Ep54 Applying Systems Thinking to Solve Complex Problems with Dr. Jerry Brightman

Ep54 Applying Systems Thinking to Solve Complex Problems with Dr. Jerry Brightman

Welcome to the Inside: Sales Enablement Podcast Episode 54

System thinking is a disciplined way of understanding dynamic relationships. It’s an approach that enables you to make better choices and avoid unintended consequences. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Jerry Brightman, who teaches courses on systems thinking at Harvard University.

The guys talk with Jerry to unpack a real-world example to understand the components and repeatable approaches to viewing the commercial system as an integrated system of people, processes, technology, and capabilities.

In this episode:

  • The definition of systems thinking
  • The difference between managing and leadership
  • The pros and cons of systems thinking
  • The importance of short-term wins in service of the broader solution
  • The best way to prioritize action in the day-to-day


Intro 00:02  

Welcome to the inside sales enablement podcast. Where has the profession been? Where is it now? And where is it heading? What does it mean to you, your company, other functions? The market? Find out here. Join the founding father of the sales enablement profession Scott Santucci and Trailblazer Brian Lambert, as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now.

Scott Santucci 00:33  

I’m Scott Santucci.

Brian Lambert 00:35  

I’m Brian Lambert and we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is for sales enablement leaders looking to elevate their function, expand their sphere of influence, and increase the span of control within their companies.

Scott Santucci 00:48  

Together, Brian, I’ve worked on over 100 different kinds of sales and they were knishes analysts, consultants or practitioners. We learned the hard day our way not hard day saved. This is all part of the process. We have a hard way what works and perhaps what’s most importantly, what doesn’t.

Brian Lambert 01:08  

And our focus here on this podcast inside sales enablement is on you as a sales enablement leader and orchestrator, as you know, sales enablement orchestrators has very specific characteristics, and I’m going to share those with you. Now, first of all, your mission and goal focused, you’ve prioritize the right goals at the right moments. You guide the narrative by confronting reality to get the right stuff done. You drive results by design, not by effort, you unlock energy to create momentum and catalyze change through collaboration. Those are the six attributes of an orchestrator. And you can find out more about that on an earlier episode on orchestrators as we usually do, we’re going to start with a centering story on this particular episode. So Scott, what kind of centering story do you have for our audience today?

Scott Santucci 01:56  

Well, I’ve got a great one. So I first want us to dwell on how cool This name is okay. And how awesome the Italians are at naming people.

Brian Lambert 02:07  

Go figure says the Italian

Scott Santucci 02:09  

is well, I don’t have to Scott isn’t an Italian name like I just have to laugh. I’m half right. But listen to this name vilfredo Pareto. Oh, nice Hellenic in it.

Brian Lambert 02:24  

Yeah, it’s very nice to have properly dwelled on that so let’s move on. It’s very elegant.

Scott Santucci 02:30  

So who is this person? And why are we talking about about him. But as you as you many of you may know, you might know this idea of the 8020 rule. And the 8020 rule is also called peredo analysis or peredo distribution or he’s got a lot of other other things and as many people call him, the father of micro economics. So if you look at economic theory, like Adam Smith, and you’ve Read it, it sounds like oh, this is a like a sociology book. And then when you look at our Philip philosophic, philosophical book, when you look at parados works, it looks more modern. He’s got tons and tons of tables and statistics and things in there. And one of the things that he really observed is, in trying to figure out distribution of power and distribute, you know, where power really resides. He was caught up in a lot of the revolutions in in Europe during the during time, so let’s let’s frame it out. He was born in 1848 and died in 1923. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of turmoil and he’s Italian.

So if you know about Italian history, they didn’t. They started the process of revolutions after the Civil War, the United States so the 1860s and and on, and making these observations about getting in big problems and arguments with With the governments, the local governments about what things need to do, because he was a very, very much a laissez faire or classic liberal in those senses, not not what we would call today a liberal. Definitely, if we call them today, he probably be very conservative or probably a libertarian. But the key observation that he made that was so groundbreaking was that he found that 80% of the wealth or not so much the wealth, but 80% of the land owned in Italy, was owned by 20% of the population. And he had to keep double checking that and what he found is that pattern, that pattern is a reoccurring pattern. And you’ve heard us talk about that pattern before in some of the other podcasts that we’ve done, because we found that pattern exists with salespeople, about 20% of salespeople are generating 80% of the new growth, about 20% of your customers are generating 80% of your profits. All of these things work and that we Have vilfredo Pareto, again, the poetic name to Frank. Thank you mentoring story.

