175 Chapters
Medium 9781626560956

7 The Heart of Russia

Smith, Seth Adam Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a
mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these
are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with,
marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors
or everlasting splendors.


When the heart of the Selfish Giant changed, he saw the children no longer as trespassers but as his garden’s most beautiful “flowers.” The more we grow to love people, the more we understand that our lives are the most beautiful when they are filled with people.

Not long after my conversation with Dmitry, I went for an evening walk on Red Square, the center of Moscow. I vividly recall that walk. It has since become one of my favorite memories.

I was meeting up with a friend of mine: Vladimir, a man I had served with on my mission in Nakhodka. To this day, it baffles me how in my zeal to hate my mission I had almost completely forgotten about Vladimir.

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Medium 9781609945367

3 New Maps for Lost People

Wheatley, Margaret J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


For many years I’ve thought of myself as a kind of cartographer. This was the primary image in Leadership and the New Science, where I described the discoveries of new science as lands rich in possibility, dimly seen, awaiting our voyages of discovery.

I thought of us as brave explorers, eager to learn more about the world described by new science—a world of unending relationships, infinite creativity, and order for free.

When I drew those first maps in 1992, I assumed my job was quite straightforward. My task was to provide just enough detail of these lands of bright vision and possibility so that people would begin their own explorations. And a good number of people did; their explorations and experiments manifested in many forms, from new approaches to leadership, to healthy communities, to organization-wide transformations. And today, as the world becomes ever more chaotic, more people are becoming interested, if not desperate, to find ways to lead in this turbulence. But in spite of our courage, dedication, and very hard work, we’re now lost in a world where we don’t want to be. What happened to that bright new world that seemed so close at hand only a few years ago?

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Medium 9781626566330

1. Moment of Truth

Adams, Marilee G. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If we would have new knowledge, we must get us a whole new world of new questions.

Susanne K. Langer

A rosewood paperweight on my desk bears a sterling silver plaque declaring: Great results begin with great questions. It was a gift from a very special person in my life—Joseph S. Edwards—who introduced me to Question Thinking, or QT, as he called the skills he taught me. QT opened up a part of my mind that otherwise I might never have discovered. Like everyone else, I believed the way to fix a problem was to look for the right answers. Instead, Joseph showed me that the best way to solve a problem is to first come up with better questions. The skills he taught me rescued my career and saved my marriage as well. Both were definitely in trouble at the time.

It all started when I was invited to take a position at QTec. The company was in the midst of a major overhaul at the time, and the word on the street was that, barring a miracle, they would fold before the year was out. A friend warned me that accepting a position with QTec would be like signing up to crew on a sinking ship. What convinced me to take the risk? It was my trust in Alexa Harte, the recently appointed CEO at QTec, who’d offered me the position. I’d worked with her for years at KB Corp., my previous employer, where she’d won my respect as a gifted leader. Her confidence about turning QTec around was infectious. Besides, she promised me a great promotion: hefty pay raise, impressive title, and a chance to lead a team in developing an innovative new product. If everything went well the risk would pay off in aces. If not . . . well, I tried not to think about that.

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Medium 9781576757642

Simple processes

Wheatley, Margaret J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

simple processes

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Many of us would like to simplify our lives, and life in general.

Yet I notice how difficult it is to accept and believe in simple solutions and processes. Everything has become quite complicated. Things that were simple, like neighborly conversation, have become a technique, like intergenerational, cross-cultural dialogue.

Once a simple process becomes a technique, it can only grow more complex and difficult. It never becomes simpler. It becomes the specialized knowledge of a few experts, and everyone else becomes dependent on them. We forget that we ever knew how to do things like conversation, planning, or thinking. Instead, we become meek students of difficult methods.

In the presence of so many specialized techniques for doing simple things, we’ve become suspicious of anything that looks easy. And those of us who have technical expertise are especially suspicious. I’ve seen myself pull back from simple more than once because I realized I wouldn’t be needed any longer. Those are useful moments that force me to clarify what’s more important—my expert status or making sure the work gets done well. (I haven’t always chosen the nobler path.)

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Medium 9781576756003


Adams, Marilee Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

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