FOR A NEW WORKPLACE, NEW WORLD
2000 Issue 1
to the premiere issue of LEVERAGE POINTS for a New
Workplace, New World! This e-bulletin, free from Pegasus
Communications, delivers news and ideas to help you create
both a thriving business and a rewarding workplace community.
LEVERAGE POINTS spotlights evolutionary advances in
leadership, change management, personal development, and organizational
design. Every issue delivers nuggets of innovative thought,
practical knowledge, and pointers to key resources in the
field. Please forward LEVERAGE POINTS to your colleagues
Russell Ackoff, Woodrow Wilson
MediHealth: Holding Employees' Feet to the Fire, Warming Them
at the Same Time
Where is Organizational Learning Heading?
Moving Beyond Blame
DeVos Urban Leadership: Training Leaders to Work with
The "Thinking" in Systems Thinking, by Barry Richmond
Drucker once differentiated between doing things right and
doing the right thing. Doing things right has to do with efficiency,
hence knowledge. Doing the right thing has to do with effectiveness,
hence wisdom. Much of the knowledge I see being transmitted
and shared is about efficiency, not effectiveness. The righter
we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become."
--Russell Ackoff, commentary in Reflections: The SoL Journal,
Winter 1999 (p. 56).
are not here merely to make a living. We are here to enrich
the world, and we impoverish ourselves if we forget this errand."
Employees' Feet to the Fire, Warming Them at the Same Time
Outsourcing, number 87 on the 1999 Inc. Magazine 500 list,
is a fast-growing medical-records-outsourcing company with
$7.5 million in revenues. Two assumptions are at the center
of the company culture: that people's families come first,
and that people are accountable for work performance. Cofounder
and president Paula Lawlor says she doesn't care how or when
employees get their work done, but "if they don't meet
their goals and their deadlines, they have some explaining
to do." Lawlor takes this flexible approach to avoid
turnover for the wrong reasonsif a strong performer
wants more education, wants to travel, or even wants a three-month
leave of absence, fine. "If you have a year when everything
is going great, you can work hard and make more money . .
. if you have a tough year, you can pull back. If you communicate,
you are never in danger of losing your job." It may sound
touchy-feely, but "it has the effect of separating the
wheat from the chaff. If [Lawlor] eliminates barriers to success
. . . she reckons she has every right to demand excellence."
The company's consistent profitability rate of 15% indicates
that the strategy is working. "Personnel Best,"
by Donna Fenn, Inc. Magazine (February, 2000).
do you think organizational learning is heading? In what ways
do you see the field evolving in the future?
take a minute and e-mail your thoughts about this issue to
Selected comments will be shared in a future issue of LEVERAGE
Beyond Blame, by Marilyn Paul
something goes wrong, the first question that we often ask
is, "Whose fault is it?" But when people work in
an atmosphere of blame, they naturally cover up their errors
and hide their real concerns--often to the detriment of the
organization as a whole. Here are some tips for what teams
can do to move from blame to accountability:
* Define the nature and scope of the work to be done and discuss
what to do in the event of a misunderstanding or a failure
to keep an agreement.
* Agree that, on this project, problems will be seen as learning
* If a problem or conflict arises, have a conversation in
which you identify the pressures each of you is experiencing
in the situation; identify any stated or unstated expectations
and reestablish shared agreements; analyze the problem from
a systems perspective by clarifying how your mutual beliefs
and actions might be related and are perhaps reinforcing each
other; and identify new ways to address the problem.
Read the complete article (From
THE SYSTEMS THINKER V11N1, February 2000.)
Leaders to Work with Troubled Youth, by Lauren
DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative in Grand Rapids, Michigan,
features an innovative 14-month curriculum designed to train
youth leaders in several of this nation's most troubled cities.
The initiative aims to teach organizational learning and systems
thinking tools and principles to youth leaders in faith-based
urban settings. These leaders then use what they've learned
to mentor disadvantaged neighborhood kids, providing them
with the self-confidence, optimism, and skills they need to
meet life's challenges. What have the people involved with
this initiative learned about teaching organizational learning
to a unique group? Make the principles and tools fun to learn
about and use. For example, participants in this initiative
really "lived" the concepts in the book Shadows
of the Neanderthal by dressing up as cave people and dramatizing
the story. Also, present information through as many media
as possible--including interactive games or exercises, such
as The Beer Game or videos.
the complete story and get more information about the
"Thinking" in Systems Thinking, by Barry Richmond
is "systems thinking," exactly? For one thing, it
is a set of tools--such as causal loop and stock and flow
diagrams--that help us map dynamic complexity. In addition,
it is a perspective that sharpens our awareness of how parts
interrelate within wholes and a specific vocabulary by which
to talk about systems. But systems thinking is also a discipline--one
that requires intensive practice and patience. This new volume
by system dynamicist Barry Richmond outlines seven different
processes that seasoned systems thinkers employ as they address
problems or concerns. Learn about how Dynamic Thinking, System-as-Cause
Thinking, Forest Thinking, Operational Thinking, Closed-Loop
Thinking, Quantitative Thinking, and Scientific Thinking all
help you to become a systems thinker. Sound daunting? The
volume explains the seven processes in detail, and can help
you identify ways to improve your and your company's ability
to manage organizational complexity.
Order #TRST02, 26 pages, $16.95 (plus S&H)
23-25, 2000. 10th Anniversary Systems Thinking in Action
Conference, San Diego, CA. Come celebrate 10 years of
excellence with us! This year, the premier conference in systems
thinking and management innovation focuses on Managing Organizational
Complexity. Featured speakers include Margaret Wheatley, David
Berdish, John Sterman, Peter Senge, Bill Isaacs, Beth Jandernoa,
and Daniel H. Kim. Past participants have said, "The
single best opportunity for us to learn and expand our understandings
and practices of systems thinking."
For more information, visit the Conference
site, send an e-mail to email@example.com,
or contact the Conference Department at 1-781-398-9700.
a complete calendar of events.
contact us, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
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Communications is dedicated to providing resources that help
people explore, understand, articulate, and address the challenges
they face in managing the complexities of a changing world.
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