Brian Lambert 05:09  

Thank you. vilfredo Pareto, I just wanted to say that I’m on

Scott Santucci 05:14  

peredo fan club.

Brian Lambert 05:17  

So I got to ask that and our listeners do too. So what? So this has to do with sales enablement.

Scott Santucci 05:27  

So what this has to do with sales enablement, and our topic today is that there’s a one of the things that we tend to do, and drive a lot of cost is we do a lot of activity. We do lots and lots and lots of stuff, but a lot of stuff. Are we doing the right things? And how do we figure out there’s a there’s always a mathematical element, if we embrace it, most of us don’t embrace these things because they you know, it’s just far too easy to say, well, let’s go fix the sales force. Instead of saying let’s find the 20% of the sales force to improve What can we do? And really what we’re talking about here is the introduction of systems thinking. And when we talk about that, as you all on our on our show have have adopted that you want to be orchestrators, part of what we’re trying to do is highlight the business value of being an orchestrator the business problems that we’re looking to solve. So that’s why this matters so much the centering story and the topic that we’re going to do is so what is systems thinking? Is it some new age idea that we have to have a crystal and you know, hug trees over? Or is it something real and something tangible?

Brian Lambert 06:37  

Yeah, I love that. And to help us with this today, we’ve got a, an expert in the space joining us. His name is Jerry Brightman. He is a bright man, so we’re gonna help us on this topic. Yeah, you’ve got him. I do too. And Jerry is a great guy. I’ve learned I’ve learned a lot from him over the last 20 years. I met him when I was first coming out of the military and he was in program project management. He’s done some great fascinating work in industry. All over the world. He’s been to 100 different countries. But right now in his phase of what he’s doing, he’s he’s a professor at Tufts and at Harvard. And Jerry, one of the things that I was reconnecting with year round was I saw on LinkedIn, you had posted this really cool post about teaching this really interesting class, to folks at Harvard. And that class was on systems thinking. So I reached out and I said, Hey, our listeners are asking about this. They’re also you know, quite frankly, pushing back on Scott and I a little bit around some of the topics and wrestling with them. So let’s get Jerry on. And let’s ask him some questions that perhaps our listeners might have, and explore this topic of, of systems thinking. So Jerry Brightman, thanks so much for joining us here on insider nation.

Unknown Speaker 07:50  

My pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.

Brian Lambert 07:52  

You bet. Can you share a little bit about your background that maybe I’ve missed?

Unknown Speaker 07:57  

Well, it’s um, it’s a it’s a very diverse background but it does. It does have a way of connecting dots. I started out as a very young guy went to school seemingly forever getting an undergraduate, an MBA, and then even a DBA doctor Business Administration. And then guess what? teaching at a university, and out in Western Michigan University in the wilds of Kalamazoo, Michigan. And I was asked to teach an off campus course in Grand Rapids to a real live working business people in that area. And it was very quickly known to me and the moment that I was a fake. The only advantage I had over these people who were working all day and going from an MBA an evening was they were actually doing business and I had an advantage of being one chapter ahead in the book. And I realized that I love the teaching. I really loved being in front of students, graduate students, real practitioners of business every day. But if I was going to be helpful to them, I had to quit teaching and get into the business world. And I was very, very fortunate to join a global chemical company for about a dozen years, that wound up being the very first company ever to do business in the People’s Republic of China. And during that period of time, I was very lucky along with my CEO to be pioneers in the trade with China being the very first to go to China. And without any knowledge of the of the country, of its history of its culture of its ways of negotiating even its currency and contracts. we wind up doing a billion dollars worth of two way trade with China, a country we didn’t know at all. And so what were the tools of our trade? And one of one big one was was thinking more systemically about the work we were doing.

Scott Santucci 09:45  

Excellent. So to kick us off what I’m going to ask you two pretty basic straightforward questions. And I’d like some, you know, basic, straightforward answers from Jerry. So the first question I want to ask is to systems thinking, is that a thing?

Unknown Speaker 10:03  

I wish it were more of a thing. I think that real leaders around the world would would benefit systems thinking as an addition to their toolkit, especially in the areas of decision making and seeing the the broader interrelationships. And interconnections have their, their own work staff, and their own people, and the people that they try to do business with. So it’s very real. It’s just not seen by many people quite honestly.

