Category Archives: articles

Whole Systems Transformation Through a Polarity Lens: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Increased rates of change are driving the need to respond to ever-more complex problems.  More and more situations are emerging where factions take different positions seemingly at odds with one another.  Nowhere is this more present than in the work of Whole System Transformation.  This chapter describes an approh that can enhance all transformation work.  Regardless of the method you have chosen to use in your transformation effort, a “polarity thinking” approach will help.

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Lose Lose Leadership Dilemmas

You’ve got a tough choice. The performance feedback is in and the message is clear: you’ve been micromanaging your people. They complain about feeling suffocated by the systems and processes you’ve put in place to ensure consistent, quality work. It’s the one blemish on your otherwise positive annual review. You’re told it’s the only thing standing between you and your much-coveted promotion to area manager. But this is one of your biggest strengths. You’ve always been proud to say, “Predictable processes lead to predictable results.” You’re told however that too much of a good thing has the same result as too little of it: ineffective leadership. You need to become more flexible.

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How RTSC Helped New York City Drop TB Incidence by 82%

In 1992 there was a potential worldwide epidemic of tuberculosis brewing in New York. Multiple drug resistant strains were beginning to show up – the kind that known medications could not treat effectively. TB is a disease of the poor and indigent. Patients regularly moved between the Public Hospitals, Shelter System, and Prisons. The Department of Health was in charge of leading the effort to combat the disease and the Office of Management and Budget needed to be involved to allocate financial resources. These five city agencies were required to create – and then rapidly implement — a Blueprint for TB Control though they had no track record of partnering well in the past. The City was on its way to becoming the epicenter of a global TB epidemic.

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Creating Dynamic, Energy-Producing Meetings

Richard H. Axelrod, Emily M. Axelrod, Julie Beedon and Robert W. Jacobs Leader to Leader, volume 17, no. 2, June 2006

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We have a love-hate relationship with meetings. Sometimes we leave them energized, brimming with ideas, and eager to move forward. Too often though, we leave drained, numb, and wondering what we were doing there in the first place. The reason we have to sit through lousy meetings are often failed rituals. Read More

How Do I Keep People Involved

Richard H. Axelrod, Emily M. Axelrod, Julie Beedon and Robert W. Jacobs, Our Children, Burrelles-Luce, September 2006

Sometimes it’s easy to get people to volunteer to help, but often much harder to keep them involved till the work is done. Here are five ways to make sure that doesn’t happen to you:

  • Keep reminding people why they got involved in the first place
  • Keep the key people involved
  • Support People So They Want to Stay Involved
  • Keep an open mind about who stays involved
  • Don’t worry if a few team members opt out

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