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Facilitated Systems

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Current Thinking

Making Sense With Facilitated Systems
Check out Bill Harris' blog on business, management, and organizational topics of current interest. It's Atom enabled to help you check in more efficiently.

Systems Thinking

Nows and TAFTOs, Diagram, May 2007.
The folks at Diagram were intrigued by the diagrams in Is TAFTO a good idea? Really? and asked to publish one.
Is TAFTO a good idea? Really?, Adaptistration, April 2007.
As part of his annual TAFTO (Take a Friend to Orchestra) program, Drew McManus of Adaptistration publishes a series of articles supporting the grass-roots development of audiences for symphony orchestra concerts. This invited, simulation-based article explores the merits of TAFTO through system dynamics.
System Dynamics with MCSim: A Facilitated Systems Quick Reference, November 2006.
See all the steps involved in creating your first system dynamics model using MCSim, along with a list of software you might find useful. For easiest use, print it on legal paper (14" by 8.5"), and fold it in a Z-fold pattern.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
System Dynamics for Cheapskates, a presentation on MCSim given at Evaluation 2006 in Portland, Oregon, USA, November 2, 2006.
See the visuals that accompanied a demonstration session Bill Harris presented to describe a simulator he's been using for the past eight months. He was initially intrigued because it was free software; he has continued to use it because of its capabilities.
"The Dynamic Lifecycle of a Musician," At Any Rate™, September 2006.
Drew McManus of Adaptistration and The Orchestra Musician Forum and Bill Harris explore the potential causes of business cycles in the classical music business. Get an announcement of the next column by signing up for Pegasus Communications' free Leverage Points email newsletter.
"Adaptive Management Report for the Clark County, Nevada Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan," May 1, 2006.
This biennial report by the Clark County Adaptive Management Science Team describes their environmental work in Clark County, Nevada. The first chapter, co-authored by Sue Wainscott, Adaptive Management Coordinator, and Bill Harris, principal of Facilitated Systems, introduces the program using a system dynamics model developed both to explain the program to others and to support decision-making by the team.
"System Dynamics," a workbook, June 2005.
What is system dynamics? How can it be applied to program evalution? I have had the good fortune of working with Bob Williams and Glenda Eoyang on various systems thinking workshops. Click on the above link to get directions to material from a workshop we did together to answer those two and other questions.
"How do you reduce the risk of being blind-sided?," Northwest Entrepreneur Network's "Ask the Sage," March 2005.
Are you a manager who is very focused on results? Would you like to learn how to reduce potential blind spots such a focus might cause?
"System Dynamics on a Shoestring," The Systems Thinker, Vol. 15, Number 6, August 2004.
Have you wanted to try your hand at system dynamics modeling, but you don't own a commercial simulator? Has your current simulator lacked the flexibility you seek in addressing a particular problem? Learn one way to do "system dynamics on a shoestring."
"Telling Stories," The Connector, Vol. 2, Issue 2, March-April 2004.
Discover tips for telling systems thinking stories effectively using isee systems' ithink.
"Systems Thinking: The Bigger Picture," The Systems Thinker, Vol. 15, Number 1, February 2004.
Does your problem-solving toolkit have only one tool, or is it well-equipped with a range of tools to fit various tasks? See why adding to your toolkit might help you solve problems more effectively and might even help you sell your managers or clients on your favorite approach.
"You Need More Than Brilliant Ideas," At Any Rate, December 2003.
See how Al Bagley, Bill Hewlett, and George Richardson all applied systemic approaches to new product development strategies in At Any Rate, Pegasus Communications' online, interactive column addressing major topics in the news.
"Statistics? Yech! I'm a Systems Thinker!," The Connector, Vol. 1, Issue 6, November-December 2003.
Explore the importance of data and statistics to systems thinking.
"Introducing Systems Thinking Into Your Organization," The Systems Thinker, Vol. 14, Number 7, September 2003.
