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November 30, 2005 Issue 68
one tugs at a single thing in nature, he
finds it attached to the rest of
am not afraid of storms for I am learning
how to sail my ship."
—Louisa May Alcott
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the Wolves E-Learning Module Consultant license • $499
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Outlearning the Wolves: The Movie
FT004DVDI • $129 (introductory price) • $75 (for educators) View
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Peter Senge's 2005 Pegasus Conference Keynote Presentation
A New Vision for an Interdependent Planet
V05K01D • DVD format • $125
DANIEL GOLEMAN--FIRST TIME ON DVD!
Emotional Intelligence: A Cornerstone of Learning
V9736D • DVD format • $99
TWO VIDEOS BY BARRY RICHMOND
A Systems Approach to Undermining Terrorism
V0101D • DVD format • $125
Leveraging Successful Change Efforts: Moving System
Dynamics from the Bedroom to the Dining Room and Kitchen
V9601D • DVD format • $99
V9601 • VHS • $99
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on One with Dennis Meadows: Growth on a Finite Planet
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on One with Peter Senge: Senge on Leadership • Learn
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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,
its annual Systems
Thinking in Action®
Conference, and other events.
Interview with Pegasus Board Chair Sharon Eakes
have found my people!"—Reflections of a 2005
Peter Senge's 2005 Conference Keynote:
A New Vision for an Interdependent Planet Go
Now at Lowest Rate for 2006 Conference in Boston Area--$950 Go
Connecting Systems Thinking and Action
Interview with Pegasus Board Chair Sharon Eakes
Sharon Eakes is an executive coach who works with leaders wanting
to hone their interpersonal skills and enhance the systems in which
they operate. As chair of the board for Pegasus Communications,
a longtime Pegasus Conference attendee, and a participant this
year as a coach in the teams program, Sharon brings multiple perspectives
to the conference experience.
In the following interview with Leverage Points editor
Vicky Schubert, she reflects on the importance of the conference
to her own work
and to the systems thinking and organizational learning communities.
LP: You have attended the Pegasus Conference every year since 1996.
What sets it apart from other conferences and why is it so important
SE: I always
feel renewed by this conference on so many levels—head,
heart, and spirit. Intellectually, I come away with ideas or practices
that are stimulating and useful. Socially and professionally, it’s
an indispensable connections point; I have remained connected to
many of the people I’ve met at the conference, and we’ve
become friends and resources for each other throughout the year.
And then spiritually, there’s always something uplifting
about it, a hopefulness. The keynotes often provide the sense that
there’s a way out of this mess.
On top of all
that, you get practical tools. This time, I got a terrific, well-thought
out piece on mental models from Marc-André Olivier
and an enormously useful look at how to design for team interdependence
from Jack Regan. I find the combination of high-level thinking
and pragmatism at this conference unusually satisfying.
LP: Are there also ways in which the conference has evolved over
the last 10 years?
SE: There have
been a couple changes in format that have been improvements.
I’ve never been to another conference that
incorporates 45-minute networking breaks. Those weren’t there
in the beginning, but the conference designers added them in response
to people’s requests. Most events have a 10- or 15-minute
break between sessions. But 45 minutes is enough time to have a
real conversation. Another format innovation was seating participants
at conversation tables during the general sessions. I know those
are a challenge to coordinate, but they allow for a lot of valuable
cross-pollination of ideas.
There has also
been an evolution in the make-up of the conference community.
the years, the core business constituency has been
augmented by more people from education, healthcare, and government.
And there’s a growing compliment of international participants.
It feels as if we now have a broader spectrum of sectors and people
coming together in a way that generates a lot of new ideas and
demonstrates that this approach can be used in so many arenas.
LP: That mix of sectors and interests puts the onus on the program
designers to find the right balance of content that will be relevant
and stimulating to systems thinkers of all kinds.
SE: That’s right. I think that cross-pollination creates
opportunities for breakthrough thinking that wouldn’t occur
in a community predominated by a single sector. For example, in
the forum about the US Army’s training program led by Marilyn
Darling and Joe Moore, I learned that the military has developed
a whole lot of knowledge about adapting fast. And this is something
that other sectors need to learn.
Pushing ourselves to borrow across sectors and
to extrapolate from the experiences of others helps build our
capacity for systems
thinking. It’s consistent with a whole systems perspective
to avoid narrow compartmentalization: “Oh, well, he’s
in automotive; that’s not what I’m about.” I
found the conversation by keynote speakers Rose von Thater-Braan,
Leroy Little Bear, and Amethyst First Rider about Native Science
provocative and generative in that sense.
