22, 2001 Issue 9
Simple miracles. Satisfying work, like baking
bread or building a shelf. Fresh, delicious food.
. . . Health for land and people. Sometimes I
wonder, with all our supposed progress, what we're
rushing toward and what we're leaving behind.
Donella Meadows, "An Ode to the Cow and
the Milk," The Global Citizen, January 25, 2001
Donella Meadows died on February 20 after a brief
illness. She was a leader in the field of system
dynamics, adjunct professor at Dartmouth College,
and director of the Sustainability Institute.
In 1972 Meadows was on the team at MIT that produced
the global computer model "World3." She coauthored
the book The Limits to Growth, which described
the model and sold millions of copies in 28 languages.
Among her other accomplishments, Dana was nominated
for a Pulitzer Prize; cofounded the Balaton Group;
developed the PBS series "Race to Save the Planet";
was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship; and served
as a director for several foundations. In 1999
she moved to Cobb Hill in Hartland Four Corners,
Vermont. There she worked with others to found
an eco-village and maintain an organic farm. Dana
was a true pioneer and visionary who was committed
toand succeeded inmaking
the world a better place. Learn
more about her contributions.
Essentials of Servant-Leadership: Principles
by Ann McGee-Cooper and Gary Looper
We're pleased to announce the publication of
the newest volume in Pegasus Communications'
Innovation in Management Series. This 16-page
booklet differentiates servant-leadership from
traditional leadership models, shares case studies,
and offers practical suggestions for putting
servant-leadership to work. The softcover book
costs $10.95. Volume discounts are available.
Order #IMS016 or IMS016E (for PDF).
Systems Thinking for Kids Forum
Booth Sweeney, author of When
a Butterfly Sneezes, is now appearing at
Thinking for Kids Forum on the Pegasus
Bulletin Board. Share your ideas about how stories
can communicate the concepts of systems thinking.
Praise for When a Butterfly
"In this new century, education will
increasingly mean the ability to think systemically-in
terms of relationships, patterns, contexts,
and processes. Linda Booth Sweeney offers us
an inspiring guide book to this kind of education,
exploring the meaning of ancient 'systemic'
folk wisdom as it speaks to us in timeless stories.
This is an important and truly delightful book."
-Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life
9-16. Authentic Leadership, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This six-day learning community sponsored by The
Shambhala Institute is designed for community
and organizational leaders who aspire to deepen
and integrate their skills in a collaborative
context. Participants choose one module as an
area of focus, including "Strategic Dialogue as
a Core Business Practice" with Juanita Brown,
"Scenario Planning" with Art Kleiner, and "The
Power of Systems Thinking" with Jennifer Kemeny.
In addition, they will come together for conversations,
arts exercises, meditation, keynote presentations,
performances, and other events. Speakers include
Fred Kofman, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, and
Francisco Varela. For more information, visit
Institute's Web site, call 902-425-0492, or
send an e-mail to email@example.com.
contact Pegasus, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or reach us at:
Orders and Payment Offices:
PO Box 2241
Williston, VT 05495
USA Editorial and Business Offices:
One Moody Street
Waltham, MA 02453 USA
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
SYSTEMS THINKER newsletter, books, audio
and videotapes, and its annual SYSTEMS
THINKING IN ACTION® Conference and other
This free e-bulletin from Pegasus Communications
spotlights innovative thought, practical knowledge,
and pointers to key resources in leadership, change
management, personal development, and organizational
design. Please forward LEVERAGE POINTS to your
colleagues and friends!
Points on the Web
To subscribe or unsubscribe, please go to our
Managing for Underperformance: The "Set-Up-To-Fail" Syndrome
How Have You Introduced Group-Bonus Programs to Honor Interdisciplinary
Team Efforts? and Reader Response to Teaching People to Use Visual
Youth Boom Sparks Prevention Efforts
for Underperformance: The "Set-Up-To-Fail" Syndrome
by Janice Molloy
Are managers creating personnel problems rather than solving them?
According to Jean-François Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux,
authors of the Harvard Business Review article "Set-Up-To-Fail
Syndrome" (March-April 1998), managers' perceptions of employees can
actually affect employees' performance--for better or worse.
