Thursday, May 31, 2012


Only when teamwork and civic trust is reborn in the dire heat of a Fourth Turning can a society again become capable of saving itself.  In that moment, the self becomes fused to the community and everybody becomes a hero.  This is the basic plotline of The Avengers.  It also a good shorthand description of the choices facing America today.”
By Neil Howe

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Your Ground Hog Day

Just like in the movie Ground Hog Day, you wake up every morning in the same exact place, always repeating the same day. No matter what you do to try to change things, you can not get what you want.
In Ground Hog Day, he starts out just trying to fulfill his own desires. Then he begins to move toward fulfilling the needs of others.  Finally, he becomes more and more life-centered and lets go of his desires.
Most of our life is spent living strategies meant to cover up or avoid our own pain of not getting what we want. Our pain is the deep sense of basic alienation that takes the form of feelings we have about ourself.
You like influencing others and being in charge - that’s your personality. When your strategy is to be dominant, persuasive, and motivational at work, you have a structured environment where everyone’s behavior is guided by the organization’s ethical system. When your strategy remains the same even though you are not at work, then your desires take over and you feel the pain of unfulfilled desires.
What is the basic human problem? We live a substitute life. We believe our thoughts are our life. We substitute our believed thoughts for reality. 
Unfortunately, we act on our believed thoughts. We make mistakes because our believed thoughts are not how things actually work.
The practice life is not about expressing or suppressing our thoughts and feelings. The practice life is about experiencing our thoughts and feelings.  By sitting quietly for ten minutes, focusing on our natural breathing, we experience our thoughts and feelings.  We welcome them.  We let them come into our mind, release them and then the next one comes.
In the practice life, we do not express negative emotions and do not suppress emotions.  In the practice life, we experience our emotions.  For example, we sit quietly for ten minutes, focusing on our natural breathing and we welcome our anger.  We feel our anger coming, we experience rising anger, the peak of anger then the anger falls away and we release the anger.  We experienced anger and did no harm to anyone.
The goal is not enlightenment or perfection or never feeling angry or afraid.  The goal is to not live a substitute life of believed thoughts and instead experience our thoughts and emotions and realize that they are not us. Your thoughts and feelings, and your reactions to others are a substitute life. Practice experiencing your thoughts and feelings without expressing or suppressing them.
Every day, practice with thoughts and emotions while sitting quietly and focusing on the natural breath.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

System Dynamics Question Leaders

I am confused about looking at historical events versus designing social systems for future consequences.  I am probably not going to get this exactly correct with the appropriate words but here is a possible response to what Chad Green wrote about. I would rather have system scientists influence public policy over the next 10 years in a way that gets America started on a different path so that future system scientists can use counterfactual questions to show how outcomes might have been worse if America had not taken action prior to 2020.

"What we need now is system thinkers who are more than willing and able
to ask the tough counterfactual "what if" questions that no one is
asking publicly.

I will call them Question Leaders."

From Wikipedia (edited):
"Counterfactual questions seek to explore history and historical incidents by means of extrapolating a timeline such that certain key historical events did not happen or had an outcome that was different from what did in fact occur. The purpose of this exercise is to ascertain the relative importance of the event, incident or person the counterfactual hypothesis is negating."

Here is what I'm thinking:

For example, a system scientist in the future will be able to explore historical records on global warming to show how America's outcome could have been different or records on fossil fuel resources to show how America fiddled while the resource collapse could have been predicted. Then the system scientist would ascertain the relative importance of key events not happening, such as what is described in the book "Merchants of Doubt" or how a different outcome could have occurred.

The counterfactual hypothesis for global warming might be that America did endorse the Kyoto Treaty and began reducing CO2 emissions, building renewable energy and growing the economy based on non-fossil fuel energy fast enough to avoid catastrophic consequences.

However, Dr. Forrester's message seems to focus on future system scientists designing social systems to mitigate future unintended consequences.  Chad seems to suggest present system scientists might use historical case studies as a learning tool to change the quality of people's mental models now. Maybe combining each into an overall strategy might help system scientists now and in the future.