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2002 Issue 23
is power in glorious failure. Failure is part
of the culture of innovation. Accept it and you
Albert Yu, Intel
only hope for the future lies in cooperative international
action, legitimized by democracy....To survive
in the world we have transformed, we must learn
to think in a new way. As never before, the future
of each depends on the good of all."
from a statement by 100 Nobel laureates
celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Nobel
in a Complex World: Systems Thinking in Action
San Diego, CA, USA
"This conference is the most important gathering
of the year for bringing people together to explore
the connection between personal transformation
and large-scale organizational change. It is a
your seat now for the 12th annual Pegasus conference.
Register by March 27thSave $500!
For many of us, the profound jolts of the last
year have stirred an intense questioning around
the challenges of leading during uncertain times,
How have leaders and organizations successfully
navigated extreme conditions with innovation and
What fundamental capabilities and leadership
practices are needed to be an effective "systemic
Can an organization achieve large-scale
change without personal transformation at all
levels of its workforce?
a "world café" format to enable deep learning
and conversation, the conference will begin with
a dramatic presentation by The Breakthrough Group
of the "extreme" challenges faced by the Antarctic
expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. From
this tale of collective leadership in perilous
circumstances, the conference program will explore
the challenges we face today in optimizing our
individual effectiveness, our teams, our organizations,
and our institutions. We will be joined by Juanita
Brown, David Isaacs, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley,
Daniel H. Kim, and other thought leaders
For registration, program updates, and general
information, visit our web
site or call 781-398-9700.
Tip of the Iceberg
Tip of the Iceberg is the fourth in the Learning
Fable Series from Pegasus Communications. This
book explores the discipline of systems thinking,
vividly illustrating how organizations can be
trapped by systems when they fail to understand
them. The transparencies (capturing the best b&w
illustrations and captions) will help managers
create a transformative learning experience for
their teams, departments, and organizations.
the book $19.95,
Order #FT007, volume discounts available
the transparencies $69.95,
Thinking 101: New Approaches for Tackling Organizational
Challenges Waltham, MA, USA, May 6,
2002, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Ginny Wiley, systems thinking educator, organizational
consultant, and president of Pegasus Communications,
to find out why systems thinking is an essential
tool for organizational success. Systems thinking
helps us understand the causes that underlie persistent
problems, recognize the highest leverage points
for systemic intervention, formulate effective
short- and long-term strategic plans, and make
decisions with greater clarity and foresight.
Participate in this hands-on session and familiarize
yourself with some of the powerful tools that
systems thinking has to offer. For more information
or to register, call 1-781-398-9700 or complete
and fax the
registration form to 1-781-894-7175.
thoroughly enjoyed the workshop! It was a great
overview and reassured me that I did not have
to become an expert on causal loops to apply the
concepts of systems thinking."
Alvin S. Johnson, Hampton City (VA) Schools
$450 for individual registration
$350 per person for teams of 4+
more about the benefits
of systems thinking.
Beyond Silos at Sandia National Laboratories: From an Interview
with Lynn Jones
Addressed by Dominant Culture Awareness
The "ARIA" Approach to Conflict Engagement
Silos at Sandia National Laboratories: From an Interview with Lynn
by Kali Saposnick
years ago, Lynn Jones, then vice president of lab services at Sandia
National Laboratories, NM, decided to commit to a major change initiative.
Responsible at the time for overseeing facilities, environmental protection,
health and safety, and security at the lab, Lynn was one of several
leaders who recognized that Sandia's mission was shifting, and that
its entire infrastructure needed to be transformed if the lab were
to successfully meet the needs of its expanding customer base.
Since the 1940s,
Sandia has been one of three government-owned labs that provide
national security for the United States by developing nuclear weapons
and atomic energy technologies. A program of the National Nuclear
Security Agency (NNSA), a semi-autonomous part of the Department
of Energy (DOE), and operated by contractor Lockheed Martin, Sandia
has a budget of approximately $1.7 billion and 7,700 employees.
