competition, domination and submission, in which some individuals do all the talking, while others fade into the background. In the circle, each class members contributes to begin with as a way of checking-in with the group. It breaks the ice and warms the group up for more sharing or group exercises. One variation of the talking circle that we have used is the Native American Lakota tribe tradition of the Medicine Wheel. In this tradition, one person speaks at a time and is given full attention by the group. The order in which the student speaks begins from the east to west. A talking stick is passed to each speaker whose turn it is to speak. Thus the process contributes to a heightened focus on each speaker and what is being said/heard).

A classroom that has an attractive setting helps open the student. The student's and teacher's attitude and mood are also an important part of any successful growth experience. Environmental elements which improve the attitude and spirit of the instructor and class members and contribute to the potential openness to psychological and spiritual exercises. Carefully selected mood music can be helpful. We have used a variety of music - ranging from a soft, quieting smooth sound to some high energy, upbeat sound. The music is designed to set the stage for bonding and focus. For example, we have selected sounds of the ocean and of dolphins, such as on the environmental tapes), new age meditative music (i.e., Steven Halpern's CDS), and classical music. This can allow quiet time to calm and center the group in order to relax and open the class members to a high level of present-mindedness and group consciousness/connectedness. Even providing time to let students slow down enough to be partially present and to become aware of the limited time they allow themselves time for reflection and contemplation proves helpful in supporting future classroom activities. It provides a basis to introduces what might not seem initially relevant to the course, or training session, as advertised in the course outline.

Standing up for a stretch, basic yoga stretching postures, dancing to shake out tension or even group dance ritual, Tai Chi, breathing exercises, all have their place in the superlearning model for leading edge trainers (Roth. 1998).

Even singing songs or drawing pictures together is fun and helps bond people together. Some of the best rapport and bonding occur with the natural effort of a group tapping into their artistic self. Many traditional songs lend themselves to this approach since the students are familiar with the lyrics that portray values related to work and learning. Folk music, or gospel, in addition to other art forms, have much to offer. Almost any activity with song, movement and playful problem solving will generate high energy and momentum for further creative activity.

At the same time, quiet, reflective activity creates a retreat like dynamic. Musicians and artists have already penetrated world training, business schools should not hesitate to utilize the arts in instruction. For example, Arthur Hull, a world class drummer, consults in the computer industry as a team builder using group drumming experiences as a metaphor for interrelatedness and cooperation/ collaboration. Group drumming teaches heightened listening skills and team cooperation. The same training experience was given to a management class at Santa Clara University that supports our belief that these sessions can be applied in any leading edge training technique.

Benefits and Outcomes

We have found acceptance of our spiritual techniques, and related value-orientated approaches, to our teaching from not only our students but also from our superiors. We work and teach in traditional and largely conservative settings. We have found that traditional business school and management educators seek improved teaching effectiveness and strong ties to employers, thus there is a constant need to find dedicated teachers. Innovation that works is acceptable to traditionalists, not only in higher education but also in the ever changing business world. Thus, we encourage our academic readers, and business constituents, to select something from our menu and begin to experiment with their teaching techniques. It can bring inner rewards in personal and professional development and, perhaps, a sense of connectedness as we teach from our own inner self.

Some of the benefits of regular classroom meditation we have observed include relaxation, reduced anxiety and stress, and increased warmth in the atmosphere. This becomes a benefit for not only the students but also for the instructor. As a result, the instructor's artfulness becomes visible for all to see as their fear that create barriers are removed.

Meditation also enhances mental clarity, empathy, stamina and confidence, which are needed in education and training. In the end, spiritual growth and inner peace are by products of meditation. Integrating creative visualization, movement, drawing, music and story telling into the learning environment have produced a "rebirthing" of our teaching and training careers, and left the students with a very positive, lasting memory of not only the process but the content of the experience. Both teachers and students have expressed to us that they have experienced an expanded sense of wholeness and an increasing access to the intuitive and other higher levels of mind.

Reframing teaching can give all participants a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. Utilizing psychological and spiritual techniques produces a sense of well being built on contact with one's essential nature.

Fear and guilt in the classroom can be replaced with peace of mind for all participants in the recontextualization of learning. This reframing of basic intentions for a course lets go of some of the counter productive game playing associated with grade based teaching. Yet it really puts play back into the classroom (where it began in the first grade). Using gentle and loving group processes is certainly one of the better ways to handle difficult people in any situation. It is also a surprisingly good way to handle classroom situations you have no control over. It will often bring out the honesty and communication needed to fully understand a particular student behavior or problem. A good example for us has been when students have collectively taken over the conversation injecting their generational perspective on the topic often with a playful, comic tone. We are actually having fun learning.

In our experience, conventional business students, especially male students, have been taught since day one that education is about facts, reason, logic, analysis, and empirical research not intuition and imagination. In our experience, a few students, particularly women, will respond well to intuitive ideas and exercises. However, most students will have difficulty and even active resistance to developing these skills. This is why adequate classroom preparation is required or the deeper psycho-spiritual exercises will have only a minimal impact. This is where trust enters the picture for both instructors and students. We need to learn to trust our underdeveloped/ latent faculties of intuition and creativity, and to develop this trust in our students. Some of the important personal qualities for building trust are: optimism, openness, confidence, flexibility, risk-taking, giving up control, and developing a sense of adventure. We need to cultivate these virtues in our teaching. We work to lead the student out of their conditioning into an openness to the unfolding journey of life and work.

