Complexity, Collaboration and Unconferencing


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I was asked by Geelong College to present on Sustainability. I am not a scientist or climate change expert, so I decided to focus my presentation on the stuff I know best. This is a presentation about learning to make the transition to a more more sustainable lifestyle, business, school community or whatever. In advance, apologies for the 'clutter' on a few of the slides.

Published in: Business, Technology

Complexity, Collaboration and Unconferencing

  1. 1. I started out play ful … creative. This is Geoff Brown
  2. 2. “ I am now re-learning how to be creative and play at my work” “ My confidence doesn’t come from success … it comes from not being fearful of making mistakes!”
  3. 3.  My Blog My Podcasting Channel
  4. 4. ? So what am I going to focus on
  5. 5. 1. Problems ! CLIMATE CHANGE PEAK OIL
  6. 6. “ The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook” William James, US pragmatist philosopher 2. New ways of thinking
  7. 7. 3. Solutions !
  8. 8. 1. Problems ! CLIMATE CHANGE PEAK OIL
  9. 9. Source:
  10. 10. Source:
  11. 11. Source:
  12. 12. Is Peak Oil a theory? <ul><li>98 oil producers in the world </li></ul>
  13. 13. Peak oil a theory? It’s not a theory for these 64 post peak producers
  14. 14. Source:
  15. 15. MEGA -fires are causing us to rewrite the RULES
  16. 16. Source:
  17. 17. Source:
  18. 18.
  19. 19. Interview each other … <ul><li>What’s wrong with what you’re doing? </li></ul><ul><li>Why are you doing so badly? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the main cause of your difficulty? </li></ul><ul><li>Whose fault is it? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the other things that make it hard? </li></ul><ul><li>Why will it be difficult for you to do any better? </li></ul>One thing about yourself that you wish to improve
  20. 20. ? To what extent do problems inspire us to change
  21. 21. Approx 6% of the time Source: Robinson, L. The voluntary adoption of new practices (unpub.)
  22. 22. What about the science and experts? Source: 1. More Problems !
  23. 23. A great example of communicating the science of Climate Change
  24. 24. BUT … most of what we see & hear is not simple !
  25. 25. Houston, we have a problem!
  26. 26. &quot;Yes, we need (carbon) pricing. I actually believe it will come country by country, and not by a global agreement.“ Jeffrey Sachs Professor Garnaut quickly disagreed, warning that without global agreement, every country would put its own interests first. Why can’t the experts agree!
  27. 27. Aaaaahh! It’s way too complex Even the experts don’t know what will work
  28. 28. ? To what extent is Information & Science a trigger of change ? Source: Robinson, L. The voluntary adoption of new practices (unpub.)
  29. 29. Approx 20% Source: Robinson, L. The voluntary adoption of new practices (unpub.)
  30. 30. ? So what do we focus on to enable change
  31. 31. … and navigate through the roadblocks?
  32. 32. “ The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook” William James, US pragmatist philosopher 2. New ways of thinking are needed Ah -Ha !
  33. 33. IX “ Using a single line turn this into the number 6 ” Activity 101 Testing your Assumptions Tip: Use a pen paper to solve it But First!
  34. 34. S IX The answer … Well done if you got it! What assumptions did you make about the “IX” if you didn’t get it? What assumptions do you make about tackling climate change and inspiring change in others?
  35. 35. Understanding Complexity is critical ! Sources: Known or Simple Knowable Or Complicated Complex Chaotic Cynefin Domains
  36. 36. Compl icated With enough research, expertise & trial & error … we can predict the outcome
  37. 37. Compl ex Even with the best research & expertise … we can’t predict the outcome of this!
  38. 38. Compl ex Just try & predict my next move!? Or this guy!
  39. 39. ! Apologies in advance for some cluttered slides ahead
  40. 40. Known Knowable Complex Chaotic Which Domain is your work in? Like the butterfly effect Can’t predict what outcomes your actions will have (even the experts don’t know) Planning doesn’t work as intended Rational Problem Solving doesn’t work Work often complicated like building a car High confidence that desired outcomes will result from your actions (experts usually helpful) Planning usually works as intended Rational Problem Solving can work Work is simple , predictable and repeatable Problems remain solved “ Best Practice ” works as intended Even Bureaucratic structures can be effective! Don’t worry about solutions – act quickly to stablise Each problem is unique Structures are little help Source: B. Dick. Complex Social Systems & their facilitation. Conference Paper – AFN 2006.
