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  1. 1. Idea Dancing & Pebbles from Heaven: Challenges for Leaders Thomas Homer-Dixon John Ott Brenda Zimmerman From a summary of key note speakers at the Tamarack 2010 CCI Conference Assembled by Barbara Dart & Mark Holmgren Further development by Mark Holmgren for the LenP300 course. FEATURING THE WORK OF AND OTHER THINKERS
  2. 2. Stuck In Perpetual Crisis? Collaborate! from Mark Cabaj, Tamarack Institute We need leadership that acknowledges the complexity and chaos of the world in which we live. We need leadership that is rooted in the sometimes grim reality of our day to day world, yet concurrently is able to fuel our highest aspirations and embolden us to great change. From the opening Plenary
  3. 3. Stuck In Perpetual Crisis? Collaborate! from Mark Cabaj, Tamarack Institute We need leadership that is authentically inclusive; recognizes multiple truths in the world; and taps into our shared wisdom. We need leadership that is adaptive and flexible and embraces risk-taking, change and failure as opportunities for learning. From the opening Plenary
  4. 4. Opening Exercise Finish these opening statements... We need leadership that acknowledges... We need leadership that is rooted in... We need leadership that is authentically...
  5. 5. Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon Day One Key Note: Chaos, Uncertainty and the Possibility of Collaboration, Framing the issues facing our communities – our world Thomas Homer-Dixon holds the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and is a Professor in the Centre for Environment and Business in the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo. He is author of and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. Learn more about Thomas on his website here. Access Thomas' keynote presentation here.
  6. 6. Thomas Homer Dixon REASONS FOR RESISTENCE TO CHANGE Cognitive: Cognitive inertia due to availability bias (assessing change and challenges based on recent or current experiences) Emotional: Motivated bias to defend one's identity. It is hard to change when what you are facing is a redefinition of yourself and/or your role. Economic: Misleading price signals. Example if the price of oil included what it will cost to find alternatives to dwindling reserves, we might think differently. Social: Vested interests pose barriers to making change that will alter what social position or benefits we experience. Political: Short time horizons tend to define problems in small and often unrealistic chunks. Governments work in annual cycles and within the context of elections. Change that falls beyond the short term may not be sell-able to the public.
  7. 7. Thomas Homer Dixon “We need to shift from seeing the world as composed mainly of MACHINES to seeing it as composed mainly of …… COMPLEX SYSTEMS”
  8. 8. “Whereas MACHINES • can be taken apart, analyzed, and fully understood (they are no more than the sum of their parts) • exhibit “normal normal” or equilibrium patterns of behavior • show proportionality of cause and effect, and • can be managed because their behavior predictable . . .” Thomas Homer Dixon
  9. 9. Thomas Homer Dixon COMPLEX SYSTEMS “Are more than the sum of their parts (they have emergent properties); Can flip from one pattern of behavior to another (they have multiple equilibriums); Show disproportionality of cause and effect (their behavior is often nonlinear, because of feedbacks and synergies), and Cannot be easily managed because their behavior is often unpredictable.”
  10. 10. Thomas Homer Dixon There are no simple fixes to complex problems. “Complex problems require complex solutions.”
  11. 11. Is rising social, economic and technological complexity a good thing or a bad thing? Thomas Homer Dixon
  12. 12. Thomas Homer Dixon “A GOOD THING! Complexity often helps us solve our problems Complexity is often a source of: Innovation (through novel combinations) Adaptability (through diversity and distributed capability)”
  13. 13. Thomas Homer Dixon “A BAD THING? Complexity can cause Opacity and extreme uncertainty Managerial Overload Cascading Failures Brittleness.”
  14. 14. “How do we innovate in a world of rising complexity and increasingly likely breakdown?” Thomas Homer Dixon
  15. 15. Thomas Homer Dixon Increase system resilience Learn to identify problem types (simple, complicated, or complex) Decentralize and diversify problem solving to rapidly explore solution landscape (with safe-fail experimentation) Generate breakdown scenarios ( to enable robust decision making)
  16. 16. “The PROSPECTIVE MIND is a RESILIENT mind” Thomas Homer Dixon
  17. 17. Thomas Homer Dixon From Dr. Homer-Dixon's CCI Presentation
  18. 18. Thomas Homer Dixon Too much connectivity can harm resilience. From Dr. Homer-Dixon's CCI Presentation
  19. 19. Thomas Homer Dixon “How do we lead in a world of rising complexity? Leaders should constantly probe to determine patterns in changing solution landscape Small experiments are probes. Leaders should be “gardeners” who create conditions for experimentation – and for creative failure”
  20. 20. John Ott Day Two Keynote: John Ott Connect: The Collaborative Leader Understanding Collective wisdom and change John Ott is co-author of the brilliant new book The Power of Collective Wisdom. John, a graduate of Stanford Law School, lives in California. He began group work as a community organizer, helping residents discern their collective voice and claim their power. For the last 15 years he has designed and led large-scale community and organizational change efforts and is a founding member of the Fetzer Institute’s Collective Wisdom Initiative. Learn more about the John Ott and the Collective Wisdom Initiative here. Access John's full keynote presentation here and summary here.
