An Opportunity: Strategies for Responding to Today’s Unpredictable, Complex and Emergent Environments

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

As part of my commitment to my own professional development, a few months ago I attended a certification training program on effective practices in organizational change and leadership development. Although it required more time commitment than usual on my part, I found the experience well worth it. I would make the same decision again if I had it to do over. So when I heard that the Human Systems Dynamics Institute  was bringing its HSDP Certification Training Program to Portland in January 2012, I wanted to share my experiences and how the HSD methodology has positively impacted my practice and my work with my clients.

Human Systems Dynamics brings together theory and practice to effectively respond to today’s unpredictable, complex and emergent environments.  Rooted in complexity science, HSD incorporates a system of simple strategies that help to make sense of the patterns that emerge from chaos when people work and play together in groups, families, organizations, and communities.

Human Systems Dynamics is based on the premise that we interact in complex adaptive systems on a daily basis, in our personal and professional life.  Glenda Eoyang, founder of the HSD Institute, and Thomas Berkas, Ph.D, define complex adaptive systems as consisting of

interdependent agents, [where] the behavior of each agent conforms to a short list of simple rules, and the group of agents exhibits emergent, system-wide patterns of behaviors.

Recognizing these patterns of behaviors and how they influence the actions of groups and/or organizations helps us to understand the dynamics at play. From that recognition and understanding, we can apply simple rules to guide the behaviors of each person or team member in the organization, and in turn, lead to better and more effective working relationships.

In my practice, HSD has made an indelible impact on my approach with organizational systems and individuals.  Sharing the concepts and methods of HSD with my clients has had considerable influence on how my clients think about and work in organizational systems and, in turn, has brought about effective change in their organizations.

I recently facilitated a meeting with a group of managers who needed to create closer working relationships in order to effectively support their Agile teams and continue their enterprise IT Agile adoption efforts. To help them think about the culture and system they wanted to evolve, I introduced a short series of models and methods from complexity science and HSD that helped them to visualize their current system, describe their desired system, and choose next steps to move into an emerging future. By applying HSD processes, the group was able to move forward successfully.

I will be attending the HSDP Certification Training Program in Portland on January 18-20, 2012, as a volunteer Teaching Assistant (TA). The training consists of 10 full-days broken in three sessions (Jan, Feb, and Mar). Don’t let the time commitment dissuade you; it is well-worth it.

If you think this is something that would benefit you and your organization, consider registering for the training.  Or send me an email: dlarsen@futureworksconsulting.com.  I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have or share information about my experiences with HSD.*

For additional Information on HSD, please check the following resources:

- Human Systems Dynamics Institute

- Options for Action: Power point presentation by Glenda Eoyang which describes paradoxes found in human systems dynamics.

- Simple Rules: Organizational DNA: This article by Royce Holladay describes the power of Simple Rules to establish patterns in organizations.

- Free webinars on HSD can be accessed here.

- Additional articles on HSD can be found here.

*Note: As FYI – I have no financial stake in this workshop or the institute, nor will I gain any additional benefit from it’s presence in Portland other than participating in it again while avoiding the travel. The “WIIFM” is the opportunity to create a local cohort of people who know and understand the methods and models. I look forward to the opportunity to create an ongoing learning group in which we can find more ways to help our clients and our organizations as they navigate complex times.

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