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August 21, 2003 Issue 41
can we help our kids grasp today's realities
and move into adulthood prepared to deal with
them? One way to do this is to teach our children
to live not just from moment to moment but with
an understanding of how problems come about
and how new challenges might unfold in the future.
This means questioning overly simple explanations
of events, looking for patterns in how things
happen, experimenting, and even redesigning
systems so that they work better for them."
Linda Booth Sweeney
"The more clearly you can articulate your organization's
theories about what leads to success, the more
deliberate you can be about investing in the
elements that are critical to that success.
From a systems thinking perspective, having
a core theory of success means moving beyond
identifying individual success factors to seeing
the linkages that create the reinforcing engines
of success within the organization."
Daniel H. Kim
Linda and Daniel will frame and contextualize
the sessions at this year's Pegasus Conference,
enabling deeper learning and understanding.
more about their backgrounds.
Peter Senge Videos Launch Pegasus Series
pre-publication sale offer below!
is pleased to announce the launch of the
One on One Video Series
with two new productions featuring Peter
Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline
and one of the most renowned figures in
contemporary management thought. The series
is designed to bring viewers face to face
with the people who are changing the ways
we think about our organizations and our
world. Its intimate atmosphere and practical,
issues-based focus provide a powerful and
memorable learning experience for people
in organizations of all kinds.
this powerfully engaging video, Peter Senge
speaks in plain, straight-to-the-point language
about crucial leadership issues facing all
organizations as they work to create the
results they really care about. From proposing
alternative roles for leaders that go beyond
the destructive hero-CEO myth to underscoring
the central position of trust and relationships
in collective endeavors, Senge zeros in
on pivotal organizational challenges and
points a way ahead for all who see themselves
25 minutes, color, list price $395Special
pre-publication price of $247 until 9/25/03!
#VONE001, VHS cassette
on Change and Learning
In this gripping discussion, Peter Senge
illuminates the crucial role of learning
in any successful organizational change
effort and helps us understand ways to get
beyond frustrating barriers to learning.
He underscores the importance of focusing
on the human dimension in the workplace
and the remarkable capacity of inspired
people to work together in service of a
larger goal. Perhaps most important, he
dispels the illusion that leaders can spearhead
organizational change without being ready
to change themselves.
#VONE002, VHS cassette
Approx. 25 minutes, color, list price $395Special
pre-publication price of $247 until 9/25/03!
List price $595Special
pre-publication price of $389 until 9/25/03!
#VONE0102SET, 2 VHS cassettes
The videos are ideal for use by
consultants, trainers, managers, and leaders
who plan and lead change efforts or leadership
development programs. Each video is divided
into four or five sections on specific topics;
each section is designed as a stand-alone
presentation to set a context for reflective
discussion. The video can also be used in
The One on One with Peter Senge videos
were produced by Pegasus Communications
in cooperation with the Society for Organizational
The pre-publication offer is good only
until September 25th, so don't
miss this one-time opportunity! We expect
the videos to ship by October 1st. Order
the videos by clicking on the links above
or by calling 1-800-272-0945.
A Series of Three Audio Conferences
Daniel Aronson of Four Profit, Inc.
Dates: October 21, October 28, and November
4 (Tuesdays, 12 noon-1:15 p.m. EDT/EST)
This fall Pegasus Communications is hosting
three audio conferences focused on how to communicate
change effectively in your organization, especially
during challenging economic times. Sign up for
one or all three sessions:
October 21: "Taming
the Lion: Communicating Change in Difficult
Times"A discussion of
the particular challenges that distinguish communicating
change when times are tough from doing so when
the economy is booming, and a robust model you
can apply and adapt to your own change initiatives
October 28: "But My
Lion Is Rabid: Unique Challenges in Communicating
Change"An overview and case
studies of unusual and/or extreme situations
that make it unclear how to apply the "communicating
change" model, and techniques for taming your
own extreme situation
November 4: "The Three
Blind Men and the Lion: Communicating Systems
Thinking Change"A discussion
of how integrating systems thinking into change
initiatives affects the challenges of communicating
change, and skills for applying new tools to
your own systems thinking-based change initiative
more about, or register for each audio conference.
