We agree with scientists who say that simple rules in natural systems lead to a healthy balance of consistency and creativity. That is why our Simple Rules are so important to us as individuals who contribute to a field, an Institute, and a network of learning and practice. These Simple Rules inform how we design research and practice projects, work with clients and each other, evaluate our work, and connect with our communities. They create for us coherent patterns of thought and action that help us move toward our goals with coherence and innovation.

Teach and learn in every interaction

When we teach and learn in every interaction, we stand together in inquiry, exploring ideas, building shared meaning, and learning from each other. We recognize and honor each individual's contributions and insights, and we don't stand as "experts." Rather we share what we know, remaining open to new ideas, deeper insights, and broader perspectives. In our Learning Labs, this Simple Rule informs design, so that when they leave learners will:

  • Stand in inquiry to explore new ideas
  • Share insights and ideas in useful and informative ways
  • Review personal and shared experience to harvest new learning

Give and get value for value

When we give and get value for value, we build balanced relationships where we each get what we need, and we are allowed to contribute what we are able. We learn to negotiate differences with questions that increase our insights and appreciation of others. In our Learning Labs, this Simple Rule informs design, so that when they leave, learners will:

  • Engage with others to participate in and contribute to community
  • Establish strong coalitions to accomplish shared tasks
  • Recognize and develop assets in self and other

Seek the true and the useful

When we seek the true and the useful, we make sure that our work is true to the foundations of HSD, even as it is helpful in the real-world challenges of today's complex world. We find reliable and helpful answers to the challenges we face. In our Learning Labs, this Simple Rule informs design, so that when they leave, learners will:

  • Examine data and evidence to determine its truth and relevance
  • Question the impact of their own and others’ assumptions
  • Explore broad applications of HSD ideas to create innovative responses to challenges

Attend to the whole, part, and greater whole

When we attend to the whole, part, and greater whole, we see the connections across systems. We know what we see around us reflects influence of other parts of our world. We know what happens locally influences larger issues, and that larger issues shape local patterns. Finally, we know that change happens at a local, person-to-person basis. In our Learning Labs, this Simple Rule informs design, so that when they leave, learners will:

  • See, understand, and influence patterns locally to influence change elsewhere
  • Seek best fit between and among the parts of their systems
  • Use Simple Rules to ensure system-wide coherence

Engage in joyful practice

When we engage in joyful practice, we recognize the value of engagement and commitment to the work we do. We understand that patterns of joyful practice emerge as individuals and groups engage in meaningful work, know how they contribute to the success of the greater whole, and feel they are a valued part of the work. In our Learning Labs, this Simple Rule informs design, so that when they leave, learners will:

  • Set conditions for groups and individuals to participate in their communities or organizations in meaningful ways
  • Set goals and establish simple rules that ensure engagement and coherent action toward powerful outcomes

Share your HSD story

When we share our HSD story, we are explicit in our use of Pattern Logic to see, understand, and influence patterns in our world. We use what we know to contribute to adaptive capacity in the systems where we live, work, and play. In our Learning Labs, this Simple Rule informs design, so that when they leave, learners will:

  • Use Pattern Logic and Adaptive Action to strengthen their communities and organizations
  • Share with others what they know about Pattern Logic and Adaptive Action

Related Resources

This book offers a clear and thoughtful process for reflection, self-exploration and planning, to bring you toward a new level of personal insight and growth. It's a radical approach that enables you to use HSD Models & Methods to consider your life right now and your future potential.
The Superintendent of Coast Union School District in California, USA, shares her HSD story.
Simple Rules are the agreed-upon guides that inform behavior and interactions among members of a Complex Adaptive System. Whether by conscious agreement or by unspoken assent, members of a CAS appear to engage with each other according to a short list of simple rules. Those Simple Rules shape the conditions that characterize the dominant patterns of the system.
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