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2002 Issue 22
everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes
out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter
with another human being. We should all be thankful
for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
a real sense all life is inter-related. All persons
are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever
affects one directly affects all indirectly. I
can never be what I ought to be until you are
what you ought to be, and you can never be what
you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.
This is the inter-related structure of reality."
Martin Luther King Jr.
Systems Thinking Playbook
by Linda Booth-Sweeney and Dennis Meadows
and Dennis have just completed Volume III of this
unique text. The new material comprises 130 pages
of instructions for introducing, conducting, and
debriefing the games. It doubles the size of the
original book and adds 10 extremely useful new
games and exercises to this tool kit for those
who teach others about systems, causality, dynamics,
and paradigms. Normally the Playbook is $65, and
Volume III alone costs $25. However, through a
special arrangement with Pegasus, until March
30, 2002, subscribers to Leverage
Points can order this wonderful reference
at a reduced price. We encourage you to take
advantage of their special offer.
and Resources by Dialogic Leaders
any of these items.
Dialogue at Work: Skills
for Leveraging Collective Understanding
by Glenna Gerard and Linda Ellinor
Describes how dialogue can support innovation
and large- scale transformation, showing how this
conversational style goes beyond information exchange
to help teams build shared vision, work creatively
with diverse perspectives, and forge alignment
and trust during times of change. Highlights the
core skills of dialogue, shares workplace success
stories, and offers initial steps for transforming
organizational cultures. Order #IMS017, $10.95.
Volume discounts available.
Guide to Practicing Dialogue
by Glenna Gerard and Linda Ellinor
two-sided quick-reference tool that differentiates
dialogue from discussion/debate conversation.
Offers tips for practicing dialogue skills and
suggest ways to use dialogue in problem-solving
and decision-making. Order #PG20, $5.00. Volume
Private Conversation: The
by Action Design
Illustrates the public and private dialogues that
we continuously have. Includes a diagram of the
format developed by Chris Argyris; an exercise
example and comments on the tool's benefits and
risks; and guidelines for using it in a group.
Order #PG04, $5.00. Volume discounts available.
Conversations: Using Advocacy and Inquiry Effectively
by Action Design
Presents a handy diagram for understanding the
impact of various ratios of advocacy to inquiry
during a conversation. Includes suggestions for
improving the quality of both as well as guidelines
for productive dialogue. Order #PG06, $5.00. Volume
Conversation: Art and Possibility
by Robert Putnam
Discusses how "undiscussable" topics hinder team
and organizational learning and offers possibilities
for creating reflective conversation. Available
in audiotape (Order #T9623, $19.95) or videotape
(Order #V9623, $99.00).
Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership Summer
15-22, 2002, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
This program will bring together leaders in organizational
theory and practice within a week-long learning
community. The daily schedule will include mindfulness
meditation, creative process, reflection circles,
networking opportunities, celebrations, and presenter-initiated
conversations that will explore what "authentic
leadership" may meanboth personally and
collectivelyin today's complex, uncertain
world. Featured are Margaret Wheatley, Fred Kofman,
and Peter Senge. For more information or to register,
call 1-902-425-0492, send an e-mail,
or go to the Shambhala
Institute web site.
Model the Power of Teamwork
Opening Creative Channels in the Competitive Workplace Through
Dialogue: An Interview with Glenna Gerard
Fixes That Fail: Why Faster Is Slower
Smallpox Becomes a Threat Again
Model the Power of Teamwork
by Kali Saposnick
In the sports industry, where star athletes absorb the public's
attention, the New England Patriots' first pro- football championship
offers a refreshing example of the power of true teamwork. Hired
two years ago as head coach, Bill Belichick revamped the languishing
Patriots, eliminating self-seekers and retaining team players. Ignoring
criticism from pundits and fans, he brought in little-known athletes
who were passionate about football, understood his system, and hungered
to contribute to an overall effort. Next, Belichick identified leaders
who could strengthen all facets of the team, continually stressing
that winning required everyone to play well together, not just individually.
His message resonated with the players, who performed with extraordinary
synergy throughout the season.
