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Complexity based leadership: Navigating complex challenges



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Strategic leadership presentation at INTASE Leadership Conference in Singapore April 2014

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Complexity based leadership: Navigating complex challenges

  1. 1. 1 INTASE Leadership Conference Singapore 2014 Chris Jansen – University of Canterbury, New Zealand Complexity based leadership: navigating adaptive challenges
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  3. 3. 3 Chris Jansen
  4. 4. Overview • a road map for leading change • focus on adaptive challenges • re-designing hierarchies • strategies for engaging collective intelligence • organisational change processes
  5. 5. 5 Speed Complexity Uncertainty Ambiguity Opportunities Paradox Unintended consequences Lack of Control change is changing….. Information overload Interconnectedness of systems Dissolving of traditional organisational boundaries Disruptive technologies Generational values and expectations Increased globalization
  6. 6. 6 “The greatest challenge for future leaders is the pace of change and the complexity of the challenges faced….” ….”perpetual white-water”… “Our organisations are not equipped to cope with this complexity…” (IBM study – 1500 CEO’s)
  7. 7. 7 BAU New BAU Context Shifting Context Shifting Context 70-80% failure Positive and sustainable change? Why? Threat? Opportunity? Where? …are we heading to? Who? we collaborate with? How?…do we design our journey? What?…steps do we take? A road map for leading change
  8. 8. Technical challenges “can be solved with knowledge and procedures already at hand” Adaptive challenges “embedded in social complexity, require behaviour change and are rife with unintended consequences‟ 8 Requires leader to identify priorities, project manage and ensure stakeholder engagement Requires leader to do all of the above and generate and trial multiple solutions
  9. 9. 9 Simple, predictable cause and effect interactions Multiple predictable cause and effect interactions Multiple connected but unpredictable interactions Multiple disconnected interactions Complex Complicated Chaotic Simple Cynefin Framework Decisions are obvious Decisions require expert knowledge Decisions are uncertain and solutions only apparent in retrospect Decisions need to be made quickly to dampen energy Dave Adaptive challenges Technical problems
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  13. 13. 13 How does self organisation work? • independent agents • interactions with neighbours • decentralised control • an attractor - motivated by threat or opportunity Self organisation leading to emergence Complexity thinking, complex adaptive systems, adaptive leadership
  14. 14. Machine Living organism Hybrid? +Efficient, reliable, +innovative, responsive, nimble -Inflexible, slow to respond -messy and spontaneous
  15. 15. . . . Leaders vs leadership? Position of a leader vs action of leadership Hierarchies and Networks 15
  16. 16. The Starfish and the Spider… The unstoppable power of leaderless organisations Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
  17. 17. “It is no longer sufficient to have one person learning for the organisation... Its just not possible any longer to figure it out from the top, and have everyone else following the order of the ‘grand strategist’. (Senge , 2002)
  18. 18. Culture eats strategy for lunch… …and structure creates culture
  19. 19. Foster interaction, shared learning, and leverage collective intelligence What solution? How to engage? + Ownership, motivation and commitment ++ Better solutions and innovation Two key questions in adaptive change
  20. 20. Strategies for enabling collective intelligence… Principles: - fostering interaction and shared learning - diversity and choice to contribute Possible mechanisms: - cross functional teams - focus groups (vertical teams) - interdisciplinary teams - collaborative processes – Appreciative Inquiry, world café, open space… - think tanks – open invitation, open agenda - Agile methodologies – scrum etc - innovation portal (ie you I portal) - regular staff and student surveys - accelerate teams - volunteer army
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  22. 22. Technical change (linear) Need and vision Adopt proven ideas Train Roll out Scale up Fine-tune and embed Pre-planned and predictable steps  Proven solution 22
  23. 23. Need and vision Launch multiple experiments Assess responses and fine-tune Scale up Pilot AI…Foster collective intelligence Adaptive change (cyclic) 23
  24. 24. 24 Technical challenges = Linear change processes
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  26. 26. Organisational change processes 1. establish urgency based on provable need/gap 2. form a powerful coalition or core team 3. develop a vision and operation plan 4. launch numerous small ’safe to fail’ pilots 5. communicate the vision and develop whole school approach 6. consolidate improvements by building capacity 7. widen awareness and support 8. celebrate and embed Based on Kotter
  27. 27. Who has a voice in our organisation? What mechanisms can we create to foster interaction and shared learning?
  28. 28. Keeping in contact….