Scott Santucci 10:30  

interested. So what I’m hearing you say is that it’s a very real thing. Just a lot of it a lot of people aren’t taking advantage of it.

Unknown Speaker 10:39  

And frankly speaking, it’s not unlike the quality movement years ago, which was a real thing and and However, people pick the low hanging fruit expected great results, and didn’t do the work behind it to make it real so

Scott Santucci 10:53  

well. And also to wasn’t that wasn’t that true that it was a real thing in Japan, and it wasn’t a real thing in the United States and Our car, our automatic fractured covers got slaughtered, and then they adopted it.

Unknown Speaker 11:05  

Well, Dr. Deming was was preaching loud and clearly in the United States and people didn’t listen to him. So he said, bear with you guys, I’m off to Japan. And those folks loved it, embrace it. And that’s why the Japanese carmakers for over a decade was such a fierce competitor to the United States. And, but we expect quick results. We’re a country that wants quick results. And I think systems thinking similar to the quality movement is somewhat counterintuitive. It takes time to implement, it takes time to understand it. And it does work miracles, in our sense of we ignorant people going to China for the first time knowing nothing, doing a billion dollars were the two way trade in a wide range of areas, and even even developing our own consulting firm that helped American and European firms understand what the China business was all about. I’d love that. So that gives me my second sort of blunt instrument question. My second question is,

Scott Santucci 12:05  

so if systems thinking is a thing, what is that? What is it? What is this stuff? What is systems thinking?

Unknown Speaker 12:14  

Yeah, there’s a very great quote by Albert Einstein. So I want to bring in Einstein to prove that I’m a professor, right? You can’t do better than quoting Albert Einstein, right? And I assigned says that the problems we face today cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that existed when the problem began. Time is time is gone very quickly from the start of that problem, to the present time. So what he’s what Einstein is saying pretty simple and down to earth, is we’ve got to change the level of thinking that we have today to deal with that older chronic issue. And systems thinking is a wonderful, wonderful way to do that. The big thing that executives have to do is they have to change their thinking. That’s To change where they’re coming from changes the level of thinking, just like they had to do with the quality boom. And, you know, let’s face it, habits are hard to break. I’ve got young kids who still have habits that they started when they were four years old, three years old. So habits are tough to break, if they can break the habits and open up their minds and new ways of thinking systems thinking will be a valuable tool to build leadership, guaranteed.

Scott Santucci 13:24  

So are you saying systems thinking is like a mindset thing? What Why don’t I do yoga? or Why don’t I do meditation? What do you what do you mean, man?

Unknown Speaker 13:33  

Here’s what I know. I’m not going to quote Einstein anymore. But my buddies at a corporation that I worked for, for a number of years had a very interesting word called metanoia. Which, which is the definition of metanoia is shift of mind. So yeah, I they don’t necessarily have to do yoga, but I you know, you won’t believe this, but I start all my Harvard classes. With the required reading, called the miracle of mindfulness by teknon, hot, who was a Vietnamese monk nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, then by Martin Luther King. And mindfulness is just understanding the world around you and being truly present. It’s not a way out. It’s just a consciousness of what’s happening around you. And for some reason, and I usually get classes of 30 people from 18 to 20 countries, ranging from Europe and the former Eastern Europe, to China and Asia, to Latin America. And it seems to be a common thread, it attracts them to the idea of systems thinking, they have to be present in which they are both in the class and when they leave me. I keep in touch with them for many years. It connects the diversity of people to a common way of thinking which is systems thinking that we do in our class.

Scott Santucci 14:53  

So I’m gonna ask or challenge a little bit here. I’m trying to change Some of our maybe more traditional thinkers, thinkers in our audience, and putting myself in the situation advocating for systems thinking. I would get say, it’s just crystals and healing. That’s what all Yoga is. How would we describe it to be more concrete? And what maybe what do you teach? teach your students in your class like in your class that you go through? I love that you’re starting out with, Hey, you got to be more open minded to be able to embrace some of these concepts. And I like that you brought up counterintuitive, but what’s the meat on the other side of all the counter intuition, a lot of people just don’t like all that anxiety or ambiguity of getting getting to the point.

