June 2005



A Review of Forum 2005: Daring to Lead Provides Inspiration
Two-time attendee Sharon Atwater shares reflections on Forum 2005 and how the experience of attending the second-time around was different from the first.

Organization Systems Renewal Northwest (OSR-NW) Hosts Thinkers for Our Time
Seattle played host to three extraordinary sets of conversations including Fritjof Capra, Linda Sweeney, Peter Senge, and Meg Wheatley, to celebrate the association of the Organization Systems Renewal program with Seattle University. In2:InThinking Network Newsletter contributing writer Steve Byers recounts key program highlights.


News Briefs: CNN segment on June 13 & 15 @ 7AM
Upcoming Events
Book Review: Two Books on Dialogue


By: Sharon Atwater

This year's In2:InThinking Forum revitalized me. Last year I was a first-timer and didn't know exactly what to expect. The breadth of information presented was amazing. It took me months to reflect on the ideas and integrate some of those into my daily life. The principles positively impacted many everyday situations from that moment forward.

I was also impressed by the caliber of both the presenters and the attendees. These kindred spirits share my philosophy that you actually have to spend time really thinking about solving problems rather than just pasting on more band aids. It was energizing to discuss how to get to the root of problems and engage stakeholders in the solutions.

This year my expectations for the Forum were much higher. I came with the intention of being challenged to think about new ways to solve problems that face me and that face society- the Forum rose to the occasion. I enjoyed reconnecting with former acquaintances and making new contacts. The speakers were thought-provoking and their presentations were excellent.

The overall tone of Daring to Lead: Influencing Better Thinking for a Better Future was inspirational. I was quickly immersed in the idea of designing a brighter future for society and viewing problems as opportunities to challenge myself and others. I was reminded to consider time viewing situations in all of their complexity as an investment and I learned some new ways to cope with problems over which I have very little control.

My husband (Brian Atwater) and I are affiliated with a higher learning institution. When we engage in experiences that broaden our perspectives and open us to new possibilities, we share those ideas with a much larger population. The In2:InThinking Network acts as a sounding board that helps us evolve new ideas and view problems in a different light. We share these concepts in the classroom and with our colleagues.

Attending the Forums reinforces our commitment to make a difference in the world. We appreciate Boeing's ongoing support of the network and all of the hard work that goes into planning and executing the Forum every year. I can't honestly imagine a better way to spend a weekend than engaging in an opportunity that has life changing potential for you and others in your communities.

Sharon Atwater is Publicist in the Dean's office of the College of Business at Utah State University and a member of the In2:InThinking Network operating team as an editor of the Newsletter.

OSR-NW Hosts Thinkers for our Time
Review by: Steve Byers
In recent weeks a series of extraordinary thinkers have visited Seattle across three sessions hosted by the Organization Systems Renewal Program of Seattle University. The first session featured Dr. Fritjof Capra and Dr. Linda Booth Sweeney for an evening conversation following a day of teaching OSR students. The second session featured Dr. Peter Senge for a midday Monday workshop that was generously squeezed in the middle of a vacation with his family. The third session featured Dr. Margaret Wheatley for a presentation related to her new book and a celebration of OSR's new association with Seattle University. I attended all three events. Most of those attending were current or former OSR students, but there was a good mix of visitors, particularly at the Wheatley event. Combined, the three events also served to introduce the OSR program to the community and recruit students for the coming cohort.

Dr. Capra and Dr. Sweeney, who are visiting faculty for OSR, carried on a conversation with each other and the audience in an informal setting. Each spoke briefly at the beginning in order to help everyone reach a common minimal understanding of systems thinking, complexity, interdependency, and the often nonlinear relationships between cause and effect. Many small causes can accumulate over time to produce a large effect, or a small cause can, over time, bring about a seemingly disproportionate effect. Dr. Capra talked about the work of the Center for Ecoliteracy, which he co-founded. Dr. Sweeney talked about her new direction, which is to use systems thinking to help children learn about the principles of sustainability. If you have children, I urge you to get her book, When a Butterfly Sneezes.

The session with Dr. Senge was phenomenal. I cannot convey the depth of what he shared with us in this short space, so I will simply repeat some of his observations in the hope you will seek him out yourself. "One of the purposes of planning is to affect management's mental models. Otherwise, why bother?" "A privileged position does not grant a privileged view of reality. No human being has a privileged view of reality. Yet we all think, someone must know what's going on" (attributed to Humberto Maturana). "There is no feedback loop that cannot be ignored if your time horizon is short enough." Asked last year by his spiritual teacher what ultimate effect he wished to have on the world, Dr. Senge said he responded almost instantly and to his own surprise saying, "To end the delusion."

Dr. Wheatley talked about her new book, Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time and also previewed her upcoming 2005 Cape Cod Institute seminar. The agenda for Cape Cod in August is about certain beliefs our culture seems to have about leadership including: leaders know what to do, the higher the risk the more the need for control, people can be told what to do, you can only manage what you can measure, and fear is a good motivator. But it was more than this- as she spoke she projected a series of photographs, some from the new book, and made points about working together, not going it alone, leadership and harmony with nature. She read a poem titled, "When I am a Ukrainian," celebrating the recent events in that country and the universal values which precipitated these events. She said we are all trying to be Ukrainians.

Conference review this month is by Steven Byers, Director of Quality Assurance at the Western Institutional Review Board.

Reviews by: Austin Kim & Beth Thompson

Listening to the Volcano: Conversations that Open Our Minds to New Possibilities
Author: David Hutchens
Illustrator: Bobby Gombert
Publisher: Pegasus Communications
Length: 80 pages

Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future
Author: Margaret Wheatley
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Length: 150 pages

Listening to the Volcano: Conversations that Open Our Minds to New Possibilities by David Hutchens (illustrations by Bobby Gombert) is the fifth and latest in a series of "learning fables" from Pegasus Communications. Each book in the series sets a key organizational theme in the context of an easily relatable fictitious situation with amusing accompanying illustrations. In this case, the setting is the fictitious town of Smoldering Pines that is set next to a volcano about to erupt, and the theme is conversation and dialogue. Part of the amusing premise of the book is that as people talk, there words take on physical (dialogue box) form and drop to the ground. Having to live with what you say takes on a whole new meaning in this world. While this book is a light read, Listening to the Volcano is a good introduction to prompt a conversation about "dialogue."

A good book for greater depth on dialogue is Margaret Wheatley's most recent work presented in a slim volume entitled, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future. The book's content and purpose are beautifully and simply summarized in this title. Wheatley wrote this book prior to September 11th and presented it as a hope for making a difference in a world where things are clearly not going right; it is a message that is even more meaningful and needed in our post-9/11 world. The power of dialogue- of simple conversation, is perhaps the only way that we in the world community can learn to work and live together to heal and create permanent change. This book is an exploration of human goodness and builds a bridge between a theory on dialogue and real practice, which is, after all, what's really required to transform. In a little more than 150 pages, Wheatley has given us a gift of love and the possibility of really turning to one another using dialogue.


Visit our website for more information on ordering DVDs of the conference sessions.

View photos from our recent Forum 2005 here.

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  • CNN Segment: Forum 2005 speaker Joyce Musil-Condon (KANDU Industries) and In2:InThinking Network director Marcia Daszko will be featured on a CNN segment: June 13 and June 15 at 7 AM. Check local listings for channel information.
  • Fortune Magazine discusses business decisions including the fateful decision of Dr. Deming to go to Japan in 1950 in their June 27th edition.




We are always looking for news, ideas, letters, reviews of books and conferences, short articles on original research, and suggestions for future issues. Please send these and other comments to newsletter@in2in.org