Building Complexity Bridges
Across Great Divides
Keith Carpenter, Kent Covenant Church
Scott Conger, United States Air For...
Leadership Lessons from Nature: The Living
Bridges of Meghalaya

Scott Conger, United States Air Force (Ret.)
© Carpenter,...
Lesson One: Leaders Do Not Need All the Answers

© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
Lesson Two: Leaders Do Not Need All the Answers

“Dependable certainty … lies in confidence that one’s preparation is adeq...
Lesson Two: Commitment to Learning

© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
Lesson Two: Commitment to Learning

“What if nine out of ten change initiatives in our organizations or
societies, were dr...
Lesson Three: Fewer Rules and Less Control

© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
Leadership Lessons from Nature: The Living
Bridges of Meghalaya

© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
Don’t Curse the
Chaos—Learning to
Lead Complex
Churches
Keith Carpenter, Kent Covenant
Church
© Carpenter, Conger, Davenpo...
Organizational Complexity

The swirling, nonlinear, random, multiple, redundant interactions of
many agents
© Carpenter, C...
Emergence

In nature and history change leaps into
existence following
disruption, turmoil, tension, or chaos
© Carpenter,...
Pastors Often Try to
Suppress Turmoil

Turmoil Accompanies
Emergent Change
© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 20...
Complex Organizations

Distributed Intelligence
© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
The Revitalization of Mission Church

“What Would Jesus Do?”

See Plowman, D. A. (2007) The role of leadership in
emergent...
Adaptive
Change

Is Frequently Bottom Up
© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
Do followers see complexity
leadership as bad leadership?
Reconciling Complexity Leadership with
Implicit Leadership Theor...
Agenda
• Theoretical Positioning
– Complexity Leadership
– Implicit Leadership Theories

• Complexity Leadership and Const...
Theoretical Positioning
• Complexity Leadership Theory
“leadership should be seen not only as position and authority
but a...
Theoretical Positioning
• Can this be operationalize this in terms of
positional leadership behaviours?
– Those that encou...
Theoretical Positioning
• Can this be operationalize this in terms of
positional leadership behaviours?
• Hybrid-Strategie...
Theoretical Positioning
Complexity Leadership
Complexity Absorbing
Behaviours

HybridStrategies

Participative
Decision
Ma...
Theoretical Positioning
• Implicit Leadership Theories: constituents tend to
perceive leaders as effective if they possess...
Complexity Absorbing Behaviours
vs. Implicit Leadership Theories
Leadership behaviours that encourage SelfOrganization, Pa...
Complexity Absorbing Behaviours
vs. Implicit Leadership Theories
Self-Organization

Participative Decision
Making

Dedicat...
Complexity Absorbing Behaviours
vs. Implicit Leadership Theories
Self-Organization
Proposition #1
Dedication
(disciplined,...
Explicit Complexity Absorption
Purposefully communicating with constituents regarding
the instrumental value of self-organ...
Explicit Complexity Absorption
Self-Organization
Proposition #1
Dedication
(disciplined, prepared)

Participative Decision...
Discussion
Thank you
1) Is it theoretically appropriate to categorize complexity
absorbing leadership behaviours as a subs...
Occupy Complexity:
Using Complexity To Examine The
Occupy Wall St. Movement
Brian Davenport, Whitworth
University

© Carpe...
COMPARING TWO EVENTS IN
ZUCCOTTI PARK
• Empire State Rebellion
– Date: June 14, 2011
– Objective: Occupy Zuccotti Park
– A...
EXTERNAL FACTORS
• It is important to understand the external forces that
have an impact on any given social system (Caste...
INDEPENDENT AGENTS
• Independent agents are necessary for complex
realities to emerge (Castellani & Hafferty, 2009;
Plowma...
© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ILA
INDEPENDENT AGENTS cont.
• Mavens: People who are “information specialists”.
• David Graeber introduced the idea of the ge...
IMPACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
• The connection of independent agents is essential to
the emergence of complex adaptive sy...
IMPACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
• If a problem couldn’t be solved in the general
assembly, a working committee was formed t...
IMPACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
• This process wisdom allowed the Occupy Wall
St. movement to develop a system that
facilit...
Occupy Today
• The movement has lost significant
momentum. Why?
– Division
– Lack of goals