and Conversation with Ed Schein, on the
Lessons Embedded in the Rise and Fall of
Royal Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge, Massachusetts,
USA Tuesday, September 23, 2003; 7:30-10:00
Society for Organizational Learning and
Pegasus Communications, Inc. are sponsoring
a working breakfast with Ed Schein, whose
newly released book, DEC is Dead; Long
Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital
Equipment Corporation (Berrett-Koehler,
June 2003), analyzes DEC's great success
and its ultimate failure as a company. Join
us to hear the author's reflections and
meet with colleagues and DEC alumni to discuss
further what we can learn from the DEC story.
A signed copy of the book is included in
the price of the event. For more information,
Grillo, call her at 1-781-398-9700,
the Means Take Care of the Ends: An Interview with Tom Johnson and
Growth Is No Friend of Taxpayers
Your Own Engine of Success, and
New Healthcare Learning Path
A Model for
Testing Education Reform Strategies
the Means Take Care of the Ends: An Interview with Tom Johnson and
by Kali Saposnick
A few years ago, quality management professor H. Thomas Johnson
wrote the award-winning book, Profit Beyond Measure: Extraordinary
Results Through Attention to Work and People (The Free Press,
2000), in which he describes a revolutionary concept at play in
stable, profitable companieswhat he calls "management by means"
(MBM). Since the book's publication, Tom has been integrating a
strong ecological awareness into MBM practice in his work with local
Portland, Oregon, businesses. Educator Elaine Johnson has been introducing
MBM to educational institutions, using a pathway to academic excellence
that she developed and describes in her books Contextual Teaching
and Learning (Corwin Press, 2002) and The Dismantling of
American Public Education and How to Stop It (Scarecrow Press,
In their keynote address at the upcoming Pegasus Conference, Tom
and Elaine will draw on theory and concrete cases to show the vast
discrepancy, in both short- and long-term results, between organizations
that focus on achieving arbitrarily set quantitative targets and
those that strive to conduct all work in accord with patterns observed
in natural systems. They will discuss how schools and companies
everywhere can achieve better outcomes by nurturing the means by
which results are achieved. The following is a preview of how they're
applying these ideas to their work.
key problem in the American business world today is that we've lost
sight of what business is all about," says Portland State University
professor Tom Johnson. "We think it's about accumulating financial
wealth and shareholder value, but the fundamental purpose of business,
going back thousands of years in human experience, is to meet human
economic needs by cultivating creative human talent."
In other words, he asserts, organizations should be set up to develop
people's capabilities to meet customers' requirements. Businesses
that deviate from this purpose and instead design structures to
maximize shareholder wealth at the expense of employees, suppliers,
and customers end up generating enormous amounts of waste that appears
primarily in two forms: excessive operating costs in the short run
and excessive instability in the long run. Often, such businesses
destroy the very systems that support them, for example, by polluting
the rivers and air of their communities or by closing factories
and leaving thousands of people unemployed.
reading the interview.
Learn more about
or register for the 2003 Pegasus Conference.
Is No Friend of Taxpayers
by Donella Meadows
The myth persists. Growth is good for us. Development will bring
in more tax money. The only way to get our property taxes down is
to bring more people, houses, and businesses to a town. So how big
do we have to get to reach that magical mystical place where growth
will finally start lowering taxes?
Unfortunately, studies over 25 years from all parts of the U.S.
are unanimous: Growth raises taxes. For example, a study in DuPage
County, Illinois, showed that commercial development was three times
more expensive to the towns, and thus the taxpayers, than residential
development; another in Springfield, Oregon, showed that after a
decade of rapid growth, the city budget had quadrupled, bond indebtedness
had quadrupled, and the city's per-person spending had tripled.
In another study, a planner from Eugene, Oregon, calculated that,
in order to supply the water, sewage, and education needs of a typical
housing development, a town has to provide $24,500 per house in
capital costs (such as building schools and roads, and buying fire
engines and sand graders). Many towns are now charging "impact fees"one-time
levies on new developmentsso existing residents don't end
up subsidizing newcomers. But developers apply such steady political
pressure against them that the fees are usually way too low, and
taxpayers bear the brunt of the cost.
