Plexus Institute Newsletter

May 2011
Plexus Web Site Greetings!


It's been a busy Spring at Plexus Institute. We hope you've had a chance to explore our new website and start taking advantage of the new capabilities designed to support Plexus' diverse social network. Once you join the site, take some time to add to your profile so you can find others with similar interests. We're planning several online "open house" events in June as part of the site launch. We'd also be happy to give you a personal tour. Contact Susan Doherty at


Remember to like us on Facebook and follow @PlexusInstitute!

Plexus Institute and Ori Brafman

Starfish beach
Plexus Institute is collaborating with Ori Brafman, author of The Starfish and the Spider, to produce highly interactive and experiential programs for leaders incorporating cutting edge ideas including:

 - Developing and leading networked organizations

 - Using the complexity framework to understand organizational dynamics

 - Innovation and design thinking

 - Liberating structures to engage everyone across organizational boundaries

 - Trust based collaboration

During the past year, the program has been delivered to multiple cohorts of Army officers as part of their advanced leadership training. One participant described the program, "unlike any Army leadership program I've been exposed to in 12 years of service. More value than any of 4 combat deployments to the art of leadership."

Out and About
Plexus in the field

Business Innovation Factory logo

Lisa Kimball visited the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in April. BIF creates real world laboratories where organizations can design, prototype, and test new models for delivering value. For example, BIF is partnering with Babson College to create the Babson Entrepreneur Experience Lab that puts entrepreneurs at the center of an ongoing effort to design, prototype, and test a new generation of solutions to achieve a new economic vision with entrepreneurship at its heart.

Plexus Partners from Cabin Creek Health Systems, Craig Robinson and Amber Crist, joined Curt Lindberg and Prucia Buscell on a trip to the AtlantiCare Special Care Center in Atlantic City, NJ, where teams of medical professionals and health coaches are providing innovative care for patients with complex and chronic medical conditions. They also visited the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Dialysis unit where a Positive Deviance initiative to prevent infections is in progress.

Plexus partnered with the Global Systems Initiative and Arizona State University's Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes to design and facilitate a multi-stakeholder initiative to change the conversation about the Himalayan/Tibetan Plateau watersheds as a system-of-systems at risk. Sharing across traditional stovepipes and individual sectors on the highly interconnected issues related to this system-of-systems led to an emerging story whose primary theme was the creative tension between challenges and opportunities. The Global Systems Initiative developed "Twelve Simple Rules of Systems Thinking for Complex Global Issues" that were incorporated in the design. 

Plexus DC Fractal
Monthly Meeting

DC Fractal box
In April, the Plexus DC Fractal welcomed Peggy Siegel to discuss transforming education. Peggy Siegel is an education free agent-an independent thinker with 30+ years of experience leading, observing, researching, analyzing, and writing about education improvement initiatives and cross-sector collaboration. Peggy challenged us to think about how partisan and ideological clashes, coupled with a mounting fiscal crisis, have raised serious doubts over whether our public and private sector institutions are still capable of addressing fundamental societal problems, including transforming education. At the same time, she says, the stakes could not be higher. She asked, what if:

- Teaching were defined and treated as a collaborative, not individual responsibility
- Learning opportunities were designed, experienced and supported as:

A lifelong venture

With, not just for, students

Both within and outside of school

- Innovation was the norm, not the exception?


Want to start a Plexus Fractal in your area? Let us know! Contact Lisa Kimball at
Where Good Ideas Come From
Spring 2011 Book Group

Where Good Ideas Come From cover
Lisa Kimball, Liz Rykert, and June Holley hosted a 5-part book discussion group on Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From. Johnson says an idea "is a network on the most elemental level-a new network of neurons in our brains, firing in sync with one another, in a configuration that has never formed before." Participants explored many of Johnson's intriguing concepts including the value of platforms, liquid networks and the notion of finding the adjacent possible.These ideas sparked broader discussion about creating the conditions for innovation. All are invited to participate in the Plexus Book group. Join the Exploring Complexity Learning Group.

Do you have an idea for a book you'd like to dig into and discuss with others? Let us know and we'll get the next Book Group started!

Your turn to talk

Lean and Positive Deviance
Plexus has hosted nine PlexusCalls so far in 2011 with more coming throughout the Spring and Summer. In March, Sharon Benjamin and Deanna Suskovich discussed the strengths of combining the Lean and Positive Deviance change processes in their work on hospital infection prevention. This has emerged as an important topic because there is increasing interesting in distinguishing the challenges of working on technical versus adaptive change where the respective methods seem to have different things to contribute. Participants shared examples of how components of the two approaches added value to their projects. As one put it, this whole experience with the MRSA collaborative has demonstrated that there are other more effective ways to engage the people who touch patients. "You can use both Lean and PD in combination to have an even more effective and sustainable outcome." Listen to the audio and join the discussion in the Exploring Complexity Learning Group.

Would you like to share your ideas or insights on a PlexusCall, or suggest a complexity-related topic that intrigues you? Is there someone you would us like to invite to a PlexusCall? We are always looking for Plexus Associates to participate in conversations that deepen our understanding of complexity in our lives and work. ContactPrucia Buscell at

Health Quality Calls
Plexus in healthcare

Health Quality box
April 20, 2011 Dr Rajiv Jain joined the health quality group to discuss healthcare innovation at the VHA. Audio available in the Health Quality Learning Group. May 18, 2011 John Scott and John Nelson discussed measuring caring and healing. The Health Quality Learning Group is open to anyone with an interest in innovative approaches to improving quality in delivering health care. 
Birute Regine
Plexus Advisor

Birute Regine
Birute Regine, EdD, (her Harvard doctorate is in human development) spent 25 years as a psycho-therapist in private practice and now works as an executive/life coach, facilitator, speaker and author. She previously co-authored the critically acclaimed "The Soul at Work: Embracing Complexity Science for Business Success" with her husband, noted science writer Roger Lewin. In her remarkable new book, "Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and the World," Birute puts femininity and masculinity in context and explores what it truly means to be a successful woman today. She also examines how women together can help each other become "Iron Butterflies" and bring greater balance and well-being to a world sorely out of balance. Iron Butterflies just won the Nautilus Silver Book Award in both the social change and women's interest categories.
Thank you for being part of the Plexus Institute community and please with a friend.


Lisa sig
Lisa Kimball                                                                                              
Plexus Institute
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