Month: December 2009

Systems Thinking versus Linear Thinking

Systems Thinking versus Linear Thinking

December 21, 2009 by senterra   

 The Lotus Leaf is a stunning example of adaptation and served as the inspiration for a new surface coating that allows buildings to self-clean.

In a previous post, we had alluded to the environmentally sustainable ideal of systems thinking versus the reality of linear thinking, particularly in manufacturing processes, and promised to provide examples of each to better explain these concepts. 

Systems thinking has multiple applications, from problem-solving to enterprise philosophy, but it is most evidently contained within our existing ecosystem.  The concept is simply based on the holistic view that the components of a system are best understood in context to each other and their environment. Although our ecosystem was readily available for copying at the start of the industrial revolution, we chose to go with linear thinking instead, where one step follows another in a cradle-to-grave approach, if you will. Today, 150 years later, we have realized that this is not an indefinitely sustainable production strategy and are consequently evaluating concepts like cradle-to-cradle and biomimicry. 

There are millions of products designed by linear thinking. Any single item that faces an end-of-life stage at which it has no further use falls into this category. Look around your home or office and you will see them, from sofas and rugs to computers and televisions, even the materials that comprise the building itself, to name just a few. Do you have a gadget on your desk that consists of several materials fused together, maybe a picture frame or business card holder? Most lamps consist of multiple materials, too, as do most shoes. All these items are bound to end up in landfills one day, because they cannot be broken down into useful materials……………………. 

Full article at 


Building your network

Building Your Network

Posted by Brian Tracy on Dec 28, 2009

We live in a society, and as a member of that society, it is likely that every change in your life is strongly influenced by other people in some way.  The courses you take in school that shape your career are often at the instigation of a friend or counselor.  The books you read, the tapes you listen to, and the seminars you attend are almost invariably the result of a suggestion from someone you respect.

The occupation you select, the job you take, and the key steps in your career are largely determined by the people you meet and talk to at those critical decision points in your life.  In fact, at every crossroad in your life there is usually someone standing there pointing you in one direction or another.

According to the law of probabilities, the greater number of people you know who can help you at any given time, the more likely it is that you will know the right person at the right time and in the place to give you the help you need to move ahead more rapidly in your life.  The more people you know, the more doors of opportunity will be open to you and the more sound advice you will get in making the important decisions that shape your life……………..

Comlete article at

Service for the Nation in the One Planet World

This post highlights the debate taking place in the UK about youth unemployment and the malaise and strains it is creating in society as a result of educating for a multi-planet future on the one world we have.

Comments welcome

This post is part of this article Service for the Nation in the One Planet World


The End of a Coherent UK?

As indicated above we have failed to recognise that the UK has had a propensity to educate for industrial and environmental decline for more than a century and that a society that no longer possesses the knowledge and skills to maintain and extend its infrastructure will not viable in the One Planet World.

Putting these pieces together we now find ourselves in a critical national position with regard to the ‘energy gap’ acknowledged in 2005 by Professor Sir David King – the short political timeframe and the planning regime has led to the deferment of decisions on the mix of energy we need, leaving us at the mercy of foreign sources of energy and reliant on a number of aging nuclear power stations.

Service for the Nation

Paraphrasing the FRESA comment


“In terms of job losses the bulk are expected to come in elementary trades, process operatives, skilled metal and construction trades and are expected to be dominated by males.”

This is a forecast of potential disaster for the UK. It will at best lead to a position where a large proportion of males feel excluded with probable social unrest – we see this already happening; any job gains are predicated on the assumption that service industries will grow

As we transition to the OPW the only way this scenario can be avoided is by addressing the issue of National Service – or Service for the Nation, not primarily the traditional military service to provide constructive mandatory and voluntary work for primarily males across the age range that will otherwise be idle.

Tomorrow’s organisations are only beginning to sense the change of paradigm required for sustainable, profitable business in the One Planet World and the leadership it will require. They certainly cannot act to prevent the disintegration of the UK as a coherent society on the timescale required.

Many foreign owned utilities also have no obligation or the will to do so beyond the economic ‘profit’ generated and will not create OPW skills and jobs without this incentive.

Society itself has to find the will to generate the new knowledge and skills required, and also the old knowledge and skills that will have to be relearned in the OPW – these are best created through Service for the Nation – National Service.

A 21st Century National Service


The UK Government has just introduced a requirement for 11 year olds, starting secondary education in September 2009 to stay in Education or training until they are 18.

There is currently much debate about how this translates into positive outcomes and Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity, which is the outcome least required as we shift paradigms into the OPW. A 2005 OFSTED report finding that only 12% of 19 to 30 year olds interviewed thought that school had enabled them to be creative or understand risk.

In addition the change to fee paying in Further and Higher Education has led to most learners deciding to stay local to complete their education.

