Member Profile - Bill Cooper - June 2006

Bill Cooper

Meet Bill Cooper, one of the founders of the In2:InThinking Network.

The Facts:
I retired in 1988 after thirty years with the Government. I was the senior civilian for the Naval Air Depot North Island, in San Diego, California. In that capacity, I was one of the founders of the Total Quality Management movement in the US government. (Some folks would say that was a curse not a benefit). However, my relationship with Dr. Deming and his ideas allowed us to accomplish some great things. I am still very proud of them today. Upon my retirement in 1988, I formed my own consulting company with Phil Monroe. We operated it for 11 years and consulted world-wide. Today, I work on special projects for Congressman Duncan Hunter and teach an occasional class for local universities.

Forum Attendance:
As one of the founding members of the Board of Directors, and ultimately co-president, I have attended all five Forums.

Why do you attend the Forum?
I have attended in many capacities - co-president, board member, speaker and pre-conference workshop leader. I will continue to attend for the simple reason I enjoy hanging out with folks who want to think and learn rather than spout someone else's dogma. There is no one size thinking that fits all. It is just, hopefully, our own application of that which we continue to learn. In short, it makes me think about new and different theories and revisit those which I thought contained the ultimate truth. As Dr. Deming suggests, "There is no true value of anything, only estimations." That is also true of knowledge.

Tell us about a recent "a ha" moment.
I do not have anything specific. I read all the time and every time I come across something that makes me think about what I think I know, I say "a ha". Also, when I read something that contradicts something that I hold to be true, I say "a ha". That comes often with my rather eclectic reading habits.

What book are you reading now?
I have a complete library of every book I have ever read since I left college. That was the only time that I got to choose my material to learn rather than get a grade. I do not go back and re-read books. I am, however, in my library often. I will give you an example. I have just had both knees replaced and so have spent a fair amount of time in my bedroom. I just checked and my wife has moved 11 books in there for me to check some thoughts or facts that have occurred to me while reading.

What recent book have you read that you consider both beneficial and readable?
I think, like Jon Bergstom, that John Kotter's book, "What Leaders Do", is an important contribution. If you want to talk about ethics, or the lack thereof, you should read Kurt Eichenwald's "Conspiracy of Fools;" the story of the Enron collapse. If you want to visit geo-political issues you should read "The Assassins' Gate," by George Packer, about the "march to war with Iraq."

If you want to get back into process and systems thinking, the book "Systems Thinking - Creative Holism for Managers" by Michael Jackson, is a good choice. This is a book recommended to me by Dr. Russ Ackoff. This is a slow read, with content which runs deep between its covers.

What advice do you have for people new to the In2:InThinking Network?
Be true to yourself. Surround yourself with family for love and surround yourself with friends for fun. Then surround yourself with others who are always on a quest to learn and challenge past assumptions and ways of thinking.
Any network serves you only as much as you wish to be served. My advice is to seek out at least two new thinking partners through the network. I believe you will surprise yourself at how helpful others can be if you only ask.