If an instructor intends to do more than just give lip-service to innovative teaching, he or she must be highly sensitive to students' questions, objections and doubts; and be able to skillfully present and creatively persuade the class of the purpose and benefits of intuitive learning. What needs to be appreciated is that intuition and imagination are the key psycho-spiritual human faculties involved in meditation, guided imagery, music as learning tool, movement, effective group dynamics, non-linear thinking and most forms of deep learning.

Often teachers, work teams and even whole cultures fail because of lack of creative imagination. Ultimately, this means most faculty members will need to develop a new expanded vision of business education for the 21st century that incorporates creative imagination and the other aspects of deep learning we have described in this paper. We need to constantly reinvent ourselves as teacher/learners.

Conclusion

A great benefit to facilitating learning from a more open hearted perspective is the preparation of future graduates for the workplace as community. Those teacher/facilitators who manage to convey a genuine sense of community and belonging to their students will enjoy a sense of mission and vocation in their careers. Human beings' search for meaning in life and work is one of the basic human needs. We heal our attitude toward self or self-image then acquire greater ability to forgive others at school or at work. This attitude greatly reduces stress. Helping the college student reduce blocks to emotional peace with applied spirituality will extend to on-the- job attitudinal healing. This benefits careers and organizations. Attitudinally, healthy people will produce a healthier system in the long run. This is the premise of the Servant Leader Institute, the Noetic Sciences Institute and most of the transformational consultants. We believe that spiritual tools and techniques are what the future business graduate needs to have more harmony and peace of mind in professional life. Negative qualities block individual student potential just as they do later in career life. These individual limitations end up affecting productivity and efficiency on the job.

The teacher, with a spiritual paradigm, can awaken intuition, creativity and spirit in the student. This will start the graduate on a career course that will strengthen their soul work in society. But much of what we want must come from the teacher or leader, from within - Steven Covey's inner victory. Covey in his management best seller, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People describes inner victory as self understanding. This is clearly the work of depth psychology and spiritual insight. Covey is in the tradition of Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie. Positive thinking. No "blamology" or "victimology," not on the part of the instructor or student, not on the part of the employee or the organization. Remember W. Edwards Deming's principle of driving out fear from the organization. It can begin in the classroom.

The basic problem in both higher education and business organizations and, in how individuals look at career and life goals in general, is that they do not have a big enough picture. Business and education need to learn the grand design. Both systems need to build their systems from the principles of servant leadership asking the question - How can I help? Does the soulless organization take care of its people? What are the relational and developmental issues that spirit or soul in education addresses? How does this connect with employers' needs? The grand design of a visionary leader always deals with the spirit or soul of the organization. It is everybody's opportunity to apply spirituality either in the classroom, on the job, at home and even on the street.

Classroom teaching leaders must be willing to take risks for change. There is an educational opportunity crying to be met. There are faculty and willing students energized to do things differently. If you are prepared to experiment with group process and meditation or some other spiritual technique you will have set up one half of the equation. The students are starving for this nourishment. Soulful teaching can offer inner nourishment and a nourishing lifestyle for a lifetime. Bring this gift to your classroom. Learn to love what you do through reframing the job of teaching. Give yourself support at work by showing the workers of tomorrow a time tested means of being peaceable, cooperative and open hearted in their life's work. Educating the whole person helps to open the heart and the head. Its smart business.

Opening the classroom or training room to emotional intelligence and higher consciousness adds value to the individual and to the learning capacity of virtually all forms of instruction. The learning organizations already know this. Management education needs to gain the habits of a learning organization for the sake of future educational effectiveness.

Restoring soulfulness to the classroom is part of the art of teaching. Inspiriting the workplace is the leadership challenge of the next century. Experimenting with a management education version of inspirational training techniques may be just what all of education's stakeholders need to "rebirth" themselves into the 21st century. By combining the wisdom of east and west organizations will acquire more innovative training and education will provide teaching for the whole person. Vedic wisdom for liberating the corporate soul from India to Indiana.

References

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Briskin, Alan. 1996. The Stirring of the Soul in the Workplace. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

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Greenfield, MA. and R. Miller. 1997. Holistic Education Review.

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Mangan, K. S. 1997. "Blurring the Boundaries between Religion and Science/Medical School Programs on the Healing Role of Spirituality," Chronicle of Higher Education, 43: 26, March 7, p. 14.

Marcic, Dorthy. 1997. Managing with the wisdom of love: Uncovering virtue in people and organizations. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Maslow, A. 1971. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Penguin Books.

Neal, Judith, B. Lichtenstein and D. Banner. 1998. "What Matters Most in Transformation: Economic and Spiritual Argument for Individual, Organizational and Societal Change," National Academy of Management Working Paper, San Diego, California.

Neumark, V. 1997. "Cards on the Table," Times Educational Supplement, 201, February 14, p. S1.

Niebur, G. 1997. "At Jewish Theological," New York Times, 146, April 12, p. 25.

Popcorn, F. 1997. Clicking. New York: Harperbusiness.

Power, R. 1995. "A Class that Changes Lives," Women and Therapy, 16:2-3, Summer-Fall p. 175-184.

Roth, Gabrielle. 1997. Sweat Your Prayers. New York: Jeremy Tarcher.

Vaill, Peter. 1989. Managing As a Performing Art: New Ideas for a World of Chaotic Change, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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