Newsletter No. 18 June 2010

It’s all change and all go! We’ve had an exciting general election in the UK, the result of which looks to be a totally new form of coalition government. Other parts of Europe are very used to the idea of “co-operation government” and what that means, but in recent times, in the UK, it’s very new. You may remember that in our last newsletter we talked about renewal and resilience; we discussed how organisations had to try something different in today’s turbulent times. We’d say that a political coalition of this sort definitely represents something different; and we recognise the chance and possibility it offers.

Meanwhile at LASA we’ve moved into our new office after two uncomfortable months in temporary accommodation. At the end of March, Tricia’s co-authored book “Beyond Crisis: achieving renewal in a turbulent world” was launched by Wiley to excellent reviews, and is now selling well. To read a sample chapter click here. So with a new government, a new office, and a new book, we at LASA find ourselves standing in a place of multiple possibilities.

In this issue:

Best wishes from the LASA Team

Latest thinking

Sustainability and the Purposeful Self-Renewing Organisation

There is a lot of discussion these days about climate change (and Climate-gate) and whether or not it is real. We think that is missing the point: The point is not to argue over the effects of historical decisions and actions; the point is that decisions and actions we take NOW must ensure the future is sustainable.

Sustainability is a key attribute of a Purposeful Self-Renewing Organisation (or PS-RO), an organisation fit for purpose for its future. It isn’t a question of just applying green wash or complying with standards that are being imposed. Our definition of sustainability is far more than this; a sustainable organisation is one that above all will survive and thrive not just for five years, but for twenty years and beyond. Lip service is not enough and organisations that do not understand this are in peril.

Organisations which do, understand the need for continual renewal. PS-ROs lead the field in sustainable practices because they are aware that it is all about the choices they – as organisations make – and the choices that the individuals in the organisations make. They are not just concerned with their carbon footprint and treading lightly on the earth, but also with treating their people fairly, trading ethically and putting something back into the communities in which they work.

If you need to analyse or “deal” with an organisation’s issues or questions and you look at them in isolation, removed from the wider context, the resulting patterns or answers may not make sense. Ken Wilber’s work talks about how all things are part of larger systems, and all are integrated. This means that you have to look at an organisation as part of the larger system. Economy, environment and energy, for instance, are meta-systems which are inextricably interconnected. An organisation which ignores its connections to these, and their connections to each other, does so at its peril. Thus, whenever you propose to make any changes within the organisation, you need to consider the impacts of those changes not just on the organisation itself but on the system as a whole.

This is where sustainability comes in – considering how to be successful and what changes should be made in the context of the integrated whole; considering which “acupuncture points” will achieve the desired result with least pain to the whole organism.

It is clear that today’s world is a very uncertain, turbulent place and organisations have a choice as to how they respond to this uncertainty. They can take small steps, small decisions and do the minimum – and live in fear of the constant ambiguity. Or they can choose to embrace the changing world, adapt and change with it – and create a competitive advantage. We believe that what we are facing today is nothing short of an amazing opportunity for organisational innovation and a cycle of renewal, where true sustainability goes hand-in-hand with continual renewal, which generates amazing opportunities for competitive advantage.

� Patricia Lustig, 2010

Latest Books

Beyond Crisis: Achieving Renewal in a Turbulent World

By Gill Ringland, Patricia Lustig and Oliver Sparrow
John Wiley & Sons, 2010
327 pages

Like a child in a sweet shop, I was overwhelmed with the choice of goodies on display. This book is a treasure trove of great insights, useful tools, handy hints and homily wisdom. Even before I'd finished it, I had fired off emails to colleagues extolling them to "read this book", "use the tools on pages X and Y", and the like.

The overarching message is one that standing still is not an option. We need to open our eyes to ourselves and to what's happening around us and to have the courage to accept, welcome and embrace change. As I read it, I was conscious of having one eye on my own organisation; undertaking a strategic review in my mind as I turned the pages. Are we a PS-RO? Do we have a clear Narrative? Do we have the right Machinery? etc.

My Hero Quest is to build strategic thinking into my organisation. On my journey, I will return time and again to this book for help, guidance and reassurance. It may not deliver renewal, but having it to light the way will give us more of a fighting chance!

Gary Kass, Natural England (used with permission).

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: a corporate fool’s guide to surviving with grace.

By Gordon MacKenzie
Viking, 1996
224 pages

This is an inspiring little book about how to be creative in a big company. MacKenzie likens a big company to a giant hairball. In a hairball all strands are tight and connected to the centre; there can be no movement within the hairball, because movement would loosen the strands and destroy the cohesive nature of the ball.

MacKenzie deals with the big questions of how a creative individual can retain his creativity in such an institution – and how he, and his organisation, can survive and thrive.

The book is an engaging discussion about encouraging creativity in formal institutions where everything conspires to keep creativity suppressed. MacKenzie calls it “orbiting”; responsible creativity, exploring beyond the corporate mind set while remaining connected to its values and purpose.

This little book helps people to move beyond not being able to see the forest for the trees. And it does so in a fun, irreverent and above all illuminating way. Best of all, it helps you to see how you can encourage this attitude in others – a way to build an environment that encourages and rewards innovative behaviour.

Joke corner

Country Humour

A Montana rancher got in his pickup and drove to a neighbouring ranch and knocked at the door. A young boy, about 9, opened the door "Is your Dad home?" the rancher asked.

