This morning I explained Systems Thinking to a client who owns a small leadership development business using professional actors. This CEO was struggling to articulate the unique value of his company. And he needed to prepare for a big meeting with a prospective buyer tomorrow that could lead to 10x his previous revenue for 2016. I mentioned leverage, Archimedes, and the idea that “with a big enough lever one could change the world.” When he wanted examples, I described the applied systems thinking that Macdonald, Burk and Stewart (2006) implemented at entrenched mining companies in Australia. When he wanted to find simple words to describe the cascading effects of organizational change, he drew a model with concentric circles like a bulls-eye. The smallest ring was unlabeled, to represent the chaotic core of deep change, the next ring was individual, then team, then organizational, then societal. I think that he this process of thinking has now helped him find the words he needs to sell his services tomorrow. I am looking forward to hearing his results.
This afternoon I met with a fellow board member of our Association of Talent Development (ATD) chapter to plan 2016 activities. She leads Learning and Development at Bridgestone and I discussed with her Systems Thinking. She needs to prepare to replace an aging workforce, and has developed programs with the largest university in the state, MTSU, using values from their company and partnering with the US Naval Academy and US Army at West Point. In short, they desire to teach essential leadership skills using their company values at a public university. Concurrently, Bridgestone needs to relocate 30-50% of their senior leaders from two other states to their new corporate headquarters in Nashville, without losing significant intellectual capital. She is excited and overwhelmed about the changes ahead for Bridgestone, and appreciated discussing ways to apply Senge’s (2996) model of a learning organization to those changes. I think that she has the resources she needs to implement systems thinking and I will continue to be available to her as the process continues.
Notice the pattern?
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MacDonald, I., Burke, C., & Stewart, K. (2006). Systems Leadership: Creating Positive Organizations. Hampshire, England: Gower.
Senge, P. M. (2006). The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Random House/Currency.