To find inspiration and clarify my latest thinking on embracing complexity, I recently turned to popular, off-the-shelf publications and the latest business books. Not only did I not find inspiration and clarity, I experienced confusion and loss of interest from the dogma I found there.So much of what I read was filled with jargon, buzz words, and claims of a silver bullets that I had a hard time sorting out the message. The advice or suggestions I found simply did not resonate with me. The literature didn't create a shift in thinking or a...
After the 30th International Human Science Research Conference in Oxford, England, wrapped in late July, I made a brief stop in London before returning to the U.S. My lecture and workshop at the conference had been steeped in metaphor linked to English gardens and I thought it appropriate to make a brief visit to Kensington Gardens. I plopped my attaché and garment bag in the narrowest of bedrooms at the hotel, one of several that line the streets abutting Kensington Gardens in central London, and went for a stroll. While plodding along...
Systems archetypes are common and usually reoccurring patterns of behavior in organizations. These patterns almost always result in negative consequences. Systems archetypes were first studied in the 1960s and 1970s by Jay Forrester, Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows and others in the nascent field of systems thinking. In his popular 1990 book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter Senge explored systems archetypes and, along with Michael Goodman, Charles Kiefer, and Jenny Kemeny, documented the...
This time of year, a lot of my conversations with friends, colleagues, and clients began with the question: How was your vacation? Typically, you hear a wistful recounting of highlights followed by comments about the shock of re-entry into the daily routine. It seems that memories and feelings from even the most inspiring vacations fade fast. During a recent conversation, a client switched from describing a momentous trip to Ghana where she connected with newly discovered family members to a discussion of logistics for an upcoming leadership...
A sustainable organization is capable of "thriving in perpetuity." Those were the words of environmental activisit Adam Werbach—words I first came across earlier this week while reading Alexander and Kathia Laszlo's post, The Practices of Systemic Sustainability. Werbach's use of the word perpetuity stuck with me these past few days. A sustainable organization that's capable of "thriving in perpetuity" can, by definition, exist in state that continues endlessly, receiving a stream of benefits that never...
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