A free e-newsletter spotlighting systemic thinking
and innovations in leadership, management, and organizational development.
Please forward to your colleagues.
June 24, 2004 Issue 51
should be our teacher, not our undertaker.
Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary
detour, not a dead end. Failure is something
we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing
nothing, and being nothing."
want facts to fit the preconceptions. When
they don't, it is easier to ignore the facts
than to change the preconceptions."
E-Book! Getting Started with Systems
Thinking: Tools for Organizational Change
and more people are recognizing the power
of systems thinking to gain insight into
some of today's most complex problems and
produce significant results. This selection
of articles from The Systems Thinker®
Newsletter explores the language, philosophy,
and skills of systems thinking; demonstrates
how to use a systemic approach in a group;
and provides opportunities to practice systems
thinking in daily life. By applying systems
tools, individuals, teams, and organizations
can uncover answers to seemingly intractable
problems and create outstanding results.
Articles in Getting Started with Systems
"Systems Thinking As a Language"
by Michael Goodman
"Systems Thinking: What, Why, When,
Where, and How?" by Michael Goodman
"Six Steps to Thinking Systemically"
by Richard Karash and Michael Goodman
"Going Deeper: Moving from
Understanding to Action" by Richard Karash
and Michael Goodman
"Coaching and Facilitating Systems
Thinking" by Richard Karash
"Guidelines for Daily Systems Thinking
Practice" by Linda Booth Sweeney
"Using Systems Thinking "On-Line":
Listening for Competing Hypotheses" by Don
"Action-to-Outcome Mapping: Testing
Strategy with Systems Thinking" by Andrew
Jones and Don Seville
series, Essential Readings for the Innovative
Organization, highlights the most compelling
ideas from Pegasus Communications for leading
and managing change in today's complex work
environments. Each volume contains an overview,
articles and article summaries, discussion
questions, next steps, and additional resources
to highlight learnings and provoke conversation
around issues raised.
#ANT04, illustrated, PDF format, 31 pages,
Learning Packages at a Special Discount
often ask us to recommend a selection of complementary
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The following suggested packages are offered
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Package: Systems Thinking
to Systems Thinking
"Thinking" In Systems Thinking
of the Iceberg
Started with Systems Thinking (PDF format)
a Systems Thinking Intervention
for Drawing Causal Loops (pocket guide)
for Daily Systems Thinking Practice (pocket
#LP0401, $100.00 (regularly $136.65)
Package: Systems Archetypes
Systems Archetypes I
Archetype Basics Workbook
Archetypes at a Glance (pocket guide)
Pocket Guide to Using the Archetypes (pocket
the Archetypes: Accidental Adversaries (pocket
#LP0402, $95.00 (regularly $126.75)
Package: System Dynamics
Notes in System Dynamics
Thought in Social Science and Systems Theory
Thinking and Modeling
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Package: Team Learning
of the Neanderthal
Change at Philips Display Components
Rebuilding, Renewing at Shell Oil
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Ladder of Inference (pocket guide)
Resolution: A Systemic Approach (pocket guide)
from Blame to Accountability (pocket guide)
That Work Anthology (PDF format)
#LP0404, $96.00 (regularly $128.65)
us at Pegasus Communications, One Moody Street,
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Pegasus Communications provides resources that
help people explore, understand, articulate,
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Newsletter, books, audio and videotapes, and
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Thinking in Action®
Conference and other events.
Get an additional 10% off any
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Pilgrim Health Care's Collaborative Strategy to Sustain Success: An
Interview with Deb Hicks
off the Press! Brochure for 2004 Pegasus Conference
Meadows Archive Goes Public Online
Pilgrim Health Care's Collaborative Strategy to Sustain Success:
An Interview with Deb Hicks
by Kali Saposnick
Hicks is vice president of human resources at Harvard Pilgrim Health
Care (HPHC), an organization that went from being placed in receivership
in 1999 to producing a $44 million profit in the face of stiff competition
in 2002. Deb is part of the leadership team that helped turn the
company around and is now developing a collaborative approach to
creating a culture that can sustain its success. She will be speaking
at the 2004
Pegasus Conference, to be held on December 13, 2004,
in Boston, Massachusetts. In the following interview, Deb talks
about some of the challenges of building a collaborative culture.
