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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.

Approach: 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.

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Pre-Event Blog

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Post-Event Report

Event Photo Album

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Leadership Award Competition

Award Competition Honorees

"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

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.

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
"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."

  • Impressive Event...
    I want to congratulate you on an extremely successful and impressive event. The gathering of such distinguished top state leaders in a single conference was unparalleled to anything I have seen before. It is clear that to create a conference of this magnitude required a tremendous amount of planning, work and support from a number of individuals, but nothing great can be achieved without strong and effective leadership. I want to thank you for your leadership and true contribution to the community. I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the selection of the individual and agency award winners for leadership and EEO. The selection committee could not have made better choices. The winners are deserving and truly innovative in their leadership (much like you all).
  • Humble with gratitude...
    Thank you so much...had a wonderful experience…That kind of experience when you volunteer to work…. And help… and then… miraculously… you gain so much from it… you are humble with gratitude… that’s how I feel.
  • The best leadership conference yet...
    Congratulations on the best leadership conference yet. I have heard nothing but rave reviews!
  • New and Compelling way of seeing my world...
    Having assessed the event before attending, I expected it would be good. I thought with the line-up of speakers I would walk away with some fresh ideas that I could use. Having said that, what I learned was a new and compelling way of seeing my world. Seeing my contribution to our state's constituent community from "the silo" that defines my world gives a very narrow reference point of value and little ability to understand the comprehensive impact or value of my contribution or my agency. What I walked away with was an understanding of the expanse of our state's economy - made visible by the collective agencies and secretaries that participated. This gave new meaning to Martin Hoshino's reference to the Aristotle quote: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." I left knowing that through integration and collaboration, "the power of one" expands!
  • APSEA hit a home run...
    After experiencing the symposium, I felt truly felt enriched. APSEA hit a home run with the quality and success of the leadership symposium.
  • So much to use for our change related communications...
    Just a note to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to attend today’s Leadership Conference sponsored by APSEA. This group did an incredible job gathering so many of the State’s incredible leaders for the panel presentations. I was particularly motivated by the presentations of Ann Boyton and John Chiang. John Chiang’s presentation was so good, it was just like a Ted Talk video. I was also motivated by the comments from Joe Farrow from CHP, Peter Gravett from Vets Affairs, Martin Hoshino from CDCR, Ron Hughes from OTech, Carlos Ramos from CTA, Selvi Stanislaus from FTB and the two facilitators – Clark Kelso and Maeley Tom – all straight talkers. This was just the right motivation I needed just in time. There was so much to use for our future change-related communications. Thanks again.
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 stated "power is taken, not given – make it a win/win and take constructive criticism."
  • Collaborative Leadership
    In the context of Whole Systems leadership is collaborative with full accessibility by and between all parties, e.g. leadership presides alongside (rather than above) employees, peer groups or participants involved, while the function and the role of the leader is retained. A primary shift occurring is the leader carries increased responsibility for the performance of the individuals, the group, resource management, cross-directional and relational performance, and overall outcomes and performance supervised. An equally prominent shift is that in transforming from a rigid to fluid environment the co-creative process spurs "real-time" innovation as well as an exponentially enhanced ability to respond to changing circumstances and trends in the environment or marketplace. Note: Whole Systems can be integrated within any Hierarchical Management System as a "Leadership Style and/or Approach."
  • Operational Efficiency
    In whole-systems management, the more integrated a system becomes, the more efficient each employee, division, program or manager becomes. As efficiency increases, knowledge increases. As knowledge increases, cost-cutting measures and economies-of-scale are enhanced while redundancies are mitigated. Thus overall-performance is enhanced (competitive edge) in operations that are dynamically independent and interdependent. Whole systems represent a dynamic cycle of increased efficiency and agency/corporate continuity which result in decreased operational costs with a far more acute ability to understand and meet constituent and/or market need with enhanced agility.
  • Internal Communication
    Whole Systems appreciably expands the free-flow of department, division or programmatic information and communication. Dynamic information exchanges that occur in real time add clarity and quality, thus the integrity and usefulness of information is enhanced.
  • External Communication

    Whole systems approaches create a means of communicating and relating not only the agency or corporate mission, but also how, where and why the products, services and programs support the mission and the constituent and consumer public being served. It demonstrates a whole picture to constituents and consumers with a far greater capacity and clarity to meet needs and relay or demonstrate value. Very simply an agency or corporation can express itself more succinctly to society and the marketplace, because it has a far more holistic understanding of itself equal to being able to adapt rapidly in an environment of constant change.

Next Steps - Navigating Leadership 2013
The Navigating Leadership - 2013 Series, Conversations 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.)