October 2006


In This Issue
  • Partners InThinking - Organization Systems Renewal Graduate Program
  • Member Highlight - Cathy Taylor
  • Member Highlight - Samuel Watson-Alvan
  • Program and Project Management Seminar with Russell Ackoff
  • Book Review
  • How Are Computers and Networks Changing How We Think?
  • Ongoing Discussion Preview
  • Thoughts from the Deming Learning Network
  • Making a Difference from Where We Are...
  • Forum 2007 Announcements
  • Partner Events and Resources
  • Ideas to Ponder...

  • Member Highlight - Cathy Taylor
    Cathy Taylor

    Meet Cathy Taylor, a future member of the In2:InThinking Network Golf Team.

    The Facts:
    I live and work in Santa Barbara. Most of my waking hours are spent working, but I do squeeze in a round of golf each week and enjoy picnic dinners at the beach. Best of all, my bike is my main transport. For me commuting on my bike makes all the difference in the world.

    Forum Attendance:
    2003 & 2005

    Tell us about a recent "a ha" moment.
    Sorry, it has been awhile. It seems like recently I have had way too many "duh" moments.

    What book are you reading now?
    "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose" by Pia Nilsson (former coach of Annika Sorenstam) and Lynn Mariott. Sure it is a golf book, but it is easily transferred to everyday life.

    What advice do you have for people new to the In2:InThinking Network?
    It is good stuff.

    Member Highlight - Samuel Watson-Alvan
    Samuel Watson-Alvan

    Meet Sam Watson-Alvan, a first-time attendee of the In2:InThinking Forum in 2006.

    The Facts:
    Born in Lima, Peru. Currently a Manager for the State of Washington Department of Health. Also the Principal for Telos Consulting focusing on systems change, leadership, facilitation of dialogue, and sustainability issues. I live in Olympia, Washington with my wife and two sons. I try to spend as much time as possible freediving in the Ocean, in the woods, or writing poetry and short stories both in English and Spanish.

    Forum Attendance and What Inspired You to Attend:
    I attended my first In2:IN Forum last year. I had a wonderful time. What inspired me to attend were repeated conversations I had with Steve Byers over time and attending a talk by Bill Bellows that we helped host here in Olympia.

    Tell us about a recent "a ha" moment.
    I was sitting in the woods, in a grove of giant sequoia with my son waiting for deer to walk by during archery season a few days ago when I realized that there are more meaningful ways to spend one's lifetime than trying to learn things we don't really need to know in order to live meaningful lives. Instead, there is so much that we already know and that lays tucked away forgotten; yet these are the essential things, not found in the good books but in some meaningful way of taking ourselves "out into the wilderness" in some true or metaphorical way. At the end of the day my son said "I was in the zone, my head was clear and everything fell away, it was awsome, I was so focused, I was there, totally ready." There in the woods had laid bare the mysteries of leadership, responsibility, and all the other essential qualities of character for embellishment and doing the good, and my 14 year old son "got it" without my saying a word.

    What book are you reading now?
    "Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future" by Peter Senge, Otto C. Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers.

    What recent book have you read that you consider both beneficial and readable?
    "The Little Prince". Timeless and eternal.

    What advice do you have for people new to the In2:InThinking Network?
    Enjoy the ride and the wonderful company.

    Program and Project Management Seminar with Russell Ackoff
    Program and Project Management

    Welcome to the debut of our first week-long seminar offering. This course differs from the conventional courses on project and program management (PPM) in that, whereas they work from the inside out, this course works from the outside in. It takes a systemic rather than an analytic approach to the process. Rather than work on aspects of PPM taken separately and then trying to synthesize them into an overall approach to the process, this course starts with the effect of the organizational context within which PPM takes place. It shows that without changes in this context, PPM is severely handicapped. The problem then, for those who cannot control the organizational context of PPM, but can control such management itself, is how can they approximate the types of context changes required to make PPM effective? In this seminar, our aim is to show you how to achieve these results.

    Visit our website for additional seminar details, including a downloadable brochure.

    Schedule: Monday, November 13th through Friday, November 17th
    Location: Los Angeles

    Book Review

    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

    Author: Patrick M. Lencioni
    Publisher: Jossey-Bass
    Length: 229 pages
    Reviewer: Dale Deardorff

    The book is smart, easy to read, understand and is meant to be a fictional story with current situational relevance which can be shared with others and easily translated to the organization. Storytelling is a long lost art that most present organizations fail to recognize for its importance leading to knowledge transfer and learning associated with management principles lessons.

    A story allows sharing at a higher level because the author has placed themselves in the position of vulnerability, while the reader gets to participate as a safe traveler in the events of the main character (Kathryn) as she struggles to put together a high performing Silicon Valley team at DecisionTech which is in trouble.

    She unveils one-by-one the Five Dysfunctions for her team which are in order...

    1. Absence of Trust
    2. Fear of Conflict
    3. Lack of Commitment
    4. Avoidance of Accountability
    5. Inattention to Results

    These dysfunctions are presented as human behavioral tendencies that cause disruptive chaos and people issues. They are illustrated as stepping stones to success which need to be followed in a specific order to get the desired results. The Model for them is pyramid shape with the essential Trust component as the base.

