In 1986 Glenda Eoyang realized she and her company were stuck. After years of success in a growing field of technical training and documentation, things started to change. New technologies, globalization, mergers and acquisitions, and shifting workforce turned a predictable market into chaos. The linear, high control, engineering methods that worked before began to break down. Glenda and her business partner, Becky Bohan, looked for advice about how to regain control, but nothing seemed to work.

Theories looked great on the page, but they didn’t match the world of practice. Exhausted and with the end in sight, Glenda took a long weekend to regroup. A friend suggested she read Gleick’s Chaos: Making a New Science as a way to escape the stress and strain of the unpredictable world of business.

Rather than escape, Glenda found answers—or at least better questions—in the emerging sciences of chaos and complexity. The patterns she saw and the adaptive choices she made were the key to working in the self-organizing, complex human systems. She used what she learned to redesign her business, re-establish relationships, and recreate a successful future for herself and her team.

From 1986 to 2003, Glenda established a theory and practice based on complexity theory. Her own leadership led her to write, writing led to teaching, teaching led to consulting, and a doctoral program led to research. In 2003, she founded the Human Systems Dynamics Institute to build a foundation for continuing inquiry and practice.

Since then, the human systems dynamics field, the Institute, and the network of HSD Associates have emerged as powerful forces for change:

  • The field involves an interdisciplinary community of scholars and practitioners who develop and test HSD theory and practice. They are supported by books, articles, and electronic communications that continue to push the boundaries of thought and action.
  • The network engages more than 600 certified HSD Professionals who invest in their own growth and development while supporting colleagues and clients to influence human systems dynamics.
  • Clients around the world use Adaptive Action and Pattern Logic to leverage uncertainty in their own organizations and respond to intractable issues for individuals, teams, organizations, and communities.

Eoyang offers this promise: “We have a healthy respect for the uncertainty and power of dynamical change. The principles and practices we teach inform our own decision making and action taking. While we cannot predict the future for ourselves or our community, we do know one thing for sure: We will use simple Models & Methods to see, understand, and influence emerging patterns in complex human systems.”

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