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Michael Lissack (born 1958) is an American business executive, author, business consultant[1] and director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence.[2] In 2019 Lissack was inducted into the International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences.[3]

Lisack was managing director in the municipal bond department at Smith Barney, and came into prominence as the whistleblower,[4] who exposed a yield burning scandal in the 1990s, whereby financial firms made illegal profits from the structuring of U.S. government investment portfolios associated with municipal bonds.[5]



Lissack received his BA in American Civilization and Political Economy in 1979 from Williams College, and his MBA in Business from Yale University in 1981. Later in his career in 2000 Lissack received a doctor of business administration degree from Henley Management College in the United Kingdom.

After his graduation from Yale, Lissack started at Smith Barney, where he became managing director and served in this position until 1995. Since 1999 he has been director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence. From 1999 to 2004, Lissack also served as the editor-in-chief of Emergence: A Journal of Complexity Issues in Organizations and Management now known as E:CO.[6]

Lissack was a candidate for county commissioner in Collier County, Florida, in 2002 and in 2006.[7] He briefly taught business and public policy at the Central European University.[8][9] Lissack is also the president of the American Society for Cybernetics.[10]


Yield burning scandalEdit

In 1994, Lissack exposed a major yield burning scandal on Wall Street.[5] The issue was eventually settled by a number of firms for over $200 million,[11] to which Lissack was entitled to at least 15% per federal whistleblower laws. Lissack used some of these funds for charitable purposes including endowing a professorship in social responsibility and personal ethics at his alma mater, Williams College.[12]

In February 1998, Lissack entered into a voluntary agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission whereby he was banned from the securities industry for five years and paid a $30,000 fine,[13] as part of an arrangement by Lissack's legal team for Lissack to be on record as taking some responsibility for the scandal.[14] Later that year Lissack was charged by the Manhattan District Attorney's office with making online solicitations for people to harass executives of his former employer, Salmon Smith Barney, by calling them at company headquarters and in some instances their homes.[15] He pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment (a violation and lesser offense than the misdemeanor harassment charge with which he was originally charged [16]), admitting he sent phony e-mails to Salomon Smith Barney employees.[17][18] As part of the guilty plea, Lissack was not sentenced to jail and paid no fine.[17]

In 1999 Worth Magazine described Lissack as one of "Wall Street's 25 smartest players" in 1999[19][20] and as one of the 100 Americans who have most influenced "how we think about money" in 2001.[21]

The Next Common Sense (1999)Edit

In 1999 Lissack published The Next Common Sense (1999)[11][22] This work co-authored with Johan Roos presented the concepts of Identity, Landscape and Simple Guiding Principles. These principles were used to develop the Real-Time Strategy used in the first Lego Serious Play application.

In 2011 Lissack also authored the book Coherence in the Midst of Complexity.[23]

Selected publicationsEdit

Lissack has written or co-authored a number of books, a selection: including

  • Lissack, Michael, and Johan Roos. The next common sense; Mastering corporate complexity through (2000).
  • Lissack, Michael R. Managing complexity in organizations: A view in many directions. IAP, 2005.
Articles, a selection
  • Lissack, Michael R. "Complexity: the science, its vocabulary, and its relation to organizations." Emergence 1.1 (1999): 110-126.
  • Richardson, Kurt A., Paul Cilliers, and Michael Lissack. "Complexity Science." Emergence 3.2 (2001): 6-18.
  • Lissack, Michael, and Johan Roos. "Be coherent, not visionary." Long Range Planning 34.1 (2001): 53-70.


  1. ^ Michael Lissack fights back, files a countersuit against Bonita Bay Group. Naples Daily News, February 10, 2010
  2. ^ "Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence".
  3. ^
  4. ^ Scammell, Henry (2005). Giantkillers: The Team and the Law That Help Whistle-Blowers Recover America's Stolen Billions. Grove Press. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-8021-4188-0.
  5. ^ a b Accuser in the Muni Bond Industry, New York Times, March 3rd, 1995
  6. ^ "My Blog – My WordPress Blog".
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Welcome to the blogosphere". 2005-11-25.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2011-06-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "American Society for Cybernetics".
  11. ^ a b UPDATE/MICHAEL R. LISSACK; Wall Street Expatriate, The New York Times, April 14th, 2002
  12. ^ "Four Professors at Williams College Receive Named Chairs".
  13. ^ "Michael Lissack: Admin. Proc. Rel. No. 34-39687 / February 20, 1998".
  14. ^ Giantkillers: The Team and the Law That Help Whistle-Blowers Recover America By Henry Scammell
  15. ^ "Ex-Investment Banker Charged". The New York Times. 1 August 1998.
  16. ^ "Ex-Banker Pleads Guilty".
  17. ^ a b Ross, Barbara (September 16, 1998). "Salomon Accuser Admits E-Mail Harassment Guilt". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  18. ^ Ross, Barbara (1998-09-17). "Former Salomon Smith Barney Investment Banker Pleads Guilty". Knight Ridder/tribune Business News. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06.
  19. ^ Lissack, Michael; Roos, Johan (February 2001). "Be Coherent, Not Visionary". Long Range Planning. 34 (1): 53–70. doi:10.1016/S0024-6301(00)00093-5.
  20. ^ Worth Magazine, October 1999
  21. ^ Worth Magazine, October 2001
  22. ^ Trapp, Roger. "Book Of The Week; The old common sense will not do". The Independent. April 14, 1999. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
  23. ^ Lissack, Michael. "Publications". Retrieved May 29, 2012.