Break the Cycle
Russell ("Russ") Ackoff had a profound capacity for using stories to educate his audiences on the basic concepts of managing systems, both in his books and in his lectures, including appearances at our 2005 and 2006 Forums. He also had a profound way with words. One of our favorite quotes (also, one our T-shirt designs) is his warning that "it's better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right," a concept he claimed to have borrowed from his good friend, Peter Drucker. The challenge, of course, is determining what is right to do, for such a label is far too easy to apply. Yet, the outcomes are far too hard to see, especially when one is confident in the direction of action, and when the system is forever open to both known and unknown unknowns. Should the system be small enough and finite (closed), the actions would always seem right. Only with expansion, in time and/or in space, could there be doubt as once unknowns become known.
In appreciation of systems, Russ offered us advice (read his article) on how to steer past the time-honored traps that prevail in our traditional mechanistic thinking, which can lead us to narrowly judge efforts as either wasteful or non-value-added. Instead, he encouraged us to shift our focus from managing actions, such as parts, tasks, and program elements, to managing the interactions between these parts, tasks, and program elements, being ever mindful of the value proposition of shifting our thinking to seeing ever-larger systems. Such thinking mirrors the "Production Viewed as a System" advice that W. Edwards Deming offered his many audiences in Japan, including students such as Shoichiro Toyoda, whose humble beginnings led to Toyota's far reaching turnaround efforts (including their approach to Total Quality Control).
In a recent conversation with author and management consultant, Doug Krug, a keynote speaker at our 2013 Forum, he shared a few lessons he's learned in 30+ years of engagement in turnaround efforts. Doug commented on the self-described qualities and skills of the senior managers he has guided in his career. When the topic of our conversation turned to questioning skills, he shared that curiosity is rarely acknowledged by senior managers as a leadership trait. As such, how could these leaders suspect that the pending turnaround is but a left hand turn around a race track, leading left turn after left turn to the starting point of a need for another turnaround? From where will the cycle end and the right hand turn emerge with a vision for managing interactions and not the actions taken separately?
Vince Barabba, a personal friend of Russ, joins us in June as our closing keynote speaker on the topic of A Practical Application of Systems Leadership. Vince will "amplify the concepts of systems thinking through an application of the practice of architecture and home building. The reason I chose the building of the home is that while designing a new home, I was reminded that Russ Ackoff informed me that he got his first sense of systems thinking when he was being educated as an architect."
If you are interested in "breaking the cycle and the mold," while exploring and dissolving unseen forces that stand in the way of leadership and teamwork in industry, government, and education, through
thinking together about thinking
, we invite you to join with peers at the In2:InThinking Network's 2015 Forum in Los Angeles, California, from June 10th through 14th, on the campus of
. This year, our ever timely focus will be;
"Break the Mold: Aspire, Inspire, Achieve"
For more information, visit our
2015 Forum website
or e-mail us at
. Our Forum registration fee is $400 for our Weekend Conference, with a $50 discount for registrations received by midnight, Pacific Time, on April 29th. We also offer a
$200 registration fee
for full-time students. .
If you are not able to attend our Weekend Conference, you are most welcome to attend any of our 17 Pre-Conference sessions, all free, with the exception of a $40 material fee for session N, What We're Learning About the Brain and a $15 fee for session O, Self-Organizing the "Change Agent." Webcasting is also an option; find details at this link. A $25 discount on our webcasting offer is in place until April 29th.
For the first time in our 14-year history, we are charging a daily fee of $10 to participate in the Pre-Conference sessions. This fee will help us to offset expenses for meals (Continental Breakfast and Lunch) and handouts associated with these sessions.
Register by Monday, May 18th to reserve our discounted room rates at the Hampton Inn
Register by Monday, June 8th to attend any of our Pre-Conference sessions
Register by Saturday, June 13th to attend our Weekend Conference
If you are not ready to register, but are likely to attend, please complete our RSVP Survey to help us with attendee estimates in our planning efforts.
For a glimpse of the excitement we offer, link here for a photo montage from our 2012 Forum. Link here for a complete list of our previous 2015 Forum UPDATES.
In2:InThinking Network 2015 Forum Team