Plexus Institute Newsletter

  August 2011
Plexus Web Site


It may be summer but we're still very busy at Plexus Institute. Have you explored the Plexus Institute website yet? Find featured advisors and resources in the Exploring Complexity pages. We'd be happy to give you a personal tour. Contact Susan Doherty at


Remember to like us on Facebook and follow @PlexusInstitute on Twitter! 

The Quality Commons
Complexity at the Bedside

Quality Commons
Lisa Kimball and Prucia Buscell from Plexus Institute joined other members of The Quality Commons in Louisville, KY in June. In addition to networking - and a wonderful evening at Louisville Bat's minor league baseball - members of TQC heard from Andrew JE Seely of the University of Ottawa who shared his theoretical research applying complex systems science to the care and understanding of critically ill and peri-operative patients, and experimental research applying dynamical analysis to the bedside of surgical and intensive care unit patients. As explained in the abstract from an article about complexity at the bedside, "Complex systems science has led to valuable insights regarding the care and understanding of critical illness, but has not led to fundamental improvements to care to date. Realizing the fact that there is inherent uncertainty in patient trajectory, we have developed Continuous Individual Multiorgan Variability Analysis (CIMVA) as a tool theoretically and practically designed to track the systemic emergent properties of the host response to injury or infection."
Out and About
Plexus in the field
nesci logo

Plexus President, Lisa Kimball attended the Eighth International Conference on Complex Systems  in June sponsored by The New England Complex Systems Institute. The focus of the conference was to explore those properties or characteristics that appear to be common to the very different complex systems now under study; and encourage cross fertilization among the many disciplines involved. Themes of the conference included emergence, complexity and information, dynamics and self organization, networks, and methodology. You can download the proceedings   


Upcoming Events

Community and Transformation 

Oct 11-12, 2011 - Red Bank, NJ

A Workshop with Peter Block and Paul Uhlig 


OD Network Conference 

Oct 30-Nov 2 - Baltimore, MD

Sessions with Lisa Kimball, Tom Mandel, and Jeffrey Goldstein  


Plexus CHANGE 2012 

Mar 16-18, 2012 - Silver Spring, MD 

Plexus DC Fractal
Making Complex Systems Visible

DC Fractal box
The DC Plexus Fractal met in June for a highly interactive session facilitated by Carole Napolitano on Informal Constellations - Peering Behind the Veil of Complex, Dynamic Systems. Napolitano explained that the good news about complex, dynamic systems is that they are "juicy" - full of potential and rich in possibilities. The bad news about complex, dynamic systems is that they are complicated and even mysterious - there are many moving parts and much of what matters to the members of the system at any given time may be largely invisible. She engaged participants in a process that allows us to take a snapshot of the system - to make visible where people are with respect to a given issue and to discover what could best support them in moving forward. This whole-system process is a quick and engaging way to bring the voices of the system into the room so that the system can access its own wisdom. Carole is the author of The Leadership Odyssey: a Self-Development Guide to New Skills for New Times published by Jossey-Bass.


Want to start a Plexus Fractal in your area? Let us know! Contact Lisa Kimball at
Peter Tuddenham
Plexus Advisor

Peter Tuddenham
Mr. Peter Tuddenham is a co-founder of the College of Exploration, which over the past 20 years has engaged over 15,000 learners worldwide in online collaborative learning environments. Participants from a wide variety of disciplines and countries meet online to explore, learn and create with each other on a variety of ecosystem topics especially ocean, earth and climate systems. He is a Co-Principal Investigator on a number of National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants researching and educating the topics of literacy, change and learning in complex national systems.

Peter, what questions are you most excited about exploring these days?
Questions of personal development, knowing and acting as a result of studies in quantum energy research as it relates to "the power of human intention to robustly influence human reality" (to quote William Tiller). This is especially interesting and relevant to me in our work on creating collaborative learning environments and experiences on topics related to the ocean, earth systems and climate change.
Plexus CHANGE 2012
Patterns, Processes & Possibilities

Plexus CHANGE 2012
Join Plexus Institute March 16-18, 2012 in Silver Spring, MD (just outside DC) for lively interactions in a mash up of modes including Liberating Structures, Open Space, PechaKucha, and TEDTalk-style catalyzing input for our conversations. We'll welcome a diverse community of thinkers, practitioners, educators, leaders, learners, researchers, change agents and idea junkies for three days of interaction, conversation, and fun!
  • Explore Patterns associated with complex change.
  • Experience Processes that enable groups to radically change how they interact and work together.
  • Discover Possibilities for new strategies to transform and leverage complex problems and opportunities.
Learn more about conference catalysts, methods, and location and register today!
Your turn to talk

Swiss cheese
The August 12th PlexusCall featured guest Chris J. McGoff, Founder of The Clearing, Inc. Chris spent the last 30 years helping governments and organizations to engender new, transformative possibilities. Through his work and research, he has developed a comprehensive approach to helping organizations drive to consensus and solve problems involving the highest levels of stakeholder and technological complexity. At the World Bank he helped the organization create a new formula for aid allocation that minimized the problem of corruption and renewed the World Bank's power to address global poverty. He disussed the ideas in his new book, The PRIMES: How Any Group Can Solve Any Problem

One of the Primes in the collection is Dynamic Incompleteness which is aligned with the idea of "buy in v. ownership" we talk about in Plexus. This Prime stresses the importance of leadership that leaves room for others to share ownership. "Think of a vision as a giant piece of Swiss cheese, delicious and full of holes. The leader's invitation to share the vision encourages others to plug the holes with more Swiss cheese by adding their contribution. Their actions, in turn, invite more people to plug other holes with more Swiss cheese." 

Upcoming Calls

Special Series Part I Sep 19: The Future of Nursing

Sep 23: Designing to Save Energy

Sep 30: The Rhizome 

Health Quality Calls
Plexus in healthcare

Health Quality box

The August Health Quality Network focused on Implementing Electronic Medical Records with Michael Griffis, IS Director at Tucson Medical Center Healthcare. Tucson Medical Center is the largest facility in the region, 650 beds. It began as the Desert Sanatorium at Fort Lowell outside Tucson, a place for people to heal from tuberculosis. It had sunrooms and gardens; there are still some of the old adobe buildings on our campus. It was designed so every patient room had a view of the garden. TMC is the largest single-floor hospital, lots of hallways, and very good close views of the garden. It has an all-volunteer medical staff and contracts with two hospice groups and an emergency-department group to run the emergency room. Not having physicians on staff has both rewards and challenges. Everybody comes with things that interest them, but it can be hard to reach consensus. Michael shared that their electronic medical records system is the result of a 15-year transition from physical systems that were distributed in the hospital.  

TMC for kids  

According to Griffis, TMC has reduced medication errors almost to zero. Since implementation, a physician enters a medication order, it is verified by a pharmacist, the order is picked, the patient's bar code is scanned. We've had an almost complete shift to zero errors. We have averted 6,000 errors-the system alerted us that something was wrong. We've had a big improvement to medication turnaround time, from around an hour and a half to ten minutes; usually the medication is delivered within four minutes. "Since we started to use EMR, we are seeing new roles, such as a chronic disease management role, to give better treatment for frequent fliers. They are at risk for an expensive and not-good-for-the-patient hospital stay. We ask questions like, "Is the patient compliant with medications?" The EMR data changed our approach and helps to prevent readmissions," explained Griffis.

You can find the full report and audio of the call in the Health Quality Learning Group
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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