​This the second in the series focusing on Intelligent Heart as the key to cultural transformation.  The first article explored the substantial positive impact of The Pacific Institute®’s Thought Patterns for a Successful Career® on the success of career-college students experiencing the TPI principles as part of their first-in course.  This segment explores broader application of the TPI principles to the workforce.

During his tenure as Everest College Phoenix Provost, Thomas Waite and the academic leadership team were bowled over by the power of The Pacific Institute®’s Intelligent Heart principles to impact student outcomes. The results were impressive, as indicated by a comparison of student outcomes during the pre-development year compared to the year after the Strategies for Success course was launched:

  • 23.3% increase in student success (A/B/C)
  • 20.5% increase in student completion (A/B/C/D)
  • 8% decrease in the drop rate

A comparison of three cohorts prior to the redesign of Strategies for Success with three cohorts after course redesign showed a 7.6% improvement in students retained after 90 days.  This means that 287 more students were retained than in the previous three cohorts.The results were clear: teaching TPI principles and their application yields improved student outcomes, as proven in multiple college settings.  Colleges that give students the gift of facilitated reflection leading to self-awareness will achieve improved student outcomes.  Feedback from faculty and students about the life-changing nature of the TPI principles prompted leadership to ask a simple question: Could Intelligent Heart serve as the driver for cultural transformation beyond the classroom?The answer was Yes. The leadership team decided to collaborate with TPI to bring Intelligent Heart to management, staff, and all faculty members across two ground campuses and online. The process included the following steps:

  • Leadership commitment to Intelligent Heart.  The leadership team signed on for “full immersion” with training for all, which meant that everyone – from enrollment advisors to faculty, all levels, ground and online, full time and adjunct – would be required to attend TPI’s intensive training program. The leadership team and TPI committed to making it work across campuses and modalities. Relative to the budget, TPI made it easy.  Integration ofThought Patterns for a Successful Career®into the Strategies for Success course enabled the institution to “earn” credits toward training on a per-student basis. Cost of training was minimal, with a small number of overtime hours for staff as the only increase in direct expense.
  • From “flavor of the month” to sustained integration.  The kiss of death to cultural transformation is the dreaded “flavor of the month” stamp that inevitably affixes itself to initiatives that appear to be one-time rollouts with limited chance for sustainability over time.  The team pledged to create a model that would be integrated into the fabric of the organization by incorporating interviewing, hiring, and performance evaluation.
  • TPI support and collaboration to re-invent training processes.  TPI’s intensive face-to-face training program was the core of the cross-college training initiative.  TPI and the academic team decided to collaborate on new processes to provide the core content face to face, remotely, and in a hybrid model using the Pearson/eCollege learning management system as the vehicle: 
  1. 4-day face-to-face TPI training for the management team, with half day sessions on each day. 
  2. Hybrid TPI training for ground campus hourly staff comprised of a 2-hour face-to-face kickoff meeting, enrollment in the eCollege course, and a wrap-up face-to-face meeting.  The hybrid model allowed controlled impact upon student services, student finance, and admissions advisors.
  3. Remote TPI training to bring full-time and adjunct faculty together from both ground and online.  Although full-time campus faculty could technically have attended the ground campus presentations, both TPI and leadership agreed that the synergy of having all faculty together was a priority. Remote training was offered via webinar and eCollege.
  • Behavioral accountability defined.  To assure sustained focus over time, the leadership team decided to codify Intelligent Heart through behavioral accountability. A list of behaviors was developed in collaboration with TPI and incorporated into job descriptions:
  • Intelligent Heart Accountability I am passionate about sustaining a culture in which students and colleagues thrive. I live the ECP Intelligent Heart principles every day by:
  1. Demonstrating empathy, patience and compassion through active listening and positive, constructive feedback.
  2. Assuming positive intent by withholding judgment and seeking understanding.
  3. Communicating effectively by asking for clarification, avoiding blame, and finding mutual understanding.
  4. Demonstrating positive attitude through enthusiastic engagement, openness to new ideas and willingness to change.
  5. Igniting creativity and embracing collaboration across departments, programs, campuses and modalities to pursue innovation. 
  6. Improving each student’s experience by understanding beliefs, seeking solutions, connecting resources, and discerning a blueprint for success.

It is important to note that, once accountability is defined and communicated, the team must be held to the standards.  For example, those who are technically competent but treat their colleagues disrespectfully must be counselled about expectations. Absent that line in the sand, the commitment to Intelligent Heart is empty.

  • Board of Trustees approval for the cultural transformation strategy.Board approval was sought to assure that leadership and governance were in synch with the strategy.  The Board approved the plan and was kept apprised of progress via the Academic Affairs reporting process.

Embarking upon a pathway to cultural transformation is not for the faint of heart.  It requires leadership resolve, investment of time and talent, and commitment to a new level of accountability. The stakes are high, but the payoff is worthy.  Faculty, staff and students heralded Intelligent Heart and the TPI training as life changing.  That is a gift that goes far beyond the classroom and the workplace. The next article in the series will explore the impact of Intelligent Heart behaviors upon morale and the implications of closing the accountability loop. 

Leadership Lessons/Intelligent Heart Cultural Transformation

  • Cultural transformation happens “in the weeds,” close to the work. A declaration of intent sets the stage, but the process of transformation must be well orchestrated and sustainable.
  • Managers and staff who are unsure about Intelligent Heart and their commitment to it are at a fork in the road.  They must commit to uphold Intelligent Heart or pursue career opportunities elsewhere.
  • The power of the introspection and self-awareness that the TPI training promotes should not be underestimated. 
  • Leadership commitment must be 100%.  Any naysayers or fence riders will be highly detrimental. A united leadership front is a mandate when cultural transformation is at stake.
  • Be patient.  Transformation is a deliberate process, with momentum driven by the resolve of the leadership team to execute.