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Exploring insights from the complexity sciences

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  • 07/25/15--05:40: Groundless hope
  • In the recent general election in the UK in May the political discussion sometimes turned on the idea of hope. Each of the political parties was keen to convince the electorate that their particular plan for the UK, their ‘vision’, was the best recipe for hope. They each promised UK citizens a better future (although […]

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    New edition published this month: the revised, refreshed and updated version of Ralph’s textbook including sections on process organisation studies, new organisational examples, a bit more theory and more up-to-date references.Filed under: complex responsive processes, complexity, management, organisations, strategy Tagged: Chris Mowles, complex responsive processes, complexity, management, organisational dynamics, Ralph Stacey, strategy

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  • 09/28/15--07:03: Thinking the unthinkable
  • I have worked with two different groups of managers over the last couple of weeks to introduce, or reintroduce them to the ideas which inform a complex responsive process perspective on organisations. This perspective, for those unfamiliar with this blog, draws by analogy on the sciences of complexity, and on social science resources to think […]

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  • 10/29/15--07:30: Strategy as politics
  • For those readers not from the UK, the story about the collapse of the not-for-profit Kids Company, an organisation set up to work with children and young people with complex needs in inner cities, may have passed them by. The organisation was founded by a very charismatic and telegenic psychotherapist 20 years ago who continued to be the organisation’s director. […]

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    Taking complexity seriously – what difference does it make in organisations?  Venue: Roffey Park Management Centre A familiar question from many managers who respond to our presentations on the relevance of insights from the complexity sciences to people organizing, is to ask what their practical application could possibly be. If they consider step-wise prescriptions for […]

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    ‘What Mead is proposing is a different way of thinking about everyday social interaction, not as observers of experience but rather as participants in experience, the nature of which is self-organising sense-making. He is drawing attention to what we are doing every day in all our actions and arguing that we have developed the habit […]

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    1 Everyone knows what good leadership is in the abstract and the ideal. But there is no leadership in the  abstract. There is only what you do when you show up at work, and this will never be ideal. So if you are a leader you are always a work in progress making it up […]

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  • 03/28/16--22:24: Sack your coach
  • Here are three I ideas I take from reading Byung-chul Han’s The Burnout Society in relation to what interests me in complex social processes of identity formation. The first is his idea that we live in an achievement society rather than a disciplinary society. Byung-chul Han may be taking Foucault to his logical conclusion when […]

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    A friend alerted me to a website for a consultancy which claims to be offering new insights on management for a new world of work. Apologies for what sounds like, and no doubt is, a caricatured paraphrase of what I found, but here is what I think the site is saying: We live in a […]

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    I watched some of the final debate over Britain’s referendum to Remain/Leave last night and wondered at the wild clapping and cheering that greeted references to Britain’s putative ‘independence’ if we vote leave. Boris Johnson referred to this coming Friday morning as potentially Britain’s ‘independence day’. The setting was bound to amplify dynamics in a […]

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    Complexity and Management Conference 2017 – 2nd– 4th June: Roffey Park Management Centre Human beings are born into groups and spend most of their working lives participating in them. Groups can be creative and improvisational, transforming who we think we are, and they may also be destructive and undermining. They hold the potential for both […]

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    Chris Mowles is visiting Australia the week beginning 12th December and will be running a two day intense workshop and a breakfast meeting with 10000hours . The two day workshop is entitled: LEADING IN UNCERTAINTY – 13/14th December The workshop is suitable for experienced leaders, managers and consultants from all kinds of organizations. It includes […]

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    Working in groups: what practical difference does it make to take complexity seriously? One day introductory workshop on complexity and management Friday 2nd June. 2017Complexity and Management Conference 2-4th June 2017. The booking page is now live and can be found by clicking this link. There is a £50 discount for booking before April 30th […]

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    The participants who attend the annual Complexity and Management conference experience the same dynamics as members of any other group, even if it’s a temporary group. For example, one repeating theme at the conference is the established/outsider dynamic of those who have been through the Doctor of Management programme, or are currently on it, and […]

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    Most Saturday mornings when I’m here I go to the farmers’ market in the local primary school which my kids attended. I was intrigued to see this appended to the door. The first thing that struck me about it is how confusing it is: who, exactly is the audience? Is it the children, the staff, […]

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    What are the pressures in contemporary life which make it difficult to be in groups? A couple of weeks ago I worked with a group of senior managers from a British university. They told me about the changes they had noticed in the undergraduate student population over the last decade or so, which point to […]

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    This is to give  early notification that next year’s Complexity and Management Conference will take place at Roffey Park between 8-10th June 2018. The conference will be held to mark the retirement of Ralph Stacey from the university and from the faculty of the Doctor of Management programme. There will be more details in the […]

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  • 08/01/17--04:39: Pragmatic inquiry and Brexit
  • I listened to the eminent evolutionary biologist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins promoting his new book, Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, on the radio. He discussed the role of scientific method and evidence, particularly in relation to the Brexit vote. He began by saying that nothing so important as staying […]

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  • 09/22/17--08:32: Thinking without end
  • After the interview with Dawkins on BBC Radio 4 covered in the last post, the argument about evidence and political decision-making took further bizarre turns. The next day John Humphreys interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was asked to comment on Dawkins’ views. Latterly, two researchers were asked to comment further on the […]

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    Recently I have been involved with a team of researchers in researching so called ‘transformational change’ in a not-for-profit sector. I suspect the research has been commissioned on the understanding that transformational change is something which senior managers choose, and can, to a degree control. We are at the beginning of the research but the […]

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