Happy Anniversary to HSD Institute!

Thanks to all who joined us for the celebration of our 20th Anniversary on March 1. It was such fun to see old friends and hear stories about the past, present, and future of the HSD community. They asked me to talk about how things have changed since 2003 when the Institute was founded. It would be easier to list the things that stayed the same, I am afraid. On the other hand, there are patterns and trends that have shifted the self-organizing processes of our community of praxis. 

The world has changed! Even before Covid, people were feeling the stress of uncertainty and surprise. Individuals, families, communities, and institutions lose their anchors and shift in unexpected ways. Two patterns have super-charged interest in human systems dynamics and other approaches to complexity. First, people are feeling desperate. They had been stuck for a long time, but they are finally coming to the conclusion that their old tried and true approaches will NEVER get them unstuck. Second, they are more prepared. Books, consultants, media, and social movements have convinced people that uncertainty is a real thing AND still it is possible to take action and to thrive in the chaos. In 2003, less than half an audience would nod in understanding and reach out in excitement. Today, it is rare to see anyone who is surprised by the reality of turbulence and uncertainty.

HSD theory and practice have changed! We have used our theory and practice to support hundreds of organizations and professionals. With each engagement, we learn as we teach. The core of the work has crystalized into key models and methods. We started with dozens of tools, and we’ve zeroed in on Adaptive Action, Inquiry, Pattern Logic as essential to thriving in complexity. We have also framed a more coherent narrative with our powerful vision at the center.

People everywhere thrive because
we see patterns clearly,
seek to understand, and
act with courage to
 transform turbulence and uncertainty
into possibility for all.

Our community has changed! Our numbers have swelled in these many years. People are more connected with each other than ever before, and they are standing in places of power and influence inside their many networks. We learn together. We work together. We inquire together. We play together. As a community, we are guided by the HSD Simple Rules:

  • Stand in Inquiry
  • Search for what’s true and useful
  • Zoom in and zoom out
  • Find the energy in difference
  • Connect through stories and impacts
  • Celebrate Life!

We come from many different sectors and from all over the world, but our commitment to the HSD vision and the HSD Simple Rules allows us to find hope and possibility as we harvest the generative energy in our differences.

Our theory tells us that linear, predictable change is rare in a complex system. Our experience confirms that fact. Each of us changes at a different rate. Theory pushes ahead of and falls behind practice. We move forward and slide back, but even though the change is messy, it is persistent and progressive. I hope you’ll join us for the next twenty years of this enthralling adventure!

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