Unknown Speaker 15:45  

But what they don’t like more than that are the chronic issues that they face in their everyday business world. And when I say chronic problems, I mean problems that they thought they had solutions for that six months later, come back And rear their ugly head. And the reason for that is the busy pace of business today. And it’s going to be even busier tomorrow is executives think like managers, they have to do lists. And the greatest achievement of their day is knocking off their to do list, right and go to tomorrow. So quick fix becomes a very valuable rep a tool in their repertoire. However, and actually quick fix has a good place in systems thinking. However, it doesn’t get to the root of the problems and that’s why six months later, these chronic problems, come back and bite them in the leg and they’re stuck why we had a great solution for it. Well, you didn’t have a great solution you had a quick fix that knocked it off your to do list. And now you got to come back to it. So take it down the can’t kick the can down the road. Again down the road. So the so the attraction to not only my students but my clients is. So you’re going to tell me you’re going to send me a bill of goods maybe Alright, let’s be setting Next year, you’re going to sell me a bill of goods that’s going to get my chronic problems off. So it stays sold. And I look him straight in the eye. Maybe from the back of a snake oil

Scott Santucci 17:11  

wagon. I don’t know. You got it? Yeah, I think we should adopt, like at the yoga studio, you’re in the back of a yoga studio teaching me how

Unknown Speaker 17:19  

to, like, know exactly. Who Kumbaya, you’re gonna make me stretch. It ain’t but but, but it’s gonna make your problem chronic problem go away. And so here’s, here’s the deal. here’s, here’s the way your audience is working today around the world, no matter who your clients are. They’re working at three levels. One is at an event level. And so if you picture a an iceberg, okay, so picture an iceberg in your mind. the very tip of the iceberg is working in an event level. So I asked my clients and my students, how many of you are problem solvers or put out fires and 90% Have a hit 90% of the hands go up. And they say 90% of their time is occupied, putting out fires and solving problems. So I, of course, play a jerk in the room, right? And I say, so let me get this straight. You’re sitting in your office, twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the phone to ring with a problem. And then you can jump in and be that problem solved. Or you have your fire extinguisher ready to go and put out the fire. And by the way, one of my friends once said, beware of firefighters. They become arsonists. And they set fires to show how good they are putting them out. So I say how much of your time is spent firefighting and putting on problems? 90%. I mean, I see a question. Is this reactive or proactive? Oh, it’s reactive. You have to have the problem first.

So let me let me your clients, your people are listening to this podcast, saying, Wait a minute. We’re good people. We’ve learned how to put out these fires and solve problems. You’re saying that that’s not good. I’m saying, No, we need problem solvers. We need firefighters, but you’re spending 90% of your time doing that, what a waste of time of talent. Right? So let’s get to the next level on this iceberg at the water level. And that’s what we call trends or patterns. So let’s say for example, that the last five years, we were short of our widgets in in October, November, December, and next year, because we’re so brilliant, we’re going to make more widgets in January, February March to to solve that problem at the end of the year. Is that our proactive or reactive? And here’s the way that we the class goes, Uh huh. It’s really reactive as well, because who’s to say that the next year year six is going to be the same as your five. And if we did it during the oil crisis, we budgeted for $1 a gallon of oil and said, All right, we’re going to be really smart. In the sixth year we’re going to budget a buck and a quarter and it goes to $5 You’re dead meat, right? So now that’s another 5% or 95% of the world today is reactive systems thinking goes beneath the level of the water into what we call the structural level. And I could I could spend an hour talking about structural elements, but I’ll limit it to things like hiring, firing, what’s our vision? Where are we going. And one of the most insidious structural elements in any organization, are the mental models or assumptions that we have about our customers, and about ourselves. And most of the time, we’re fooling ourselves, we don’t do the work to find out who they are. And that’s the beauty of systems thinking. Those things that are in the structure level in any organization that you guys do work for that or consult for, they have rules about how we hire, how we fire who gets a raise, and who gets a bonus and who goes where. And we think that they were made by a higher power, but the fact of the matter is, they were made by human beings. And if you went beings developed these structures or made these structures, structures, human beings can change them. But they, but they spending 95% of their time reacting, whereas the level beneath the level of the water at the structural level is proactive. And that’s where the leader lives.

Brian Lambert 21:15  

Yeah, I love that. And Terry was so on that building off of that. You’re hinting at that there’s there’s a structural elements and also, we’ve got this idea of perspective and mindset. And you’re also outlining that there’s there’s this proactive side, where leaders could probably should probably be spending their time. So the system thinking help there. And then if so, is that is it an approach like a strategic approach? Or is it like a science is systems thinking a science?

