Emergenetics International is thrilled to have Gibson Kerr as part of our great speaker lineup for the 2017 Brain Summit in Vancouver, Canada! Gib is currently a Professor of Executive Acquisition Management, at the Defense Acquisition University responsible for bringing leadership and team skills to senior officers and executives in the U.S. Department of Defense. An Emergenetics Advanced Associate since 2015, he was the first ever U.S. Government Employee to certify as an Associate.
Seeing the tremendous need for the personal/team awareness Emergenetics provides, Gib introduced it to the U.S. Federal Workforce in 2014 at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since leaving DHS in late 2015, Gib expanded his efforts. Emergenetics is now a core part of the executive curricula at the Defense Systems Management College. He also provides Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) and post-MOTM support for a number of government organizations outside of the College and University.
Let’s get to know Gib better in advance of the 2017 Emergenetics Brain Summit.
Q: How did you get involved with Emergenetics?
A: I was having trouble with my teams of analysts working well together at my U.S. Federal Agency, and had asked my Chief Learning Officer for some new ideas on improving team performance. She had stopped at the Emergenetics Booth at an ATD conference in the summer of 2014 and was suitably impressed with the science and utility of Emergenetics. She suggested using the Profile as a way to make my folks more self-aware so they’d better understand how they think, and behave, and then how they interact with others in their team. We ran two pilot MOTM events in October of that year. The impact on my people was instantaneous. Immediately, I saw improvement in communication and relationships on my teams. I was so impressed with the results and future potential Emergenetics had for improving team efficacy, I went to a certification class in November, and began the roll-out in my government agency in December. The rest is history, and I’ve become kind of a zealot as I’ve watched person after person have tremendous “Ah, HA!” moments once they’ve been “Emergeneticized” (or Emergineered).
Q: You’re now in the process of becoming an Emergenetics Master Trainer. What’s something new that you’ve learned during this process? Have you had an Emergenetics “ah-ha” moment?
A: What I’ve learned is that there is a real “universal applicability” to Emergenetics. The simplicity of the Emergenetics metaphor has this incredible appeal that allows folks to self-identify with their Profile in a manner un-paralleled by other instruments to which I’ve been exposed (and in several cases, I am also certified/qualified to administer.) Doesn’t matter where I’ve applied Emergenetics- elementary school teacher teams, resource staffs, government and professional staffs, executives, military organizations; in every case the individuals involved instantly identified with their Profile and Tip Sheet, and could readily use the language of Emergenetics. As for an “ah-ha”? Relax, trust the Emergenetics reliability and validity. The MOTM format works regardless of the audience- from very senior people to very junior. People WILL identify with their Profile and Tip Sheet, making their experience with Emergenetics very positive…in my case; Every. Single. Time.
Q: There is an abundance of military related metaphors for business. As a retired Navy Captain, do you have any personal favorites?
A: Well, as a young submarine officer, I was told every day, “Don’t hit the bottom, or anything else, for that matter”
Q: You recognized a need for Emergenetics within the U.S. Federal workforce and introduced it to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2014. What was the biggest challenge in that process? Or, what was your happiest surprise?
A: The biggest challenge I had at DHS was generating buy-in at the top, and convincing leadership that Emergenetics wasn’t just another assessment to use on an already “over-assessed” government workforce which had seen little practical use in behavioral instruments, or in increasing self-awareness. That there was a utility, applicability in Emergenetics other assessments don’t have, and therefore Emergenetics was something worth spending scarce training resources on as an investment in federal employees. And given that the my agency was dead last in “Best Government Agencies to Work” as well as having very low Organizational Health Surveys scores, this was an agency that desperately needed a set of tools to help them climb up out of the basement. We failed to reach the “tipping point” beyond which the culture of the organization would embrace Emergenetics and become “self-sustaining”. I failed in meeting this challenge primarily because I hadn’t thought carefully about the implementation piece, and didn’t develop the guiding coalition needed to generate such a significant cultural shift. I am an abstract thinker, and tend to have a blind spot when it comes to concrete thinking and implementation. That being said, I learned a lot in working with DHS, and used a much more Whole Emergenetics approach in bringing Emergenetics into the Department of Defense, with much better results.
But, the happiest surprise was the resonance my folks at DHS had with Emergenetics. One employee even put a miniature image of her Profile in her signature block on her email. We stilled reached a LOT of folks in that one year I spent trying to foster a culture of Emergenetics at DHS.
Q: What do you do for personal and/or professional development?
A: Well, I read a lot (and don’t sleep much). But more importantly, when my abstract brain grabs a hold of something, I LOVE to practice “OJL”- On the Job Learning (as opposed to On-the-Job-Training). I look for connections and ways to apply this new idea in some small way, to see what happens. Kind of a “Learn by Experimenting” sort of thing. I’ve never met a mental model I didn’t try to apply to SOMETHING, and I learn a ton both when it works, and more significantly when it doesn’t. If it’s intriguing and “cool” I’ll try it…
Q: How do you define success?
A: Success means I learned something of value. I’ve been successful when, after the dust settles, I’ve contributed something, and things are a little better than they were before.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it?
A: Oh, I have several. In priority order:
“If this were easy, everybody would do it.”
“Are you telling me things I don’t have to remember?”
“I don’t want a rationalization of your opinion, I need an objective analysis.”
“Don’t build me the watch, just tell me the time.”
Q: How would you describe the term Emergineering? What is an Emergineer?
A: As a strict definition, just as Engineering is “the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics or chemistry”, I’d define Emergineering as “the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of neuro-science and psychology”. How would I describe it? Using Emergenetics to increase self/team awareness and improve the world; one person, one team, one organization at a time.
An emergineer is a practitioner of Emergenetics, but an Emergineer is someone with a burning passion for it.