Friday, April 04, 2014

How Wolves Change Rivers.

“Systems thinking” is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system's constituent parts interrelate, and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems.—Google definition

As leaders in organizations, the systems we are most concerned with are made up of the people, policies, procedures, and cultural norms of our organization and the relationships between those parts.  Being a great leader means having a deep understanding of these interrelationships and being wise about how to disturb the system to create changes that lead to a better whole.

When a system is disturbed, a rippling of change moves through the entire system.  Plant leaves follow the sun as it moves across the sky—minute disturbances take place causing the leaves to move. The leaves track the sun by moving a bit too far and then correcting.  Moving too far, and correcting again.

Even a system that looks simple may have complex relationships between its parts and the environment. Unintended consequences are the outcomes that we didn’t consider at the time a decision was made, and our decisions can lead to unintended consequences. Wise leadership puts in place ways to check that our original objectives are being met or are being consciously adjusted.

Natural systems can provide great learning opportunities about unattended consequences. The link below is to a video on Wolves being re-introduced into Yellowstone Park in 1995 after a 70-year absence.  Some changes were easy to preconceive; others not so much.  The video provides a great glimpse into a system being disturbed and its multi-faceted response to such a disturbance.  Note that the narrator refers to the great Yellowstone Elk as deer; this can be a little disconcerting, but don't let it bother you.  Instead, think about how to use systems thinking to make desired changes in your organization and how you might anticipate and mitigate unintended consequences.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Night  Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This isn’t my favorite type of book to read, but this is a very important book for all to read. To understand a little more about what happened to the Jewish people during the Nazi Death camps is something that we all need. We have to try to somehow understand how and why this came about so that we can stop it from happening.

I cannot fathom how humans can treat other humans as describe in this book. I cannot fathom how people could have lived through this time. How people could perform acts of pure evil on another, I cannot comprehend. I guess if you convince yourself that the other is not human, or that we are somehow above the other, then this is the consequence that comes from it.

I guess this is how we could have slaves for so many years in the US. I guess this is why the sex trade is alive and well in this day of age. Why white slavery still exists today, even here in the US. Why ethnic cleansing is going on now.

This book isn’t about something that ended years ago. This is a book about how people act when they no longer see humanity in others. And just maybe when they lose touch with humanity in themselves. This book is about current events. Not just in other parts of the world, but right here in the good old US of A.
Wiesel was awarded a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. This book is not fun to read, I could only take so much at a time and then I had to put it down. But don’t let this detour you, please get a copy and make yourself read it.

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Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy LivesPeace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives by Thich Nhat Hanh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
by Thich Nhat Hanh
When I started this book I thought it was a bit slow and it took me while to get what Thich Nhat Hanh was trying to get across. Putting aside time to meditate probably holds more people away from meditation than anything else. In our already overburdened lives how do add time that appears to be accomplishing nothing.

Through many examples of small meditations that are easy to add into your life, Hanh is putting forth two messages. The first is that anyone can meditate because you can meditate just about anywhere and just about any time. You don’t have to be sitting like a pretzel, your eyes don’t have to be closed, and it doesn’t have to be quiet.

The second message is that more accomplished meditators need to expand the practice out of the easy space and into life as we live it. That meditating while sitting and then not being mindful the rest of the day or week, is like attending church on Sunday and not thinking of God again until the next Sunday.

There are a lot of simple examples packed into this book. When I finally understood how what Hanh was saying directly spoke to me and that I could implement some of the examples now and then add others later on, I started really getting into the book, the examples and the reasoning behind the examples. This is not that long of a book, and when I got to the end I wanted more.

I would recommend this book that is looking to deepen their spirituality through meditation or prayer. Or if you are just looking to increase your mindfulness as you go through your day.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Some progress to report on the Remodeling

Since the last time I posted on the remodel we have made some progress.  Mostly due to Wendy’s diligence.  We have installed a French door, some tile, and carpet in the family room.  We also carpeted the guest room in the same carpet.


Here are some before and after pictures.

















And here are some of it now:



Same tile as in the hallway.  We need to still get the trim up around the door.
















We weren’t expecting the fireplace to be wrapped in carpet again.  Now that it it we may keep it and put a wood border around it and the brick above the fireplace.



Close up of the carpet.  It really looks and feels good.



Norm and his son installed the carpet and did a great job if you are looking for someone, I would recommend him.