What Participants Say About Systemic Leadership

Jane Lorand and Bruce McKenzie developed and facilitated the Fort Baker Leadership Summits, where systemic methods were used to help California leaders address how to identify a sustainable future for California. At that workshop, systemic methods were used for the strategic exercises.

“The experience gained in the first Fort Baker Summit series was immediately put to use in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s launch of the Solar LA Plan. The interchange and strategic exercises exposed me to several fatal flaws in my personal approach to launching the largest solar development program for any major U.S. City. My new approach and greater stakeholder involvement will bring a more sustainable program for Los Angeles and assure that the aggressive goals are achievable.” (Randy S. Howard, LADWP Director)
“The Systemic Thinking lessons, and the way of viewing the world that they facilitate, are unique, powerful, and singularly worth the price and process of the entire program. The systems labs, and a genuine understanding of the principles and intentions they convey, are the most intellectually humbling and inspiring components of the curriculum. The labs provide tools to competently approach issues that are large and complex with a methodology that no other individual expertise taught in business school can attain. Further the systems thinking work is deeply intertwined with successful critical thinking and entrepreneurial ventures.” (Con Fitzgerald, OneWellsFargo, the largest Retail Bank in the US, Top Strategic Planning Group reporting directly to the executive team)

Feedback from participants in Systemic Thinking Labs and Workshops with Bruce McKenzie and Jane Lorand:

“Professional development courses in systemic practices for complex issues would benefit all organizations. Effective leadership requires meeting people where they are and guiding them to where they want to be. Systemic practices are a means of facilitating solutions from within. Imposing external assumptions of what is or what should be is not only the wrong thing to do, it doesn’t work.” (Erin Carrera, Nursing Supervisor and Union Representative for UCSF Nurses)
“Jane and Bruce are on the forefront of (revolutionary) systems thinking; as experienced practitioners they bring us field-proven innovative practices (methodologies/techniques). We are invited to leverage each other’s unique and diverse backgrounds while taking on this priceless opportunity to learn, understand and apply complexity science to the real-world problems we face as professionals. This is more than practice with concepts; we are developing solutions we will implement. What comes out of this program is lasting value for us, for the world, value that reaches into a more sustainable future for all of us.” (Thoi Pham, Genentech)
“Here’s my $.02: 1) The systemic approach to problem solving is an essential tool to sort through all the information coming at us from many directions. The exercises helped me to get at the heart of the issues and focus on what we can improve. The best part is that they are simple to implement. I used one of the exercises, a conversation map, to lead senior staff through a discussion less than a week after the first systems lab! 2) The labs are a critical way for leaders and managers or consultants to build their toolkits to take with them on any client engagement and lead clients out of confusion and into a place where we can act – knowing that improvement is the never ending goal, and that there isn’t ONE answer, and then we’re done. It’s more a mindset of let’s focus on a continuous improvement process…and tools to get us there.” (Kirsten Uttam, Cisco)
“As future leaders in sustainability, our jobs are to guide organizations through extremely complex issues. The Systems Labs are providing us with critical tools that will convert complex issues that are impossible to resolve into manageable portions that are easier to improve.

The conversation map taught in the first system lab is an excellent example of a useful tool, enabling complex problem resolution. I used this tool in my department last week to resolve a particularly difficult problem. It captured critical detail that would have been easily missed in normal conversation.

In summary, the information taught in the Systems Labs is extremely valuable to me as a successful future leader in the sustainability movement.” (Kiersten Light, Medtronics)

“Before I attended the Lab in September I was concerned about taking two days off of work. It was a financial commitment, and it definitely affected my sales numbers for the week. Once I attended the first day with Bruce McKenzie, I knew I had made the correct decision. I was amazed by the depth and breadth of information we covered in the first two days and cannot wait to see what we will learn over the course of the year. This lab teaches more than a practicum for dealing with complexity, it opens new ways of thinking and provides valuable tools we can use in our current companies to help overcome problems concerned with complexity.” (Avary Kent, HIPP Investors)
“I can’t emphasize enough the value of the systemic lab. Bruce’s real world experience in so many diverse settings (business, government, non-profits, communities) means that we students are learning from one of the most experienced people in the area of green consulting. During the lab, every theory was coupled with extremely pertinent real life examples and an interactive exercise.

For me, the real life stories are what lock in the learning. They also add immensely to Bruce’s credibility. When he throws out names like Coca Cola and WestPac Bank, I feel he really understands my day-to-day experience of working in Wells Fargo’s corporate offices. And I returned to work eager to share his stories and exercises with my co-workers.” (Rosemary Hughes, Well Fargo Bank)

“I took two vacation days from work to attend both days of the Systemic Lab days — this lab was so incredible I have already put in vacation requests for the remainder of the Systemic Methods series! Right off the bat I found a connection to the material being presented and could see immediate applications for the tools presented in both my graduate studies and work environment. The Thinking Lab is helping to navigate through the complexity we will face in approaching any issue — this is an invaluable asset.” (Kas Neteler, SF Magazine)