STIA Conference Reports LO3095

Julie Beedon (
Sat, 07 Oct 95 07:54:24 +0000

Ref LO2937 --

[...Note: Bob's report divided into sections by your host...]


This is a "trip report" for the recent Systems Thinking In Action (STIA)
forum in Boston that my colleague Jeanne Hazell and I just attended.
I realize that others have shared their insightful summaries of speaker's
messages with this mailing list before. We circulated this trip report
internally in IBM, and I thought it might also be of interest to some of
you, as additional "learning".

The best of the best (IMHO) are signified with an * bullet.


SPONSOR: Pegasus Communications
WHEN: Sept.18-20, 1995
WHERE: Boston, Marriott Copley Place Hotel
WHO: About 1200 attendees from business, government, education,
consulting, etc.... 7 IBMers - from Canada, U.S, Europe

These were 90 minute sessions about the experiences of various
organizations with systems thinking. Organizations presenting
included: Ford, Signet Bank, Intel, Motorola, Whirlpool, Saturn,
National Semiconductor, many consultants specializing in systems
thinking, various hospitals, schools, and universities. Some ideas and
lessons learned from the sessions we attended were:

* Downsizing to reduce costs is an example of the "Fixes that fail"
and "Shifting the Burden" archetypes; if it is not done properly,
it leads to the unexpected results of lower morale, trust, loyalty,
commitment, and capacity, all of which are delayed reactions and
make the situation worse in the long term

* The 4 competencies of Leadership are: Management of Attention,
Management of Meaning, Management of Trust, and Management of

* Clarity is not certainty ... seek clarity, avoid certainty.

* "Learning Conversations" are essential for learning to happen
in organizations - people learning together create new knowledge,
and increase commitment and innovation ... we have to move
beyond representing our team or department and be fully,
personally present in our conversations with others.

. Lotus Notes provides a rich foundation for some excellent
learning groupware.

. If you experience an injustice, ask what you did to contribute
to that result.

. Stay focused by asking questions about how to stay focused -
the value is asking the question, not answering it.

. Why do we think it's OK to interrupt people sitting quietly by
themselves at a desk, but not people who are rushing by?" - are
we sure who is doing the most valuable work?

. There are 5,000 new management books published every year - how
can we keep up?

. Ambiguous words are powerful because they require conversation to
agree on their meaning.

. Don't emulate leaders you have not personally met.

. We may aggravate a situation with our interventions - sometimes
it is better to do nothing.

. Large scale change emerges from many conversations that are about
"Questions Worth Asking" (QWA).

Our report is distilled from a 700 page handout and many pages of
additional notes. Some of these ideas are great, some are strange,
but all are stimulating. Hopefully it has been worth your while to
scan them.
Bob Willard & Jeanne Hazell
IBM Canada, Leadership Development

R. G. (Bob) Willard                                                            
IBM Canada, Leadership Development