BIS helps employees in organizations experience how to cultivate meaning. That is, learn how to discover, acquire or enhance the experience of meaning in work. We are an experiential learning practice. We design soft skills learning programs from a range of experiences, drawing significantly from Logotherapy and Existential Analysis that includes our leadership skills ladder in self awareness, self leadership, communication and relationship building, operational, strategy and business results. As spiritual persons, employees are not just reacting organisms in their work, but autonomous beings capable of actively shaping their lives at work.
We use a four step process:
- Assess – We meet with you or some of your colleagues, listen, hear and ask you to fill in a short but ‘meaningful’ survey.
- Diagnose – We discern what we heard and consider what you scored.
- Engage – We design engaging offerings with you.
- Discover – You experience the initial ‘Aha’ moments through self discovery based learning and insight. The process begins.
We offer soft skill learning programs in logotherapeutic leadership, cross functional / virtual team and management development, within the functions of organizing, communicating and planning. Some of the skills we offer are in problem solving through lateral thinking, initiative, logical reasoning and persistence. Our process includes assessment, consultation, design, facilitation and meaning discovery.
We are a name change from SMG Strategic Management Group that was founded in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and in Ireland since 1994.
In terms of how we think, what we offer and the manner in which we work with our clients, not much has changed over the last 22 years. We are still focused on human to human soft skill development but even more so now for survival at work in the 21st century.
We believe imitation is how we acquire skills – any skill at all and that skills are intuitive, ‘inhabited’ ways of being and behaving, not analytically structured, rule based techniques. Imitation is a human characteristic and is arguably the most important human skill as it is how we came to learn and do learn music and language. Soft skills like imagination, empathy and cooperation enable people to create and find values that can enhance their primary motivation to give meaning and purpose to life and livelihood.
After values have been discovered they can be mimicked which is why it is important to be careful what model we choose to attend to and imitate, as “the model we choose to use to understand something determines what we find (McGilchrist, 2012, p.97)[i], and the kind of attention paid from any perspective, alters what is found, once we have already decided what the world is going to reveal, we are unlikely to get beyond it, we become prisoners of expectation” (McGilchrist, 2012, p.163)[ii]. Is the danger now, that skills have been downgraded and subverted in to nothing more than algorithms and we may have become busy imitating machines rather than humans?
As values in work cannot be taught and have to be discovered, we provide self discovery based, experiential learning, or learning by doing to ensure values are found for imitation, before adaptation in to behavior as “we will become what we imitate” (McGilchrist, 2012, p.253).
There are three main groups of values that allow us find and give meaning to our work:
- Task related creative values.
- People related experiential values.
- Change related attitudinal values.
 In The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist suggests “we are imitators not copying machines” (McGilchrist, 2012, p. 247) and goes on to explain that “imitation gives rise paradoxically as it may seem, to individuality. That is, precisely because the process is not mechanical reproduction, but an imaginative inhabiting of the other, which is always different because of it’s inter subjective betweeness. The process of mimesis is one of intention, aspiration, attraction and empathy, drawing heavily on the right hemisphere, whereas copying is the following of disembodied procedures and algorithms and is left hemisphere based. The distinction is similar to that sometimes claimed between metaphor on the one hand and simile on the other: simile has no interiority. Thus writing of the difference between the earliest humans and homo sapiens, Steven Mithen writes: ‘We might characterize Early Humans as having a capacity for simile – they could be “like” an animal – but not for metaphor – they could not “become” an animal.’ “imitation is how we acquire skills – any skill at all: and the gene for skill acquisition (imitation) would trump the genes for any individual skills. Thus from a gene – the symbol of ruthless competition (the selfish gene) and of the relatively atomistic and oppositional values of the left hemisphere – could arise a skill that would enable further evolution to occur not only more rapidly but in a direction of our choosing – through empathy and co-operation, the values of the right hemisphere”. “Genes could free us from genes. The great human invention made possible by imitation is that we can choose who we become, in a process that can move surprisingly quickly. We escape the cheerless gloom of necessity” (McGilchrist, 2012, p. 253).
[i] McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and his Emissary. USA, Yale University Press publications, 2012.
[ii] McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and his Emissary. USA, Yale University Press publications, 2012.