    Anyone who has had the challenge of putting together high performance teams understands the importance and ranking of the skill sets provided in the story and the investment in time and energy required. Additionally, Organizational Development people will acknowledge that each of the skills in the Journey is critical and required for current business enterprise success and building a healthy team.

    Systems thinkers will appreciate the read as a mix of organizational chaos and events that are typical to the challenges faced daily while at the same time understanding the need to move forward bringing some sense of interconnected structure to the team. Breaking down the "Five Dysfunctions" and understanding the sequence necessary to prevent them provides a roadmap to success which can be built systemically over time.

    As the story evolves the reader can find many overlaps into their current team and the events that may have happened previously to them. As the story ends the book unveils a concise second section in the end that provides crib notes and suggestions for implementation.

    The book should be provided to all managers and leaders who are looking to create a higher level of extraordinary awareness and build teams that are moving forward in a positive direction. It is the first of three in a series that includes the Five Temptations of a CEO & The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.

    How Are Computers and Networks Changing How We Think?

    by Haydn Shaughnessy
    This is the first installment of Haydn's article. The next installment will be published in November's newsletter. If you would like to read the entire article, click the link at the end of this section.

    Every major transition in communications has an effect on the way people think. Proof of the pudding is easy to cook up. For example when people began to write, they lessened their dependence on memory.

    Imagine the early civilised human endlessly reiterating directions, recipes, truisms and names, just so nothing of value would be forgotten - well we see that in rhymes, epic poems like the Iliad, and the begot and begat lists of the Bible.

    Language at that point is imbued with mnemonic devices like alliteration and rhyme. That argument was first presented by people like Eric Havelock (The Muse Learns to Write) and Walter Ong (Orality and Literacy).

    Once people learned to write - or at least when writing became pervasive within a social group - the purposeful inner dialogue changed.

    The mind was released from its copious and continuous memory tasks and began its slow transition into the variegated potential we've seen realised since classical antiquity: literature, maths, objective science, philosophy, pragmatic technology. A mind bedevilled by remembering cannot spare the time for these activities.

    But once you have a computer, which does all the memory work for you, what then?

    The question isn't just confined to how you and your memory might possibly change when you are further liberated from memory tasks.

    Memory tasks are deeply social as well as personal. Collective memories usually led to some form of memorialisation, the Lest We Forget type symbols of past struggles, sacrifices and heroism that are dotted around cities, the countryside and Mount Rushmore, among other places.

    And they are social in the sense that oral uses of language are generally pertinent to a society's political life.

    Shakespeare was a great writer in part because he reflected the conflicts of the society of his day by writing about old Denmark, Rome and Egypt. Language used to be so allusive, symbolic and ambiguous and therein lay its power. It had many masters to serve and rarely has the task of exposing corrupt political relationships been a welcome one.

    A point that Havelock makes astutely is that epic poetry was used to reveal corruption in oblique ways. The pleasure of the Homeric performance was seeing the well-to-do exposed, but discreetly.

    A further feature of memory is creativity. Because memory is so closely allied to traditional forms of expression it has been viewed by many experts as the seat of creativity (the thesis is explored in various books by Stephen Bertman, particularly his Cultural Amnesia).

    How does the memory-creativity link show itself? In a world with no pervasive forms of recording, for example, the quality of language is paramount as a mnemonic device. You simply donít remember unimpressive prose.

    Shakespeare not only wrote beautifully but also memorably. His characters are larger than life Ė which is a reasonable definition of any good traditional drama. Many memorials are made exactly like that: larger than life, so they will be remembered. Memorability is both a criterion of quality and a characteristic of art.

    Creativity, traditionally, took us beyond ourselves in these exaggerated ways, painting life in caricatures in order that we remember the characters and their relationships. The sculpture of Winston Churchill outside the Houses of Parliament in London is hardly realistic. It is huge. But then art is never realistic because its purpose, like Churchill's statue, used to be remembrance in all its forms.

    And finally knowledge. It should go without saying that in those days when recording was piecemeal and when we relied largely on oral mnemonics - remembering by what we say - when language and the purpose of creative activity was deeply ambiguous and difficult to arrest in time, we had a tenuous grip on knowledge, as we define it now.

    The corollary of this is that in a world of allusion it is ok to know things intuitively. And since there are few records it is ok to change your mind on matters of apparent fact.

    These are important differences with the formal life of modern society. We tend to believe we know facts and in so far as there are public records then there is a documentary base for what we know. Nonetheless the solidity of knowledge is over-rated. Even written records are open to interpretation.

    Unless you have written records knowledge is somewhat in the mix, a fact that law courts are often faced with. Even in the presence of written records, what we know is not as safe as we would like to believe.

    The significant change is not that we are more certain now - we are - but that we are more concerned about certainty.

    We should say that the past hundred years have been marked by a degree of certainty that we wouldn't previously have been bothered with.

    So what's changing?