When a company on the verge of bankruptcy achieves a major turnaround
in less than three years, you know a lot of blood, sweat, and tears
went into achieving that result. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care's journey
from being put into receivership in 1999 to becoming highly profitable
in 2002 exemplifies the dedication and loyalty of its staff, who
did whatever it took to make sure the company survived. But when
the dust settled and senior executives finally had a chance to assess
their progress, they realized that the behaviors that had enabled
the company to produce outstanding results in the short run might
not be sustainable over the long run.
Deb Hicks, who was involved at the inception of the turnaround,
describes some of the difficult dynamics that had developed in a
culture just trying to survive. "In the face of extremely tight
deadlines, bold challenges they had set for themselves, and media
pressure, teams and individuals had very little time to focus on
the quality of their collaboration," she explains. "People were
exhausted and didn't necessarily treat each other very well; there
were blow-ups over critical issues that were accepted as a necessary
part of doing business. After the successful turnaround, it was
clear that we needed to rally around a strategy for the future,
which focused not only on what work needed to be achieved but also
on how we got this work done through our own leadership and treatment
reading the interview
about the 2004 Pegasus Conference
by Janet M. Gould Wilkinson, John J. Voyer, and David N. Ford
working sixty hours a week and don't see an end in sight." "If we
don't meet this quarter's profit projections, heads will roll!"
"I wonder when we'll hear about the next round of downsizing." If
you or your colleagues have recently made or heard similar statements,
your organization may be experiencing the symptoms of anxiety. With
all the rapid change in the business world, anxiety has become one
of the more pressing problems plaguing us today.
To deal with the fearful emotions that anxiety can provoke, a group
generally reacts by (1) waiting for a "messiah" to save it; (2)
trying to oust someone it considers a "bad" member; or (3) blaming
all problems on an outside cause. Such defense mechanisms can create
the exact opposite of what the group wants and needs: Instead of
reducing the anxiety, the behavior only worsens it. For example,
a group may search for a savior to ease its fears, but the delays
in finding someone only lead to more anxiety.
The first step in overcoming the problem is to see how team members
themselves might create and intensify their own anxiety. Doing so
may be embarrassing, but it is also good news, for whatever we create
in a system, we may be able to change if we gain insight into it.
In the case of the search for a "messiah," the team could decide
that a more fundamental solution would be to enhance their own learning.
By understanding that we all possess the power to reshape dynamics
that we ourselves have created, we can take intelligent steps to
manage or even eradicate anxiety and thereby improve our effectiveness.
the complete article, or see The Systems Thinker,
V8N8 (October 1997)
to The Systems Thinker
advantage of a special offer on five volumes from our Innovations
in Management Series that focus on organizational change in
off the Press! Brochure for 2004 Pegasus Conference
a copy of the brochure for the 2004 Pegasus Conference, "Building
Collaborations to Change Our Organizations
and the World: Systems Thinking in Action," to be held on December
13, 2004, at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Massachusetts. Find
out about the full schedule of events, the exciting sessions and
dynamic presenters, and the many learning opportunities to build
your skills and give you the inspiration to face the challenges
that lie ahead.
REGISTER NOW for $1095and save $500 off the standard rate!
our web site, or call 1-800-272-0945.
SPECIAL OFFER! When you register, you will receive 10% off
Pegasus products purchased on our web site, from the day you register
until the conference starts on December 1, 2004. (This offer is
not applicable to other conferences or newsletters and cannot be
combined with other discounts.) The sooner you register, the
sooner you'll start saving on your Pegasus purchases, so sign
Meadows Archive Goes Public Online
and others interested in sustainability have a new resourcethe
Donella Meadows Archive. The Archive is an online library containing
nearly 800 short essays written by the late Donella H. Meadows.
It was established by the Sustainability Institute, which Meadows
founded in 1996. Donella was a systems analyst, journalist, college
professor, international coordinator of resource management institutions,
and farmer. She authored or coauthored eight books on global systems
and environmental and human problems, including the newly updated
Limits to Growth.
In 1985, Meadows began a weekly newspaper column, "The Global Citizen,"
commenting on world events from a systems point of view. The award-winning
column appeared in more than 20 papers every week for 15 years.
The engaging short essays remain filled with insights into how the
world works now and how it might work better in the future.
the Donella Meadows Archive
more about The Global Citizen by Donella Meadows
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