20, 2000 Issue 7
a child growing up who brings intelligence but
little experience to his reach for understanding,
we must be patient with ourselves in learning
new lifeways. Only time, only experience leads
to true understanding."
Paula Underwood died on December 2, 2000. She
was an author, speaker, trainer, and consultant
in education, cross-cultural understanding,
and organizational methodologies. She was also
the founder and executive director of The LearningWay
Center, through which she offered retreats to
people in education, business, and health services.
Paula published three learning stories, Who
Speaks for Wolf; Winter White, Summer Gold;
and Many Circles, Many Paths. In 1984, Who Speaks
for Wolf received the Thomas Jefferson Cup Award
for quality writing for young people. This November,
Paula presented at the Systems Thinking in Action
Conference in San Diego, California. Her gentle
wisdom and committed presence will be greatly
Final Pre-Publication Offer for When a Butterfly
Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Kids Explore Interconnections
in Our World Through Favorite Stories by Linda
A compelling new guide to teaching systems thinking
principles to kids--using favorite books that
are likely already on your bookshelf!
[excerpted from the foreword by Dawna Markova]
"Who first taught you to see beauty in the world?
Who taught you to notice the things you'd never
noticed before--a hummingbird hovering in the
still center of its own motion? Who gave you the
gift of knowing that you belong, the gift of wonder
that opens your mind again and again to unlimited
Perhaps even more important, how do we, as parents
or educators, hold a young person's mind as the
sky holds the birds? How do we teach children
to think for themselves, to think with open minds,
to think in such a way that they take responsibility
for their own lives?
When a Butterfly Sneezes . . . reminds
us that wisdom is not about bits and pieces, but
about relationships, and about the compassion
that comes when we realize our deep relatedness.
The book guides us in an exploration of stories,
stories that pass on profound truths and cultivate
everyday wisdom. It suggests that if we share
different stories with our children and help them
think through them in a different way, perhaps
the stories they tell themselves about their own
capabilities and capacity to make things happen
in the world will also be different. It leads
us to wonder whether helping children discover
meaning in a story might also help them discover
meaning and purpose in their own lives."
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23-27, 2001. The 19th International Conference of
the System Dynamics Society, Atlanta, Georgia.
This conference will bring together about 400 participants
and practitioners interested in system dynamics
and systems thinking. Presentations by practitioners
and world leaders in the field will cover a wide
variety of topics. The program includes plenary
sessions on topics of general interest, parallel
sessions organized by theme, and poster sessions
that provide an opportunity for participants to
engage authors directly on issues of particular
interest. For more information, contact Roberta
L. Spencer by phone at (518) 442-3865, by e-mail
or go to http://www.albany.edu/cpr/sds/.
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The Personal Development Review: Aligning Personal and Organizational
How Can We Collect, Document, and Retrieve Learnings? and More
Reader Thoughts About Team Empowerment
Telecommuters as Deep-Sea Divers: Building Social Networks Beyond
Aligning Personal and Organizational Vision
by Kellie Wardman O'Reilly and Lauren Keller Johnson
age of rapid job turnover and accelerating change, companies that
help their people clarify and achieve their highest aspirations are
more likely to succeed than others. The Personal Development Review
(PDR) can support this process. PDRs were initiated by Daniel H. Kim
and developed within Pegasus Communications to help associates flesh
out detailed visions and provide a way of integrating those aspirations
with the organization's plans.
process begins with the employee inviting two colleagues to take part
in a coaching session. In advance of the session, the individual explores
his one- and five-year visions, aided by a list of questions. He then
distributes his written comments to the other attendees before the
session. During the PDR, the individual leads the discussion, while
his colleagues ask questions, listen, and offer ideas. After the session,
the individual shares a synopsis of the discussion with his boss,
team, or larger organization, so the goals and action items can be
integrated at a broader level.
people to hold PDRs is a powerful step in supporting individuals'
growth, productivity, and satisfaction at work. But the real leverage
in the PDR process lies in integrating people's visions with the organization's
visions. For instance, you might discover that someone has a passion
for coaching, so you create opportunities for her to develop those
skills while staying in her current job--to the benefit of both the
employee and the organization!