    Ongoing Discussion Preview

    The Ongoing Discussion (OD) for November will feature Madhav Phadke. On Tuesday, October 17th and Thursday, October 19th, Madhav will engage us in a dialogue on his thoughts on The Past, Present, and Future of Taguchi Methods.

    This month's OD announcement will be released on or before Thursday, October 12th. For those readers not already on the OD mailing list - click below.

    Thoughts from the Deming Learning Network

    Contributed by Gordon Hall of the Deming Learning Network in Aberdeen, Scotland.

    Most of our organisations present their data in tabulated form - and do not use Statistical Process Control (SPC) and control charts to secure a balanced understanding from the information.

    At the same time they develop decisive managers who are encouraged to use their authority.

    Is this a recipe for chaos - the desire to act combined with poor analysis of data?

    And how does this chaos manifest itself? - in such areas as targets, incentives, accountability, appraisals and the resulting distorted data that is fed into the system?

    "There is no substitute for knowledge" - W. Edwards Deming

    Making a Difference from Where We Are...

    Many of our "Network Members" pride themselves in making a positive difference in the world.

    Check out a new article titled "Management: The more we manage, the worse we make things" featuring a quote from Russell Ackoff.

    Read David Train's latest letter to Parliament here.

    Visit Haydn Shaugnessy's blog.

    Forum 2007 Announcements

    Mark your calendars to join us for our Sixth Annual Forum, to be held in Los Angeles, beginning on April 12th and ending on April 17th.

    Confirmed conference speakers include Diane Beakey, Micah Fierstein, Ann Majchrzak, Paul Morgan, Joseph Parent, Bob Pratt, Sheldon Rovin, and Lyn Wiltse. Watch this spot for coming Forum details.

    Partner Events and Resources

    • The Deming Learning Network is offering a six-session course on Breaking Down Barriers to Higher Performance To Align and Enable staff from November 7th to December 12th. The Course Leader is Dr. Tony Miller of Robert Gordon University. See more information here.
    • The August Ongoing Discussion Thought Leader, Anna Maravelas, has a feature article in the October issue of O Magazine. Read more on Anna's website here.
    • The W. Edward Deming Institute's 2006 Fall Conference will be held at the Marriott's Georgetown University Conference Center, 3800 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20057. Click here for more information.
    • Network member Margaret Morgan invites you to the EarthShine Institute Annual Symposium featuring the poetry of her aunt, "Anne Morrow Lindbergh: The Woman, the Words, the Life and the Legacy". Find additional symposium details here.
    • 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
      Participants in the Pegasus Conference often feel that it is the most extraordinary learning experience of their lives. Each year this gathering of innovative, daring, like-minded people - from all sectors - creates an energetic field of inquiry that results in transformational insights and lifelong connections. Bring your own questions and challenges into this mix, and you and your organization may never be the same.

    Ideas to Ponder...

    Reflections from new member Mike Lipsett on a memorable interview with Mahatma Gandhi...

    Reporter: What do you think of western civilization?
    Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea.

    In2:IN: What do you think of teamwork?
    Gandhi may reply: I think it would be a good idea.

    Partners InThinking - Organization Systems Renewal Graduate Program

    In this feature, we highlight a Partner Organization of the In2:InThinking Network. We believe the resources of these organizations will expand your thinking about thinking... This month we are featuring the Organization Systems Renewal Graduate Program.

    The Facts:
    Organization Systems Renewal (OSR) is a graduate level program in the design and leadership of Organizational Change. The OSR program was established in 1979 and is affiliated with Seattle University. It is a unique program that provides the opportunity for students to achieve excellence as designers and leaders of change within their organizations and communities. The OSR program is interdisciplinary, combining academic knowledge in the areas of systems, organizations, design, change, intervention, leadership, group dynamics, inquiry, global and multicultural perspectives.

    How does your organization compliment the In2:InThinking Network?
    Students in the OSR program learn to understand and address organizational challenges from a systems perspective. The program emphasizes the interconnections between personal, social, business, government, ecological, and global challenges. The systems perspective that is that is woven throughout the program is a compliment to the mission of the In2:InThinking Network.

    Tell us about your membership. What does it mean to be a member of your organization and how does one become a member?
    Our program is a graduate level masters program at Seattle University. One must apply through Seattle University for admission into the program. We do invite our greater community to attend Open Houses or conferences with some of our guest visiting faculty.

    What resources does your organization offer its members?
    Students attain a Master of Arts in Organizational Design and Renewal as a result of completion of our 2 year program. Other resources would include informational resources from having attended one of our conferences or Open Houses.

    What exciting developments are on the horizon for your organization?
    Our alumni association has recently become quite active and just hosted our first annual conference this past June. The conference name was, "Creating the Change You Want to See in the World." It featured Betty Sue Flowers, author of "Presence, Human Purpose and the Field of the Future." It also featured several of our graduates teaching workshops - Accessing the Power of Love to Create the Change You Wish to See and The Power of Inquiry were just two of the Conference workshop titles. We plan to hold our second annual conference next June 2, 2007. The conference theme and title are still to be determined but we are very excited and encouraged by the success of our first conference.

    Visit OSR on the web...
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