A Rich Landscape for Working with Complexity

The other day I was talking with one of my clients as we co-designed a workshop about the Power of Co in her region. She wanted to know about Collective Impact and enquired whether it was the “latest new thing” in the landscape of organisational and community change.

Her question prompted a reflection on just how rich the landscape has become with strategies for change. In the last year alone I have been learning about Theory U, Social Labs, Collective Impact, Appreciative Inquiry, Results Based Accountability (RBA), Human Centered Design and multiple Brain Integration Techniques (mBIT) to add to my understanding of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Future Search as I operate with the framework of the Power of Co.

Wow – that is a lot of frameworks and I imagine it is just a tip of an iceberg amongst a floe of ice! I have commented in previous blogs that our world is an ocean of complexity so having this abundance of strategies to call on can only assist our navigation…right?

I am reminded of Statistician George Box’s famous quote that “all models are wrong but some are useful.” The question is how do you determine what is useful. The answer to this lies in the shifts that we as individuals and collectives are willing to take.

As we learn strategies for change, I think it is important that we don’t sidestep our dilemmas by adopting a shiny new technique in the hope IT will FIX it FOR us. The only fixes will be found by our collective shifts in mindsets and behaviours.

Therefore, any strategy or framework that assists you to think differently, work together and behave differently is a useful strategy.

In closing, I want to note something I have learned in this last year of exploring strategies for change. Although all the frameworks have points of difference, they also have points in common. Each of them has borrowed from other frameworks as they have been built. Wheels are not being re-invented rather they are being improved.

This demonstrates what Liz Weaver of the Tamarack Learning Centre calls R & D, meaning Rip off and Duplicate. Liz encourages the practice and so do I. A spirit of generosity and respectful acknowledgement needs to pervade our work of change.

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