The Resonance Test 56: Peter Senge

complex systems

“We Know We Don't Know a Lot about the Future, but We Can Be Damn Sure it's Going to Be Quite Different than the Past”

The Resonance Test 56: Peter Senge

December 10, 2020
by Rick CurtisPaul McCormickKen Gordon

Peter Senge—the renowned architect of systems thinking and author of the 1990 classic, The Fifth Discipline—doesn’t love the word “system.” “I always try to kind of demystify the word ‘system,’ because that's a bit of a problem we've always had,” he says on our most recent episode of The Resonance Test. “System is an off-putting word.” This is, in fact, one of many surprises nestled in his lively conversation with Rick Curtis, Senior Director of EPAM Continuum, and Paul McCormick, a Principal Consultant at EPAM. Senge’s holistic and humanistic worldview plays nicely off of Curtis-and-McCormick’s pleasantly British style of inquiry. He speaks in mini-lectures about systems thinking (of course), adaptivity, innovation, competition, collaboration, and data in a slightly hoarse but consistently positive voice. Senge is both informative—he teaches us that Latin root for the word “compete” means “striving or seeking together”—and a skilled, off-the-cuff aphorist. Press play and hear him say (among other things):

“Deep change never starts with a majority. Revolutions always start with small numbers. The real changes always start on the periphery of the mainstream.”

“Even direct competitors have to work together to create healthy market conditions, which in turn can allow them to compete.”

“What we often call human nature, I would call habit—collective habits of thinking and acting. And that's culture.”

“You can throw away the word ‘system’ entirely and just talk about [how] we live in webs of interdependence, where my wellbeing depends a lot on yours, and we're continually influencing each other.”

“The basic element is awakening people's intuitive understanding that we always live in an interdependent interconnected reality.”

“Competition and collaboration are natural sisters. They go together. And that's true in business just as well.”

Host: Kyle Wing
Engineer: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 56: Peter Senge
filed in: complex systems

About the Author

  • Rick Curtis

    Rick has spent the past 20 years leading strategic engagements and client teams for global businesses. He has expertise across brand, marketing, and digital proposition and experience design, and has worked across an extensive client portfolio that includes Knight Frank, Liverpool FC, The Adecco Group, Lagardere Sports & Entertainment, Lexus, Toyota, Dyson, and Unilever.

  • Paul McCormick

    Paul brings over 17 years of experience in digital consulting and data science. He has spent the past two years within EPAM, working with global businesses such as Knight Frank, The Adecco Group, and Lagardere Sports & Entertainment to develop digital strategies that enable business transformation and deliver value to both customers and the business. This has included working closely with the businesses at board level to co-create roadmaps and business cases to model benefit realization and support five-year transformational programs of work.

  • Ken Gordon
    Ken Gordon
    Chief Communications Specialist

    Ken makes EPAM Continuum’s work visible to the necessary people. He creates superlative content, works with colleagues to do the same, and employs social networks to share it widely.

    A card-carrying humanist, Ken co-founded QuickMuse, the improvisational writing website, and JEDLAB, the Jewish education community. He has written for, the New York Times, and many other pubs.

    Ken has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MA in English from the State University of New York at Albany. He framed both diplomas long ago, but can’t seem to find them now—a fact he considers all-too-human.