Friday, March 31, 2006

Peter Senge on Presence

The revised version of Peter Senge’s classic The Fifth Discipline, a paperback with more than 100 additional pages is being released. This new material is based on interviews with many practitioners of Senge’s ideas over the past 15 years, and includes 8 strategies on the art of implementing the principles of organizational learning. In an interview he talks most recent book, Presence. Senge produced this book with three co-authors and refers to it as a “prequel” of sorts to The Fifth Discipline. Here are some key thoughts from his interview on 800 CEO Blog.

Presence deals with the state of mind, or state of spirit, of attempting to work with the five disciplines, in order to build a learning-oriented culture. There is an unexamined aspect of this process that the book explores. Otto Scharmer has referred to this as the “blind spot.” [Hanover Insurance former CEO] Bill O’Brien referred to this as the interior state of the leader or intervener. When discussing how to build a learning-oriented culture, we often talk about tools and methods and frameworks, but rarely ask the question of “where the heck is this person coming from?”

This matters quite a bit, because the first rule that we all know is that change is threatening. And if you are in an organization with pressures to perform and people trying to climb the ladder, you will always be dealing with the issue of “whose agenda is this?” To what extent are these ideas self-serving? Creating the foundation of trust means addressing where we are coming from. This enables people to explore the extent to which change is aimed at the benefit of the whole or towards individuals.

No comments: