The Lifo® story

Lifo® originated in Southern California, at UCLA in 1967. At that time, organisational developments and changes were stimulated by group sessions with employees. They would work towards self-improvement using group methods such as T-groups, in which they studied and analysed each other's behaviour, thoughts and feelings and used role-play to gain insights into themselves.

Many people felt that taking part in these group sessions with their colleagues was embarrassing. They found them to be too unstructured and personal. The sessions often led to negative and destructive developments, rather than the intended positive outcomes.

In direct response to these concerns, applied behavioural scientist Dr Stuart Atkins with psychologist Dr Elias Porter developed the Life Orientations® Method. Atkins and his partner, Dr Allan Katcher presented their new theory of human behaviour and communication and its practical application to major U.S employers and in the Human Factors in Management course at UCLA in 1968.

Atkins and Katcher based Life Orientations® on work by Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, Peter Drucker and Abraham Maslow, synthesised with their own observations. The Life Orientations® Survey provided four classifications of human behaviour, to help people to identify their strengths and talk about them - and those of others - in an objective way. The classifications, patterned on Fromm's identification of four main behavioural styles, are:

Improving performance

People who took the surveys wanted to be guided towards ways of using their resulting self-awareness. So Atkins extended the Life Orientations® Method beyond the diagnostic Survey, to include six strategies for improving performance - Confirming, Capitalising, Moderating, Supplementing, Extending, and Bridging.

As the Method became increasingly popular as a management tool, Atkins shortened the Life Orientations® trademark to Lifo. Atkins and Katcher soon found that demand for the Lifo® Method outstripped their capacity to provide the training. So they started to license organisational trainers in the Lifo® Method; and to write workbooks.

After 1976, Atkins' and Katcher's work diverged. Atkins directed Lifo® in the United States. His work emphasised the developmental strategies applied to management development, individual productivity, communications, and teamwork. He called this development work, Lifo® Training.

Katcher began to develop his Lifo® practice and promote the Method internationally. He appointed agents in many countries and focused his work on executive coaching, teambuilding and organisational development.

One of Katcher's first Lifo® agents was Business Consultants, Inc., Japan. BCon, as it is also known, grew to become one of the major consulting firms in Japan and one of the largest users of Lifo® Training in the world. In 2000, BCon purchased Allan Katcher International, Inc; and, in 2001, it purchased Stuart Atkins, Inc. Those firms were merged at the end of 2001 to become the Lifo® Division of Business Consultants Network, Inc.

Since its launch, more than 8 million people in 20,000 organisations in 28 countries have taken the Lifo® surveys and participated in workshops on Lifo®'s practical applications. There are currently very many accredited Lifo® agents worldwide. Since 2001, the agent for Lifo® in the UK and Ireland has been Life Orientations® Ltd.

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