Is it any wonder that the more we grow, the more property taxes
keep rising? The wonder is that after years of watching the consequences
of growth, we still swallow the idea that if we just keep this Ponzi
scheme going a little longer, somehow it will start working in our
Donella H. Meadows, Ph.D., was the founder of the Sustainability
Institute, a professor at Dartmouth College, a long-time organic
farmer, a journalist, and a systems analyst.
the complete article, or see The Systems Thinker, V8N7
Your Own Engine of Success
How can we increase the effect we have on our organizations and
beyond? By examining the quality of our relationships, for they
play a key role in our effectiveness. Then consider the following
feedback loop: As the quality of our relationships increases, the
quality of our thinking improves. As the quality of our thinking
improves, we take better actions and achieve higher, quality results.
Achieving high, quality results has a positive effect on the quality
of our relationships, creating the reinforcing engine of success
below (also see "The Core Theory of Success" Loop in The
Systems Thinker, V8N3).
your own engine of success by attending the 2003 Pegasus Conference,
Changing Our Organizations to Change the World: Systems Thinking
in Action, October 810 in Boston. Join with colleagues
from around the world who are being intentional about developing
global networks for change. This year's event will challenge you,
surprise you, and give you the tools to make change happen.
Register by September 15 and save $200. Team discounts and
financial assistance are available. Call Julie Turner at 1-781-398-9700
for details. Get
complete conference information.
The first of its kind at the Pegasus Conference, this special series
of concurrent sessions is designed to engage participants in surfacing
and understanding the critical health questions that are facing
our communities and our world. Facilitator Carolyn Thompson's vast
experience in working with a wide variety of healthcare institutions
has enabled her to bring together the following distinguished group
of "conversation catalysts":
Barak Wolff, former director of public health, State
of New Mexico
Kathy Watkins, CEO, Newham Healthcare NHT, London,
William Streck, M.D., CEO, and Bertine McKenna, COO,
Bassett Healthcare, Cooperstown, New York
Gordon Moore, M.D., professor, Harvard Medical School
and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
These healthcare leaders, representing both public and private organizations
in the U.S. and abroad, will offer stories, strategies, and insights
from their own experiences of taking a systems approach to transforming
more about the healthcare learning path.
Model for Testing Education Reform Strategies
School superintendents, administrators, board members, and others
involved in public education face a Herculean task--gaining enough
understanding of an infinitely complex system so they can make good
decisions about how to allocate resources; determine the impact
of district, state, and federal policies on their system; and anticipate
future challenges. System dynamics and computer modeling are largely
untapped tools that can help them confront this task.
A simulation model for helping K12 school leaders understand
the dynamics of education reform developed by Gary Hirsch represents
one promising use of these tools. A creator of learning environments,
Gary observed how easily overwhelmed school systems can become by
demands for reform. Because initiatives for improving education
are rarely presented as single, coherent strategies, schools must
respond to an array of proposals, each often crafted independently
of the others. If officials choose poorly, the reforms can not only
interfere with each other, but seriously harm rather than improve
a school's performance.
Hirsch's model provides a framework for helping administrators identify
unanticipated and potentially damaging consequences of reform efforts;
it can also help them determine combinations of reforms that work
well together and are mutually supportive. Not intended as a forecasting
or "how-to" tool, the simulation allows officials to test the potential
impact on the school system of different variables, for example,
changing the traditional curriculum, adjusting staff hours devoted
to professional development, or introducing new modes of student
As they see the scenarios play out, school leaders become more aware
of the complex interacting factors involved in the design of any
coherent reform. They also develop greater confidence in their ability
to implement reform strategies that have a chance for genuinely
improving their system's performance.
Source: Gary Hirsch, "Can Education Reform Get in the Way of Reforming
Education? A Simulator for Exploring Reform Strategies," a paper
presented at the Systems Thinking & Dynamic Modeling Conference
in Durham, New Hampshire, in June 2002
Gary Hirsch is co-facilitating the Educator Gathering at
this year's Pegasus Conference on Tuesday, October 7, from 1:00-5:00
more about the gathering.
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