Peter Senge Event

Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline) gave a lecture in my hometown on the day after the election, Wednesday November 3. It was sponsored by two excellent community organizations, the Upper Valley Business Education Partnership and the Upper Valley Teacher Institute. I was involved in hosting the event, and introduced him onstage. For posterity, here is a very lightly edited version of what I said:
Thank you, good afternoon.
I wanted to say a few words about the Upper Valley Business Education Partnership and introduce you to the important work they do in our community.
Since 1996, the Partnership has been marshaling resources to bring schools, students, teachers, and businesses together in an on-going, integrative dialogue. Their programs are designed to bring community members into schools to share their expertise; to bring teachers into businesses to learn how their teaching is applied; and to bring students and businesses together to explore career options. I have personally found this work very rewarding, and if you would like to participate, please get in touch with any of their staff here today, or visit
Today’s discussion is the culmination of a series of events, including two book groups, a few informal gatherings, email discussions, and a smaller workshop held earlier today. If you are interested in joining with this work after today’s discussion, please see the folks in lobby and drop off a business card, or sign up there to stay in touch.
I would also like to mention the important collaboration between the Upper Valley Teacher Institute and the Upper Valley Business Education Partnership. It took the efforts of two vital non-profit organizations working closely together to create this series of events. And we should thank Carrie Brown, Kathi Terami and all of their colleagues for the planning and organizing that brought us together today. Thank you, Carrie and Kathi.
As for today’s program:
We have people here from both sides of the river, and I want to welcome everyone here from VT:
Hartford, Fairlee, Norwich, Wilder, Thetford, Hartland, Windsor, Bradford…..
And I also want to welcome everyone here from NH:
Lebanon, Meriden, Lyme, Orford, Hanover, Piermont, Cornish, Claremont, Enfield, Canaan.
Between our twin states is a river that separates us. The CT river winds its way from northern NH, through this Upper Connecticut River Valley, through MA and CT, and out to sea. Sometimes, especially during commuting times, it seems like this river divides us. It certainly makes it inconvenient, since we rely on just a few bridges to drive from one side to the other.
We live in a time where many things appear to divide us. Maybe it is simply a part of these media-saturated times to more easily see our differences than our commonality.
But perhaps it is possible, by shifting our perspective, to find some uniting principles, some uniting systems, that can bring us together on common ground. In this mindset, our river that divides us also unites us. Its currents flow between the banks of our borders, like a membrane between cells, separating yet connecting, interrupting yet bridging the two states, and bringing them together – one river, one watershed, one bioregion, one nation, one planet earth. If you step back far enough, our CT river is not a divider at all, but just another part of the whole system of our water supply, our recreation, and the beauty of this valley.
Today as we think about systems, education, communities, and business, perhaps we can step back and shift our perspective a bit, seeing things in a new way that builds on our strengths and commonalities, rather than our weakness and differences.
Our guest today has lectured extensively throughout the world, translating the abstract ideas of systems theory into tools for better understanding economic and organizational change. He has a particular interest in decentralizing the role of leadership in organizations to enhance the capacity of all people to work productively toward common goals.
Dr. Senge’s work articulates a cornerstone position of human values in the workplace; namely, that vision, purpose, reflectiveness, and systems thinking are essential if organizations are to realize their potentials. He has worked with leaders in business, education, health care and government, and we’re very fortunate to have him with us today. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Peter Senge.