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...
Today's buzzwords are collaboration, community engagement, and networked leadership across several industries. There's a lot of talk about adapting a systems perspective and moving away from linear approaches to change. These views and processes are all well and good. As a matter of fact, they hold the promise of a more holistic pathway towards ecological consciousness and societal transformation. But what if a well-rooted identity with an ecological ancestry as well as a present day sense of place do not first exist? Recently, I was...
Systemic sustainability is a process of development—individual, organizational, or societal—involving an adaptive strategy of emergence that ensures the evolutionary maintenance of an increasingly robust and supportive environment. Systemic sustainability goes beyond the triple bottom line and embraces “the possibility that human and other forms of life will flourish on the Earth forever” as beautifully expressed by John Ehrenfeld. Adam Werbach defines a sustainable business as one capable of “thriving in...
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