April 2006



Forum 2006 Highlights
Forum 2006 attendees share their highlights.


Upcoming Events

Book Review: The Answer to How is Yes - Acting on What Matters (By: Peter Block)


The In2:InThinking Network (In2:IN) held its Fifth Annual Forum in Los Angeles, California, over the 6-day period of March 30th  – April 4th.  Attendees traveled from across the United States and from as far away as Zurich, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to take part in a weekend conference that was preceded by 2 days of pre-conference workshops and followed by 2 days of a post-conference workshop.   In all, we welcomed 170+ attendees for an extended weekend of thinking together under the theme of “Daring to Explore – Creating Possibilities Together.” 

Towards this end, Forum attendees were treated to 11 thought provoking presentations, including keynote presentations by Russell Ackoff, Peter Collis, William Glasser, George Hopson, and Sherry Immediato.    In between, we were treated to “triple-track” presentations by Steve Buchanan, Bill Cooper, John Duddy, Micah Fierstein, Shirley Gordon, Joseph Parent, Dick Steele, and Lynn Sumida.

We asked Forum 2006 attendees to share their highlights with us. Here are some Forum 2006 highlights - straight from attendees:

  • Being my first forum, my highlight was how quickly I shared a connection with people there. Almost from the instant I arrived, I felt a shared belonging with all there. The breadth of the presentations from mental illness to Zen meditation was absolutely fantastic and each one seemed to be pointing to 'a better way of seeing things' and all pointing in a similar direction. A terrific work out for my mind! -Ketan Varia
  • The energy of the attendees is inspiring and contagious. -Kim Monroe
  • There are so many great things it would be impossible to pick one. Since we do Power Point, I will do some bullets.
    - Russ Ackoff's talk - especially his comments that downsizing is immoral and that globalization can be done without job loss
    - Dr. Glasser - his lighthearted look at a serious subject especially his comments about Prozac in the water
    - Peter Collis - his demonstration of silent leadership by teaching the group two songs was great fun and instructive - we didn't sound bad for amateurs
    - Lori Strom - Her help and happy presence
    - Michelle Harms - her boundless energy and obvious enthusiasm was infectious
    - The balloon exercise before dinner on Saturday
    - Annie Barron for her book, her thoughts and her obvious devotion to Oscar's memory
    - The energy, sharing attitude and love among the participants. It is rare to attend a conference where there is not competition, back stabbing and hording of ideas. This forum is an example of what society could be. -Ed Shroyer
  • Although I was only able to attend part of the session this year (made every other one all the way through!), I thoroughly enjoyed Russell Ackoff's discussion as well as George Hopson's session. The forum continues to evolve as we do. -John Duddy
  • The highlight for me this year was simply being at an event where the building of relationships (stillness, presence, listening) was acknowledged and explored in its connection to organizational transformation (fearless engagement). -Sonia Balcer
  • The idea that variance exists at all time ... the question is how to manage it. -Micah Fierstein
  • The highlight of the Forum for me is the participants/attendees. Getting to know them as individuals, their views and perspectives, their problems, concerns, and activities; their insights, wisdom, and where they are "Daring to Explore". I believe most of the participants can identify with the person who said in the pre-conference workshop that when she is at the forum she does not feel crazy for thinking in creative ways about "creating possibilities together". -Dennis Bowyer
  • “The daily unveiling of a different international soccer jersey a la Tim Higgins’ extensive collection!” -Mary Doherty
  • The opportunity to talk directly with some of the speakers was certainly invaluable to me. Often, speakers do their “thing”, then disappear. The Forum made them available to all. Thank you. -Diana Deming Cahill
  • One of the coolest moments of the weekend for me happened on Saturday night, when Peter Collis led the group to sing together. It felt as though the entire group was focused and in the moment, and then pleasantly surprised by our accomplishment. -Kelly Harris
  • I greatly enjoyed hearing Russ Ackoff tell his marvelous stories chock full of systems thinking principles and lessons. William Glasser’s stories were also very rich. Thanks. -Terry Begnoche
  • The highlight for me was the Networking Session on Saturday afternoon. Several of us designed this session via long distance collaboration, and it was very satisfying to see it happen. People were engaged in conversation, seemed to have some fun, and we ran long because the participants had many insights to share. And I felt great because I had contributed. -Steve Byers
  • A Forum highlight for me Russell Ackoff’s presentation in Rocketdyne’s “Trophy Room”. During that presentation, Russ drew on a flipchart to illustrate his intelligent, swapable commuter car design. I was very fortunate to have him sign this drawing and give it to me! A treasured souvenir. Cheers. -Andrew Johnson
  • Forum highlights for me include:
    1. Hearing Dr. Ackoff in person, plus having lunch at his table.
    2. Doing red bead exercise as a red, then blue pen company.
    3. Meeting so many incredible people!! (I had the opportunity to take Ernst Glauser and his wife Jocelyn round SF last Thursday, so that was enjoyable! We were very lucky in that it was one of the first non-rainy days for weeks!!)
    There are so many more and I'm looking forward to Forum 2007!! Cheers! -Karen Larkin
  • So there I was. Sitting in the back of the class by myself, eating a fantastic lunch when who decides to sit next to me? Russ Ackoff. He was in the mood to talk. I was in the mood to shut-up and listen. I never noticed when it happened but by the time Russ was through the table was packed with people and I had an 8.5 by 11 piece of scrap paper with a bunch of Russ's drawings. I only wish I could remember all he said. -Bill Sopoliga

Please submit your highlights to bill@in2in.org. Planning for Forum 2007 will be underway soon. We hope to see you at Forum 2007, April 12-17, in Greater Los Angeles!