• Can the movement regain prom...
Question & Discussion
Commentator: Dr. Caroline
Fu, Gonzaga University

© Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, &
McDermott, 2012 ...
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  • Chair and presenter introductions followed by presentation video.In the book Emergence: From Chaos to Order, author John Holland stated, “We’ve seen repeatedly that much complexity can be generated in systems defined by a few well-chosen rules. When we observe emergent phenomena, we ought therefore try to discover the rules that generate the phenomena”
  • Uhl-Bien and Marion (2008) recognized this phenomenon when they stated that “humans are predisposed … to try tto centralize and control the behaviors of the collective”… and this is a conscious effort aimed toward certainty and answers.
  • However, “there is an aspect of our mind that is exceedingly capable of dealing with complexity” this is our unconscious, our intuition, our faith, our dependable certainty” (Senge) Why is it right because it is generated in the situation? Well, according to L’ Engle, there are no right answers, just the best wrong answer for the situation… and we’re stuck with it.
  • In the living bridges I see a commitment to learning that is at the heart of Servant Leadership.
  • Commitment without expectation of personal gain “Such people … have a capacity for delayed gratification, which makes it possible for them to aspire to objectives which others would disregard, even considering the impact of their choices on succeeding generations . (Senge, p.132)2. Commitment and allegiance to the learning process itself rather than change“Learning requires change… but change does not require learning” (Senge, as cited in Greenleaf) Are we as servant leaders committed to the results… or to the learning process itself?Peter Senge connected commitment to learning and servant leadership together when he stated “one of the important tasks of leaders in learning organizations is to be the steward [servant] of the vision within the organization. Being a steward means clarifying and nurturing a vision that is greater than oneself”
  • Coax the roots… take care that they are not broken or disturbed… be consistent… be caring… be patientChilean biologist HumbertoMaturana… “Evolution is a process of transformation through conservation” Nature conserves a few basic features , and in doing so, frees everything else to change. (p. 335 Senge)The real question here for leaders is what do we hope to conserve? In the case of the Khasi, they are conserving a centuries old process that serves others, they are conserving the importance of a learning organization. As servant leaders, we are conserving our work relationships, innovation… in short, our commitment to a learning organization.
  • Conclusion
  • Ila presentation

