Sunday, April 26, 2009

an email to Peter Senge

Peter Senge did a great job leading a conference at SLU this past Thursday. It was sponsored by St. Louis Learns and Leads and Sustainable St. Louis. It was followed by a luncheon in Dubourg Hall. Although I have no reason to expect a response I sent the following to Peter as a follow up of the day's discussions.

I think most of what he espouses will lead to good work but I also think it is important to identify the general goals of a project or process and to communicate this openly.


Thanks again for coming to St. Louis today. I especially like your call to reinstate our ‘elders.’ I am 50 years old but some of my most valued relationships are with a retired philosophy professor and a 70 year old designer. They take delight in the activities of folks younger than them and they provide a great perspective for proper moderation and the value of patience.

I raised the question, in the workshop today, about the moral neutrality of systems thinking. I don’t want to diminish the power and value of something that has been a part of my life since I can remember but I get concerned when there is little discussion of how such tools might be applied. I had a conversation with a recent graduate of Washington University’s EMBA program about leadership. He talked about the value of leadership, the leadership gap and how most folks don’t want to be leaders. It seemed to be that leadership was seen as a goal, an end, a telos of some sort and that, to me, is quite scary. Certainly we can distinguish between the manipulation of a Hitler and the liberating work of a Gandhi but both involve leadership.

Finally, I think there is something wonderfully subversive in The Necessary Revolution. The sense of “the real reality” which lies outside the bubble reminds me of Buddhist teachings on human nature and addiction. Jaworski and his work on “servant leadership” strikes me the same way.


Richard Reilly, LEED AP