Similarly, with no form of National Service, young people not in continuing education experience no other input than their local area and as a result, in most cases, have no expectations beyond their limited boundaries. There is clear evidence that this is causing a dependency culture and an underclass, as is being widely reported.

So where do we stand at the start of a new decade and halfway through the UN Decade for sustainable Development 2005-2014?

It can be stated

◦       There is a wide spread of achievement output from the UK’s Education System

◦       This is aimed at satisfying a paradigm that no longer exists.

◦       This results in high youth unemployment.

◦       Leading to disaffection and continuing underachievement.

◦       And withdrawal from involvement in the wider society

◦       Causing violence and crime, fuelled in many cases by drugs.

Clearly, increasing the age of compulsory education will have no effect on this vicious circle unless we recognise the paradigm we need to educate for is shifting rapidly as we move into the One Planet World.

We have to recognise, as stated throughout this article that education has to liberate the creativity that will enable citizens to help create the OPW within the UK. This can only be achieved through ‘service above self’.

This is not the politically correct thing to say at this time, but it is central to any future that can be envisaged in a UK of around 70 million citizens.


Our conception of National Service is coloured by its compulsory and in many cases arbitrary nature, where outcomes were not tailored to the needs of individuals, or even society.

This is not the aim of Service for the Nation; the aim is to provide rounded citizens with a range of knowledge and skills appropriate to their talents and the creativity to use them effectively and efficiently in helping create the One Planet World.

This does not mean that military service will not be part of the mix for those attracted to such service and we need to acknowledge the part played in current conflicts by our young people.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel as there are service organizations, Scouts etc. who know how to create future citizens and leaders that we can use as templates.

These things are critical

◦       There must be an element of compulsion for all to contribute in their own way.

◦       There must be a controlled but significant element of risk.

◦       Service should be away from home for realistic periods

◦       Learning and work undertaken must result in value added to society.

◦       All must have access to achieve to laid down standards

◦       Rank must be available for significant leadership ability.

Many will argue that this cannot be afforded but the real question is “can we afford, not to be able to afford it?” – if the alterative is societal collapse.

Copyright Derek Deighton 2009

See C Barnett, Audit of War, 1989

Community Service Organisations in the One Planet World

Like the rest of humanity, Community Service Organisations are in transition, whether we, or they, realise it or not; the tranistion to a future decided by the One Planet Equation and the One Planet World Gaia creates for us from balancing it.

This analysis is based on Rotary International, with which I have an association and whose creed is ‘Service Above Self’. It is part of an article about ‘Learning to Lead in the OPW’ aimed at its junior sections, Interact and Rotaract.


The complete article can be downloaded here Interact & Rotaract – Learning to lead for the One Planet World

Interact & Rotaract – learning to lead for the One Planet World

Derek Deighton 23 December 2009

Rotary in Transition

As we enter the second decade of the third Millennium it is clear that Rotary International faces, like the rest of humanity a period of transition, of opportunities and threats. A future that can be seen as a challenging adventure or an impossible challenge; the choice is ours.

To face this adventurous challenge we must rethink our role as an organisation, as individual clubs and as individuals.

Asking, bravely, the question –

“What are we here for in the 3rd Millennium?”

To which the answer can only be –

“We are here to liberate the creativity and leadership that will help societies transition successfully to the coming One Planet World.”

An important part of this is how we attract and enable the learning of future leaders in Interact and Rotaract. Clearly the most pressing issue facing Rotary if we are to move forward and be an effective force in the One Planet World, see the appendix.

As a starting point we must acknowledge that Rotary is still fixed in the paradigm of economic growth based on exponential use of resources; where many will continue to be wealthy enough to help those who are not so fortunate.

In the One Planet World, where Gaia will decide major issues like population and resource availability, this is no longer a viable strategic model for Rotary. We must work with Gaia to create the best possible world, where humans are integrated into its cycles.

A Blip on Geological History

It is becoming increasingly clear that the past 200 years have been a blip on geological history where we have consumed at least half of recoverable resources and at the present rate of use many, particularly oil will not last more than 30 years. This is the backdrop to our, and Rotary International’s immediate future.

Learning to Lead

Rotary has a proud history of enabling the learning and application of leadership, not only in its main body but also within Interact and Rotaract, but this has been for the current paradigm

This has also been against a backdrop of a powerful psychological force that said ‘we can self-actualize without worrying about the future – an act of self -deception of epic proportions.

We are now suffering from what Alvin Toffler called ‘Future Shock’, a state of confusion that arises when the past offers little guidance to dealing with the present and the future. This has enormous implications for Rotary but this article is concentrating on Interact and Rotaract.