Unknown Speaker 21:45  

Yeah. So one quick visit back to that

Unknown Speaker 21:49  

image of the iceberg, and you’re right, Brian, that’s where the leader lives and the deeper he goes, he or she goes down in that iceberg, the more leadership level They have so isn’t a science. Peter sangee, an MIT professor who wrote a phenomenal book on, on systems thinking called the Fifth Discipline. And you know, Brian, a good management book, a best seller is one that sells 10,000 copies. Sandy’s book has sold well over a million copies. And

Brian Lambert 22:21  

after you read that book, you know everything about rubber bands the same way again,

Unknown Speaker 22:25  

you got it.

Brian Lambert 22:27  

You tell us about that, like, so you’re hinting at that it’s a science, what are some of the scientific components? Well of system things.

Unknown Speaker 22:34  

So what I would call scientific components, and there is a very quantitative element of systems thinking that gets into computer modeling, and I won’t go there, but I will say, instead of scientific components, I will use the word archetypes, or an archetype. an archetype definition is a common story. So wouldn’t it be great to have a common story or an archetype? That fits all products, all countries, all technologies in the same box, and people in my classes, look at me, okay, you’re crazy. Now you’re selling the snake oil again. So let me give you one that one archetype of maybe 20 or 30 archetypes that I use all the time. But I’m going to start with a quick story if you will allow me to tell a quick story. Is that okay? Absolutely. We love stories. All right. So you’re watching CNN. And and for the first time in three months, instead of talking about the pandemic, we have another tragic story and you’re watching wolf blitzer talk about starvation in Somalia, right. And on day one, he turns it over to his his reporter in the field. And what do you see

Unknown Speaker 23:48  

Brian and Scott jumping in and you’re gonna be my students for? They’re gonna start What

Brian Lambert 23:52  

do you see as Somalia? Africa? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 23:55  

So they’re going

Brian Lambert 23:56  

to make it real.

Unknown Speaker 23:58  

Yeah. So So what he says is a wolf. We’ve got a terrible problem here and the camera pans all around the reporter. And what do you see in the image on CNN at that moment? About starvation, starving people? And what a starving people look like? They have

Scott Santucci 24:14  

bugs on them.

Brian Lambert 24:16  

They have bugs are skinny,

Scott Santucci 24:18  

very skinny, but fat bellies. They’re the standard hands out this way.

Unknown Speaker 24:23  

Exactly. Very. How do you how do you feel when you see that image?

Scott Santucci 24:27  

I feel sad and I want to donate money.

Unknown Speaker 24:29  

So that’s terrific day two. Wolf Blitzer still is not talking about the pandemic. First. He’s talking about Somalia. But we see something different on the screen on day two. What do we see? We see report we see people, men and women in suits in front of microphones saying this cannot be allowed to stand. We the rest of the world are going to bail out Somalia. on day three. What do you see? helicopters

Scott Santucci 24:53  

the UN is they’re giving out stuff.

Unknown Speaker 24:56  

That’s right. You see planes going into Somalia. You don’t Don’t get too cynical and talk about food riots quite yet. But you see the food being delivered. You see happy faces. And and now Scott, how do you feel versus how you felt three days ago?

Brian Lambert 25:12  

Way better. I’m ready. We can set that off. We can check that off the list and move on.

Unknown Speaker 25:17  

Exactly. So what do you see on day four? Based on that comment, Mr. Brian?

Brian Lambert 25:21  

neck the next one.

Unknown Speaker 25:23  

You say nothing. You go back and see nothing on this one.

Unknown Speaker 25:26  

Yeah. Soft problem. Soft. Yeah. Check it off your to do list. Yeah, six months later, you’re tuning in and we’ll talk about the pandemic. But both interruption says Guess what, folks? starvation in Somalia. So,

Scott Santucci 25:40  

but wait, does he need like, Bono to advocate it first? Right. Yeah. I hear people cook Clooney.

Brian Lambert 25:50  

Right, right.

Unknown Speaker 25:52  

Now let’s go back to this notion of archetypes. So I’m going to put that story that I just told you and an archetype a very simple archetype. So pick For a moment, three boxes one one kind of on top of the other. Okay on the left with one box way to the right, we’re gonna start with the middle box and we’re gonna we’re gonna call it problem symptom in three words or less. So come on, Scott, I know you’re, you’re good with words, but think of three words or less that will describe that situation in Somalia.

