Emergenetics International is thrilled to have Jim Ebert as part of our great speaker lineup for the 2017 Brain Summit in Vancouver, Canada! Jim celebrated 34 years with MillerCoors including 18 years in sales positions and 16 years in Learning and Development and Leadership Development.
Jim became an Emergenetics Associate in 2009; he was the Emergenetics Program Manager at MillerCoors and at the forefront of moving beyond concepts and principles and into application and behavior change. He found his “sweet spot” working with teams and individuals on their growth and development using Emergenetics as a foundation.
Let’s get to know Jim better in advance of the 2017 Emergenetics Brain Summit.
Q: How did you get involved with Emergenetics?
A: At the joint venture of Miller and Coors in 2008 we evaluated all of our “styles assessment” tools and realized that we offered up to four different instruments. This created inconsistency for our participants and challenges for our facilitators. So we relied heavily upon our “Analytical” thinking and evaluated each and every program to select the best one for us as a growing and evolving company. Emergenetics was the clear favorite for two key reasons: first, it had the scientific brain research at it’s core and the profiles were so accurate. Second, it was very intuitive that people “got it” so quickly and we could see immediate behavior change within the teams. I had the good fortune of becoming a Certified Associate in 2009 and have been a raving fan of the power of Emergenetics ever since!
Q: You have facilitated more than 450 workshops and seen thousands of Profiles since you joined Emergenetics as an associate in 2009. Has this given you any interesting Emergenetics “a-ha” moments?
A: Well, plenty of “a-ha moments” over the years, but one thing that consistently puts a smile on my face is the opportunity to “check in” with the group right after they receive their profile results during the workshop. They are amazed that an on-line assessment can produce a profile and Narrative Report that can describe them so accurately. Many actions or behaviors they have felt or were aware of, but Emergenetics spells it out in writing and puts it in perspective for them. It helps them understand themselves at a deeper level, and provides a learning tool for them to understand others in a new light.
Q: You worked for MillerCoors for 34 years – wow! How did the company’s culture evolve as you used Emergenetics programs?
A: Emergenetics provided a common language and a strategy or platform that we could build upon. It allowed us to define and better understand our Thinking preferences and Behavioral attributes as individuals first, then to consider where we had alignment or differences with others. Once we understood these fundamental concepts, we understood why we aligned so well with others who had preferences like ours. We also learned how to flex to account for a different style, and how to genuinely value these differences as a strategic competitive advantage.
Following the Meeting of the Minds workshops, team leaders were asked to take Emergentics deeper into their group as they saw the potential as it related to managing meetings, making decisions, and problem solving. Emergenetics became part of the vocabulary, as we would commonly hear an employee mention a “yellow” idea during brainstorming or reference to “Blue” or “Analytical” as they would analyze something deeper. It helped the team communicate, collaborate, and perform at a higher level!
Q: Now that you have your own company, what do you love about running your own business?
A: I view this opportunity as a new chapter in my life. After 34 wonderful years with MillerCoors, it is a unique opportunity to step outside the beer business to work in new industries and with different corporate teams. Although there are many differences, there are many similarities around how people learn and lead others. I enjoy making new contacts and building my business one hand shake and one lead at a time. The name of my business is Evergreen Learning Solutions, and each word was carefully chosen to represent the renewed spirit of learning and my desire to help my clients create the right solution for their opportunity.
Q: Do you have a favorite Emergenetics activity or exercise for team building?
A: In the Meeting of the Minds Workshops, we spend time defining and providing examples around the 4 Thinking Preferences then we conduct a “Tasks We Enjoy at Work” activity. I select 2 “volunteers” with the same Thinking Preferences, and ask them to step outside of the room and list their favorite tasks that they mutually enjoy on the job. Armed with a flip chart page and markers they leave the room for 10 minutes. The rest of the team is pre-arranged in one of their 4 Thinking Preferences, and I ask them to list tasks that would be accomplished within each of the 4 attributes. Then we invite our “volunteers” to return to the room. First we review each of the 4 Thinking Preference lists to reinforce the learning, then we ask our volunteers to share the tasks they enjoyed. Since they had the same Thinking Preferences, they usually arrive at the same tasks quite effortlessly, and we can demonstrate to the class how their tasks usually align very closely with their respective Thinking Preferences.