Learning to Lead for the OPW

The Appendix explains the implications of the One Planet World, but summarized

We can say that in the One Planet World

◦       Energy, water and other resources will be constrained

◦       Human resources will be plentiful

◦       In a resource constrained environment, goods and services can only grow at the rate at which their resource intensity can be reduced beyond balancing the One Planet Equation’

All at Sea

To use a nautical metaphor, we are floating in a sea at the peril of the wind, tide and current, without a chart or a serviceable compass. The young are particularly feeling the effects of this, uncertain of their immediate and long-term futures.

What does this mean for Rotary?

Firstly, it means finding and charting our current position, but even now we can say certain things about the OPW, see appendix. From this we can say what businesses will be part of it.

Tomorrow’s businesses must

◦       Satisfy emotional and spiritual need rather than gratuitous wants

◦       Satisfy essential needs in the lower orders of Maslow’s Pyramid

◦       Employ people rather than energy

◦       Create or use renewable energy and other resources

◦       Minimise water use or create the technologies that do

◦       Create and deploy climate stabilising and mitigation technologies

◦       Be increasingly local

◦       Provide a service rather than a product

◦       Practice lifecycle stewardship of their resources

◦       Manage value rather than cost

◦       Be able to operate at continually reducing resource intensity

Rotary must prepare itself and society for these organisations and the opportunities they will provide; we must be in the vanguard, not just dealing with the fallout the future reality will doubtless produce.

Instantaneous Adaptability

Leading in the One Planet World requires us to be almost instantaneously adaptable as individuals, with the vision and skills to create the same adaptability within the organizations we serve.

The resources available to us will be reducing over time and we must marshal them to continually increase the supply of goods and services that meet the essential physical, emotional and spiritual needs of our society.

Tomorrow’s leaders must have the skills and ability to liberate the creativity and ingenuity in their people and other stakeholders that will enable and drive change.

Interim Conclusion

These thoughts are part of a process developed from using the One Planet Equation Mind Model, which is a conceptual model of under-standing, that once created, gives us the power to extract more information from it, than went into creating it.

From it we can say

◦       Energy, water and other resources will be constrained

◦       Human resources will be plentiful

◦       That we are addicted to the hugely ineffective use of energy and other resources

◦       That the current discourse centred on the ’symptoms’ our addiction causes – climate change, environmental, social and economic failures, is failing to motivate change.

◦       That human beings are, and have been, creative, ingenious and enterprising since the dawn of our species.

◦       That ’our’ future is ‘our’ problem – that the Earth will most probably manage very well without us.

Rotary cannot from the above analysis expect anymore, its members or its youth to find a way to the One Planet World on their own. We must chart a way forward for ourselves and society.

◦       Interact and Rotaract and must be part of the educational system, delivering its implicit outcomes, not targets.

◦       They must also deliver the unstated need of society – service above self and the leadership it requires.

◦       They must liberate the creativity needed to help create the One Planet World.

◦       Critically, members must know their membership is leading to positive life chances for themselves – the ‘feel good’ and ‘fun’ factors are no longer sufficient reasons for belonging to the Rotary Family.

So in the interim, what can we say?

◦       Rotary can and should be proud of its history but recognise that this is not a complete guide to helping create the OPW.

◦       We should transform Interact and Rotaract Clubs into explicit ‘learning’ and service organisations.

◦       Rotarians should endeavour to provide ‘internships’ to Interact and Rotaract members in their organisations on whatever basis can be arranged.

◦       Rotary should create a body of knowledge and recognised achievement awards that can be achieved by all for Continuing Professional Development.

◦       Create ‘virtual clubs’ for other service organisations – so that Scouts, Air Cadets etc. can achieve CPD awards and their own Rotary Badge whilst developing their own specialist areas.

◦       Local, District and Regional equivalents of Ambassadorial, GSE and Peace work can be established

◦       Clubs should move away from the elitist sounding ‘Presidents Balls’ to ‘Rotary Achievement’ nights; where all CPD achievements are recognised, Interact, Rotaract and Rotarian alike.

Once set on this course of learning to help create the One Planet World, Rotary will be able to devise many more appropriate strategies on this theme for its own development and the development of its members.

A need and opportunity exists for Rotary to take big strides into the futures.

It is a challenging opportunity for sure, but then Rotary International has never shirked a challenge or Service above Self.

The information age is over?


The Information Age is over – What’s next?

At a time in history with unprecedented access to global information streams, it may seem odd to some that the “Information Age” is already behind us. Traditionally a period of history can be characterized by the dominant technology that separates the leaders from the followers. Today is no exception. Power and influence is often associated with those that master the novel technology and rapid changes in economic and/or political fortunes soon ripple across societies. The dawn of the “Industrial Age” coincided with global changes in how physical materials were transformed and distributed. The costs of manufacturing and distribution plummeted raising the standard of living for many. The commoditization of material goods began and the control of capital, raw material sources, and production capacity reshaped the thinking of the day.