Scott Santucci 26:21  


Unknown Speaker 26:23  

desperate, that’s good.

Unknown Speaker 26:26  

So no, that’s fine, desperate or starvation in Somalia, three words or less. Now, let’s go to the box above that, which is called quick fix. And what happened during the quick fix what happened in the story?

Brian Lambert 26:38  


Unknown Speaker 26:40  

We sent in helicopters and planes with excess food, a wonderful humanitarian Scott, you felt very happy when you saw that happen? Yeah, wait a minute, in this archetype, or the science and whatever however you want to call it, Brian. I’m good with any term you want to use as long as it works. Now on the right hand side, we’ve got unintended consequences. Wait a minute, Jerry, you’re telling me this unintended consequences of this wonderful humanitarian act? Well, guess what? There are, and what may they be? You guys are bright you can be in my Harvard class.

Brian Lambert 27:13  

You put a bandaid on it and it just you haven’t fixed the food shortage. You just put a bandaid on it

Scott Santucci 27:19  

with guns show up and get all the food.

Brian Lambert 27:23  

Yeah, in a ration

Scott Santucci 27:23  

it out. And then now they have a power

Brian Lambert 27:25  

base, and you can eat one day, but what about the other 364?

Unknown Speaker 27:29  

Yeah, Brian, you’re heading to the fourth box. So

Brian Lambert 27:32  

you know, I’m sorry. I’m running ahead of class.

Unknown Speaker 27:35  

You’re shooting hard for the A in the class. I know you I bet you before. So you’re not getting the a quite yet and you got to stop and unintended consequences. And I’m going to ask you a couple of questions to see if you can really Ace this quiz. Right. So So question number one. What happens if you’re a farmer in Somalia and all the food is coming in for free? Oh,

Brian Lambert 27:56  

yeah, well, you’re out of business or you don’t have a market.

Unknown Speaker 28:00  

Yeah, so you know where you go with your brother your cousin’s your uncle’s, go and you go into the city. So what about the drought or the starvation next time with fewer farmers? Yeah, it’s worse. It’s worse. Definitely worse. Yes. So now you got a multiplier effect. Right? What about the price of food in Somalia when it goes down, because coming in is for free, right. So anyone in the marketplace trying to sell food, they’re out of business too, because the food is coming in for free. So now Brian, to get the A in the course i’m going to go to the fourth box. The fourth box is fundamental choice. Now I’m betting Scott and Brian are not agronomist or work for the women in development or areas in development or ad Agency for International Development. But what do you think would be a more fundamental choice to the illusion Brian that you are giving to the biblical saying, you know, to give me an efficient, he’s not hungry for that day. Teach him to fish and it will never go for a lifetime. Yeah. Yeah. So

Brian Lambert 29:00  

You want to do is you want to, and there are so many organizations that do figure out how to make the food supply work in that situation, but it’s a long term play.

Unknown Speaker 29:09  

Exactly. So, Scott, we could we could throw out a lot of ideas. Now we could say bring in a wonderful irrigation system, a modern irrigation system from the US or from Europe or from Israel, whatever. We could say, let’s, let’s bring in insect repellent seeds. Let’s move the population. All right now we’re getting into real policy issues and so forth. But here’s the beauty of this archetype and the hardware systems thinking right, Brian, you’re absolutely right. We put a bandaid on it. That’s the quick fix. But I said earlier, the quick fix, let’s not dismiss it so quickly. And I want you to listen very carefully to these words. I’ve said them so many times this scripted in my brain, so forgive me for being Dr. Brightman for a minute but let me let me say it anyway, the quick fix in service of The fundamental choice is a good thing. Because in that short period of time that we bought through the quick fix, we save lives, right? We haven’t done anything yet to change the structure at that system. At that structural system below the surface of the iceberg. We’ve done nothing. But we have brought in food and supplies to help people from starving.

