Let me tell you a bit about how PCM started to be used in the commercial/business environment. Yes, you’ve guessed it! It has a lot to do with NASA and with recruitment.
In 1978 Dr. Terry McGuire, the Lead Psychiatrist for Manned Space Flight at NASA [1959-1996], was interested in assessing the psychological fitness of astronauts in view of future NASA missions. Not an easy task in itself, and the pressure of the high costs involved in such mission and the importance of a good team-work and team synergies especially under distress was a daunting responsibility.
In order to have the ultimate teamwork, physical and mental toughness, and psychological agility in teams of extremely talented, smart and confident people, made it necessary for each astronaut to be able to manage their emotions, communicate effectively with others and handle stress in a constructive manner.
At the time, Dr. Taibi Kahler (the creator of PCM) had already discovered a process to assess human interactions second by second and determine the productivity of the communication. He had called it the Process Therapy Model and it had already received the 1977 Eric Berne Memorial Scientific Award for the most important scientific discovery that year in his field of psychology. Because Kahler’s work had become more and more appreciated, Jerry McGuire invited him to sit on several neuropsychological assessment interviews as part of the astronaut selection cycle. About 5-10 minutes into each one, Kahler would make notes on a piece of paper and leave it on the floor.
Several hours later, after McGuire had finalised his testing and interview, he and Kahler would compare notes. Taibi’s assessments after just 10 minutes of observation aligned with McGuire’s with astounding consistency and predicted how the rest of the interview would play out with eerie accuracy. In Dr. McGuire’s words, “Taibi got as much or more information in the first 5-10 minutes, as I could determine in the entire interview. I wanted to learn how he did it.”
With NASA’s involvement, Dr. Kahler translated the concepts into behavioural terms and McGuire and NASA used Kahler’s methodology for nearly 20 years, until McGuire retired. During the six NASA shuttle missions in which there was distress behaviour and related communication problems, McGuire accurately predicted which astronauts would escalate and what their distress behaviours would be and could prepare the teams how to best work under these situations in order to effectively manage the mission.
The creation of Process Communication Model (PCM)
Dr. Kahler went on to develop a comprehensive behavioural communication training system, which he called the Process Communication Model (PCM), and which leaders like Bill Clinton and US army general Wesley Clarke have used to improve their communications and negotiation competences.
But since its beginnings, an ever increasing number of organisation have adopted PCM for improving stress management, motivation and communication. Some of the names are: Swiss Airlines, Danone, Coca-Cola and Vodafone (in some countries), Lufthansa, various American universities and colleges, American Express International, Generali Group, BNP Paribas, Unicredit Group, L’Oréal (some countries), Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Roche Austria, Switzerland, Akzo Nobel, OMV AG (Petrochemical Industry), BMW, Honeywell, France Telecom, Apple, IBM, AT&T, Microsoft, Orange Digital UK, T-Mobile Austria, Swiss Armed Forces (CICA) and many, many others…
I can only close with Dr. Terry McGuire, (now retired) Lead Psychiatrist for Manned Space Flight, NASA words on PCM: “PCM, both within NASA and within daily activities, has become for me like McGyver’s Swiss army knife, always with me and endlessly useful.”
Thank you for reading,
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