    1. 1. Building Complexity Bridges Across Great Divides Keith Carpenter, Kent Covenant Church Scott Conger, United States Air Force (Ret.) Brian Davenport, Whitworth University Kevin McDermott, University of Guelph Commentator: Caroline Fu, Gonzaga University © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    2. 2. Leadership Lessons from Nature: The Living Bridges of Meghalaya Scott Conger, United States Air Force (Ret.) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    3. 3. Lesson One: Leaders Do Not Need All the Answers © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    4. 4. Lesson Two: Leaders Do Not Need All the Answers “Dependable certainty … lies in confidence that one’s preparation is adequate so that one may venture into the experience without pre-set answers but with the assurance that creative insight will emerge in the situation when needed, and that it will be right in the situation because it is an answer generated in the situation” (Greenleaf, 1977) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    5. 5. Lesson Two: Commitment to Learning © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    6. 6. Lesson Two: Commitment to Learning “What if nine out of ten change initiatives in our organizations or societies, were driven by excitement, by the idea that this would serve somebody in a different way, that this would give us a better way of living?” (Senge, 2006) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    7. 7. Lesson Three: Fewer Rules and Less Control © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    8. 8. Leadership Lessons from Nature: The Living Bridges of Meghalaya © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    9. 9. Don’t Curse the Chaos—Learning to Lead Complex Churches Keith Carpenter, Kent Covenant Church © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    10. 10. Organizational Complexity The swirling, nonlinear, random, multiple, redundant interactions of many agents © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    11. 11. Emergence In nature and history change leaps into existence following disruption, turmoil, tension, or chaos © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    12. 12. Pastors Often Try to Suppress Turmoil Turmoil Accompanies Emergent Change © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    13. 13. Complex Organizations Distributed Intelligence © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    14. 14. The Revitalization of Mission Church “What Would Jesus Do?” See Plowman, D. A. (2007) The role of leadership in emergent, self-organization. The Leadership Quarterly, 18, 341-356. © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    15. 15. Adaptive Change Is Frequently Bottom Up © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    16. 16. Do followers see complexity leadership as bad leadership? Reconciling Complexity Leadership with Implicit Leadership Theories Kevin McDermott, MBA, PhD Candidate (ABD) University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada Department of Business © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    17. 17. Agenda • Theoretical Positioning – Complexity Leadership – Implicit Leadership Theories • Complexity Leadership and Constituent Perception – Implicit complexity absorption vs. Implicit leadership theories – Explicit complexity absorption reconcile the differences? • Discussion © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    18. 18. Theoretical Positioning • Complexity Leadership Theory “leadership should be seen not only as position and authority but also as an emergent, interactive dynamic—a complex interplay from which a collective impetus for action and change emerges when heterogeneous agents interact in networks in ways that produce new patterns of behavior or new modes of operating” (Uhl-Bien, Marion & McKelvey, 2007, emphasis added) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    19. 19. Theoretical Positioning • Can this be operationalize this in terms of positional leadership behaviours? – Those that encourage an interactive dynamic and fosters adaptive dynamics that progress organizational goals (Uhl-Bein, Marion & McKelvey, 2007) – Those that can absorb complexity, make use of disorder, irregularity, and differences (complexity absorption) vs. those that seek to reduce uncertainty and error (complexity reduction) (Stacey, 1995; Boisot & Child, 1999) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    20. 20. Theoretical Positioning • Can this be operationalize this in terms of positional leadership behaviours? • Hybrid-Strategies (Boisot & Child, 1999; Walters & Bhuian, 2004) • Self-Organization (Ashmos, Duchon & McDaniel, 2002) • Participative Decision Making (Clarke, 2006) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    21. 21. Theoretical Positioning Complexity Leadership Complexity Absorbing Behaviours HybridStrategies Participative Decision Making SelfOrganization © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    22. 22. Theoretical Positioning • Implicit Leadership Theories: constituents tend to perceive leaders as effective if they possess certain traits or characteristics – Culturally dependent (Ling, Chia & Fang, 2000) – Western cultures tend to favour: • • • • Dedication (disciplined, prepared) Tyranny (pushy, domineering) Intelligence (knowledgeable, wise) Strength (forceful, powerful) (Offerman, Kennedy & Wirtz, 1994). © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    23. 23. Complexity Absorbing Behaviours vs. Implicit Leadership Theories Leadership behaviours that encourage SelfOrganization, Participative Decision Making and HybridStrategies may negatively influence constituents’ perception of a leader’s effectiveness because of the constituents’ implicit leadership theories. In contexts where these leaders don’t frame these behaviours in terms of their instrumental value to the organization (Implicit Complexity Absorption) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    24. 24. Complexity Absorbing Behaviours vs. Implicit Leadership Theories Self-Organization Participative Decision Making Dedication (disciplined, prepared) Tyranny (pushy, domineering) Intelligence (knowledgeable, wise) Strength (forceful, powerful, dec isiveness) © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA Hybrid Strategies
