Posted on May 7, 2014 @ 10:21:00 AM by Paul Meagher
In my last blog, Systems Thinking and Sustainability, I focused on the work of one leading Systems Thinker, Donella Meadows. Today I want to focus on the work of another leading Systems Thinker, Peter Senge, whose writings have been influential among business managers and organizational theorists.
Peter Senge promoted Systems Thinking in business, particularly management, with his best-selling business book The Fifth Discipline. More recently (2008), he wrote a book on sustainability called The Necessary Revolution. I haven't read the latter book because my wife discovered my recent purchase (second hand for $1.50) and she is reading it. She read his first book and says she is liking this one quite a bit. She is a manager in the Public Service.
I haven't watched a video of Peter Senge presenting in person so I searched on YouTube for any recent presentations he might have done to see what he is currently up to. I found a recent Youbube video (Oct. 2013) by Peter Senge doing a keynote presentation (1 hr 41 min) in which he discusses the importance of aspirational goals and networks of collaboration. Lots of interesting and useful ideas of relevance to the management of startups and innovative businesses. It provoked in me the idea that successful startups and innovative businesses might be conceptualized as Aspirational Networks of Collaboration, hence the title of this blog. The video below consists of Peter Senge delivering a presentation via teleconference for around 35 minutes. After that he takes questions. I'd recommend you to watch the first 22 minutes to get the aspirational networks of collaboration stuff, then flip to around the 35 minute mark to see him handle a few questions.
I have experience working in a poorly managed startup as an employee. I would rate as fairly important the idea that your employees have to be aspiring to a common goal if the organization is going to work. We had too many projects with no one project having most of the thunder. There was not enough rallying around a common cause, just a bunch of people working in different silos. We did manage to secure a good amount of funding because we had the networks of collaboration part running well through connections one of our founders had with a major investor and his network of associates. That network can fade away, however, if you are not producing economic results. The aspirational part is what helps you to do that. Without it, you are probably toast.