Synthesis about leadership

Peter Senge on Leadership

Peter Senge refers to this excellent definition around leadership:

“The capacity of a human community to shape it’s future.”

The Global Community

Many things comes to mind after seeing that Peter Senge-video as always. That Gandhi quote.. which I can’t seem to find now… in fact I find around 10 others just as good.

But it was on the “global community” and leadership. Imagine one man alone made change, oh sorry, it really happened. One man did it with his idea and his own energy and principles. Of course the time for the idea maybe had come and was supported by millions, but before he came into “action” sort of the task was seen as impossible.

Oh yeah, and “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And “Be the change you want to see in the world” of course. Gandhi was I think the worlds last true leader. Who could build the global community these days? And think of the fact that Gandhi didn’t have Internet to use and work with.

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)

And ABCD-method:

The Guiding principles of ABCD:

  • Everyone Has Gifts with rare exception; people can contribute and want to contribute. Gifts must be discovered.
  • Relationships Build a Community see them, make them, and utilize them. An intentional effort to build and nourish relationships is the core of ABCD and of all community building.
  • Citizens at the Center, it is essential to engage the wider community as actors (citizens) not just as recipients of services (clients).
  • Leaders Involve Others as Active Members of the Community. Leaders from the wider community of voluntary associations, congregations, neighborhoods, and local business, can engage others from their sector. This “following” is based on trust, influence, and relationship.
  • People Care About Something agencies and neighborhood groups often complain about apathy. Apathy is a sign of bad listening. People in communities are motivated to act. The challenge is to discover what their motivation is.
  • Motivation to Act must be identified. People act on certain themes they feel strongly about, such as; concerns to address, dreams to realize, and personal talents to contribute. Every community is filled with invisible “motivation for action”. Listen for it.
  • Listening Conversation – one-on-one dialogue or small group conversations are ways of discovering motivation and invite participation. Forms, surveys and asset maps can be useful to guide intentional listening and relationship building.
  • Ask, Ask, Ask – asking and inviting are key community-building actions. “Join us. We need you.” This is the song of community.
  • Asking Questions Rather Than Giving Answers Invites Stronger Participation. People in communities are usually asked to follow outside expert’s answers for their community problems. A more powerful way to engage people is to invite communities to address ‘questions’ and finding their own answer– with agencies following up to help.
  • A Citizen-Centered “Inside-Out” Organization is the Key to Community Engagement A “citizen-centered” organization is one where local people control the organization and set the organization’s agenda.
  • Institutions Have Reached Their Limits in Problem-Solving all institutions such as government, non-profits, and businesses are stretched thin in their ability to solve community problems. They can not be successful without engaging the rest of the community in solutions.
  • Institutions as Servants people are better than programs in engaging the wider community. Leaders in institutions have an essential role in community-building as they lead by “stepping back,” creating opportunities for citizenship, care, and real democracy.
And I think the orginating source is

But gladly I see there’s a whole good stuff out there now. And even in Europe:

Here Comac Russel explains ABCD: Cormac Russel

Having in mind the scalability – and please remember that it will look different in US compared to Europe, Sweden and in Asia. So please also think Global ABCD!

Creativity vs Problem solving

I think this short interview has helped me the most. Seeing the difference between the creative process and the problem solving process. I am creative-oriented working with available assets while it seems as the rest of the world is problem solving-oriented. The creative process deals with synthesis rather than analysis. Society as a whole is problem solving-oriented and deals with analysis. And to solve the big systemic problems you need to break down the problems into teeny tiny bits and thereby always missing the whole point why we doing things in the first place, life becomes the daily fire-drill.

Now, of course the Peter Senge favourite quote:

From a very early age, we are taught to break apart problems, to fragment the world. This apparently makes complex tasks and subjects more manageable, but we pay a hidden, enormous price. We can no longer see the consequences of our actions; we lose our intrinisic sense of connection to a larger whole. When we then try to ‘see the big picture,’ we try to reassemble the fragments in our minds, to list and organize all the pieces. But, as physicist David Bohm says, the task is futile–similar to trying to reassemble the fragments of a broken mirror to see a true reflection. Thus, after a while we give up trying to see the whole altogether.

