09 May 2012

Leadership in Complexity at the Public Service of Canada National Managers Community Forum 2012

The past two days, I had the great pleasure of performing two playshops on Leadership in Complexity at the 2012 National Managers Community Forum in Winnipeg. This is the same session that I did with the Canadian Organization Development Institute a year ago. Between the two sessions, over 200 participants experienced an introduction to complexity theory as applied to organizational leadership, beginning with answering the time-honoured question, “how are contemporary organizations like the Newfoundland cod fishery?” (Answer: Neither is complicated, although both are typically treated as such; in fact, they both are complex.) We listened to music from Sun Ra as an example of what complexity sounds like (although my son, the composer, suggested that we could have equally listened to an excerpt from John Cage’s 4’33”).

A large part of being able to perceive a complex system AS a complex system comes from being able to perceive the relationships among effects relative to a variety of contexts (or grounds) that provide the environment in which those relationships are enacted. Of course, given my McLuhan background, I suggest that the Laws of Media tetrads are among the best thinking frameworks to be able to enable that perception. This, of course leads to all sorts of applications including better brainstorming, or what I now refer to as “Emergence Brainstorming.”

Naturally, I introduced the participants to Valence Theory and referred them to the complementary talk to this session, “Take Me to Your Leaders.” And, as a cap to the entire afternoon, we developed tactility statements for the public service on each day:
Day 1: “The Public Service of Canada shares and transfers knowledge to create and support policy to enable regulations regarding social services via communications and media.”

Day 2: “The Public Service of Canada supports social identity and diversity as well as knowledge sharing through excellent governance to accomplish safety and security of the people and the environment, in addition to economic growth, stability, and health, through providing people support services.”

All in all, an enjoying and stimulating session for me and, I hope, for the participants. The notes for the session are available for download in English and in French.