STIA- Peter Block LO2994

Sat, 30 Sep 1995 01:10:34 +0000

Here are my notes/thoughts from the 1995 Systems Thinking in Action
Conference, "Building Organizational Learning Infrastructures," Sep.
18-20, 1995, Boston.

Keynote - Stewardship: A Governance Strategy for the Learning Organization
- Peter Block

I saw Peter make a similar presentation last year at the Greenleaf
Center's Servant Leadership conference and have read both the Empowered
Manager and Stewardship (one of my all time favorites). Thus there was
not much new here for me, but I enjoyed Peter's presentation nonetheless.
Here are some of my notes:
The structure we are in (him on the podium) is designed for teaching
not learning, an artifact of patriarchy. How do we allow learning to
High control systems want predictability, not surprise and thus are
non-learning. Performance appraisal is a prime example of high control in
service to patriarchy not partnership. Gave quite a humorous rendition of
giving his spouse a performance appraisal. Moral - we don't treat partners
this way.
Fundamentally we are redistributing choice and power. As a social
movement, it will not happen. But there is a business argument that is
forcing the issue - the customer controls the relationship.
We need to design structures to support accountability and
responsibility. Can't legislate it or purchase it. Strong leadership
can't do it (our wish for leadership is escape from responsibility).
We need to start treating ourselves as being responsible for our own
experience. Gave an example of a redesigned evaluation form where we (the
audience) is just as responsible for the quality of experience as the
1. How good an experience do I plan to have here? (Scale of 1-7)
2. How much risk do I want to take today?
3. How engaged/surprised do I want to be today?
4. How much will I participate and contribute to others learning?
5. What will be the high point of the conference?
6. What will be the low point?

Use structure in service of choice.
Let go of starting at the top - peer pressure is what changes the world.
Our task - build capacity of local units to redesign their own experience.

Redesign 5 areas.
1. Create whole jobs.
2. Rethink staff roles.
3. Rethink human resources for partnership.
4. Redesign pay structure.
5. Create financial practices that create ownership at center & bottom.

Give people choice in exchange for a promise.
Relocate choice, power, resources.
Terminate the caretaking contract.
Eliminate the cost of watching & controlling.
End the class system and the adoration of leadership.
There is no one-way.
Develop a village, you build a nation.
Let people choose their own learning.

1) What's the promise to peers in service to the organization?
2) What's the price I'm willing to pay? Choose your own consequences.
3) Measure the progress. You choose your own measures.
4) Peers get together to review.

Jim Saveland
USDA Forest Service