March 2006



Preview Notes on Forum 2006
With less than two weeks before Forum 2006, the In2:InThinking Network shares its own perspectives on the six days of exciting learning opportunities in store this year from March 30th - April 4th.


Upcoming Events
Book Review: Openness Works! (By: L. Annie Barron)



The Fifth Annual Forum of the In2:InThinking Network will be here in less than two weeks. This year's theme, "Daring to Explore - Creating Possibilities Together," builds and elaborates on the In2:InThinking Network's key message since its founding: "think about the way you think." All organizations think a certain way, all organizations have problems, and most organizations' problems could be changed by the way they think. Dr. W Edwards Deming referred to the common way that organizations think as the "prevailing system of management." The Network offers an alternative viewpoint to the prevailing system which we call InThinking.

Leading the exploration of our theme for Forum 2006 is a roster of over a dozen speakers that includes a world renowned professor of management science at the Wharton School, an acclaimed and ground-breaking psychiatrist, a Director at NASA, and an insurance company executive, to mention a few. We are extremely excited to welcome each of them to Forum 2006 to share their thinking with us.

At the Forum, you can expect to hear a broad set of perspectives (Forum 2006 Brochure PDF) that will connect to every major industry and discipline, including all industries of business, education, healthcare, government, and personal life. For example, Dr. Russell Ackoff will deliver a keynote entitled, The Biggest Mistake Managers Make. He'll describe a failure which is just as relevant to aerospace and defense as it is to insurance and financial services, or any other industry.

One of the hallmark strengths of the Forum has been this ability to be relevant to companies in many industries, governmental organizations, education institutions, and non-profits. The problems and opportunities with thinking that are described in our Forum cut across every form of organization, and the methods for confronting these situations have broad applicability. Lessons about the problems and proposed strategies from one industry can easily be translated to another industry.

Our Forum has been described by previous attendees as "…an intense experience," because it "…crams a lot into a short time." This year will be no different. With over a dozen conference speakers plus eight pre and post conference workshops (free with Forum registration), Forum 2006 will be the longest yet- stretching over six days. Based on feedback for more lessons in application, we've continued to expand the availability of workshops that span topics including Idealized Design, Resource Leadership, and a case study in the use of better thinking to improve rocket engine hardware design, fabrication, and performance.

We've also heard people say, "My time at the conference is rejuvenating." The Forum provides a weekend retreat to step out of the daily environment of your workplace. Its an opportunity to escape familiar boundaries and the daily routine to confront what many of us never even think of: the way we think and how that thinking influences the way our organizations operate. Speaking to the importance of taking this time out of our daily environment, Fortune magazine recently ran an article Be smarter at work, slack Off (Fortune Magazine, March 17, 2006) on the darker side of our workaholic and execution-focused work culture. Quoting the late management thinker Peter Drucker, "All one can think and do in a short time is to think what one already knows and to do as one always has done." The opportunity to spend a weekend surrounded by stimulating speakers and colleagues exploring new topics is a timely remedy to improve your effectiveness.

Part of the atmosphere of exploration comes from the enjoyment of meeting people from across the world, and from diverse industries and backgrounds who all share interest in the In2:InThinking Network's message. Attendees have said they "…enjoy interacting with the people who attend the conference," and "there's a lot of people I can turn to for help with what I don't know." Alums of our Forums find themselves plugged into a mutual support and exchange network that continues to resource their professional and personal lives after the Forum.

The Forum is a unique type of conference with broad relevance across industries tackling a source of problems and opportunities that most organizations don't even realize exists. What our attendees get from the Forum is a renewed sense of perspective, energy to use that perspective to engender change, and a Network full of resources to support their efforts. The In2:InThinking Network volunteers have worked hard to deliver this tremendous value within a six day Forum for $300 per attendee. To find more information on the full list of speakers and workshop and to register, please visit our website.

We hope to see you at Forum 2006!

-The In2:InThinking Network

Openness Works!
Review by: Bill Bellows

Openness Works!
Author: L. Annie Barron
Publisher: HopeWorks Publishing
Length: 140 pages

On December 11, 2002, I was invited by a friend within the In2:InThinking Network to spend a day at the offices of R.W. Lyall & Company in Corona, California. The occasion was a one-day lecture by Professor Oscar Mink, someone I had heard a great deal about, but had not yet met. In short order, we met and I was touched by his wit, wisdom, and humility. By week's end, we had exchanged mental models- his "open organizations" and my "Red and Blue Pen Companies." The similarities were astounding and a partnership was formed. A friendship that started in December 2002 continued to grow until he left us far too soon, in September 2004. Before his death, I was introduced to a number of Oscar's graduate students, both past and present. Among them was Annie Barron, with whom he planned to partner with on a book on "openness", with R.W. Lyall & Company as the featured example of organizations who have embraced Oscar's model of open organizations.

In this, her first book, Annie delivers a fast-reading explanation of Oscar's "Nine Windows" model, juxtaposed with vividly documented examples of its application at R.W. Lyall & Company. As someone who has visited their Corona facility on several occasions and spent time with members of their executive team, this book is a delightful account of the application of Oscar's model in the transformation of R.W. Lyall. To those who would like to be among the frequent visitors to R.W. Lyall, this book will serve as invaluable guidebook for planning your visit and interpreting your findings. To those who cannot visit, this book will be the next best thing to spending a day, if not more, at R.W. Lyall, with Annie as your tour guide.

Early in the book, the reader is reminded that the current state of exemplary openness at R.W. Lyall was not always the case. Many of those employed there know well that the recent past included bouts of "exceptional quality," along with excessive inventory and the deadly diseases of "closed communication and a lack of structure." From this initial condition, Annie unfolds Oscar's three layers of openness in chapter-by-chapter formats - Individual, Team, and Organizational; each chapter ends with a reflective assessment of the reader's state of openness. As the story develops, Annie provides us with accounts of real-life struggles along the transformational journey through interviews with inspired employees. The book ends with interviews with delighted customers and reflections on the future from the executive team, a future clearly in line with Oscar's vision of "…a future more wonderful than you can possibly imagine at this moment." I highly recommend this book to all who share in Oscar's vision of the future and would like to take a leadership role in transforming your organization.

Buy this book NOW directly from the author!

FORUM 2006


"Creating Possibilities Together"

March 30 - April 4*, 2006
Los Angeles, CA

Register online now!

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  • The Ongoing Discussion for March will feature Sherry Immediato, upcoming Forum 2006 keynoter, discussing her keynote presentation - Learning from (and for) the Future Together - Building Capacity for Inspired Performance. A two-hour conference call will be held with her on March 24th. For call-in information, contact
  • UK Deming Forum to be held May 23-25 at the Robinsons Centre, Wyboston, Bedfordshire
  • The 50th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences to be held July 9-14 at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California
  • The 16th Annual Pegasus Conference, "Leading Beyond the Horizon - Strategies for Bringing Tomorrow into Today's Choices," to be held November 13-15, Waltham, Massachusetts

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 or visit our discussion board at the Online cafe.