May 24, 2010 Program Summary

“Using Systems Thinking:
Take Your Personal and Professional Results to the Next Level”


Speaker Lori SteedWe experienced a dazzling presentation and a very unusual guided adventure at our May 24th event. Lori Steed, a systems-thinking specialist, facilitator, and professional photographer, shared with us what systems thinking is, and how it can help us achieve more satisfying outcomes in our personal, professional, and organizational lives.

Lori has distilled this abstract-sounding idea down to a set of core principles that are easy to explain and follow, regardless of background or discipline.

For example, whatever our top concerns, challenges, or goals, we can think of them as puzzles to solve. We can look at the way we approach each puzzle, and compare our approaches with various tenets of systems thinking. In so doing, we're bound to find new things to try, new ways of looking at things, and new ideas for improving our situation.

With more than 25 years of experience in the practical aspects of systems and operations, Lori succeeded in expertly presenting the basics of applied systems thinking. She led us through some fascinating discovery exercises that illuminated how we should approach a life puzzle, how to gauge our (or someone else's) effectiveness, and how to realistically and honestly assess progress (know when to keep at it and when to make a change).

These approaches are especially important whenever we have thoughts like these:

  • "How do I increase my understanding of the situation?"
  • "I worry that some things never change."
  • "I need to stop the pain and make sure it doesn't come back."
  • "I'd like to have greater wisdom."
  • "How can I be better at what I do?"
  • "My concern is that one person won't make a difference."
  • "I need to understand what's causing the issues."
  • "I'd like to have greater influence."

Lori demonstrated several powerful tools and processes that address thoughts like those above. In so doing, she delved into three key questions:

1) How Do I Interact with Systems in Everyday Life? (What are systems, and what are some common daily circumstances that involve systems?)

2) What Are the Principles of Systems Thinking? (Simple guidelines that are down-to-earth and easy to follow; see Lori's "Habits of a Systems Thinker" illustrated handout.)

3) How Can I Improve My Life Using Systems Thinking? (Specific examples of how we can apply the principles in solving real-world problems in our personal lives, in an organization, generating new business, solving problems, or improving customer experiences, for example. See Lori's "Guiding Questions" and "Focused Systems Thinking" handouts.)

Below are links to Lori's presentation — which includes many examples of her own photography — and several handouts.

Downloads & Resources:

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Presentation downloads:

Questions? Contact Lori:

“Using Systems Thinking: Take Your Personal and Professional Results to the Next Level”
Date: Monday evening, May 24, 2010

Lori Steed (LoriSteed.com) is a systems thinker, designer, and photographer who creates experiences and events that enlighten, inspire, and engage. Her aim is to connect others with resources (i.e., tools, people, and information) and set the stage for organic individual or organizational learning. At the heart of this is a focus on communication and reflection, both at the individual and organizational level. Lori has a degree in Graphic Design from Cal Poly and over 25 years of experience in operations, systems, and management of people, projects, and programs in the airline industry. She currently owns a photography business and is a consultant and facilitator.

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