John Wenger

What the world needs now…

…is love sweet love.  As Burt Bacharach and Hal David said, that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. I shall resist reminding you of the many horrible and ugly things happening in the world.  I shall refrain from listing the many many...

The insight illusion

Paris street art. Photo by John Wenger, 2014. Confucius is quoted as saying, “When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine yourself.”…and yet we reinforce...

Collaboration is not “soft”

I am occasionally left a little baffled by some of the stuff I read about digital social tools. In a lot of what I read and hear, there is no lack of intelligent analysis about social tools and their potential usefulness, however I do think that there...

What does it take for us to work as a team?

Copernicus has been name-checked in a fair few articles I’ve read lately.  Good thing too.  Working with a client a couple years ago, we illustrated the concept of “shifting consciousness” with a story about Copernicus, our point being that to get to “WE”, to...

Counter-acting the Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages display empathy and sympathy for their captors, often developing positive feelings towards them and defending them. I'm often fascinated by how people, when they walk through the door of their workplaces, adopt behaviours akin to the...

How can we create new patterns of inter-relating at work?

I have been interested in the furore that has followed Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banning workers from working from home. I've also read that Hubert Joly, the new chief at struggling retailer Best Buy has also just scrapped their Results Only Work Environment...

Eliminate targets

"Systems thinkers know a number of counter-intuitive truths." John Seddon One of these counter-intuitive truths is that "when you manage costs, your costs go up. When you learn to manage value, your costs come down." There is the business case for systems thinking,...

Manage the system, not silos

I've heard that if you cut a hologram into pieces, each piece contains all the information of the whole. I've never tried it, but I like the idea that each part is a microcosm of the whole thing. In working with three senior teams...

Do we really need performance management?

Individual performance management is rubbish. Not only that, it's patronising and disabling. I've said it before. When people aren't performing, it's extremely probable that it's not a behavioural problem; it's the system. It's not that performance management as a concept...

I am the Walrus

Know how you have an experience and some song lyrics pop into your head that seem to have been written especially for it? "Expert textpert, choking smoker, don't you think the joker laughs at you?" Parallel process. Happens to me all...

A Matter of Life and Death

from "The Ruins of Detroit" by Marchand and Meffre Why would the whole of the Universe be a complex, self-organising and interdependent system, and a business be a top-down, controlled machine? Why would the entire Universe be subject to the laws of Nature, and...

How do we get to WE?

There is something in the air. Call it my natural human tendency to find patterns in things, but two recent conversations with two different clients in two different cities have reminded me of two other completely different clients in two completely different countries....

Leadership is an inside job

So the world didn't end on December 21, surprise, surprise. Here we are in 2013, all systems still intact. I have heard some speak of the Mayan December 21 end-of-all-things-prediction not so much an end of the world, but more of an...

The Power of We

Interesting what can spark an idea and create insight. Staring at the full moon the other night, I found myself marvelling, yet again, that we've been there. That led me to consider the languaging: "We've been to the moon." ...

It’s not a behavioural problem: it’s the system

Don't ask a systems thinker for advice on managing performance or staff engagement. They will probably say something pretty fruity and you'll wind up frustrated by how fervently they trash conventional wisdom on the subject. Of course performance, engagement, recruitment, they're all...

The certainty of uncertainty

Sometimes you read something that really strikes a chord. I recently saw this quote from Kurt Vonnegut: "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down." In other times, I would read this and...

What is systems thinking? (Part III)

Part III (Going Further) In Part II of this article, I suggested that if we remain wedded to a mis-placed set of thoughts and beliefs about business, we will end up asking the wrong questions. We cleverly ask these questions from within our ...

What is systems thinking? (Part II)

I reckon that we cannot truly appreciate Georges Seurat's painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte" by examining the individual dots he used to compose this masterpiece. It is not the sum of all its dots; it is the...

What is systems thinking? (Part I)

Part one (A Way In) There are two fish tanks, sitting side by side. The fish in tank #1 glances over and notices tank #2. He shouts across to the fish in tank #2, "Hey, how's the water?" The fish in tank...

Beyond empathy

As a sociatrist, I'm passionate about people in business developing greater ability to stand in each others' shoes. It's one of the cornerstones of the work we do at Quantum Shift and is central to nurturing greater health in organisations. This is...

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