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October 28, 2004 Issue 55
not so much how busy you are, but why you
are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito
important thing is this: To be able at any
moment to sacrifice what we are for what
we could become."
Shape of Change
Rob Quaden and Alan Ticotsky, with Debra
Lyneis, illustrated by Nathan Walker (Creative
Learning Exchange, 2004)
is a wonderful book for anyone who works
with children. The 11 interdisciplinary
lesson plans in The Shape of Change are
designed to help students observe and understand
how and why things change over time. Students
participate in a game, experiment, or other
hands-on activity. They draw simple lines
graphs of the changing behavior over time
or they draw a connection circle. As they
refine and share their work, students also
consider causes and broader implications,
honing a keener awareness of the changes
all around them.
The activities are written for grades 38,
but all been used in a range of classrooms
from kindergarten to college. Each chapter
begins with a short summary and a list of
materials so that teachers can see at a
glance what is covered and what materials
are necessary. Background information is
succinct, and procedures are laid out step-by-step.
Student worksheets are at the end of each
lesson, ready to photocopy.
#OL025, 141 pages, softcover, $12.95
Additional resources for introducing systems
thinking to children:
a Butterfly Sneezes
& the Thorn Patch
Resources by Robert Putnam
Conversation: Art and Possibility
featuring Robert Putnam
In order to create intentional learning
from inter-group conflicts, clashing priorities,
errors, and missed commitments, organizations
must be able to talk productively about
difficult issues. In this compelling video,
Bob Putnam discusses the ways in which people
unconsciously create "undiscussable" topics
that hinder team and organizational learning.
He also offers possibilities for creating
reflective conversation for surfacing and
addressing such issues.
#V9623, videotape, approx. 54 min, $99.00
featuring Philip McArthur, Robert
Putnam, and Diana McLain Smith
To achieve personal mastery, we must
act on new insights and reflect on our experience
over a significant period of time. And because
we have limits and blind spots, we need
others to help us reflect and learn. None
of this is controversial. Yet it is rare
to find groups that sustain the necessary
level of reflecting on practice. In this
engaging video, Phil, Bob, and Diana reflect
on their experience as a learning team and
offer lessons for those wishing to cultivate
their own teams.
#V9735, videotape, approx. 60 min., $99.00
in Action: Overcoming the Assumptions That
Divide Us featuring Robert
Organizational complexity is embedded
in the diverse and often clashing assumptions
held by people in an organization. Harnessing
this complexity depends on our ability to
talk productively across our different mental
models. To do so, we must hone our skills
in reflecting and gaining perspective on
our own tacit theories about how the world
works. In this audiotape, gain experience
in reflecting in action: the in-the-moment
ability to "turn thought back on action
and on the knowing implicit in action" (Donald
Order #T0106, audiotape,
approx. 60 min., $19.95
Renaming Contest Results This
spring, we held a contest to solicit possible
names for The Systems Thinker" Newsletter.
the results of the contest and the winner
of our prize of a free registration to this
year's Pegasus Conference, "Building Collaborations
to Change Our Organizations and the World:
Systems Thinking in Action."
Conference on Appreciative Inquiry (AI)
online in the 2nd International Conference
on Appreciative Inquiry, "Creating Extraordinary
Organizations for Business and Society."
The face-to-face conference was held September
19-22 in Miami, Florida, and the Virtual
Conference is open for viewing and participation
through November 30.
Registration includes access to:
more than seven hours of core content
from the plenary sessions in streaming video
10 round-table presentations of AI
a directory of participants and presenters
so you can connect with each other around
areas of mutual interest
a growing resource library of AI
reference materials, upcoming workshops,
Industry Track information, and conference
opportunities to chat live with 300
other participants and presenters around
automatic daily e-mail digests of
new material so you know when to visit the
us at Pegasus Communications, One Moody
Street, Waltham, MA 02453-5339. Send an
e-mail to email@example.com,
or call 781-398-9700. Web site: http://www.pegasuscom.com.
comments about Leverage Points to
learn more about Pegasus go to www.pegasuscom.com.
on the web
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Pegasus Communications provides resources
that help people explore, understand, articulate,
and address the challenges they face in
the complexities of a changing world. Since
1989, Pegasus has worked to build a community
of practitioners through The
Newsletter, books, audio and videotapes,
and its annual Systems
Thinking in Action®
Conference and other events.
ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL OFFER!
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Pegasus Communications' founding,
get a subscription to The Systems Thinker® Newsletter
for $55.00a 50% discountwhen you purchase the
Systems Thinking Learning Package (Order
#LP0401, $100). This learning package includes many useful resources,
such as our new e-book Getting Started with Systems Thinking:
Tools for Organizational Change.
When you place your order, simply use Priority Code STLP04. Offer
good through December 31, 2004. (This discount will
not appear in your web shopping cart total, but will be reflected
in the charge to your credit card.)
Let's Talk America to Revitalize Democracy
Pre-Conference Sessions Add Value to Your Conference Participation
Organizational Routines That Prevent Learning
Talk America to Revitalize Democracy
election year in the United States, much of the discussion in the
media has centered on how polarized Americans seem to be. On political
candidates, the war in Iraq, and social issues, the country is sharply
divided, and in certain forums, the rhetoric between the two sides
has reached a fevered pitch. In many quarters, intelligent and respectful
dialogue has given way to the airing of opinions that never change.