Read the complete
article and access related resources online, or see LEVERAGE
Number 38, February 2000.
wish to discuss this topic are invited to go to the Pegasus Forums
Development Review" in the Leverage Points Discussions
As a member of a Learning Team, I am challenged with the task of documenting
the new information we are collecting and putting it into retrievable
form. We are experimenting with outlining, hypertext, multiple views,
and key word or key phrase searching using a Lisp language. Is anyone
else thinking about these things?
--Question submitted by Bill Butler
Please take a minute
to share your thoughts about this issue at the Knowledge Cafe Forum
under the topic "Using
Knowledge from Team Learning." Selected comments will be
shared in a future issue of LEVERAGE POINTS.
Continued from Issue #6: TEAM EMPOWERMENT
We had so many thoughtful and thought-provoking responses to the issue
of team empowerment that we include two more here.
I am interested in Fifth-Discipline type approaches to implementing
World-Class (Lean) Manufacturing Techniques. The organizational development
issues that efforts to become Lean raise are difficult. The issue
I would like to raise here is what I call the "empowerment trap."
The scenario is that management says "We've given the shop-floor
teams all the training, but they are not doing anything" and
the shop-floor teams say "They've given us all this training,
but we are not sure what they want us to do." The problem is
trying to move from command-and-control to self-directed teams just
by saying it. As a moderator of this conversation between shop floor
and management, I try to help the managers understand that teams still
need direction and support from them while they learn to be empowered,
and I try to help the teams define what they are being expected to
do under their own authority.
My Japanese Sensei looks at it in an interesting way. He says that
management's role is to define What needs to be achieved and Why,
while shop-floor teams should be empowered to work out, with help,
How to achieve this. In his view, too often management is communicating
the How, not the What and Why. I find this a very helpful distinction
Malcolm Jones, Productivity Europe
I have just finished a very intense week-long experience during which
my role was to provide process consultation and to facilitate a group
of 30 employees of a very large healthcare organization in New Mexico.
Their task was to completely rethink and redesign the way they contract
with physicians and other providers. As a result, I am intrigued by
My most recent experience plays out the following scenario: Something
is broken in an organization. Senior management recognizes this fact
due to declining revenues, increased expenses, etc. However, they
are not close enough to the day-to-day activities to have a clue as
to why this is so. The reaction is to "empower" a group
of the brightest and best employees to "fix it." Now, these
employees have known for years that there has been a problem, yet
only now are they given a week to come up with a solution. (Keep in
mind, most solutions require a very large output of resources, money,
and thought in the short term, in order to realize gains in the long
My experience is that this kind of solution can only work if the senior
management team members truly act as sponsors, stating the problem,
making their presence known, and setting forth any parameters, monetary
limits, etc. at the outset, and then constantly checking in with the
employees who have been charged with this task. Short of this kind
of commitment, the intervention will fail.
I look forward to hearing about the experiences of others.
Readers who wish to view the complete responses to this question or
to continue this discussion are invited to go to "Learning
to Be Lean" in the New Workplace Forum.
Telecommuters as Deep-Sea Divers: Building Social Networks Beyond
by Janice Molloy
In recent years, many employers have experimented with flexible work
arrangements to attract workers in a tight labor market. For certain
job candidates, telecommuting offers an appealing alternative to an
arduous commute. Technological advances have made it easier for home
workers to stay in touch with their colleagues and clients than ever
before. But many telecommuters and their employers have found that
technology isn't enough. Some bosses claim that home workers' inability
to interact spontaneously with their coworkers undermines their performance.
In their book, The Social Life of Information (Harvard Business School
Press, 2000), John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid agree with the need
for informal contacts among employees, emphasizing the "social character
of work." However, they don't automatically write off options such
as telecommuting. Instead, they encourage companies to think of telecommuters
as deep-sea divers rather than as frontier pioneers. As such, home
workers must rely heavily both on technology to connect them to the
home base and on a support team to monitor and maintain that connection.
Following this metaphor, companies must offer telecommuters ways to
connect with their colleagues beyond phone, fax, and e-mail. These
tools are fine for intentional contacts but inadequate for less calculated
interactions. Access to department "chat rooms," electronic bulletin
boards, or real-time teleconferences may offer home workers informal
ways to network with and learn from their coworkers. The bottom line?
Organizations need to give home workers opportunities to cultivate
productive relationships with their peers.
this topic in The New Workplace Forum.
Copyright 2000 Pegasus Communications. LEVERAGE POINTS can be freely
distributed in its entirety, or reproduced or excerpted for another
publication with written permission from Pegasus Communications.