  41. 41. Knowable Complexity 1 Working in Complexity ! Like human behaviour & climate change Cause-effect relationships ‘un-knowable’ ahead of time All you can do is: Probe - Implement lots of small actions/initiatives Sense - Watch closely and notice what’s working Respond - to support favorable outcomes & counter the negatives
  42. 42. In Sum ‘ let go’ of control of outcomes probe – sense - respond
  43. 43. ? So what about human behaviour ?
  44. 44. “ Our Behaviour is shaped by those around us … usually subconsciously” Mark Earls. Herd.
  45. 45. “ It’s the attributes of the Social Networks that is critical to understand … not the person it starts with” Duncan Watts. Professor of Sociology at Columbia University.
  46. 46. Human Behaviour is Complex too!
  47. 47. ? Source: Robinson, L. The voluntary adoption of new practices (unpub.) To what extent do those around us trigger change ?
  48. 48. approx 74% Source: Robinson, L. The voluntary adoption of new practices (unpub.)
  49. 49. In Sum It’s about ‘ We ’ not ‘I’
  50. 50. ? So what new approaches do we need
  51. 51. Read this - Clay Shirky. Here Comes Everybody Listen to this Podcast - Unconferencing. Johnnie Moore & Chris Corrigan. 2007. The Institution Coordination Consumers ‘create’ content Consumers ‘ consume ’ content Which Way in a Complex World ?
  52. 52. The Institution Coordination Consumers create content Web 2.0 – Meetup, Twitter, Blogs Self Organising systems Un Conferencing Mass Media for consumer consumption Web 1.0 - Websites Controlling systems Traditional Conferences
  53. 53. 1 Here is 1 specific approach applicable to all groups and communities.
  54. 54. Open Space Technology Open Space Technology is a simple way to run productive meetings, for five to 2000+ people, and a powerful way to lead any kind of organization, in everyday practice and extraordinary change.
  55. 55. Participants create the agenda
  56. 56. Open Space Technology It’s Self Organising
  57. 57. Open Space Technology OS is about people taking Responsibility for their Passions
  58. 58. In Sum Un conference your conferences Invite collaborative content Value non-experts highly
  59. 59. ? So what do we focus on
  60. 60. 3. Solutions !
  61. 61. Focus here more Focus here less
  62. 62. ? Why solutions
  63. 63. Again …Interview each other <ul><li>What are you aiming to achieve? </li></ul><ul><li>How will you know you’ve achieved it? </li></ul><ul><li>What was the best you ever did at this thing? </li></ul><ul><li>What went well on that occasion? </li></ul><ul><li>What will be the first signs that you’re getting better? </li></ul><ul><li>How will other people notice this improvement? </li></ul>One thing about yourself that you wish to improve Notice the difference your perception of yourself?
  64. 64. Solutions Talk Problem Talk Diagnose the problem Know the causes of the problem Use this info to address the problem Academic impulse Solutions Talk Recognise the solution(s) Find “counters” – this that contribute to solutions Build solutions and the problem vanishes Pragmatic impulse Source: Solutions For Change Training Notes (2008).
  65. 65. Solutions Focus Model Find what works and do more of it … Problem Defining the Future Finding what’s working Spotting useful qualities/skills Finding small steps switchover Source: Solutions For Change Training Notes (2008).
  66. 66. In Sum Focus on solutions Un conference “ We” not “I” Let go of outcomes 1. Problems ! 2. New ways of thinking 3. Solutions !
  67. 67. People who have inspired me M Earls (2007). Herd – How to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature. JW & Sons. L. Metcalf (1998). Solution Focused Group Therapy – Ideas for Groups in Private Practice, Schools, Agencies & Treatment Programs. The Free Press. P. Jackson & M.McKergow (2007). The Solutions Focus – Making Coaching & Change Simple. NB International. C. Heath & D. Heath (2007). Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive & Others Die. Random House. G. Reynolds (2008). Presentation Zen – Simple Ideas on Presentation Design & Delivery. New Riders. C. Shirky (2008). Here Comes Everybody – The Power or Organising Without Organisations. Penguin Press. D. Roam (2008). The Back of the Napkin – Solving Problems & Selling Ideas with Pictures. Portfolio Group. P. Madson (2006). Improv Wisdom: Don’t’ Prepare, Just Show Up.
  68. 68. Online stuff that has inspired me <ul><li>D. Snowden. Cognitive Edge Website Resources and White Papers. </li></ul><ul><li>C. Shirky (2008). Institutions vs. Collaboration. TED Conference Talk. Online at </li></ul><ul><li>D. Watts (2008). Word of Mouth for the Real World. Avenue a Razorfish Conference. Available online at </li></ul><ul><li>Group Processes </li></ul><ul><li>Open Space Technology - </li></ul><ul><li>Cafe Conversations - </li></ul>
  69. 69. THANKYOU ! Geoff Brown Tangent Consulting