  21. 21. John Ott “A key distinction to remember: Facts: verified or verifiable Stories: the meaning we make of facts”
  22. 22. “When human beings gather in groups, a depth of awareness and insight, a transcendent knowing, becomes available to us that, if accessed, can lead to profound action. We call this transcendent knowing collective wisdom.” John Ott
  23. 23. “This knowing is not of the mind alone, nor is it of any individual alone. When this knowing and sense of right action emerges, it does so from deep within the individual participants, from within the collective awareness of the group, and from within the larger field that holds the group.” John Ott
  24. 24. THE SCALLOP PRINCIPLE Each one of us is an eye (I); the whole discerns through us. The corollary: when we don’t hear from any eye (I), the whole is at greater risk. John Ott Image from John Ott's CCI Presentation :
  25. 25. John Ott Image from John Ott's CCI Presentation
  26. 26. John Ott Image from John Ott's CCI Presentation
  27. 27. Stances that support the arising of collective wisdom • Suspend certainty • See the whole • Seek diverse perspectives • Welcome all that is arising • Trust in the transcendent John Ott
  28. 28. EXERCISE What must leaders know/learn in order to help create and sustain the kinds of stances John Ott talks about?
  29. 29. “Often when human beings gather in groups, we become conduits for wisdom’s opposite—folly. We use the term folly to reflect a continuum of behaviors, from mere foolishness to acts of depravity. Put bluntly, if human beings have the capacity to access collective wisdom, why don’t we?” John Ott
  30. 30. John Ott BE WARY OF... Image from John Ott's CCI Presentation
  31. 31. John Ott Image from John Ott's CCI Presentation
  32. 32. Brenda Zimmerman DAY THREE KEY NOTE: Brenda Zimmerman Engage: Systems Change Healthy communities, complexity and collaborative leadership Brenda Zimmerman is co-author of the best-selling book Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed, which explores real-life examples of social change through a systems and relationship lens and applies the insights of complexity theory to lay out a brand new way of thinking about making change in communities, in business, and in the world. Dr Brenda Zimmerman is the Associate Professor of Policy and Director, of the Health Industry Management Program at the Schulich School of Business, York University. Learn more about Brenda Zimmerman and complexity here. Access Brenda's keynote presentation here.
  33. 33. Brenda Zimmerman Time is too short and things are too bad for pessimism. Dee Hock Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation
  34. 34. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation We need to differentiate between the simple, the complicated and the complex
  35. 35. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation What is a simple system or challenge non profits can address with a recipe?
  36. 36. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation What is a complicated system or challenge non profits face that have knowable components and solutions?
  37. 37. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation What is a complex system or challenge non profits face and what might be some of its unknowable components leaders must address?
  38. 38. Brenda Zimmerman “When In The Zone Of... Simple or Complicated Plan then act Aim for consistency Limit type of action (best practice) “Blueprints” Project Management Complexity “Act-learn” at the same time (tight feedback loops) Aim for “coherence” Multiple actions Minimum specs/simple rules Generative thinking AND Generative relationships Inquiry” Generative thinking is getting to the question before the question. Generative work is almost always about questions of values, beliefs, assumptions, and organizational cultures. That's what makes it interesting, but also what makes it important is to have people in those conversations who understand the institution, but have some degree of distance. Richard Chait, Harvard
  39. 39. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation A divergent question is a question with no specific answer, but rather exercises in one's ability to think broadly about a certain topic.
  40. 40. From Convergence, David La Piana et al
  41. 41. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation Can God create a stone that God cannot lift?
  42. 42. “Wicked questions –examples • How can we dramatically improve quality while drastically reducing costs? • How do we work together when we all have different agendas? • How can we commit ourselves to be accountable for achieving measurable results, while at the same time staying open to the possibility that we may be measuring the wrong outcomes? (from Paul Born’s book)” Brenda Zimmerman
  43. 43. Exercise How might doing away with outcomes and outcome measurement liberate our organizations to help people and communities achieve their aspirations? What questions arise out of this question? What are different ways of seeing success other than identifying outcomes? How might designing services to achieve outcomes limit our ability to help create significant and lasting change?
  44. 44. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation AI is based on the assumption that organizations change in the way they inquire and the claim that an organization which inquires into problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same but an organization which tries to appreciate what is best in itself will find/discover more and more of what is good.
  45. 45. Brenda Zimmerman Image from Brenda Zimmerman's CCI Presentation
  46. 46. By Linda Ackerman Anderson and Dean Anderson
  47. 47. Awake at the Wheel Highlights: “The future state is so radically different than the current state that a shift of mindset is required to invent it” Transformation requires transformed behaviour. Transformed behaviour requires transformed thinking.
  48. 48. Awake at the Wheel “Mindset is causative...” Leaders' mindsets about people, organizations and change determine... What they see and don't see. How they react and process what they see and don't see. Their leadership style, the results they strive for, the strategies they espouse.
  49. 49. Awake at the Wheel
  50. 50. Awake at the Wheel
  51. 51. Theory of Change? A theory of change is a strategy or blueprint for achieving large-scale, long-term goals. It identifies the preconditions, pathways and interventions necessary for an initiative's success. ...
  52. 52. Theory of Change? it shows a causal pathway from here to there by specifying what is needed for goals to be achieved (e.g. you might argue that children a ttending school a minimum number of days is necessary if they are going to learn). it requires you to articulate underlying assumptions which can be tested and measured. it changes the way of thinking about initiatives from what you are doing to what you want to achieve and starts there.