How do bosses undermine a subordinate's success? The process may start
just after a new hire comes on board. Perhaps she misses a deadline
or possesses a personal style that leads her manager to silently judge
her as a poor performer. The supervisor may then focus more attention
on her work, subverting her confidence and her ability to make autonomous
decisions. Her performance may slip, thus confirming the boss's assessment
of her abilities. At the same time, the manager might have a more
positive preconception of another employee and give her more challenging
assignments and greater autonomy. Both employees might possess the
same skills, but one ends up far outshining the other.
This dynamic is a variation of the "Success to the Successful" systems
thinking archetypal structure. This kind of self-fulfilling prophecy
underscores the importance of maintaining a sense of objectivity when
managing people. To do so, Manzoni and Barsoux recommend that managers
set clear expectations with new hires, maintain an ongoing dialogue
with workers about their performance, and continually challenge their
own assumptions about individual employees. By avoiding simplistic
categorizations and comparisons, we can help to ensure that all workers
have an equal opportunity to contribute to an organization's success.
Read the complete article or see THE SYSTEMS
THINKER V10N10, Dec. 1999/Jan. 2000. Readers who wish to discuss
this topic are invited to the Leverage
Points Discussions forum.
Team Bonus Program
I am a consultant here in Zurich and currently in contact with a fairly
large hospital in Europe that wants to introduce a group-bonus program
to honor interdisciplinary team efforts (e.g., doctors, nurses, technical
personnel in operating rooms). Does anyone have field experience on
Please take a minute to share your thoughts about this issue in the
Care Community Forum. Selected comments will be shared in a future
issue of LEVERAGE POINTS.
In my experience,
the most effective method is to "do" not "tell." I've tried various
analogies to teach causal loops (folding paper, lilies in the pond,
company-specific things that have more meaning to the audience, etc.)
and stocks and flows (showers and electric blankets work well, and
other thermostat-like structures). The best reaction I've ever received,
though, came just the other day. I was chatting with one of my company's
information technology folks, and he explained to me that I couldn't
buy some software package until they had tested it on their server.
I asked if they were testing it, and he said, "No, we don't have it
yet." We went on for a while, and the truth of the matter hit: Catch-22.
I couldn't buy it until he tested it, and he couldn't test it until
I bought it. I said, "Okay . . . let me make sure I understand this.
. . ." and started drawing a loop. In about 30 seconds, he saw the
light, approved the purchase, and as he was leaving said, "That was
a pretty neat way to explain that. . . . Is that a technique or something?"
"Sure," I said, "want me to show you more?" Now I'm doing a brown-bag
lunch for his colleagues!
What techniques have you used for overcoming the challenges of
teaching people to use visual tools like causal loop and stock and
Readers who wish to view the complete responses to this question or
to continue this discussion are invited to go to the Systems
FROM THE FIELD
Youth Boom Sparks Prevention Efforts
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" seems to be the
new philosophy of youth-services agencies in the United States. Over
the next 30 years, the population of 10- to 19-year-olds will increase
dramatically--and these organizations want to be prepared for higher
demands on their resources. In particular, minority and immigrant
populations, who experience greater social problems stemming from
poverty than the general population, will constitute more than half
of all youths. Instead of handling problems such as juvenile crime,
teenage pregnancy, and drug abuse primarily by punishing the offenders--the
approach used in the past--social-service providers are redesigning
education and health programs to focus on deterrence.
This new direction derives from research showing that teenagers who
have good health, close ties to responsible adults, well-defined goals,
and steady jobs are less likely to engage in risky behavior than their
less-connected peers. Accordingly, agency officials believe that promoting
healthy lifestyles, mentoring, youth leadership, and job training
will lead to positive outcomes for many young people.
To meet this challenge, many states have begun coordinating their
youth services to make them more comprehensive and accessible than
before. Because teens tend to engage in several risky behaviors simultaneously,
planners feel that services that address a wide range of problems
can be more effective than single-issue programs. In addition, health
officials are recruiting community members to develop programs. When
adults involve themselves in supporting youth leadership development
in their community, they can help young people fulfill their potential
and make valuable contributions to society.
Source: V. Dion Haynes, "States Prepare for Youth Boom," The Boston
Globe, December 14, 2000
Copyright 2001 Pegasus Communications. LEVERAGE POINTS can be freely
distributed in its entirety, or reproduced or excerpted for another
publication with written permission from Pegasus Communications. Contact