The “Information Age” extended this paradigm to a world focused on planning, forecasting, and predictability. Data and information were often expensive to produce, manage, and manipulate by hand, so mainframes took over and created a world dominated by computation speed and efficiency. However, as the underlying technologies improved and were reduced in cost, the application of computing evolved toward a more distributed framework. Once again, the commoditization of technology changed the nature of how value was being created and how benefits would be recognized. Data flows are now expanding exponentially – driven by computing machines, digital imagers, intelligent devices, and RFID tags that have become ubiquitous and interlinked through multi-tiered networks.

Dawn of the “Systems Age”

As the amount of information and data expands exponentially, the value of any average datum is being reduced to near zero. Intelligent systems will be increasingly responsible for sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision. More importantly, most discrete data will be actively forgotten once it has passed through filters and pattern recognition systems that ultimately feed into a new type of system memory. Decision making ability will no longer require perfect recall of every piece of data (There is often simply too much information to process in a tractable, timely manner).

A simple extension of the logic behind Metcalfe’s “law”, suggests that the value of any telecommunications network is some power function of the number of connected users/devices. Intelligent devices/machines will ultimately dominate many of the networks we use today, and create value in an automated fashion. Traditional decision engines will be augmented with sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms and high-level reasoning and learning capability. Ultimately a type of machine “self-awareness” will be developed in response to the enormous amount of locally generated, near-real time data available for processing and sharing. The first generation of lightweight interactive intelligent machines that behave in this way are already around us in the form of smart phones and GPS-enabled telematics devices. Networks of these devices will form a cloud of knowledge that can be shared and traded based on a fluid set of value propositions.

The “Systems Age” will spawn a type of social networking for machines where the opportunities for value creation will no longer be limited to purely physical transformations of matter, but rather to the overall efficiency of compute power, network configuration, decision management, and idea creation. Rather than strive for the impossible goal of perfect predictability, the “Systems Age” paradigm accepts the inevitable uncertainty in the world and quickly responds to it. Since readily available computing power continues to increase at an exponential rate, while the cost of computation continues to plummet, those that fail to incorporate the value of “Systems Thinking” into their products, services and future vision will soon be at a great technological disadvantage.


Suggested reading for perspective:
Between Human and Machine : Feedback, Control and Computing before Cybernetics by David A. Mindell
The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London 2002

Managing for the Future, Alf Chattell 1995, Macmillan Press Ltd, Basingstoke

Driving change in government: get knowledge or go home

Driving Change in Government: Get Knowledge or Go Home

Monday, December 7, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Seems like each time I read something coming from the Ash Institute from Harvard, I am left shaking my head in disbelief.  It has now advanced to the point where I just accept that they will say things that defy all reality.  They can spin a web faster then any spider I know. 

 In the latest travesty John O’Leary in Driving Change: Go Big or Go Home likens government to driving a bus where everyone has access to a brake.  Meaning anyone can kill any change program in government.  He uses this as an impetus to basically run over people to achieve change.

With apologies to one of our fine educational institutions this is ridiculous.  What got us in the mess we are in today is our inability to seek knowledge before seeking change.  Government management can only make assumptions about one thing . . . that they need to get knowledge before introducing change.

The cost of not getting knowledge is to guarantee failure in any organizational change management program.  The result is higher costs, worse service and a poor culture.  The political spin of this has to be exposed as they administrations point to those costs that go down and not to the ones that increase due to this flawed approach…………………..

see the full article at

It’s about the journey, not the destination

Monday, December 21, 2009
The Paradox of Innovation from 30,000 Feet

It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

by Robert F. Brands

Innovation from 30,000 feet

In the C-suites of corporate America, innovation has become a mandate. Executives – from CEOs to marketing officers – believe that to innovate is to embrace the Holy Grail of 21st Century business.

But is innovation alone the answer? Is the end – innovation – capable of surviving solely as a mandate?

Or is innovation a process, journey that seeks a destination refined and polished along the way? “Total Innovation” is a sojourn that mandates a total approach philosophy.

However, to create the Culture, foster Ideation and sustain a focus on thoughtful New Product Development, innovation requires a complex combination of and continued adherence to imperatives that must be introduced, embraced and nurtured. Innovation imperatives must start at the top, the CEO. They must be written into the Mission Statements; “Innovation” must have the backing in the strategic plan.

To thrive, Innovation must have the support of long-term growth objectives and capital support. Beyond support, Innovation must gain Inspiration from leadership, who will create and foster a Culture of innovation and motivate the organization. Leadership must acknowledge the role of Risk, and understand the possibility and benefits of failure.

For without such inspiration and continued communication, Innovation will not survive. It will become little more than a once-promising concept left to wither on the vine of fanciful corporate initiatives that never quite took root.

Therein lies the paradox of innovation. Companies cannot succeed without innovation. Yet few executives understand how to introduce, nurture, or capitalize on the promise of innovation within the organization………………..