North America

The Enneagram in The United States

The chemical company, BASF, had a clever marketing campaign slogan, "At BASF, we don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you use, better." The same could be said of how organizations in the United States use the Enneagram today. Many Enneagram applications address common organizational concerns – leadership development, team performance, and culture – that become more tangible when explored in conjuncture with the insights of the Enneagram. With each organizational success, the Enneagram moves more into the mainstream of organizational development and human resource development. In fact, today some companies integrate it into their standard training curriculum and embed it into their corporate culture.

Leadership Development
With emotional intelligence recognized as the number one predictor of success, it is no surprise that the Enneagram is fast becoming the prominent method for enhancing leadership development; none other can match its effectiveness at building self-awareness and promoting understanding of others. Some Fortune 500 companies run all of their leaders through Enneagram-based executive coaching programs. Others send their executives to leadership development retreats where the Enneagram is featured. One leading company applied the Enneagram to its in-house leadership competency models then rolled it out through an innovative process called "learning communities" in which division leaders met as a group to assess their individual strengths and challenges with each model. In all of these cases, the organizations report increased self-awareness and improved collaboration as the initial tangible benefits from working with the Enneagram.

Team Diagnostics
The next level of Enneagram application in organizations is to explore the dynamics of the work team system. The ability to identify a team's Enneagram style distribution can quickly identify a team's strengths and uncover where a team might falter. If a team is predominantly made up of Head (Center) styles, analysis and planning may take precedence over action (Body) or relationship building (Heart), which may impact the team's efficiency where forward action is required. In addition, OD consultants use the Enneagram in Action Research Models to distinguish individual bias by style when providing system-level feedback, resulting in a more objective assessment and effective interventions.

Organizational Culture
Perhaps the biggest impact of the Enneagram in organizations is on culture. A hotel chain puts all its new employees through basic Enneagram training as part of orientation. Another corporate division reports over 90% of its 600+ people have attended at least one day of voluntary Enneagram in Business training. A federal government agency brings in top Enneagram scholars five or six times a year to constantly refresh and deepen its application in their organization. Small and medium sized professional service firms train their entire organization in Enneagram applications such as communication, feedback, conflict, teamwork, and leadership.

The Enneagram gives people common vocabulary to address team dynamics and performance issues in less threatening ways. An atmosphere of personal responsibility emerges as people gain deeper understanding of their impact and discover skills to increase their effectiveness. Defensiveness decreases. Difficult situations still arise but they are met with respectful, open dialogue that transforms them into opportunities for understanding, choice, and progress. The culture thus values diversity of personality, supports continuous development, and holds people accountable. And the impact extends to personal lives as well. As one healthcare group president said after using the Enneagram in his organization for six months, "I'm positive the Enneagram helps me at home and I know that helps me at work, too."

The Future and Innovative Applications of the Enneagram
Once introduced to the Enneagram, organizations develop innovative ways to apply it. A prominent hearing aid company identified nine barriers, based on Enneagram style, to help patients accept a diagnosis of hearing loss. Now they sell more hearing aids but more importantly, improve the lives of their patients.

The potential for applications is endless simply because the system works so well. Today, leadership, teams, and culture grow and thrive. Tomorrow, organizations will combine the Enneagram with more and more of their favorite models to address their toughest challenges.

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As an organizational development consultant, corporate trainer, and executive coach, Matt employs the Enneagram in conjunction with proven organizational development models and self-development methods to build his clients' emotional intelligence - the key to future success - and to link this with increased professional competence and the achievement of strategic business results. Whether consulting with leaders in Fortune 500 companies, coaching CEOs of technology start-ups, or training a team of service professionals, Matt's amiable yet assertive style helps his clients deepen their learning and move forward in their development.

Matt developed his corporate acumen while working for 15 years in companies such as Hewlett Packard, Intuit, Inc., and Levi Strauss & Company. He first learned the Enneagram from Helen Palmer and David Daniels, MD and was certified in their Enneagram Professional Training Program in 2004. He was certified as a professional coach from The Coaches Training Institute and completed Ginger Lapid-Bodga's Train-the-Trainer programs.

Today, Matt combines his experience, training, and skills to strengthen leaders, transform teams, and build positive organizational culture for his clients. Matt sums up his professional development philosophy this way: "People are like trees; to grow a strong trunk and tall branches you need solid, deep roots. The Enneagram helps people develop solid, deep roots from which they can bloom."