Posts tagged with the category Systems Theory
The Evolution of Systems Thinking
Systems thinking as a method of inquiry deals with complexity from the perspective of the whole, not the parts. Most methods of inquiry follow the traditional path of reductionism as established by our sciences. We have learned to answer life’s difficult questions by dissecting our subjects into parts with the idea that they are...
Reason, for the Sake of Argument
Whether or not Hamlet was being ironic in his admiration for humankind, it seems that the nobility of our reason is up for debate…literally. New research from French cognitive social scientists indicates that reason exists to help us argue and guard against the arguments of others, according to a recent New York Times article. Reason, so...
The Common Good is Irrational
Why don’t we work together for the common good? It’s a question that plagues every good intention, and every activist group. We know that corporate America is paying its executives outlandishly and its workers poorly – and that if we just banded together, we could do something about that. But we don’t. We know that...
Story “Pull”: Do You Have Any?
I had a speaking engagement on the West Coast last week. The topic was Threshold Story™—a method of storytelling used to engender trust and demonstrate value when a business service provider meets a new prospect, team member, or returning client. The professionals attending my lecture were a bit guarded. They'd never met me...
The Art of Thinking Together
According to William Isaacs, professor, author and co-founder of the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT alongside Peter Senge, dialogue is a vehicle for creative problem identification and solving. However, it is different than what is normally conceived as problem solving. The usual modality to tackle problems is discussion. We are used to...
The Powers of Place, Part 2
The rocky slopes of the Sierra del Escambray slipped into the darkened countryside moments before dawn as our car made its way along the winding autopista—a two-lane highway that cuts through the verdant expanses of central Cuba. We were heading toward the western end of the island that cool, May morning—specifically Santiago in...
The Powers of Place, Part 1
I remember looking up at the wooden beams and panels holding up the aged roof. My eyes studied its rugged patterns before moving across the room, finding little artifacts in almost every corner that continually brought the century-old structure to life. This old building wasn’t a historic home in the U.S. or an old church in Europe. It was...
Kurt Lewin: Lessons from the OD Master
Kurt Lewin was born in what is now Poland on September 9, 1890. He and his family moved to Berlin when he was fifteen. Lewin obtained his doctorate degree in Psychology from the University of Berlin in 1916 and later become a professor. He left Germany in 1930 as Jews were being ousted, first taking a six month assignment at Stanford...
Hate is Supported by Many Systems
Are you a hateful person? The answer may depend on where you live. Culturally, we think of emotions as individual things: If you “love,” it is “you” loving. Jealousy, anger, and fear are also all matters of the individual psyche. But believing that emotions are this particular is only a partial truth. There is increasing...
Kids Aren't Widgits and Education Isn't an Assembly Line
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." — William Butler Yeats Two weeks ago, my fourteen-year-old daughter summed up her day at school: “I finished the science TAKS [The Texas assessment of knowledge and skill] in about an hour and then slept for five hours.” On this particular day a 60-...
Systems Only Get the Right Answers When They Ask the Right Questions
Consider the possibility that everything we know today about our world emerged out of a vast pool of questions. Consider that human systems naturally evolve towards the questions people ask. Questions push the boundaries of our knowledge and understanding of what is possible. How might we transplant a heart or put a person on the moon? These...
Understanding Snowball Effects (and Donald Trump)
Just when we thought the controversy over President Obama’s birth certificate was over, it got riled up again by Donald Trump. Now, it seems, even President Obama’s birth certificate can’t stop it. What happened? How did we reach this point? The answer is a term you’ve probably heard before, a “...
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