We're on the cusp of watching real change sweep through Libya this week as rebel fighters seize the capital city of Tripoli in their ongoing effort to overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. With a new political body ready to replace Gadhafi's 42-year regime, the rebels' plight toward freedom these past six months has been fueled by leverage points leading to change. In her 2008 book, Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Donella H. Meadows defined a leverage point as a "point of power" within a system. A leverage point's...
Recently one of my previous students sent me an email inviting me to write to my senators asking them to get on board with spending cuts. The email made the argument that just as individuals cannot continue to spend more than they bring in, neither can governments. She noted that she would “fire” all members of the U.S. Congress for their inability to adequately address the issue and pointed to the recent agreement to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling as totally inadequate. While I don’t disagree with the need to...
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...
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