Archive for September, 2012

Video animated story telling

Monday, September 24th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

As always in the Fall term, I enjoy teaching my classes at MIT Sloan. This year i have a participant from Harvard Ed School in my class who reflects on her class experience with a short animation clip every now and then. See for yourself:

on the empathy walk:
Empathy Walk

on the movie Inside Job
Inside Job

don’t you love it?

Shifting competition to common intention

Saturday, September 8th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I have just returned from a three-day workshop with the management teams of five hospitals and other key players in the health system of a large region in Denmark.

The objective was to transform their institutional relationships from their current state (characterized by competition + conflict) to a more co-creative state (of compassion + common intention) that puts the patients in the region first..

Our journey went through several stages. First, all of the participants conducted extensive stakeholder dialogue interviews across the entire region before the workshop that we discussed and reflected on early in the workshop. Then we created a “current reality movie” through role playing (stepping into the shoes of other stakeholders). Later on that day we used Social Presencing Theatre to map both current reality and the emerging future. Current reality featured a largely system-centric structure that was transformed into an emerging future featuring a patient/family/citizen-centric structure.
We spent the remainder of the workshop identifying and exploring the opening of “cracks” that would allow these leaders to move the system from its current reality into a better future.

Something shifted in the collective field of the group when, on the last day, these institutional leaders reflected on their progress. One head of a hospital said to the head of another hospital, with whom they had been in a multi-year structural conflict: “It never occurred to me that I have never asked you ‘How can I help you?’” In the stillness after that sentence I could feel a quiet shift of the heart – theirs and mine.

This group was very serious about putting the well-being of the whole community first and each of their institutional ego-interests second. That is easily said but rarely happens. It’s hard work. They say they succeeded because of the process we went through together in the workshop. But I believe that the Scandinavian culture has something to do with it too. Together with Singapore, Scandinavia has the world’s best system of public administration (schools, health care, government efficiency, absence of corruption).

Why? What’s different there? Well, I think I saw some of their positive qualities in the workshop: they are compassionate with each other, passionate about the well-being of the whole, and willing to relinquish some of their own institutional ego. Two significant turning points that allowed that shift to happen were the sensing interviews and the Social Presencing Theatre exercises – in other words, the left-hand side of the U. On the right-hand side (intuition to action) we used the case clinics as a very helpful tool.

When the participants described their vision for the future, they suggested that instead of all the mechanical productivity measures that today drive health care delivery, the health care system should be driven by direct qualitative feedback from the patients. That’s exactly what Bhutan does in measuring gross national happiness (GNH): it has developed measures that reflect the quality of its citizens’ experience. Reconnecting our systems to the lived experience of its citizens would be a major shift in how we run our key institutions in society today.

Where have you seen examples of that—and what can be learned from it?

Maitreya Buddha In-Action

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I spent last week in Zhejiang, China, where I enjoyed reconnecting with a group of senior government officials, academicians, and business executives. When I met them for the first module in Boston in June my MIT colleague John Sterman ran a climate-change-simulation game with them that put the participants in the shoes of all of the countries negotiating with each other on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. After each round, the results of their negotiations were input into a science-based simulation model that calculated the outcomes of their decisions for the climate. The result of this multi-round simulation was catastrophic: the combination of sea-level increase and a typhoon would have caused key areas of their province in China to be submerged.

Four weeks ago when I led the next module with the group in China, midway through we lost all ten of the mayors in the group (it includes about ten mayors of cities and communities with populations of 500,000 to 5 million) when they were ordered home to lead disaster preparations in advance of two typhoons headed for their region. Working day and night for three days, they helped to coordinate the evacuation of 3 million people from their homes. The typhoons and the ensuing flooding were the worst in the past 60 years. But due to the superb disaster preparedness not a single person was killed.

During this week we met in Hangzhou Lin’an, from where we took a side trip to visit some thousands of year-old Gingkoe trees. Several of them had grown and then “given birth to” (a holding space) for the next generation. The picture below shows a tree that is part of a five generation tree of trees, each generation growing on top of another (the oldest one apparently 12,000 years old). Five generations of trees in one big tree eco-system. What a beautiful picture of evolution that we are part of on planet earth!

Another side trip at the edges of our workshop led us to the construction site of a Silicon Valley–style innovation eco-system (the fifth of its kind in China). When I drive around in the United States I am sometimes shocked to see the erosion of bridges, streets, schools, and other public infrastructure; when I return to my home town in Germany I find people still discussing the pros and cons of the same Autobahn extension that they were already talking about 30 years ago. But in China they envisioned, planned, and and are building an entire high-tech innovation eco-system in a mere 12 or so years. Simply breathtaking to see and feel that dynamism!

On the last day, after the completion of the workshop, some of the participants arranged for me to visit with the head monk of a nearby Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou (picture), one of the major Buddhist temples in China. He told me that he was increasingly invited to teach the essentials of Buddhism to corporate leaders in China. I asked whether he also teaches them in the temple and monastery. Yes, he responded, he runs three-day workshops in which the CEOs live and work with the monks at the monastery; and for three hours per day, he teaches them.

During the meeting I received a small statue of the Maitreya Buddha as a gift from the head monk and the two senior officials of the provincial government who also attended the meeting. The Maitreya Bodhisattva is the Buddha of the future, who is expected to follow the reign of the historic Shakjamuni (Gautama) in the future. The Maitreya Buddha is also the Buddha of Compassion. One of the government officials explained to me that since the U process is about letting go of the past and letting come the emerging future, the Maitreya Buddha would be particularly connected to it. The Maitreya Buddha is usually depicted with a very big belly and is very relaxed, smiling, and compassionate, allowing him to harmonize seeming contradictions. I thought to myself that that’s what I experienced on the day of my visit: head monks teaching business CEOs, Party and government officials telling me about the Maitreya Buddha, compassion and the U, and all of us together in a generative conversation that planted important seeds for future work…

Tags: , ,