Every decision in society becomes over-voiced with operative issues. The leaders are forced into operative environments. And good operative people are advanced into leadership positions until they cannot advance more. Otherwise known as the Peter Principle: “employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.”

Only two important tools/ways of thinking?

No, there’s more. So we need to have our mindset focused on the creative process and resourcefulness rather than the problem solving-hat and lack of resources. I also see the connection to our brains: focus vs perspective/ability to reflect. There’s that Iain MacGilchrist RSA animation again which explains it brilliantly:

It all comes down to what we needed to do in the industrial age, what really gave the rewards – focus, focus and focus. Now, the new.. hmm, conceptual age isn’t defined within the focus-minded so therefore it does not belong even in the agenda since it focusing we need to do to get the job done.

Thank you David Eggleton for comparing with Buckminster Fuller’s definition of wealth: “Wealth is our organized capability to cope effectively with the environment in sustaining our healthy regeneration and decreasing both the physical and metaphysical restrictions of the forward days of our lives.”

A quite wonderful quote but it’s not focused and quite irrelevant for a focus mind. Refelcting on it, reading it again and again makes it understandable. I always think of this quote – applies very much to leadership and change.

Thanks Inma Vp for the input: I think Christer Hellberg that there is many things in common between Appreciative Inquiry and the creative process. A.I. cannot see the world as a problem to be solve, but a reality to be embrace.

From Wiki: “Appreciative Inquiry (sometimes shortened to “AI”) is primarily an organizational development method which focuses on increasing what an organization does well rather than on eliminating what it does badly. Through an inquiry whichappreciates the positive and engages all levels of an organization (and often its customers and suppliers) it seeks to renew, develop and build on this. Its proponents view it as being applicable to organizations facing rapid change or growth.[1] David Cooperrider is generally credited with coining the term ‘Appreciative Inquiry’.”


The following table illustrates how AI supporters describe some of the distinctions between Appreciative Inquiry and approaches to organizational development not based on what they call positive potential[7]:

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
Felt need, identification of problem(s) Appreciating, valuing the Best of What Is
Analysis of Causes Envisioning what might be
Analysis of possible solutions Engaging in dialogue about what should be
Action Planning (treatment) Innovating, what will be

Appreciative Inquiry attempts to use ways of asking questions and envisioning the future in-order to foster positive relationships and build on the present potential of a given person, organisation or situation. Applied research has demonstrated that this method can enhance an organisation’s internal capacity for collaboration and change. Appreciative Inquiry utilises a cycle of 4 processes, which focuses on what it calls:

  1. DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
  2. DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
  3. DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
  4. DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.

Very good! Another method that might create change and build the Global Community. It does not focus on problems rather that opportunities. It’s really some sickness to see everything as a problem. We have war-problems, famine problems, environemental problems, disease problems, too many fat people problems (that’s me). The world becomes on big problem and the we cannot solve. It’s impossible. But if we consider it as domains of concerns. And not the lack of resources (time, money, leadership, know-how, technology etc) but the abundance of all un-coordinated resources and unused potential (creativity, determination, love/care, curiousity, passion).

