Monday, May 22, 2017

Interview With Author William Donaldson, PhD

Simple Complexity: A Management Book for the Rest of Us: A guide to Systems Thinking

Dr. William (Willy) Donaldson is a Professor at the University of Virginia and the Director of Outreach and Interdisciplinary Programs for the School of Systems and Information Engineering. Willy has over 30 years of experience as a Board member and President and has been CEO of 8 companies including a publicly traded company and an international joint-venture. Willy is the Founder and President of Strategic Venture Planning, a management consulting firm that assists boards, investors and senior management teams maximize results. His experience runs from start-up to International 50 companies, private and public companies, from services to manufacturing, from low to high tech and from for profit to not for profit. He is a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering, where he chairs the Enterprise Systems working group world-wide. For more information, please see:

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book? For years I have been on boards and consulted with companies and shared my unique view of managing a company as a system-of-systems and my peers and clients said my approach, and the insight it provided into management, was unique, compelling and they encouraged me to share it.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe us your targeted reader?  All owners, founders, managers and board members will answer yes to the question "Is your company a system", yet the vast majority of them have never studied systems thinking, systems dynamics and natural system behaviors. This is a huge over sight. So the book is targeted as an approachable introduction to the topic and a supplement to all of the great managementliterature already written about the discrete, individual topics - Leadership, culture, marketing, sales, etc. Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline" tried to promote systems thinking, but his work was seen as too academic and somewhat unapproachable. I set out to write an approachable management book about systems thinking.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? That they never stop thinking about their enterprise as a living, changing system that must be managed as such. I hope they see the dynamics that have been swirling around them with a new set of lenses provided by systems thinking and my models and begin to manage accordingly.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? First, put your ego aside and write for your readers. Second listen to your editor. My editor, Amanda Rooker, was an angel, a tough and demanding angel, but she transformed the book from good to great. Third, realize that writing the book is just one part of thejourney of telling your story. You platform, your blog, your social media and your efforts have to align and be sustained for a long period of time. In short, you must be passionate about what you write about.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I am too new to be an expert, but I think authors now have to have a broad platform and genuinely connect with their audience in a holistic way. There will be sometransactional readers who buy and read the book, but the real results will come from expanded connections with the audience.

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book? 
The biggest challenge I faced was having to stop refining and adding. As much as I wanted to stop and publish, I also wanted to keep adding anecdotes and notes from the field and content.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should they buy yours?
 If you are a manager, or owner, or board member and you haven't been exposed to systems thinking, you are missing out on a set of tools, lenses, mental models, and techniques that can bring you much greater clarity. I have had three CEOs (each a CEO multiple times) read Simple_Complexity and immediately buy it for their whole staff and start the process of group learning using a systems perspective. Thinking in systems is truly transformational, and not just in business. 

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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