-The In2:InThinking Network

The Answer to How is Yes -
Acting on What Matters
Review by: Steve Byers

The Answer to How is Yes - Acting on What Matters
Author: Peter Block
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler, 2003
Length: 194 pages

“The questions are too big and take too long only if you expect a final resolution.”

I am late in coming to Peter Block.  Just a few months ago, while in a planning discussion with my graduate program design team, a classmate mentioned Peter Block.  When I confessed ignorance, she expressed disbelief.  Fortunately, one of his books was on order for our cohort (as the class is referred to in the Organization Systems Design and Renewal program at Seattle University).  The first book I read was “Flawless Consulting: a Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used”, which is an extraordinarily practical book about exactly what the title claims.  There is also a “Fieldbook and Companion” to go with this text.  After these two, I turned toward his philosophical side and read “The Answer to How is Yes.”  The book is less than 200 pages, but it took me nearly two weeks because the writing is delicious, savory, profound, and, in the sense of some parts of “The Fifth Discipline”, very personal.  One could say the whole book is about personal mastery. I read, stopped, thought, read the same passage again, put it down for a day or so, returned.  I soon felt silly underlining passages; there is hardly a false step in this wonderful book.

It’s not that How? questions are somehow invalid or not useful.  They are useful, but not always as the first question.  How? questions are persistent in our culture, expressing “each person’s struggle between having confidence in their capacity to live a life of purpose and yielding to the daily demands of being practical. My [Block’s] premise is that this culture, and we as members of it, have yielded too easily to what is doable and practical and popular. In the process, we have sacrificed the pursuit of what is in our hearts.” Instead, Block counters a series of How? questions with Yes questions.  “Yes is the right question.  The alternative to asking How? is saying yes – not literally but as a symbol of our stance towards the possibility of more meaningful change.” Wow, a consultant talking about symbols and stances.

One of the most interesting chapters is called “Home School”. How to educate yourself. “I need to become a well-educated person as opposed to a well-trained person.” And, “I have to go outside my job territory to change my mind.” This book imposes a lot of responsibility on whoever reads it.  It is about Serious Stuff.

This is an idealistic book, and even has a chapter about idealism.  But it is also practical in Block’s usual style, only in this instance it is practical about thinking in a certain way in order to see differently.  The people I know in the In2:InThinking Network will appreciate this book, and find themselves wanting, as I do, to have extra copies on hand to give to someone you believe “must read this book”.  I have inquired about large orders, but not enough for everyone reading this review.  But I do urge you to consider a “deep dive” into Peter Block, starting with How? Say Yes.

FORUM 2006

"Creating Possibilities Together"

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  • The Ongoing Discussion (OD) for April will feature Hank Milewski, a 6-day attendee of the recent 2006 Forum. On April 27th and 28th, Hank will lead a discussion focused on Working Better Together Through Spiritual Leveling.

    This month's OD announcement will be released by April 23rd. For those readers not already on the OD mailing list, contact bill@in2in.org to be added to this list.
  • PBS Special - Good News: How Hospitals Heal Themselves

    This documentary reports the depth of the patient safety problem and how two large hospital systems have saved lives and reduced errors, infections and waste by using Toyota Management Principles. These methods could improve every hospital in America dramatically and reduce health-care costs by 50%. It does not require outside help or additional funding. Check your local PBS station for air times.
  • 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 newsletter@in2in.org

  • Welcome Aboard – Lori Strom, Newsletter Editor-in-Chief

    With this month’s edition, we welcome Lori Strom, a recent graduate of Fordham’s Deming Scholars MBA Program, as well as a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne new hire, to the editorial reign of our newsletter.

    Our online newsletter began in October 2003 under the leadership of Bill Cooper, our inaugural editor-in-chief and a founding member of the In2:InThinking Network. Bill led the way with monthly Forum speaker reviews, until January 2005, when he handed off the editorial baton to another founding member of our network and a dear friend, Austin Kim. Under Austin’s leadership, the format of the newsletter expanded to its current design, complete with feature articles, book reviews, as well as news items. With his recent decision to resign his editor post, I extend my deepest thanks to Austin for his tireless efforts to lead the integration of the newsletter and deliver it to us each and every month. Our 3,000+ readers thank you as well. Welcome aboard, Lori, and thanks for accepting my offer to lead our newsletter team.

    Bill Bellows, President
    In2:InThinking Network