The Inside Scoop on Mission-Driven Business Transformation

The methodology then was rolled out to strategically chosen teams throughout the company and culminated in Vista Caballo being brought into the Ben & Jerry’s Global Summit. During the summit, we worked with five teams, each group focusing on a team-specific productivity goal, as well as the overarching company challenge of expanding global production. To date, 110 Ben & Jerry’s employees have gone through the training.

Vista Caballo customizes leadership development experiences for each company and team based on desired results, budget and schedule. With Ben & Jerry’s, some teams completed a six-hour experiential training, some completed a four-hour digital training over three months, and other teams-including leadership-completed an eight- to 10-hour hybrid experience over three to four months.

Vista Caballo follows the rules of nature in observing that when the head of an organism changes, the organism changes. When leaders understand and develop themselves, they are better equipped to understand and connect with their teams and lead them forward.

The Results

Following its implementation of the Vista Caballo methodologies, Ben & Jerry’s saw measurable results in production increases, improved employee perception of effectiveness and confidence, and overall workplace contentment.

Surveys showed improved confidence across all areas. The areas with the lowest confidence levels prior to the group training experience were those where the most self-reported growth occurred - after only six hours of training.

“We learned how to transform our company to become a truly collaborative and interdependent community,” says Jostein Solheim, former CEO of Ben & Jerry’s. “When you are fully present and focused on what’s going on in the moment, it allows you to develop your own inner resources, build your own tolerance, your own openness to ideas, your own thinking methodologies. It sets the tone of the organization.

“The Vista Caballo methodology allows you to connect with others through a common language, through presence and through your lens to being more receptive. You are ready to really connect truly with your teammates, your employees, your partners. It brought a whole new level of sharpness to self-awareness, which allowed me to confront some things I wanted to change. It gives you simple tools by which to change.”

Ben & Jerry’s is a pioneer in many ways. Its leaders understood that in order for people to take risks, they must be confident.

Jane Goetschius, senior human resources manager for Ben & Jerry’s, says the Vista Caballo tools and methods were an effective catalyst for advancing learning and change. “As part of a holistic change management strategy, they were key to transforming our leadership skills,” she says. “Vista Caballo helped us break through biases, broaden personal insights and create new energy for the individual, team and organization.”

Significant improvements in employee perceptions were matched by specific productivity results. Ben & Jerry’s met its internal goals and surpassed expectations of leadership while recouping its investment in the Vista Caballo experience. Results to date include:

  • Saved $475,000 in reorganization costs and $100,000 due to increased productivity in meetings and meeting outcomes.
  • 25% improvement in marketing productivity.
  • 50% reduction in manufacturing meeting times.
  • 46% increase in employee confidence in on-the-job capabilities after a six-hour Vista Caballo experience.
  • Surveys conducted three weeks after the training showed a 31% increase in the application of the learnings after just a six-hour session. This is noteworthy, as U.S. companies spend $88 billion annually on training, but most participants forget 70% of it after initial sessions and 90% forget it after one week.

Debra Heintz, global director of retail for Ben & Jerry’s, says the training helped employees in her area collaborate successfully. “The Vista Caballo methodology was the breakthrough we needed in terms of trusting and sharing ideas and building on each other’s ideas effectively,” she says.

Working with Vista Caballo, Ben & Jerry’s intentionally disrupted its status quo while enabling self-discovery, learning and transformation-at individual, team and organizational levels. By leading people past their everyday thinking and transforming the way they made decisions, Ben & Jerry’s achieved newfound awareness as an organization.

Challenging what we know to discover what we don’t allows us to look at the world through a different lens and use our creativity and intelligence in service to all living things. Developing this approach and type of thinking as a daily practice is what affords us to stay present in moments that matter most. Staying present in moments that matter most is what sets you apart as a leader and a human being - which is how you reach your potential.


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