To bridge this growing divide and bring people from across the political
spectrum together for lively, open conversation about revitalizing
democracy, groups including the National Coalition for Dialogue
& Deliberation, the World Café, and the Utne Institute have
launched an initiative called "Let's Talk America." Through its
web site, www.letstalkamerica.org,
the organization provides tools and resources for people to host,
facilitate, and participate in meaningful conversations in cafes,
bookstores, churches, and living rooms across the country. "Let's
Talk America" also sends out periodic e-mails with updates on upcoming
events and telephone trainings and what they call "Hip Pocket Questions"questions
that give you a way to let go of your opinions and explore a given
topic with people holding differing views rather than engaging in
To help keep the conversation going even after the elections are
over, Pegasus is sponsoring a "Let's Talk America" event, "Collaborative
Conversations to Reignite the Spirit of Democracy," on Wednesday,
December 1, 8:009:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. Corky Becker of the Public Conversations Project
will facilitate the session, which is open to the public at no charge.
more about "Let's Talk America" and contribute your voice
and ears to an inclusive, nonpartisan, and respectful discussion
about the future of democracy.
Pre-Conference Sessions Add Value to Your Conference Participation
you're attending this year's Pegasus Conference, you have a wonderful
opportunity to customize and deepen your learning by including one-day
pre-conference workshops in your conference schedule. For those
who cannot attend the full conference, you can still participate
in these intensive offerings, which are guaranteed to stimulate
your thinking and give you new, practical skills. All sessions
will be held on Tuesday, November 30 from 9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m.
"I have attended your systems thinking conferences in the pastin
San Francisco and San Diego. The [post-]conference workshops I attended
sit at the top of my 'richest learning experiences' list."
Heather Irons, Head of Learning and Development, Digicel
Creating a Learning Culture
Ginny Wiley, Pegasus Communications, Inc.
This hands-on session offers a provocative way to explore the
language, concepts, and tools of systems thinking, mental models,
team learning, personal mastery, and shared visionas a framework
for building a learning culture and catalyzing transformative change.
Trainers: This is a great introduction on how to make this material
A Systemic Approach to Corporate Social ResponsibilityBusiness
Success and Social Benefit: One System, One Virtuous Cycle
Daniel Aronson and Paul Breaux, Four Profit, Inc.
Find out how paying attention to your company's "environmental"
and "social" bottom line can benefit its "financial" bottom line.
Learn and use a framework and tools to help your organization go
beyond "business as usual" to become a more socially responsible
Leading Strategic Conversations: A Key Business Imperative
David Isaacs, Clearing Communications
In this highly interactive session, learn and practice principles
for leading strategic conversations, including the World Café
process. Design approaches to bring these principles, practices,
and processes to your "real-life" questions, challenges, and business
Understanding the Dynamics of Strategy
Richard Karash, Karash Associates, Inc.
Considering strategy through the lens of system dynamics offers
a powerful way to address performance over time of any organization.
In this rigorous introduction to system dynamics, analyze the dynamics
of the critical resources that determine performance.
Innovation and Teamwork Made Simple: Twice the Results in Half
Greg Zlevor, Westwood International
In this experiential session, examine some of the latest leadership
tools and methods in the areas of communication, authority, accountability,
and success. Explore the importance of team diversity, and discover
how to facilitate a group from a strengths-based model.
for any of these sessions now! Teams of 4 or more that register
for any combination of sessions can take $125 off the price per
person per session. Just call Carrie at 1-781-398-9700 to register
And register by November 8 for the 2004 Pegasus Conference
for $1295a savings of $300 off the standard rate! "Building
Collaborations to Change Our Organizations and the World: Systems
Thinking in Action" will be held on December 13 at the Hyatt
Regency, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Register
on our web site, or call 1-800-272-0945.
the Final Conference Brochure
SPECIAL OFFER! 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 up today!
Organizational Routines That Prevent Learning
by Robert Putnam
would a supervisor rearrange her staff's office space to "improve
communication" without informing them first? Why would a plant manager
support his company's downsizing plan instead of advising management
of the plan's fundamental flaws? Organizational life is filled with
such incongruities. In these situations, although their actions
may seem illogical, the players are usually acting rationally from
within their own perspectives. Unfortunately, because people's reasoning
is not clear to others, observers make judgments that influence
how they act. Over time, individuals become locked into patterns
of behavior that are not in the best interest of the organization.
These patterns of behavior are known as "defensive routines." Defensive
routines are habitual ways of interacting that protect us or others
from threat or embarrassment, but also prevent us from learning.
One reason these routines persist is that each player experiences
them as an external force, imposed by the situation and by others.
But these patterns can actually be changed only by the actors themselves,
once they develop shared understanding of the interlocking dilemmas
that lead them to act as they do.
Surfacing defensive routines is increasing important for several
The pace of change in business today has put a premium on
an organization's ability to learn.
Organizations must be able to integrate an increasing diversity
Organizations are being designed to rely more on lateral
and less on hierarchical links.
To reduce defensive routines, members must recognize how they develop
and are maintained. Once we understand how taken-for-granted patterns
of behavior undermine organizational objectives, members may be
able to act in new, more productive ways.
adapted from The Systems Thinker Newsletter, appears in the
Pegasus anthology, Reflections on Creating Learning Organizations.
advantage of our special offer to get 60% OFF our print
anthologies when you purchase all five.
the complete article, or see The Systems Thinker, V4N6 (August
to The Systems Thinker
additional resources by Bob Putnam
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