Royce Holladay - As Director of The Network for  Human Systems Dynamics Institute, I work with Associates from around the world, I serve as a consultant and coach with individuals as they engage with others in families, communities, and organizations, and I write--one of my greatest passions.  I cannot imagine a better way to be employed--doing work you love with people who're fun, bright, and creative. Using human systems dynamics at individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels allows me to bring a practitioner’s perspective to make exciting applications of this new field.

In my earlier life, I worked in school reform and planning for almost 20 years, guiding strategic planning in Wake County in Raleigh, NC, schools in the early 1990’s, and working on system reform in Everett, WA, until 2001.  Most recently I spent one year as the Director of Strategic Planning for the Minneapolis Public Schools in Minneapolis, MN.

One really important aspect of my life is family.  I grew up with 4 sisters--each of whom has grown to be an interesting and strong woman. We remain close and spend time laughing, learning, and sharing together whenever we can.  As an adult, I have raised two daughters, who have also become interesting and strong women.  The three of us grew up together through the shared adventure of our lives over the past 30 years.  I now have one son-in-law who keeps life lively.  In 2007, my younger daughter gifted me with a granddaughter who has become the light of my life.  Watching her grow into her own personality and self is its own study in Human Systems Dynamics.

I am thrilled to be working with Mary on this inquiry into how we engage with others.  She is a delightful and disciplined learner who asks great questions and helps me find clarity in my own search.  We look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Mary Nations - I help organizations and the people in them to be more adaptable and effective in changing environments.

I started down this path when I worked in a pharmaceutical company. I began as a statistician, analyzing clinical trials data. As I settled into this role, I got curious about the full research and development process. What happened all along the way from discover to delivery? What was different outside the one therapeutic silo I was in? I was seeing just a small slice. A chance to see and get involved in much more came when the company went through a merger in the mid-1990s. Disruption provided an opportune time for discovery.

As the merger was finalized and the two companies came together, I joined a long-term integration effort, leading a team in developing new processes and systems involving numerous functional areas. I learned with my peers as we jumped in with little initial expertise in change. While my job was to adapt and refine the processes the new company would use in clinical trial tracking and reporting, I was most interested in the aspects of change that people found so unsettling, and the importance of people skills in creating a healthy work environment.

Going through the upheaval of a large-scale merger was incredibly rough for some. Many jobs were different, and positions were eliminated. The view was altered for all. I found opportunities for learning, for trying something different, for challenging the way we did things. I left my well-defined role as a statistician behind, and took on something much more amorphous. I was a change manager. This is a term that is useful to a degree, but is also misleading. Who really manages change? A more accurate term would have to do with studying human dynamics and applying that knowledge to see what works well with a given group.

So, rather than adopt a specific title, I have stayed immersed in learning about change and people dynamics. Whether through education (a Masters in Organization Development and other programs), or through work (coaching, leadership development, diversity training, culture change), much of my time over the last 15 years has now been devoted to this path of inquiry.

I met Royce through the Human Systems Dynamics Institute, and in her I have found a fantastic learning partner. We have spent many hours exploring the connections in our interests, particularly in what binds people together, what drives them apart, and what can be done to influence these dynamics to create healthy interactions.

We are blogging as a way to extend our learning and to meet new learning partners to help challenge our thinking. Please join in!