Simplifying Complex Change

Join us May 16 and 17 at Royal Roads University on beautiful Vancouver Island, BC to learn more about our Adaptive Action Lab Simplifying Complex Change.

The world changes every day. Do you? You can’t know what the future will bring, but you have to get ready for it anyway. Winners in the future game of life will find new and more effective ways to work and play; care for home and health; build supportive relationships and communities. 

Before the world went crazy with change, you could rely on lessons from the past to guide you into the future. Learning from the past is a winning strategy, as long as the future is no different from what went before. That was then. This is now. When the present is complex, and the future is unpredictable, life becomes an emerging journey. You create your future as you live it. HSD teaches three skills to help you build your adaptability and prepare you for this complex and confusing future.

  • Depend on inquiry, not expertise. No one is an expert in the world of the unknown. If you wait until you have the “right” answer, you may be waiting for a very long time. If you look for someone with the “right” answer, you will be disappointed again and again. Questions, on the other hand, open new doors and move you forward. When you use inquiry to explore what you don’t know, you begin to discover the power and possibility of uncertainty.
  • Turn your sticky problems into patterns of possibility. Complex problems change constantly, but they never go away. You can begin to understand them in a hundred ways, but no explanation is complete. They are created by many people with different perspectives and powerful interdependencies, and those same people must work together to move forward. Consider the very sticky problems of social justice, poverty, and public health. They seem intractable because they emerge from many, highly interdependent forces at play in open systems. HSD gives you tools and techniques to see your problems in new ways and to find simple keys to unlock new possibilities. 
  • Keep moving forward. When you face complex issues of uncertainty and change, it is easy to feel—and to be—stuck. You can never know everything. You can never control, or even predict, how others will respond to your choices and actions. But, when you use what you know right now, and the power you have in this moment, you can find a path forward. Stop looking for a perfect solution and find a way to make the most of what is—whatever it is. Adaptive Action, our three-step pattern-shifting process, is an engine for navigating complexity. What? So what? Now what? See, understand, and influence the patterns of sticky problems. These questions open doors and generate energy to move you and your system toward a better tomorrow. 

So, what does this mean to you and our life?

  • Step back and take a breath when you are stuck with conflict, unreasonable demands, ambiguous assignments, or stakeholders who haven’t earned your trust. Ask questions out of a real curiosity and desire to understand the situations and the people who are living into them. Ask yourself about the patterns that create and sustain the problems. Complete the last cycle and begin a new Adaptive Action. 
  • Move forward with a small, positive step when you are overwhelmed, and everything is coming at you at one time. That small step begins to create the patterns you want, it gives you forward momentum, and it strengthens your muscles for future adaptive challenges.
  • Find creative outlets and alternatives. The tried-and-true won’t be so useful in this uncertain future. You will innovate to succeed. Trial and error are the only way to find your map into the future. The path to your goals will require you to learn, to fail, and to learn from failure. Explore what is possible in the patterns that produce your most sticky issues, discover what is possible, and take courageous action.

The HSD network reaches around the world, as people like you learn to see, understand, and influence the simple power of complexity. Some of us are just beginning our HSD journeys. Others are farther along the road, but we all meet uncertainty with inquiry and complexity with clarity. We stand in inquiry, spot patterns, and take Adaptive Action. What is the next step in your journey?

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