So the quick fix in service of the fundamental choice, a good thing. Yeah. However, the flip side of that is, every time we default to the quick fix, we atrophy, the potential to ever use a fundamental choice. And that’s a problem with leadership today. But the quick fix in a complex world works because the problem is gone. At least we think so for five or six months, until it rears its head in being a chronic issue. But and so the two points of leadership versus management and there is a difference, right? If you look at that second box, the quick fix that’s with them. Managers Excel. And that’s where project managers Excel. They’re terrific, because in a very short period of time, they’ve got to figure out where the excess food is in the United States and around the world. They’ve got to bring in those helicopters and planes. And they do it masterfully, right? They find out who’s gonna pay for the gasoline, they get the invoices out, and those planes go to solve that problem. Within a day or two, right? It’s fabulous. But the problem still exists. And that’s where it becomes a leadership issue right? At the bottom of those four squares, the fundamental that’s where the leader lives, right? And he’s not he or she is not in the spotlight anymore.

They’ve got to do the tough things. They’ve got to figure out the long term budgets. They have to think about how do we change the government? That’s why we have to figure out our supply chain. Are we making food in the wrong places in this country, maybe we have to move the people maybe some people have to die. These these are matters of life and death. So the managers live in the quick fix. Leaders live in, in trying to decide the fundamental choices. So is it a science? In a way, you might want to call it a science because this archetype that I, even though I gave you the story of, of starvation in Somalia, you give me a chronic problem. And I swear, I can use this archetype to come to a fundamental choice and a solution that gets rid of that chronic issue for the long term. So it stays. So that’s my speech for today.

Brian Lambert 32:25  

Yeah, I appreciate it. So, um, this is great. And I love the the mental model, right? That’s one of the concepts you introduced here is there’s a mental model approach that you can take to these complex problem and also, you’re connecting a lot of dots, right, this idea of leadership, what’s the difference between leadership and management? We call that being heroic and we have some podcasts around that. We also have this idea of analysis versus synthesis, where in system thinking, you’re connecting a lot of dots, you’re synthesizing all these things into the best possible decision. analysis is about breaking these things apart. We had that on an earlier podcast as well. So in that, in that if you for our listeners, Jerry, what would you say? They need to do in order to understand this a bit more and start applying it in what is a sales and marketing complex problem, much like what you’ve outlined here today.

Unknown Speaker 33:21  

You know that, again, Brian, you raise a wonderful term that I that I love because it’s it causes a lot of problems. And it can get us out of problems, which is mental models, right? The folks that you’re dealing with, have an idea of what sales is and what marketing is. And when I started in my business career, I was facing three tremendous competitors, Roman house, buyer and Sumitomo who made the same exact product that I did. So I figured by danger by wonderful personality, and my minimal knowledge of the chemistry and science behind this. I’m going to go to the marketplace and and defeat these three giants. And I didn’t, I failed miserably because of the mental model that I had about marketing and sales. And the difference between marketing and sales is sales starts with a product. That’s exactly where I started. And I said, Our product is terrific. And my customers in Latin America and throughout Asia said, Can you give me a lower price? No, I couldn’t. It was a commodity. Can you send it to us any faster? No, it goes by ship. Is it more effective? It was a herbicide for rice is a kill the rice better? No. And then the fourth and most impressive question was, Why the hell do we need you? And I started thinking after my fourth or fifth failure in my fourth or fifth country, that you know, the academic roommate, a very bad place, after all, and I’m going to go back to teaching except, I think by the sixth country I went to, I began to lose my voice.

So instead of using my mouth, I use my ears and I began to listen and people act People told me different ways to change the packaging of the product, to present the product to ship it faster. And my customers gave me the best ideas ever to compete with Roman has Sumitomo and buyer. And I learned the difference between marketing and selling was that selling started with a product, whereas marketing started with a customer and I became a hero and I defeated those three giants in this diet, giant David and Goliath kind of scenario. So, again, the kinds that you have that I have, we’ve got a question their mental models, their assumptions about how they’re actually marketing their products, or selling their products and the difference that exists between them. And I think systems thinking can do that too. It challenges your assumptions. And I used to work at the Center for Creative Leadership. They just came out with a brand new study a month ago saying that the key to fabulous and successful leadership is self awareness and none of us And I say this in front of my class with all humility. None of you guys and me, your esteemed Professor are self aware as we need to be.