How did the Patriots put these learnings to work to defeat the much-favored
St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl? First, they emphasized the group
over individualswhen the team was introduced, they ran out
together rather than one by one. Second, they supported each otherwhen
Willie McGinest fouled an opponent, nullifying a potentially game-winning
touchdown, his teammates didn't berate him, but rather encouraged
him to look forward. McGinest later contributed a strong defensive
play. Third, they always sought to improve their gameeven
as they were playing it. After being beaten earlier in the season
by the Rams' potent offense, the Patriots prepared a new defensive
strategy that kept the Rams in check most of the game. Based on
this year's accomplishments, these overachieving underdogs may offer
a new model for successful "completion" on and off the playing field.
Source: Based on a conversation with an avid Patriots fan.
Readers who wish to discuss this topic are invited to The
New Workplace forum.
Creative Channels in the Competitive Workplace Through Dialogue: An
Interview with Glenna Gerard
by Kali Saposnick
organizational leaders place a high premium on cultivating creativity.
Yet the competitive nature of many work environments often stifles
employees' willingness to share their ideas. Glenna Gerard, coauthor
of Dialogue at Work: Skills for Leveraging Collective Understanding
(Pegasus Communications, 2001), points to a strong need for dialogue
skills to close this gap. "If I think you're going to take my idea
and not give me credit, or my idea is not going to be popular, or
sharing my idea might get me in trouble with my superiors sitting
in the room, I'm probably going to edit what I say and who I am,"
In order to open up avenues of communication in competitive situations,
we need to establish an atmosphere where people feel they can put
any idea out there and look together at whatever ends up on the table.
This does not mean identifying our similarities or becoming homogenous;
rather, it's about cultivating relationships that honor and appreciate
our differences and capitalize on those differences in creative ways.
For example, imagine a conversation where some people want to evaluate,
make choices, and move quickly to action, while others want time to
reflect on and play with different possibilities. When both conversational
styles are encouraged, a group can generate enormous creativity and
make effective decisions. Typically, however, we choose evaluation
because reflection takes time that we don't feel we have. But decision-making
that's partial to speed generally produces replication of old ideas,
Learn more about books and resources by Glenna Gerard in Pegasus Highlights
(see right column).
That Fail: Why Faster Is Slower
by Daniel H. Kim
Why don't we have time to do things right in the first place, but
we have time to fix them over and over again? From a systemic perspective,
the "Fixes That Fail" archetype highlights how we can get caught
in a dynamic of continually implementing quick fixes to solve recurrent
problems. Many managers fall into this trap, because they fail to
recognize that the same pattern of events keeps repeating.
How does this archetype work? Suppose a problem symptom gets bad
enough to grab our attention, such as a slump in sales. We might
respond with a slick marketing promotion. Sales then temporarily
improve, but with an unintended consequence: We divert our attention
away from the real problemour aging product line. As a result,
after some delay, the original symptom appears again, perhaps even
worse than before. Because of delays in the system, the person who
"saved the day" often gets a promotion while the hero's replacement
gets the blame for the eventual fall in sales.
How can we recognize and intervene in such vicious cycles? First,
we need to acknowledge that short-term solutions are merely stopgap
measures to buy us time to determine the root cause of the problem.
Second, we need to anticipate delays in the system that mask the
unintended consequences of our short-term "improvements" and then
review performance after the delay period. With a more accurate
picture of the actual "progress" being made, we increase the likelihood
that we're taking the most effective approach to problem-solving.
Read the complete
article online or see The Systems Thinker, Vol. 10, No.
3 (April 1999).
Readers who wish to discuss this topic are invited to the Systems
When Smallpox Becomes a Threat Again
by Chris Soderquist and Bill Harris
In their latest column, Bill Harris and Chris Soderquist describe
how a model structure can help readers explore effective public policies
for dealing with a smallpox threat, as well as assist us in evaluating
governmental decisions regarding this dangerous virus. To read the
column and explore the model, go to the At
Any Rate page on the Pegasus web site.
Copyright 2002 Pegasus Communications. LEVERAGE POINTS can be
freely distributed in its entirety or reproduced or excerpted for
another publication with written permission from Pegasus Communications.