When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

The Art of Systems Thinking in the Media

The Art of Systems Thinking in the Media

Rick Stephens
Elane V. Scott
Featured Guests:
Dr. Linda Seger
Pamela Jaye Smith

Dear Valued Stakeholders,

Our series on the understanding of systems thinking in the six economic sectors of government, business, health, media, education, and non-profits has drawn responses from listeners all over the country. It is not surprising. People who have grown up in industrial societies often get enthused about systems thinking and dynamic modeling because they believe that in the analysis of the interconnection of so many moving parts, it just might be possible to predict the future! Alas, it is not so. For example, self-organizing, nonlinear feedback systems such as our guests have talked about are inherently unpredictable. They are not controllable by reducing the actions of the whole system down to the parts and trying to understand them. In truth, when dealing with the interplay and dance of systems in our lives, we can never fully understand them. They are full of uncertainty and for any objective, other than the most trivial, we can’t find a proper, sustainable relationship with any systems behavior, each other, or institutions we create if we try to do it from the role of the conqueror, a lesson we have learned from each of our guests.

In this series we have been talking with people who have used the systems thinking approach to shape sustainable businesses. We have engaged Ray Haynes (6/23/09), an aerospace and corporate business leader who works inside and outside of his profession to foster the development of engineering and leadership talent. We have talked with Phil Schlechty (6/30/09), founder of the Schlechty Leadership Center in Louisville, Kentucky who trains successful education administrators, with a strong focus on the importance of relationships between schools and the communities they serve. Becki Donatelli (7/7/09), Chairman of Campaign Solutions, founder of and, talked with us about how she is bringing national campaign and fundraising success closer to the community level. Last week, we talked with Dr. Peter Levy (7/14/09) about lending his professional stature to the support of individuals and families, encouraging them to value care with a focus on the whole body system, instead of just the parts.

Today we bring systems thinking in the attention of media folks Linda Seger, a long time Hollywood script consultant, and writer and published author, Pamela Jaye Smith, Both women can display significant resumes packed with worlds of creative writing and consulting and end up taking this discussion far beyond the media sector.

Similar to systems thinking is what our guests call “web thinking” (not the internet web, visualize spider webs). It's the idea that interconnectedness and collaboration yields greater results, more often, than solo action. Just as the director of a movie (or mayor of a community) holds a vision and acts as the ultimate decision maker when necessary, by seeking out engagement from the leaders of the different departments (the "parts") he/she ultimately succeeds in improving "the whole." Leaders don’t have to be hierarchical to be effective and yet very often, leaders, for their own myriad reasons “go it alone.” Linda and Pamela discuss the application of web thinking in the professional entertainment industry today, but also go deeper into the stories and myths that inform creative minds and how that affects the innovations they create.

Join us for a rich and tantalizing peek at the worlds of two women who play well in the Hollywood scene, but most often prefer to rely on the web of relationships they have built for success in luck, love, life and learning!

Elane V. Scott