Secondly, another discipline that he talks about is coming up with a shared vision. And too many companies have beautiful murals in their waiting room in their offices that they spend $20,000 worth. The fish are our customers and here’s the ecosystem. It’s Bs, we have to come up with a vision that’s real. And it’s not what the vision is what the vision does, and that’s essential to any good business. We talk about teamwork. And and we have all these funky things. We go into the woods and we that’s not what it is how do we learn together and I use as learning the word the synonym create, how do we create together and that was our secret to success in terms of China. We met every morning at eight o’clock, to all the communications that came out overnight, and we dove into those problems systemically. We had answers to our colleagues back in China. We were on a 12 hour time difference and they became a euro We became heroes, through this through the work of learning in teams, challenging and changing our mental models. And, and your job as a leader is to surface, what’s the origin of that assumption, and to make it less of a hindrance in your work. And that’s why I said all this work around systems thinking is it goes against the grain we want answers quickly. And, and that’s going to be one of the stomach. That’s going to be a mental model right there, Brian, that’s going to trip us all up in our work. We checked off all the things on our to do list. We’re done. We’re heroes. We’re not we haven’t gotten to the, you know, the biblical thing that you talked about before about teaching people to fish rather than just eating a fish for a day.

Brian Lambert 37:45  

Yeah, that’s great. I love it. self awareness, shared vision, creating together challenging mental models,

Unknown Speaker 37:51  

and then systems thinking systems thinking wraps them all up together.

Brian Lambert 37:55  

Gotcha. Well, Jerry, that’s been That’s amazing. I appreciate you bringing us into class. On this podcast and understanding the the actual attributes or what it looks like to be a little bit more holistic and engineered in our approach to these complex challenges, right a lot, I used to say to people and they didn’t like me, me saying it, but I, I said, Look, the challenges that we have right now are more complex and complicated than they were in the past, a lot of the easier problems have been solved. It’s now really about leadership and tackling some of these broader systemic issues that that you may be inclined to say, look, it’s not my job. Well, to you know, Scott’s point on the webinars that he often has as well. If not you then then who else who’s gonna do it? You know,

Unknown Speaker 38:41  

let me just interrupt one last thing on you are so spot on. Again, my buddies at the Center for Creative Leadership just came out with another study that said those days are gone. When we can go to our HR professional and say, what what books should I read next? What classes Should I take your music and so on? The HR people are saying you got to figure it out for yourself. So the question then becomes, how do I know what I don’t know. And that’s where people get stuck. And one great direction that I urge you guys as consultants to do is have them think a little a little bit more about systems thinking they will become the leaders of their organization. If they embrace this as not the end all, be all, I don’t want to sell it this way. But I want to say it’s an adjunct to the all the other decision making tools you have, because none of the problems are I used to fight with the Project Management Institute, the PMI PMBOK Guide, you know, they always say lessons from experience, right? The only problem I have with that is who’s to say that the problem you’re working on now is identical to the lessons you’ve learned from the prior project. And it may be totally different. So that’s why you’ve got to look at the structural issues that are impeding your progress in project management and in your consulting work.

Brian Lambert 39:54  

Yeah, I love that. Now we’re gonna have to have you back on another episode to talk about these I think this has been a great we actually may had get some listeners on to ask the professor some more. This has been a good introduction to this. I know a little bit about this topic. And I find it fascinating myself. And one of the things that I would encourage our listeners to do much like you just talked about Jerry is, you don’t know what you don’t know. So exploring these topics is critical. That’s one of the purposes of this show is to broaden horizons and expand perspective, and also really confront our own internal biases that we may have. If the first reaction is to discount this type of topic, after listening to these stories and listening to the impact that this can have, then then that this perhaps isn’t the show for you. You might be listening to the wrong podcast. This is about tackling root cause issues and being an orchestrator that drives value in your organization. And if not you then who else is going to do it? Right. So Jerry, thanks so much for your time. On behalf of Scott, we both really appreciate you coming on the show today. We’d love to have you back in the near future and look forward to seeing you out there on LinkedIn some more. And everybody listening, make sure you go add Jerry to your network. And we’ll see you guys out there that if you have any other questions, hit us up on engage at insider calm, and

Unknown Speaker 41:15  

we appreciate your time,

Unknown Speaker 41:16  

Jerry. Thanks. Thanks, guys. Thanks, Brian. It’s been a pleasure.

Outro 41:19  

Thanks for joining us. To Become an insider and amplify your journey. Make sure you’ve subscribed to our show. If you have an idea for what Scott and Brian can cover in a future podcast or have a story to share, please email them at engage at inside sp.com. You can also connect with him online by going to inside se.com following them on Twitter or sending them a LinkedIn request.

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