    25. 25. Complexity Absorbing Behaviours vs. Implicit Leadership Theories Self-Organization Proposition #1 Dedication (disciplined, prepared) Participative Decision Making Proposition #2 Preparedness Tyranny (pushy, domineering) Intelligence (knowledgeable, wise) Strength (forceful, powerful, decisiveness) Hybrid Strategies Proposition #3 Preparedness Tyranny Wisdom Wisdom Preparedness Conger, Davenport, & Strength © Carpenter, McDermott, 2012 ILA Wisdom Decisiveness
    26. 26. Explicit Complexity Absorption Purposefully communicating with constituents regarding the instrumental value of self-organization, participative decision making and hybrid-strategies, as well as explaining the environmental context that make complexity absorption strategies appropriate © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    27. 27. Explicit Complexity Absorption Self-Organization Proposition #1 Dedication (disciplined, prepared) Participative Decision Making Proposition #2 Preparedness Hybrid Strategies Proposition #3 Preparedness Proposition #5 Tyranny (pushy, domineering) Intelligence (knowledgeable, wise) Proposition #4 Tyranny Frame Self-Organization and Participative Decision Making in terms of Employee Empowerment Wisdom Wisdom (Dewettinck & Ameijde, 2008) Strength (forceful, powerful, decisiveness) Preparedness Conger, Davenport, & Strength © Carpenter, McDermott, 2012 ILA Frame HybridStrategies in terms of organizational capacity building in Wisdom of the face environmental dynamism Decisiveness
    28. 28. Discussion Thank you 1) Is it theoretically appropriate to categorize complexity absorbing leadership behaviours as a subset of complexity leadership (as per Uhl-Bein et al.)? 2) Other complexity absorbing leadership behaviours that should be included besides hybridstrategies, self-organization and participative decision making? © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    29. 29. Occupy Complexity: Using Complexity To Examine The Occupy Wall St. Movement Brian Davenport, Whitworth University © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    30. 30. COMPARING TWO EVENTS IN ZUCCOTTI PARK • Empire State Rebellion – Date: June 14, 2011 – Objective: Occupy Zuccotti Park – Attendance: 4 People • Occupy Wall St. – Date: September 17, 2011 – Objective: Occupy Zuccotti Park – Attendance: ≈ 2,000 People © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    31. 31. EXTERNAL FACTORS • It is important to understand the external forces that have an impact on any given social system (Castellani & Hafferty, 2009). • National unemployment rate was at 9.1% and had been over 9% for just over two years. There hasn’t been an unemployment rate over 9% since 1983 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). • Success of the “Arab Spring”. After seeing the success of the numerous revolutions that took place in North Africa, it only makes sense that a frustrated populace would see beginning a protest movement as a viable option. © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    32. 32. INDEPENDENT AGENTS • Independent agents are necessary for complex realities to emerge (Castellani & Hafferty, 2009; Plowman & Duchon, 2008). • For any idea to truly spread a few select types of people need to be involved performing specific functions, people he called connectors, mavens, and salesmen (Gladwell, 2002). • Connector: Someone who knows a lot of people in different social groups. • Adbusters served as the connector © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    33. 33. © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    34. 34. INDEPENDENT AGENTS cont. • Mavens: People who are “information specialists”. • David Graeber introduced the idea of the general assembly to the people who were early participators in the planning of Occupy Wall St. • Salesmen: People “with the skill to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing”. • For the Occupy Wall St. movement this role was played by a group of hacktavists known collectively as Anonymous. • Specific agents, not specific people, are necessary for an idea or a movement to emerge from the complexity © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    35. 35. IMPACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY • The connection of independent agents is essential to the emergence of complex adaptive systems. • The use of the general assembly in the Occupy Wall St. movement allowed for each person, or node, involved in the movement to communicate with other nodes. • “Each person in a network is a “node” and through talk and interaction “connections” among the nodes are formed. The addition of new nodes or changes in the nature of the connections between the nodes can lead to changes that have enormous consequence” (Plowman & Duchon, 2008 p. 132). © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    36. 36. IMPACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY • If a problem couldn’t be solved in the general assembly, a working committee was formed to continue working on the problem with the goal of reporting back to the general assembly (Bennett, 2011). • Each social system is compiled from networks of attracting clusters. • The working committees allowed for the creation of attracting clusters around specific ideas • General Assemblies and working committees allowed for process wisdom (Vaill, 1998). © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    37. 37. IMPACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY • This process wisdom allowed the Occupy Wall St. movement to develop a system that facilitates in-time responses to both internal and external stimuli. • This allowed for a positive response to the disequilibrium created by numerous external stimuli and the injection of new energy into the system. © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    38. 38. Occupy Today • The movement has lost significant momentum. Why? – Division – Lack of goals • Can the movement regain prominence? – Yes? © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA
    39. 39. Question & Discussion Commentator: Dr. Caroline Fu, Gonzaga University © Carpenter, Conger, Davenport, & McDermott, 2012 ILA

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