Its goal is to help parts of the U.S. government, universities,
and private industry secure a peaceful and free world through developing
technology in four mission areas: nuclear weapons, nonproliferation
and materials control, energy and critical infrastructures, and
After the Cold
War ended and the U.S.'s needs for national security broadened,
Lynn and her colleagues responsible for infrastructurewhich
accounts for approximately $600 million of Sandia's total budget
and 2,500 peoplerecognized significant limitations in how
they provided services to the mission areas. For one thing, each
infrastructure unit (human resources, information, financial, legal,
and so forth) operated in a highly traditional work culture with
vice presidents and directors responsible for individual service
functions, and units rarely coordinated work efforts. For another,
the lab struggled to sustain staff diversity and creativity in the
face of a strict compliance and oversight environment. This restrained
culture often stifled innovation and added costs for items such
as high security checks and constant auditing that some customers
with less stringent requirements didn't need.
Lynn Jones will be presenting her inspiring story at this year's
Pegasus conference, Leading in a Complex World: Systems Thinking
in Action®. Learn
more about the conference.
Addressed by Dominant Culture Awareness
Understanding the dominant culture in a given setting may be the best
way to foster diversity in the workplace. Why? Because all aspects
of diversitysuch as age, race, gender, management status, education,
and thinking stylehave dominant and nondominant sides and, consequently,
varying gradations of power and privilege. In the United States, for
instance, we favor left-brained, analytical people over right-brained,
creative ones; women dominate the nursing profession while men dominate
as firefighters; and in many locations English speakers prevail over
other language speakers.
But with power come privileges that dominant members often fail to
recognize. For example, most U.S. organizations structure themselves
around European-American procedures and conceptsabout competition,
job performance, communication, and decision-making styles. Many European-
Americans assume these rules are "natural"; they can't imagine other
ways of organizing. Their assumption implies a deeper inability to
see other peoplewith their various perspectivesas equally
human and complex.
To grasp these issues more fully, we all need to see ourselves as
operating in specific culturesand that other cultures are variations,
not deviations. Developing this awareness requires consistently challenging
our dominant viewpoint, engaging in real conversation with people
different from us, entering situations as the noticeable minority
who doesn't know the unspoken rules, consciously reading books and
watching movies about other groups, and so forth. When we take someone
else's perspective, we can see how cultural conflicts unfold in our
organizations and thereby address diversity issues more effectively.
Digh, "Culture, What Culture?" in Association Management,
"ARIA" Approach to Conflict Engagement
organizations handle identity conflicts in the workplacethose
that occur when different groups who share certain characteristics,
such as doctors versus nurses or designers versus engineers, feel
threatened by each other? Unlike recurrent personality differences
among coworkers, which might be resolved by reassigning someone
to another department, identity-based conflicts need more than minor
adjustments. Because these disputes involve people's sense of who
they are and what gives their work and lives meaning, addressing
them effectively requires leaders to engage in themthat is,
surface, study, and view them as opportunities for learning.
differently about conflictconsidering it a creative possibility
rather than a destructive burdenis a prerequisite for acting
differently when it occurs. For example, remember an interpersonal
conflict that ended badly. Now replay it with a positive ending.
Instead of rushing away in anger, imagine you had said, "I'm really
upset; I want to calm down and then come back and talk with you
about what's bothering me." Or if your antagonist had apologized
and tried to understand your anger. This kind of engagement can
catalyze new insights, especially for groups locked in identity
approach encourages group members to surface "Antagonisms" together,
providing opportunities to foster "Resonance" and discover shared
needs and values. From there, they can "Invent" ways to address
underlying concerns and design a specific "Action" plan to clarify
roles and responsibilities. In this way, organizations can transform
conflicts from obstacles to opportunities to create ongoing learning
article online or see The Systems Thinker, Vol. 11, No.
10 (Dec./Jan. 2000/2001).
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.