The Future of Change

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.”
― Lao Tzu

What do an avalanche, a child learning to read, and climate change have in common?

They are all examples of dynamical change.

As a result, they are:

  • Systemic shifts that transform all scales and all parts of the system
  • Complex change, where the long-term, system-wide effects are predictable, but the details and timing are not
  • Innumerable small shifts, setting conditions for a singular, massive, system-wide shift

Dynamical change is the object of wonder for us all and a focus of research for some complexity scholars. Their work has been popularized in the past few years in terms of a tipping point, anti-fragility, long tail, 80/20 rule, black swan, and self-organized criticality. The point of all these messages is that change has changed. The tools and concepts that guided our change management in the past will not help us in the future.

Fear and dread are natural responses to the unpredictable power of dynamical change. We fill the gaps in what we know or what we can do with stories of terror and defeat. If we enter the future with only that perspective, we are in for a miserable, self-destructive time. If we truly understand dynamical change, however, we recognize that all systemic transformations are fundamentally the same. Whether you are falling in love or growing old and dying, you experience the same kind of powerful, unpredictable change. We can come to understand that all dynamical change reflects the same underlying pattern of accumulating tension and unpredictable release. With this intelligence, we can build the capacity to see, understand, and influence complex change as it emerges.

The mission of human systems dynamics is to prepare people to see, understand, and influence dynamical change for themselves, as well as their teams, organizations, and communities. We have many models, methods, practices, and concepts that build adaptive capacity to deal with systemic, unpredictable patterns of complex change. Laura Williams and I will share some of this theory and practice in our next Adaptive Action Lab, Three Tools to Accelerate Change (June 25, 26, 28). We hope you can join us, but if you can’t here are some of the highlights to help you cope with the dynamical change that will transform you and your world in the unfolding future.

  • Certainty is a rare commodity. Use inquiry to find opportunity in the unknowable.
  • Planning and pressure do not give you control. Leverage your power in the praxis of Adaptive Action.
  • For better or worse, the tension of difference is the engine for change. Understand the power of difference here and now, and learn to approach it with mindfulness and respect.

Learning is one of our favorite examples of dynamical change. Please join Laura and me as we navigate this power and possibility in our upcoming Adaptive Action Lab.

Join a global network of learning about HSD!

As a member of the network, you will receive weekly notices of events, opportunities, and links to blogs and other learning opportunities. Additionally, you will have the option to unsubscribe at any point, should you decide to do so.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.