How can you get your colleagues—and especially your boss—as excited as you are about systems thinking? How do you help them succeed over the long run? And where can you get dozens of brightly colored coffee mugs imprinted with "Systems Thinking" and a cute stock and flow diagram? Read more in these six lessons from 15+ years of experience.
"Fighting the Physics," The Connector, Vol. 1, Issue 5, September-October 2003.
When you're pushing hard for organizational change but nothing's moving, perhaps you're "fighting the physics," in the words of the late Barry Richmond, founder of High Performance Systems.
"A Heretical Word on Selling Systems Thinking to Your Manager," The Connector, Vol. 1, Issue 4, July-August 2003.
Here are three lessons on selling systems thinking to your manager or organization.
"Do I Really Have to Simulate?," The Connector, Vol. 1, Issue 3, May-June 2003.
If your approach is systems thinking, does that mean you have to simulate?
"Self-funding Your Company's Growth," Northwest Entrepreneur Network's "Ask the Sage," April 2003.
Read David Packard's rule of thumb for your maximum allowable growth rate.
"From Spreadsheet Thinking to Operational Thinking: using ithink to develop and communicate a business plan quickly," The Connector, Vol. 1, Issue 2, March 2003.
Find out how operational thinking might help your small to medium business develop better business plans.
"Which Economic Stimulus Package Is Right?," Leverage Points, Issue 35, February 26, 2003.
Can a 16-month-old At Any Rate model help you compare the ideas behind today's economic stimulus packages being discussed in Washington, D.C.?
"Out of Gas: A Systems Perspective on Potential Petroleum-Fuel Depletion," At Any Rate, January 2003.
Have you ever wondered if we'll run out of gas? With relatively low US gasoline prices and all the cars, trucks, and SUVs on the road, it doesn't seem likely—or does it? Explore the future from a systems perspective in At Any Rate, Pegasus Communications' online, interactive column addressing major topics in the news.
"Manage Your Cash for Success!," Venturer, August 2002.
Are you having a tough time controlling expenses? See a systemic approach to expense management in the August 2002 issue of Venturer, the Northwest Entrepreneur Network eNewsletter.
"How Fast Can You Grow? A Strategic Systems View of Business Growth ," At Any Rate, May 2002.
Explore David Packard's systems approach to strategic growth management in this issue of At Any Rate, Pegasus Communications' online, interactive column addressing major topics in the news.
"When Smallpox Becomes a Threat Again," At Any Rate, February 2002.
See how systems thinking can add to the understanding of the control of epidemics in this issue of At Any Rate, Pegasus Communications' online, interactive column addressing major topics in the news.
"Can We Prevent the Next Round of Layoffs? ," At Any Rate, November 2001.
How do you view layoffs? That probably depends upon your role in an organization. Explore a high level view of the topic in this issue of At Any Rate, Pegasus Communications' online, interactive column addressing major topics in the news.
"Can We Budget for the Future?," At Any Rate, October 2001.
Explore a systemic view of federal debt and deficits in this issue of At Any Rate, Pegasus Communications' online, interactive column addressing major topics in the news.
"Applying System Dynamics to Business: An Expense Management Example," May 17, 2000.
The companion to "Pipeline Inventory: The Missing Factor in Organizational Expense Management," this article and the associated model shows that system dynamics can address everyday management problems successfully. (Shift-click on the model link, if necessary, to force a download.)
"Pipeline Inventory: The Missing Factor in Organizational Expense Management," National Productivity Review, Summer 1999.
A simple system dynamics model guided the redesign of an organization's expense management processes. Change management techniques helped ensure the desired results were realized. Expense variance fluctuations in an R&D organization were reduced by 95%.
"Emphasis on Business, Technology, and People Cuts Turnaround Time at Hewlett-Packard's Lake Stevens Division," National Productivity Review, Winter 1998-99.
Using concurrent engineering, action science, a sociotechnical systems approach, and discrete event simulation, cycle time in a printed circuit prototyping process was cut by 83% within 19 months.