And while I’m at it:

Wicked problems

Wicked problems cannot be tackled by the traditional approach in which problems are defined, analysed and solved in sequential steps. The main reason for this is that there is no clear problem definition of wicked problems. In a paper published in 2000, Roberts identifies the following strategies to cope with wicked problems:[13]

  • Authoritative – These strategies seek to tame wicked problems by vesting the responsibility for solving the problems in the hands of a few people. The reduction in the number of stakeholders reduces problem complexity, as many competing points of view are eliminated at the start. The disadvantage is that authorities and experts charged with solving the problem may not have an appreciation of all the perspectives needed to tackle the problem.
  • Competitive – These strategies attempt to solve wicked problems by pitting opposing points of view against each other, requiring parties that hold these views to come up with their preferred solutions. The advantage of this approach is that different solutions can be weighed up against each other and the best one chosen. The disadvantage is that this adversarial approach creates a confrontational environment in which knowledge sharing is discouraged. Consequently, the parties involved may not have an incentive to come up with their best possible solution.
  • Collaborative – These strategies aim to engage all stakeholders in order to find the best possible solution for all stakeholders. Typically these approaches involve meetings in which issues and ideas are discussed and a common, agreed approach is formulated.

So the only really good strategy is the Collaborative way. Meetings, meetings are killing us.. but wait this new online-think is really efficient. These continuous discrete and asynchronous meetings and maybe getting us forward. The continuous global conference..!

Inma Vp:

I am learning to change the way I was told at the school. I strongly believe that if we act focused on our perception of reality (in a wide range of it) and we develop a critical thinking, looking reality from different perspectives and we ask ourselves the proper questions (in a positive way) Why-how-what… and we try to improve our reality through an appreciative process and looking always our “Dreams”, our preferred future…. we will be (indeed) thinking “without” box.

We need to unlearn and relearn. The perception and different perspective of reality and “Dreams”/intent is for me civil Situation Awareness and Sensemaking. Check out Chapter for Situation Awareness for team operations and Shared SA.

Now for Team Earth we have some fundamental things missing from the difinition of team SA:

“a distinguishable set of two or more people who interact dynamically, interdependently and adaptively toward a common and valued goal/objective/mission, who have each been assigned specific roles or functions to perform, and who have a limited life span of membership.”

There is a lot of material out-there on situation awareness which I shall not summarize but briefly, briefly it’s about:

  • Establishing common intent
  • Determining common roles, responsibilities and relationships;
  • Establishing common rules and constraints
  • Monitoring and assessing the common situation and progress
  • Common inspiration and motivation – common leadership
  • Common training and preparedness
  • Common provisioning and resource management
Now, defining a process of improving society is impossible. Or isn’t it?

Anyway, all of research within military and aerospace sectors can be reused be applicable to other areas of interest! Now in all missions there’s always a vision (dream) and goals. To find and develop these genuine visions and bottom-up made goals really creates meaning and purpose and with that any organisation or complex endeavour move mountains. I feel like I’m “emptying my cup of knowledge” here inspired by no other than Bruce Lee:

What’s your true meaning and purpose? Or your institution’s? Or company’s? Are you fulfilling someone else’s dream – I sure am.. and that can the greatest thing if you share the values and the “cause”. But thing is everyone and every organisations especially these days need to unlearn and relearn continuously.

I should probably come up with some conclusions or advice here, but as I stated before – there is no solution in particular! And there’s no leadership telling us what to do – we need to do it ourselves, we need to be responsible individuals! We ourselves together need to fill the gaps, to start doing and being the change.

Perhaps there’s one thing: systematic improvement and adjustment of goals and actions – a strategic short-sighted operational thinking while long-term learning (from the heart) strategically sets the vision and the boundary terms… But this might not be applicable tomorrow – then we have a new world to consider.


4 thoughts on “Synthesis about leadership

  1. And I have definitely not forgotten Seb Paquet’s Intentcasting: nor the work of Venessa Miemis, Mark Frazier and Helene Finidori and and many others!! I might have to do a part II. And actually compare stuff on co-creation with regular boring project management. It’s about the same – but without the project leader. Then we also have the movement of complying to all environmental goals (with methods for reaching sustainability) and for example the processes led by american FEMA and the EU corresponding part of crisis mangement (how can we share information efficiently during crisis and perhaps my own “secret” work on the subject). Also, many stakeholders in the sea information domain (and air) are trying to find common means to standardise and do stuff together efficiently. But as I mentioned.. it feels like a part II.

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