Prototyping Whole Systems Leadership and Management

NLP 2012-2013


Welcome to Navigating Leadership Challenges and EEO in a Changed World…

On behalf of ORA Systems and the Asian Pacific State Employees Association (APSEA), Rebekah Christensen, served as the event Chair, covering the design, management and execution of Navigating Leadership Challenges and EEO in a Changed World.  The event framework was designed as a “working model” to demonstrate an accelerating societal shift underway that transforms people and economies (personal, professional and community)  from the old paradigm of “hierarchical leadership and management” to the new paradigm of “whole systems“.  We continue our role in co-chairing Navigating Leadership 2013, covering the Conversation’s in Leadership Series, scheduled throughout the year. Whole Systems mirror the environment of today’s virtual world.  In the context of these efforts, ORA Systems guided and was supported by a steering committee, comprised of government and private sector leadership.  Culminating 12 months of planning and development, this one-day 2012 event was sponsored by and held at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), at their headquarters- Lincoln Plaza North, 400 P Street, Sacramento on November 8, 2012. Rebekah Christensen also serves on the Board of Directors of the event’s key sponsor, the Asian Pacific State Employees Association (APSEA). This event was developed in collaboration with USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento.

mobilePhone_2414866bApproach: An overarching term used as a backdrop in the development of the symposium was “Wei Ji,”  a Chinese word for crisis.  It is composed of two characters; one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity. Navigating the complexities of leadership in a Changed World encompassing the State’s employees, supervisors, and managers represents characteristics of danger that few have escaped. The dynamics of change in our world is profound. Thus the symposium focus was designed to support the rapid transitioning occurring today in government services and accountability.  The event steering committee placed this focus at the forefront in response to the restrictive resources brought on by the recession alongside an ever-escalating virtual society where nearly 90% of constituents are accessing government services via mobile devices. The relaxed environment of the symposium format was designed to create a conversation between panel members and our attendee audience.  Whether from the perspective of leadership or EEO, it was designed to provide an integrated (whole systems) perspective of government.  Why?  A key goal of the event was for our speakers and attendees alike to recognize and identify their independent strength as leaders alongside their interdependent contributions, purpose, and value.  To that extent, the program format collectively communicated a panoramic view of government that exists beyond the “silos” (hierarchy) of each agency.

“Rather than mere jargon, whole systems actually mimic in construct the virtual world that comprises the constituent community served by government. Technologically, social communities are holistic and organic in nature such that communication, resources, products and services move in nimble and dynamic exchange.  From this context, the program format was designed to systemically reflect the dynamic marketplace served by government as the requirements and demands of our technologically sourced world continue to expand exponentially.” 

                                                                           -Rebekah Christensen, CEO, ORA Systems

New Paradigms Roundtable Panel Leadership Tools, Approaches and Skills for Thriving in a Changed World
Moderator: Clark Kelso, Receiver, California Correctional Health Care Receivership

Panelists: Robert A. Barton, Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General (Agency Leadership Award Competition Winner); Rebekah Christensen, CEO, ORA Systems, Inc.; Paul Danczyk, Director of Executive Education in Sacramento, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy; Joseph A. Farrow, Commissioner, California Highway Patrol; Ron Hughes, Director, Office of Technology Services (OTech); and Howard L. Schwartz, Chief Deputy Director, CalHR.

Rebekah Christensen used the event format as the backdrop of her presentation in the AM Paradigms Panel by highlighting that the most common mode of leadership (personal and professional) exists in a framework of hierarchy while the marketplace served is an integrated “whole system,” e.g., social communities and/or our virtual world. She expanded by saying, “ in a virtual world who we are as it informs what we do is visible in real time, and today’s power structures will become less dependent on our position in the hierarchy and more dependent on our expanding knowledge and performance.” Her “how to” explanation for attendees was analogous to a wheel: “The wheel’s hub represents the over-arching mission, vision, or goals and objectives to be achieved. Each individual, entity, division, or stakeholder’s interest represents spokes that intersect the wheel’s hub to independently and yet interdependently achieve desired outcomes (personal or professional).” She closed by saying “living whole in the context of our leadership gives us the fluid ability to move and act in rhythm with our ever-changing world and to adapt to internal and external changes in real time.”

The Secretaries Roundtable Panel on Leadership and Innovation Maeley Tom
Keynote and Moderator: Maeley L. Tom, President, California State Personnel Board

Panelists:     Anna Caballero, Secretary, State and Consumer Services; Mark Ghilarducci, Secretary, CA Emergency Management Agency; Peter J. Gravett, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs; Martin Hoshino, Undersecretary, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Carlos Ramos, Secretary, California Technology Agency; Matt Rodriquez, Secretary, Cal EPA; and Karen Ross, Secretary, Department of Food and Agriculture.

Maeley Tom presided as both keynote and moderator of the Secretaries Roundtable

Panel. Her opening insights stressed “Know yourself, believe in yourself, and be yourself.” She felt it critical to add value to whatever you do – personally and to the job. She sees success in leadership as three-fold: luck, timing, and opportunity and the importance of taking advantage of each as they arise.” She posed to our attendees, “How can you Excel?”  To this she identified six points: “Do your homework and ask questions—define the rewards; network and build relationships outside your job environment; stand up for yourself; speak-up; be a team player and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know.”



Event Links

Event Binder

Pre-Event Blog

Master Event PowerPoint

Post-Event Report

Event Photo Album

Event Sponsors

Leadership Award Competition 

Award Competition Honorees

If you are interested in reviewing the comprehensive event summary report or signing-up to be on our contact list, please submit your email request via ORA Systems Contact Page.  Please title your email:  Navigating Leadership: Ongoing Training.  

The Power of One

In her keynote address, Selvi Stanislaus, EO, Franchise Tax Board and our Event Emcee, spoke of the “power of one.” This signature event generated a speaker line-up of 31 state leaders, consisting of eight agency Secretaries on Governor Brown’s cabinet, numerous department directors, and private sector community leaders.  From the perspective of registered attendees, 51 agencies and/or departments were represented.  A comprehensive event binder was distributed to all attendees.  In this capacity “the power of one” was visible many-fold through the efforts of those contributing, e.g., the event steering committee and volunteers, our speakers, and our attendees. Collaboratively, we created a day that was a catalyst for us all.  As we reach deeper and stretch higher to challenge ourselves, we find that we can lead from the best of who we are, right from where we stand in this “Changed World” of government as we serve our constituents of the State of California – and beyond.

John Chiang, the event’s keynote luncheon speaker, John statedpower is taken, not given – make it a win/win and take constructive criticism.”


Next Steps – Navigating Leadership 2013

The Navigating Leadership – 2013 SeriesConversations in Leadership, is designed to explore that Leadership is less about “power” and more about influence.It is a calling for each of us to stand up and contribute our personal best. It’s about becoming the person we were meant to be.  When we shift our perception of leadership to align with the social world of today, it opens up an entirely new perspective and paradigm of leadership for everyone. Increasingly, those tasked with leadership see it as an interdependent 360 degree proposition – “where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (In the summer of 2013, Rebekah Christensen became the Chair of Navigating Leadership on behalf of the APSEA-USC partnership.)


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