Here’s the key learning… During the debrief we have discussion around how we work with others who Think like we do, and how well we align. Then we discuss how it feels to work with someone who has different Thinking Preferences than we do. I ask them to consider the “pros” and “challenges” of each of these scenarios. Working with someone with whom we align may produce faster results as we approach things similarly, but we may not push each other and come up with the “best” solution. When working with someone who has different Thinking Preferences, we have to flex and be open to different ideas and ways of approaching a situation. We are exposed to a wider range of ideas, and although it may take longer and we may encounter a bit of conflict, we may arrive at a solution that neither one of us considered individually. This can be a very powerful discussion and insight for the participants, and can change the way a team operates in the future!
Q: One of your business passions is new leader assimilation. How did you apply Emergenetics to assimilate leaders at MillerCoors?
A: New teams were forming on a regular basis, and every team leader had a choice on how they managed the first interactions with their team. Some chose to hit the ground running and let their team learn about them and figure things out on the fly, unfortunately creating a very long and painful learning curve for all. Others chose to participate in a one day “New Leader Assimilation” program. The workshop began with the new leader introducing themselves, then a quick round of introductions with the new team members. Then the leader would share a few photos around their personal and professional life, and tell their story to help their team members get to know them as a person. This was followed by showing their Emergenetics Profile and allowing the team time to make a few observations and for the new team leader to explain how their Thinking Preferences and Behavioral Attributes might come to life in their leadership style. Usually a healthy discussion followed as team members could ask questions and gain clarification. A nice bonus is when we would show the Team Profile or Dot Matrix Reports and allow the discussion to evolve. This was extremely helpful as both an icebreaker and as a learning tool.
Following this rich discussion, we would continue with our New Leader Assimilation activities, and ask the new leader to leave the room for 30 minutes as the team identified issues, opportunities, and positives that currently existed within the team in an anonymous, yet very structured and productive manner. Upon the collection of this information on flip charts, the new manager would return to a facilitated session where they would address the information in an open and honest way. This provided a team snapshot of the real issues for the manager. They would address and comment on what they could, while creating a “To Do List” to share next steps and encourage future open dialogue. This activity allowed the team to share what was on their mind and to learn about the new manager in a proactive, positive way. Throughout this discussion, Emergenetics was leveraged to keep us on track and to acknowledge differences within Thinking or Behaviors as needed. These proved to be some very powerful sessions which set the team up for success and greatly minimized their learning curves!
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow,” Lou Holtz.
I believe that nothing is stagnant, nothing stays the same. This is true for our working environments, our relationships, our society, and even our health. If we choose to do nothing, we are most likely losing or in a decline mode. However if we choose to be proactive and adapt the “spirit of continuous improvement,” we can and will grow, develop, and evolve into richer relationships and as healthier people.
Q: You’re a triathlete. What advice would you give someone who wanted to try one?
A: Set a small goal, and commit yourself! That goal may be to improve one of the three disciplines of triathlon: swimming, biking, or running. Stay focused on your goal, invite friends to join you or support you on your way, and develop a routine around how and/or when you train. The triathlon community is a friendly and generous group, very willing to share their tips and ideas if you ask. Select a shorter distance event that you can train for and finish… you’ll be hooked! You will be amazed at how your body can perform with proper rest, nutrition, hydration, and positive mental attitude! As I was about to begin the swim on my first Ironman, my daughter, who was on the Air Force Academy Triathlon Team, said to me “Dad, have confidence in your training.” Those words have helped me through many challenging events!
Q: How would you describe the term Emergineering? What is an Emergineer?
A: As I considered this term, I researched a definition for “Engineering” and found the following… “the action of working artfully to bring something about.” In my opinion, it’s all about leveraging and applying the principles, concepts, and terminology of Emergenetics to create positive change.
When I work with clients, I am very focused on creating behavior change as a result of our workshops and learning sessions. I think Emergineering is all about designing, building, and implementing the appropriate workshop and learning plan that will deliver those repeatable and sustainable behavior changes with and for our participants. As Emergenetics Associates, we assume the role of an Emergineer as we serve as champions and subject matter experts with our respective teams and work groups. We have the ability to lead them on this incredible journey as they apply Emergenetics and gain a greater appreciation and deeper awareness of themselves and their many relationships. How cool is that!