Distributed Work Groups

HFM Interactive—THE Radio with Pictures Show.
David Wortley interviewed Bill Harris for this radio talk show in Market Harborough, U.K., about Information Communications Technology (ICT) for the Private/Corporate Sector on June 12, 2002. Catch the archives to explore the impact of ICT in multiple areas.
"Types of Group Work: A Decision Matrix," September 9, 2000.
This classic 2 by 2 matrix categorizes group work along temporal and spatial lines, with decision criteria to aid in selecting a mode of work.
"Online Facilitation for Inperson Facilitators," March 24, 2000.
Many view online meetings as second class alternatives to inperson meetings. My experience suggests otherwise; online work has advantages over that done inperson. This essay offers experienced inperson facilitators ways to think about the benefits of online meetings. Republished in The Facilitator, Fall 2001.

Working in Groups

"How to make decisions in the face of differing opinions," Northwest Entrepreneur Network's "Ask the Sage," May 2003.
How does your organization make decisions in the presence of disagreement and conflict?
"Facilitating Process Modeling," The Facilitator, Fall 2000.
Done well, process modeling and simulation can be an effective way of testing new strategies or processes without the cost of organizational change. In collaboration with a modeling expert, a facilitator can play a vital role. This article introduces facilitators to a range of approaches.

Learning from Experience

Effective Change Management Using Action Research and Action Learning: Concepts, Frameworks, Processes and Applications, October 2001.
This book, edited by Shankar Sankaran, Bob Dick, Ron Passfield, and Pam Swepson and published by SCU Press (click on "Catalogue"), explains the concepts, frameworks and processes of action research and action learning and provides a number of case studies. Chapter 10, "Learning Logs: Structured Journals That Work for Busy People," written jointly by Bob Williams and Bill Harris, describes learning logs in more depth.

Learning from Others

"Going independent," The Facilitator, Winter 2007.
Bill Harris responded to a query on the GRP-FACL mailing list about how one goes into business for oneself. The Facilitator published an edited version for its readers.
Organization Development at Work: Conversations on the Values, Applications, and Future of OD, August 2003.
Margaret Wheatley, Robert Tannenbaum, Paula Yardley Griffin, and Kristine Quade put together a book from five conversations with OD practitioners. I was privileged to be among those conversationalists.
"HP Part II: When Organizations Flatten...," TrendScope, July 2001.
Flatter, leaner organizations lead to less opportunity for promotions. That can frustrate some, as promotions have been a measure of success and an incentive for ambitious employees. In this last part of a two-part feature, TrendScope passes along Hewlett-Packard's advice for dealing with these shorter career ladders.
"When Jobs Disappear: The Hewlett-Packard Approach," TrendScope, June 2001.
Two major paradigmatic shifts are affecting individuals in the workforce: the end of lifetime employment, and the shortening of the career ladder due to flatter organizations. In the first part of a two-part article, learn how Hewlett-Packard helps people and the organization deal with issues of employment security.
"Employee Ownership Makes Good Music," TrendScope, May 2001.
Can employee ownership work? Should flexible organizations have free-form structures? Learn from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra's decade of experience in the non-profit world.
"Twenty Years of Experience: Lessons From the Rohm and Haas Bayport Plant," TrendScope, March 2001.
Do advanced work systems stand the test of time? Discover the lessons the Rohm and Haas plant in Bayport has learned over the past two decades as it pushed the envelope of participative work system design.
"Zealot Profile: Carly S. Fiorina," strategy + business, Issue 22, First Quarter 2001, p. 116.
Zealots are those practical visionaries who simultaneously create value, align people to value, and deliver value to ensure sustainable corporate success. This is the story of Carly Fiorina's claim to zealotry. Log in (free), select "Search and Browse", and then search for the exact phrase "Zealot Profile: Carly S. Fiorina."
"The Future Is Something We Do," The Venturer, February 2001.
Noted futurist Glen Hiemstra led a Northwest Entrepreneur Network breakfast audience through an exploration of what the next 20 to 100 years might bring.
"Be Your Own Turnaround Expert," The Venturer, January 2001.
John Wall, founder of Wall Data and Vista.com, explained to a Northwest Entrepreneur Network breakfast audience what he's learned about managing in tough times.
"Organizational Change Artist," TrendScope, December 2000.
This is the story of Michael Erickson and his work to facilitate change at the Boeing Company through the use of cartooning.
"Supplier Diversity Programs Proving Successful for Some, SUPERCOMM and TIA Member Companies Challenge Industry to do Even More," PulseOnline, November 2000.
A challenge was issued to the telecommunications industry at SUPERCOMM '99: raise the fraction of purchasing dollars spent with minority-, women-, and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises to more than 10 percent. What is the current state of supplier diversity programs in telecommunications?
"Recreating an Innovation Engine at Hewlett-Packard," TrendScope, October 2000.
This is the story behind HP's "Rules of the Garage" program—where it came from, what it is, and what's making it successful.
Contributor to The Dance of Change, a Fifth Discipline Fieldbook.

Dialog on organizational heresy, an outtake from The Dance of Change.
Art Kleiner writes, "Heretics are people who take a stand in a way that challenges conventional wisdom, but who remain loyal, in their own mind, to the organization they are challenging." This dialog explores what some have learned about being effective in advocating unconventional ideas.

Patents

"Mixer having overload protection," No. 4,829,204, May 1989.

"High speed AC/DC coupler," No. 4,355,237, October 1982.

"Adaptable nonlinear transmission line terminator," No. 4,345,171, August 1982.

Acknowledgements

All articles from the no-longer-published TrendScope are reprinted here with kind permission of its former publisher, Dr. Michael J. Mazarr.
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Bill Harris,
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Bill Harris,
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Bill Harris,
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Bill Harris,
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Bill Harris,
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