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
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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

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