LP: This year’s theme was “Embracing Interdependence:
Effective and Responsible Action in Our Organizations and the World.” Do
you have any stories from your experience at this year’s
conference that give you hope that people are expanding their capacity
for building effective relationships?
SE: Through the teams
program, I got to work as a coach with a large group from a statewide
child welfare system. Some years ago,
this group sent a few people to the conference who had a powerful
experience. As a result, they have been quietly making a difference
in their individual areas ever since. This small group began to
think, “How could we have this experience shared by more
people?” So they got a grant and managed to bring a team
of 14 people to the conference this year. This time, they represented
a much bigger slice of the whole picture, including a state legislator,
a few heads of agencies, and people representative of all different
components of this very complex system.
The way they
had created this team reflected their instinctive awareness of
They not only drew people from
all the various sectors of family policy, but they included a woman
who had left the child welfare system to get a master’s degree
in organizational systems. Her familiarity with the territory combined
with her new knowledge of systems theory proved very useful. She
stayed mostly on the outskirts, but every now and then offered
an important observation that helped the group see itself more
the complete interview
Learn more about the 2006 Pegasus Conference
wish to offer a special thanks to all of our readers who participated
in the 2005 Pegasus Conference. The conference was extraordinary
not only because of the insightful and inspiring presentations,
but also because of the energy and brilliance of those who come
from all around the world to take part in the event. We could not
do it without you.
have found my people!”—Reflections
of a 2005 conference participant
I heard, over and over [at the conference], is what I have known
to be true for many, many years. I have intuitively
followed this path, but often lacked the words and tools to really
be productive and helpful. A few years ago, I read Peter Senge's
The Fifth Discipline, and I found a touchstone. Since then, I have
pursued my own development in Systems Thinking, Servant Leadership,
and Organizational Learning. My managers are always amazed at the
amount of reading and self-development I pursue.
That being said, I have to admit that I was missing something—something
I got by coming to the conference. Because of my previous mental
models about how one applies principles and tools, I couldn't
'get' how to use Systems Thinking. I kept looking at it as a
'solution generator,' instead of a way of describing an issue
and a way of investing in trust—trust that those talking
about the issue together can find a solution. There is no silver
but there is a silver lining—working together, we can accomplish
amazing things. See you next year!
2006 Pegasus Conference—Early Bird Discount
The 16th Annual Pegasus Conference will
be held November 13–15,
2006, in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA (just outside of Boston). Don't
miss this lowest registration rate available for just a few weeks. Register
now through December 31 for only $950. Also,
take advantage of a special subscription price for The Systems
Thinker Newsletter—only $89 for a one-year subscription when
you register (regularly $109). Register on
our web site, or call
Peter Senge's 2005 Conference Keynote
A New Vision for an Interdependent
sold out after it was shown to open the 2005 conference, this
special video by Peter Senge was created solely for
his keynote presentation. In it he draws on the
reach of his experiences with all kinds of organizations to discuss
how a new vision of an interdependent future is taking form on
the planet. With his usual insight and grace, he observes how
the 21st century has brought more opportunities for collaboration
raising new ethical challenges, especially for consuming/discarding
nations and manufacturers with disproportionate environmental
V05K01D • DVD format • 58 minutes • $125
conference audio and video recordings from the
2005 conference will be available on our website soon (including
those referenced in Face to Face above).
Connecting Systems Thinking and Action
by Ed Cunliff
Administrators in every kind of organization can benefit from
the use of metaphors and models to build a deep understanding of
systems and strengthen their actions toward continuous improvement.
One such tool is the spidergram, which emphasizes linkages within
a given system.
Web of Life (Anchor Books, 1996), Fritjof Capra uses the
spider web as the central metaphor to describe the interconnections
of all life. A disruption at one point in the web has an impact
that reaches to all points, just as it does in human institutions.
A spidergram helps you apply this systems metaphor to organizational
example, an admissions unit in a hospital. The CEO believes that
should have to stand in line for anything
and the admissions staff—who would like to reduce their workload—agrees.
So, when budget time comes around, they ask that two additional
positions be created. Applying the spidergram to this issue (see
illustration) involves placing the admissions unit’s request
in the center of the web and indicating the impact that the request
on the anchor points, which might include the hospital budget,
other departments that would be affected by adding expense and
capacity to the admissions unit, and customer satisfaction.
This is an extremely useful systems thinking strategy to avoid
suboptimizing the whole in order to fulfill requests by units with
strong and persistent advocates. The best-laid plans can go astray
if the whole system has not been considered.
the complete article or see The Systems Thinker, V15N2 (March,
to The Systems Thinker
Copyright 2005 Pegasus Communications. Leverage Points®
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