Build Adaptive Capacity: Theory Informs Action; Action Informs Theory

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
—Pablo Picasso


Today, we are pleased to reveal the 2020 lineup of Adaptive Action (AA) Labs, the unique learning opportunities offered by the Human Systems Dynamics Institute. These AA Labs are designed to set conditions for you to build adaptive capacity to see, understand, and influence patterns of interaction and decision making in your world.

In our book, Radical Rules for Schools, Adaptive Action for Complex Change, Leslie Patterson and I argue that adaptive action is how all humans build foundations for learning. We gather information from the environment to understand or know the patterns around us. Then we take action to test that information against what we know from the past. We use our new understanding to inform useful action. As we find out what works and what doesn’t work, we refine and increase both our understanding of the concepts and our facility with new ideas.

The Learning Triangle, as a model, represents that interplay between what you “know” and what you “do.” It demonstrates how you use theory to inform action and action to inform theory. This interplay between theory and practice at the center of learning is the definition of praxis.

The Learning Triangle captures the praxis we use to approach the design of our Adaptive Action Labs. First, we invite you to bring your most challenging situation in a given topic. Then we present new ideas into that tension you feel between what you know and what you don’t know about that challenge. We talk about how you can use a particular HSD model or method to shift patterns in that challenging situation. We provide examples and some explanation about why that idea works in human systems. Finally, we give you time to practice at each introduction of a new idea. You practice your new theory challenge (new HSD insights and ideas), using your own experience as your practice challenge. In the course of the six-hour course, we walk with you through that same path with each new idea or model/method. By the time you complete the course, you have new capacity for dealing with that challenge. You also have the potential to generalize that capacity to other areas of your life.

This is what HSD Adaptive Action Labs offer you: New theory that enables you to 1) See the patterns in your greatest challenges; 2) Understand conditions that shape those patterns; and 3) Find your next wise action to shift current patterns into more effective ones.

In 2020, we are pleased to offer a slate of Adaptive Action Labs that address current challenges we all face in working in complex systems. Right now, we have scheduled them for (roughly) every other month, knowing that other topics might come up that need to be addressed. Here are the topics we have now to invite you to explore with us.

Feb 11, 13: Ethics in a Complex Adaptive System
Consider the difficulty of making ethical decisions in the uncertainty and ambiguity of complex human systems.
Faculty: Jennifer Jones-Patulli and Royce Holladay
12:00n – 3:00p (CST) | 6:00p – 9:00p (UTC)

Mar 23, 26 (US); Mar 24, 27 (NZ) Facilitation in Complex Systems
Explore the changing face and function of facilitation in today’s complex landscapes.
Faculty: Judy Oakden and Royce Holladay
4:00p – 7:00p (CDT) | 10:00a – 1:00p (NZDT)

Apr 21, 23: Adaptive Action Coaching 
Engage and support your clients in their own cycles of Adaptive Action.
Faculty: Royce Holladay and Mary Nations
12:00n – 3:00p (CDT) | 5:00p – 8:00p (UTC)

Jun 23, 26: Navigate Complex Change
Understand and navigate the challenges of change.
Faculty: Glenda Eoyang and Laura Williams
12:00n – 3:00p (CDT) | 5:00p – 8:00p (UTC)

Aug 25, 28:  Simple Narrative to Explore Complex Challenges
Invite your audience to step into and make sense of the complexity that shapes their world.
Faculty: Royce Holladay and Jennifer Jones-Patulli
12:00n – 3:00p (CDT) | 5:00p – 8:00p (UTC)

Oct 27, 30: Consulting in Complex Systems
Support your clients in dealing with the complexity of their workplace or community.
Faculty: Glenda Eoyang and TBA
12:00n – 3:00p (CDT) | 5:00p – 8:00p (UTC)

Click here to bookmark the AA Labs page on our website. Then, continue to check back periodically to see additional Labs as they are offered. Join us for any or all of these adventures in emergent learning and praxis! We look forward to seeing you there!


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