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Systems thinking for today’s workers and organizations

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As I wrote last time, it was great fun to go to Harvard and speak to a class on systems thinking, about my views on how we might connect this concept to leadership and personal storytelling. This week and next, I will put some of my thoughts down here.  Since I have no formal training in the field, and since for the first hour of class I watched the students present models to explain a complex problem in terms of causal loops, balancing precesses, or leverage points in a system, I decided to look up a few formal definitions of exactly what “systems thinking” entails.  Here is one that made some sense to … Continue reading

A visit to Harvard to talk about systems thinking

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I ended the last post with the thought that theatre training and acting experience had helped me to become more of a “systems thinker”. By coincidence, this week I made my annual visit to Harvard University, where the theme of my lectures was “systems thinking”. It happened in the class of my friend and colleague Mark Esposito, and I was there to lead a discussion about how we can connect the concepts of systems thinking, leadership and storytelling.  Every time I come to Harvard and re-connect with Mark, I thoroughly enjoy the interaction with his groups. Mark is a remarkable teacher with an ability to stimulate high levels of engagement and … Continue reading

Life lessons from the theatre

John's reflections 1 Comment

In the last post, I said that I would write a something here about how I have come to see my theatre experience as useful in other arenas. Though I did not realize it then, with our traveling troupe I was learning lessons I would use in a variety of contexts the rest of my life. In addition, some of the concepts and exercises I use in my coaching of leaders are outgrowths of my theatre training.  Looking back, I see that my learning to act was a living example of the power of deliberate practice, rehearsal and preparation in improving or mastering any complex skill. It was a time when I … Continue reading

How curiosity leads to adventure

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Several people have asked me recently to tell more about my acting experience, so this week I will describe it all in a bit more detail. Then, next post, I will write a bit more about of the life lessons of this time.  As I wrote two weeks ago, curiosity led me to drop in on the “theatre workshop” run by professor Bernard Uzan when I was a masters degree student at Middlebury College. (You can read the detail of that part of the story in the blog post from June 19.)   From there, one thing led to another. The teaching and the exercises of the course were completely new to … Continue reading

Some life lessons from artistic pursuits

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Last week, I wrote of an example of deliberate practice from my past: studying theatre and performing with Bernard Uzan when I was in my twenties. As it turned out, and as I will explain further in the next post, my personal journey into theatre lasted nearly three years and proved to be quite a learning experience.   When presented with the opportunity to join a professional theatre company, I thought the period would be a fascinating interlude, time to simply follow my heart and explore. I certainly could see no relevance to what I had done previously or to an eventual career. Looking back years later, though, I have realized that … Continue reading

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