Leveraging Uncertainty

2013 was a productive and satisfying year for the staff and Network of the HSD Institute.  We hope the same is true for you, and we thank you for your Adaptive Actions that continue to drive energy and insight into the complex dynamics of learning, work, and play. 

UncertaintyA spirit of inquiry guides us as we wrap up this year and set conditions for the next.  In her December 2013, Change the World message, Royce shared six questions to uncover patterns in uncertainty. These questions guide our favorite generative reflection because they focus our attention and help us turn uncertainty into creative opportunity. We invite you, too, to use these questions to leverage your own uncertainty as you reflect on the last and prepare for the next year.    

What are the three most important patterns you remember from 2013?

Like most of us, your year was probably filled with both stability and change. As you let your mind wander across the many experiences, what stands out as most significant?  From the overwhelming memories, we choose three patterns to focus on for two reasons.  First, it is narrow enough to focus our attention; and second it is wide enough to capture a variety of the most significant challenges and opportunities.

Across the year at the HSD Institute, I see three very distinct patterns of expansion.  Our new blended learning design for HSD Professional Certification—launching in January—promises to stretch the network farther and faster than ever before. International connections have multiplied and grown stronger in Finland, UK, Netherlands, Dubai, India, and Canada. Finally, the deep dives into educational applications of HSD have crossed boundaries for teachers and learners alike and increased the size of the network by 25 percent since this time last year.  

How would you like those patterns to be same or different in 2014?

Many remembered patterns are labeled as completely good or totally bad. In reality, nothing in life fits nicely into such a simple either/or pattern. As you revisit your three most important patterns, consider what within each you will choose to carry forward into the future. 

It is easy to see the good side of expanding the HSD Network because we put the power of HSD models and methods into more hands influencing more organizations and communities. As we look toward 2014, however, this pattern is not without challenge. We will have to consider new ways to ensure consistency and rigor in both theory and practice. We also will explore new ways to keep demands of time and energy within reasonable bounds and to stay connected and reflective.   

What do you know for sure and what questions do you have about those patterns?

It is easy to slip into certainty as the year closes and memories recede into history. Of course some things are clear, but other aspects of the past are still full of questions.  We divide questions into three kinds.  Known questions are easy to answer with current information.  Unknown questions can be answered with a bit of work. Unknowable questions defy all efforts for answers.  “Only time will tell” how the unknowable will be resolved. As you reflect on your 2013 patterns, what questions do you have and how knowable are they?

At the HSD Institute, our most interesting questions are always the unknowable ones.  They include:

  • How will HSD be transformed in response to the diverse needs and contexts of its expanding network?
  • What new opportunities will emerge as the edges of the Network expand?
  • How will the theory and the practice of HSD continue to discover and explore Adaptive Actions to inform coherence in human systems?

What contradictions do you see in the patterns?

While contradictions sometimes confuse and distract, they can also create energy for change. When you focus in on the contradictions that lie below your most significant patterns, you may discover new ways to see, understand, and influence those patterns for the future. 

The biggest contradiction I see in HSD’s 2013 patterns is the need to grow deeper and wider while conserving our individual and organizational resources. How will we continue to rely on the generative nature of self-organizing patterns and Adaptive Action to live within this creative tension?

What surprised you, and what does that surprise reveal about possible futures?

A surprise always hints at a pattern in transition. You notice it because it is different from the past, and it may be a weak signal of what is to come.  As you look back across 2013, consider the surprises that shook you, explore their sources and powers, and imagine how they might influence the patterns you can expect in the year to come. 

My surprise this year has been the growing understanding and commitment of our HSD Associates.  As we enter our eleventh year, our earliest members renew their curiosity while new Associates share unbounded energy and insights.

What can you do to influence the emerging patterns of 2014?

The earlier questions lead you to the Now What? of this inquiry cycle. Earlier questions helped you see and understand patterns of the past.  Now you are prepared to imagine and influence patterns in the future.  What will you do to set conditions for health, wellbeing, productivity, happiness, peace, and all the other patterns of coherence that support life and good works? 

Without doubt, our plans for 2014 will leverage the generative energy of individuals and groups as they use HSD to tackle their most challenging issues.  We will expand and draw on the Network of Associates as we continue to explore the depth and breadth of human systems dynamics. We will invite others into our circle of generative conversation. We look forward to engaging with you as we continue this journey, and here’s wishing the best of all coherent patterns for you and yours in 2014!  

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