peter senge

peter senge bw

intro’d to Peter via the presencing institute global forum 2014

Systems Thinking and The Gap Between Aspirations and Performance

Published on Oct 10, 2013

In his keynote presentation to our Climate, Buildings and Behavior symposium last month, leading organizational thinker Peter Senge offers a distillation of his insights into the most important factors in achieving meaningful change for the environment or in any sphere of life. They include positive aspirations instead of negative admonitions (“the power of aspiration is much greater than the power of desperation”), the desire and vision to bring into being and develop something new (like building a cathedral, or raising a child) and networks of relationships with collaborators engaged in “collective, creative process.” Whatever kind of personal or social change work you’re engaged in, you’ll take away actionable insights from this accessible and profound talk.

what we really need to do is create alternate ways..

can’t just tell people how bad they are .. and say..

be less bad..

the power of aspiration.. much greater than power of desperation, ie: people didn’t build cathedrals because they had an 

6 min – if the energy is primarily one of solving problems.. you get a totally different type of process than if the energy is primarily one of bringing into existence something you care about..

11:30 – it’s our networks of collaboration – how we create..

we get focused on the doing.. when it’s the qualities of those relationships that matter

reflecting on our knowledge networks.. who needs who…

love – as the act of allowing another to be a legitimate other

find/follow Peter:

wikipedia small

Peter Michael Senge (born 1947) is an American scientist and director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is known as author of the book The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization from 1990 (new edition 2006). He is a senior lecturer at the System Dynamics Group at MIT Sloan School of Management, and co-faculty at the New England Complex Systems Institute.

sol site:



nov 2014 Otto and Peter:

on noticing. on being.

where you put your focus.. where your love goes rather than your fear

global means everything.. doesn’t have to be big

doing small things with great love.

simple delight of working together with others on things you really care about

so busy focusing on the thing rather than the relational space

14 min – when you’re doing what you’re doing because you want to… creates such a bond

17 min – how to hold the space for a different kind of organizing

what does it mean to create a platform for others to do things and you to be invisible

20 min – creating spaces where something can happen… that journey is a journey of letting go.. the premise is that if i don’t do it it won’t happen

the – what i have to do in order for it to happen – may literally be what’s standing in the way..


5 min video from 2011

Mark Storm (@marksstorm) tweeted at 12:17 AM – 20 Jul 2018 :
Webs of Interdependence — Peter Senge on systems thinking. @2heartoftheart (

deep learning.. i have to be prepared to be wrong.. if it was pretty obvious what needed to be done we’d already be doing it.. so i’m most likely part of the problem..

we all probably spent too much time thinking about smart individuals.. we need collective smartness.. ie: cities..


via sam chaltain‘s seed & spark:

TONIGHT, it’s Peter Senge, with all his accrued wisdom about systems thinking, helping us explore how best to free ourselves from the systems that hold us (and our common public world) prisoner.

link to talk:

notes/quotes from talk:

46 present at beginning

sam and homa tavangar (growing up global, big questions institute) hosting – yr long expedition using nature as model (present that i know of.. bobbi macdonald, daniel kinzer

bobbi macdonald & city neighbors

bobbi intro’ing musicians for tonight.. always start w music.. bob darlington w band translator – song – difficult age

55 here now

sam: on peter’s fifth discipline (book).. am starting off w diff question.. than how can we free ourselves from systems.. i’m curious at this moment in time.. what are the central questions/riddles you find yourself sitting w most actively on a day to day basis

peter: two levels come to mind 1\ how do we end the confusion as a people.. how are we going to live together on this planet  2\ on change being intimate and local change yet w problems larger than that locality.. so for last 12-15 yrs.. and now basically all my time/energy goes into people working w primary/secondary ed.. always local.. what is the meaning of.. to change the prevailing system of ed..

homa: i’m also interested in k-12 ed and where it’s going.. an idea i’ve been fixated on during pandemic comes from arundhati toy.. the pandemic as a portal.. gateway between what we knew and an opp to let go.. what will we carry w us thru the portal.. how has the pandemic spurred change

arundhati roy

peter: not sure about that last question.. but no doubt school’s are at a crossroads..

daniel in chat:: “Letting go”. How is “system(s) change” more about letting go of multiple elements that haven’t served, or no longer serve us well, and how might we “strip down” education to it’s most fundamental systemic elements with a sharp eye on relationships between those elements?

ie: cure ios city..

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people

peter: on programs outside of school.. and then to once in lifetime to reimagine schools.. do we really have to go back.. i find no institution more fatalistic/pessimistic.. in fact phrase ‘school reform’ .. who gets excited about ‘reform’.. i think the notion that there is a unique moment now.. because going back for a lot of people is really not an option.. so in that pandemic has been important.. from what i can see.. nobody is happy w their schools.. and yet.. we have a tremendous investment in them staying the way they are.. in that sense.. yeah.. real portal

sam: probably a little of both.. some revert.. some change.. dan kinzer back from wayfinding voyage has interesting question

dan: this idea of letting go.. i’m curious how is systems change.. ed if you want.. how is it more about letting go.. seems innovation is always additive.. what would that look like if stripped to most fundamental elements..

again ie: cure ios city

peter: leads to obvious question.. why..  because there’s a lot of fear associated w letting go.. in dealing w this fear.. umberto: what do we want to conserve.. if we’re not sure about that .. we try to conserve everything

ie: 2 conversations.. as infra

bobbi in chat: we need to find the bias toward well being. That way we conserve that which regenerates and transforms and let go of what doesn’t bring us life.

ie: maté basic needs

peter: on cultivating appreciation of letting go

aziz let go law et al

66 here now

homa: where would you suggest to focus

peter: energy for change comes from 2 sources: 1\ something we really love  2\ telling the truth about what is.. it’s the gap of those two that’s the energy for change.. *painful to tell the truth about what is

fittingness et al..

*and a distraction.. ie: whalespeak.. let go

peter: each of us can ask.. what do we care about the most.. and how do we localize it now.. what are the aspects of current reality we need to pay attention to.. ie: that we get hijacked by it..

peter: real key to leadership is simply that.. why ed is so meaningful because we have an innate caring for well being of children.. doesn’t need to be taught.. that’s a portal for tapping into capacity for real vision

q: role of sense making in your work.. how do you tune your senses

peter: creative tension.. what is current reality? is a sense making question.. we all see bits/pieces.. always room to question what we’re missing.. portal into collective nature into types of perception needed for change.. if you just start w the assumption that we’re all imperfect in our perception.. need each other.. we start to see/feel reality of others

peter on umberto: love is the act of allowing another to be a legit other

peter: in moment of sight sensory overload.. good to close eyes.. cultivating sensory awareness is important.. w/o that really can’t be present

not yet scrambled ness

sam: only way to describe sky w one’s eyes closed is thru poetry.. and nature bringing in the one ness of all things.. last two janine – biomimicry and adrienne as activist.. not to go big but go deep.. so want to ask about question of scale..

peter: obviously a core question.. language is really important.. that’s what we have to work with.. ie: how do we scale this? a big mistake.. nature doesn’t scale it grows

so let’s let go of language as control/enclosure.. and try to org via idiosyncratic jargon

daniel in chat (in response to peter saying we’re social): We’re social BEFORE we are invidividual!

hmm.. brown belonging law et al.. simultaneous.. but today.. none of us are us because of the social ness..

peter: idea who’s time has come could be the deal w getting to scale..

homa: i keep thinking about scale and speed.. ie: slowing down to appreciate and notice.. rather than the faster the better..