"No sir, he isn't," the boy replied. "He went into town."

"Well," said the rancher, "Is your Mother here?"

"No sir, she's not here either. She went into town with Dad.."

"How about your brother, Howard? Is he here?"

"No sir, He went with Mom and Dad."

The rancher stood there for a few minutes, shifting from one foot to the other and mumbling to himself. "Is there anything I can do for you?" the boy asked politely. "I know where all the tools are, if you want to borrow one. Or maybe I could take a message for Dad."

"Well," said the rancher uncomfortably, "I really wanted to talk to your Dad. It's about your brother Howard getting my daughter, Suzie, pregnant."'

The boy considered for a moment. "You would have to talk to Pa about that," he finally conceded. "If it helps you any, I know that Pa charges $500 for the bull and $50 for the hog, but I really don't know how much he gets for Howard."


A woman in a supermarket is following a grandfather and his badly behaved 3 year-old grandson. It's obvious to her that he has his hands full with the child screaming for sweets in the sweet aisle, biscuits in the biscuit aisle; and for fruit, cereal and pop in the other aisles. Meanwhile, Gramps is working his way around, saying in a controlled voice, "Easy, William, we won't be long . . . Easy, boy."

Another outburst, and she hears the granddad calmly say, "It's okay, William, just a couple more minutes and we'll be out of here. Hang in there, boy."

At the checkout, the little terror is throwing items out of the cart, and Gramps says again in a controlled voice, "William, William, relax buddy, don't get upset. We'll be home in five minutes; stay cool, William."

Very impressed, the woman goes outside where the grandfather is loading his groceries and the boy into the car. She said to the elderly gentleman, "It's none of my business, but you were amazing in there. I don't know how you did it. That whole time, you kept your composure, and no matter how loud and disruptive he got, you just calmly kept saying things would be okay. William is very lucky to have you as his grandpa."

"Thanks, lady," said the grandfather, "but I'm William . .. . The little Bastard's' name is Kevin."


The roundest Knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of maths disruption.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

A hole has been found in a nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

Atheism is a non-prophet organisation.

Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here ;I'll go on a head."

I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre stated, "Keep off the Grass."

The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was described as 'a small medium at large'.

The man who survived the mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

When the cannibals ate a missionary, they got a real taste for religion.

Did you hear about the man who butchered corn-flakes? He was a known cereal killer.

Flame azalea Flame azalea, Gregory's Bald Tennessee, June 2010
© PMLustig 2010

Latest News from LASA

  • LASA Data Solutions, led by Nic (including Tristan and his team for support) has started a long term project with Kingdom Interiors, maintaining and further developing their website for e-commerce. He is also implementing a newsletter for clients as well as various reports and supporting Kingdom Interiors ambitious plans for growth. As one testimonial on the new website says: Reason for buying: “Yours was the most impressive and easiest site to use. Sheila”.
  • Tricia ran a corporate strategy day for a local SME looking at an increasingly uncertain future; during a full and dynamic day, she helped participants to identify a number of possible options to help them survive and thrive.
  • Nic continues his work with TIG, The Infinity Group, an association of independent business coaches; supporting and maintaining their website.
  • Tricia has been working with Angel Trains, a UK rolling stock company, (RoSCo) on their strategy for future business growth and development. The process began when, with SAMI colleagues she ran a series of interviews; these fed into the scenario planning process involving more than 30 senior managers, who really “got” the mind-stretching exercises and future vision sessions. The set of futures were then reality tested against robust challenges in a final workshop. The resulting report provided the foundation of a strategy for the company’s future development.
  • Tricia continues her work supporting the Henley Centre for Sustainable Enterprise. Their first conference, attended by over 25 interested and intrigued delegates, took place at the end of May.
  • Beyond Crisis, the book that Tricia wrote with colleagues Gill Ringland and Oliver Sparrow from SAMI Consulting was published at the end of March in the UK and the end of May in the USA (we have seen it not just on Amazon, but in Barnes & Noble!). Such is the interest in the new organisational models proposed in this book that several related workshops have already been run. They have challenged entrenched attitudes and released an encouraging fountain of energy and appetite to take a new, more sustainable view of the organisational model of the future.


"We thrive and survive on planet earth as a single human family. And one of our main responsibilities is to leave to successor generations a sustainable future." ~ General Kofi A. Annan

"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value." ~Theodore Roosevelt

Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology.
  ~Alan M. Eddison

"The future will be green, or not at all. This truth lies at the heart of humankind's most pressing challenge: to learn to live in harmony with the Earth on a genuinely sustainable basis." ~Sir Jonathon Porritt

"The starting point for a better world is the belief that it is possible." ~Norman Cousins

"The future is literally in our hands to mould as we like. But we cannot wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow is now." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

"The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river." ~Ross Perot

"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defence of our resources is just as important as defence abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?" ~Robert Redford

“You can never impact on society if you have not changed yourself.” ~Nelson Mandela

“{We} are the makers of our own state and…individuals who realise the fact need not, ought not, to wait for collective action.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“After all, sustainability means running the global environment – Earth Inc. – like a corporation: with depreciation, amortization and maintenance accounts. In other words, keeping the asset whole, rather than undermining your natural capital.” ~Maurice Strong

“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.” ~Paul Hawken

LASA Website

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@ LASA InsightLtd 2010