Enjoying Calliflower with Peter Senge

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A recent live talk with Peter Senge through Calliflower introduced me both to this great tool for conference calls and webinars and Senge’s compelling new book, The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals And Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World.

Calliflower impressed me with sophisticated features for managing and participating in calls with an interface that’s elegant and easy to understand. (See below.) It can record calls as MP3 files to make available afterwards. And, it’s free.

I found it through Facebook and was able to participate fully from the event page in the browser without having to launch Skype or pick up a phone. Talkshoe offers a similar service but was not nearly as seamless in my last experience (a while ago, worth revisiting).

The only part I don’t understand is the business model. But it definitely shifted the quality of my listening, which dovetails perfectly into the the message in Peter Senge’s new book.

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You can download the talk with Peter Senge in mp3 format. (It’s free, but registration required). My notes from his talk are below.

Ask yourself in your business or organization, what is the essence of this community? Making money is a necessary ingredient for successful business, but it doesn’t define what a successful business is. Developing high quality of relationships creates great organizations. Another way to define success is a learning organization, able to sense deep changes in its environment.

What is ending is the industrial age. What people don’t understand is that changes in dominant technologies has become defining factor of industrial age. The values of society became very different. People forgot the are a part of nature. Native people, Aboriginal people don’t have any problem knowing they’re part of nature.

We are coming up against all sorts of environmental limits. More and more of us are finding it difficult to ignore. It takes a ton of raw materials each day to support each American’s lifestyle — all of which ends up as waste. Why don’t we notice it?

Why does nobody notice that every living system operates on sunlight (except a few deep underwater)?

Why does nobody notice there is no waste in nature?

The idea of an “age” is a deeply held group of assumptions. These imbalances have been building for years by ways of living that contradict the natural world.

The challenges around climate change, water and food are all interrelated and products of an age, a pattern of thinking. Until we think differently, none of these will change. An age starts to change when people think differently.

There are so many doom & gloomers out there not really causing any change at all just making us more afraid. It doesn’t help any of us to go into denial about our current reality. The mainstream media doesn’t go into deeper changes because they’re gradual. The real story is slow steady changes have been occurring over the last decade or even longer.

The tragedy of the commons has become a metaphor for a whole host of issues. The commons is any common resource we depend upon. Historically, it meant a place where people graze their cattle together. If we just use it as a basis for individual gain, we’ll destroy the commons and we’ll all lose.

One example is the world fish stocks. 70% of the world fisheries are overfished — so much so that their recovery is in doubt. Everbody’s out getting as much fish as they can, leading to steady depletion and then collapse. Things get harder, so we work harder. At some point you have to stop and step back.

About 7 or 8 years ago, Coke got into difficulties in India over water usage. For the first time, they began looking at the whole supply chain for making code. They never before paid attention to the amount of water that goes into the sugar cane that goes into coke. Now they are becoming a world leader to promote watersheds.

It’s too simplistic to blame corporations. The problems we’re facing are not because of a few bad guys. You and I buy coke. We buy the tea. The corporation thinks it’s citizenry that’s the source of the problem. There’s a co-evolution.

The transcendent goal: we’re all going to have to hang together, or we’re going to hang separately.

Now we have the hard work of opening up mental models. None of us sees the whole system. We really do need each other to bring about deep change, learn how to see the bigger picture and collaborate. The Necessary Revolution is filled with diagrams, models and lists to give not just information but how some actually do this.

What’s the one thing that starts moving groups in the right direction? Things shift when the quality of listening shifts. When you listen to someone, do you hear what they say? Or do you hear what you want them to say? Do you develop inquiry into that question? 99 times out of a hundred, we end up in a debate and both parties usually feel like they one. But their views won’t change.

What if nobody knows the answer?
What if everyone sees a different part?
What if we really do need each other?
Then we really do need to listen to each other and learn to understand each other.

Moving beyond problem solving into creation, beyond reaction into proaction, the creativity.

We’re at the very beginning. The industrial age didn’t start overnight. No one was in charge of rolling it out. Despite the increasing concern about climate change, the amount of emissions exceeded all of the forecasts last year — our ship is stlil acceslerating in the wrong directon.

If we could start to get the ship turned and we all get involved, it will start to turn. Maybe it’s not just a monoculture of big global corporatons. Maybe we’ll have more diversity to organizations.

one principle – the regenerative society – based on the way nature works. Nature has a love affair with diversity. Nature just keeps producing different things. Different types of organizations. Everybody can do the job they really want to do and not need to fit some mold created by someone else.

The iconic imagery of the industrial age was the assembly line, exemplifying standardization and productivity.

Nature on the other hand tends toward uniqueness, interrelationships, fecundity, degenerativity — a world we’d much rather live in. What might that mean for how we live with other beings? What might that mean if we give up the idea that the boss is the top?

One final thing – at a basic level we have to return to a belief in trust. People want to do the right thing. We have to start believing that again. Lead or let them have the space they need to tell their part of the story and make their part of the conclusion.

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