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Trojanmice Complexity Club. Newsletter 21



I like to keep on learning, in fact I need to keep on learning, and I need to keep having my thinking challenged. Therefore I was delighted to be attending the Royal Society of Arts Day of Inspiration recently because I always find those brain twisting moments when I read their journal. Unfortunately, even though they had a large panel of eminent speakers, I was disappointed, because although it was well done, they were discussing issues and perspectives which were current 5 years or more ago. There was no new thinking, so if anyone can help with events, newsletters or sites that challenge current thinking I will be delighted to hear from you. Hopefully there will be some challenges to your thinking in this newsletter.

Quotes (again thanks mainly to Dave Gurteen)

"Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is being who they are, not in being better than someone else."

*** Nathaniel Branden American Psychologist ***


"When a measure becomes an objective it stops being a good measure."

*** Anonymous ***


"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."

*** Neils Bohr Danish physicist ***



"All invention and progress comes from finding a link between two ideas that have never met."

*** Theodore Zeldin Historian & Author ***


"Change the way you think, and you are halfway to changing the world."

*** Theodore Zeldin Historian & Author ***


For those of you who like quotes you may wish to try the daily quote service offered by Dave Gurteen (click on his name to take you to his site)




The Business Spirit Journal online. “Every issue provides cutting-edge articles to enrich and nourish consciousness in the workplace.”  

The Plexus Institute have revamped their site: 

Those of you who are interested in complex adaptive systems research will find plenty of resources at:


The revamped Plexus site has an excellent section on stories to do with complexity:


Paul Jacobson in Perth Western Australia has e-mailed me with this contribution

“I have started on a Strategic HRM unit that involves a major project in the real world. My mentor, Dr. Renu Burr held a one-day workshop with the student group to lay out a current raft of theories that she believes should underpin our design efforts. There to my surprise and delight was an amazing paper on CAS applied to SHRM: "The Complex Resource-based View" by Barry A. Colbert of York University. It was reproduced in the Academy of Management Review 2004 Vol 29 No 3.


He recognised the close similarities of the RB view (Barney, Wright, Lado, Wilson, Snell et al) then threw his own set of heuristic at it:

  • Distribute Being: living systems are distributed over a multitude of smaller systems
  • Control from the Bottom Up: overall governance must arise from inter-dependent acts done locally in parallel
  • Cultivate Increasing Returns: use ideas, language and skills to strengthen and reinforce them, so they will be used again
  • Grow by Chunking: allow complex systems to emerge out of links among simple systems that already work well independently
  • Maximise the Fringes: a healthy fringe speeds adaptation, builds resilience and is almost always a source of innovation
  • Honour Your Errors: system evolution can be thought of as systematic error management
  • Pursue Multiple Goals: an adaptive system must trade-off exploiting a known path of success and diverting energy to explore

Yes ~ these are his simple guiding principles that can be directed to address the "how" questions central to HR practice.”



In September 2004 Emergence was re-launched as Emergence: Complexity and Organization.  It is back in print and jointly published in-house by The Complexity Society, the Institute for the
Study of Coherence and Emergence, and the Cynefin Centre for Organizational Research.

To subscribe to the new journal download and complete the subscription form posted at:

The Worldwide Democracy Network offers many different views on the global issues facing us, and their newsletter can be obtained at:


A new monthly journal "The Global Knowledge Review" (GKR) will feature original thinkers from around the globe who will give their personal thoughts and reflections on knowledge and learning related issues from the perspective of their geographical and cultural backgrounds. The publication will be available on subscription and distributed electronically. For more information and a free copy of the first issue see:


As I travel around talking about organisations and complexity, the area of business that people find most difficulty in reconciling with complexity theory is budgets. George Watts who used to be the accountant at Humberside TEC has written an article for me “From Budgets to Budgeting” which can be found on the trojanmice website:

“Leadership in the wilderness”: some reflections by Danny Chesterman. This an example of the material that can be found on the Worldwide Democracy Network

“Five thoughts about making the right mistakes”: an interview with Michael Alter, president of SurePayroll:


“A Complexity Science Primer: What is Complexity Science and Why Should I Learn About It?”

Adapted From: Edgeware: Lessons From Complexity Science for Health Care Leaders, by Brenda Zimmerman, Curt Lindberg, and Paul Plsek.

A Point to Ponder

Every so often along comes something which makes me say “I wish I had done that”. Well the following article made me wish that I thought to write it. It encapsulates completely my thoughts on Leadership, so I would include the full article in this newsletter.

Inspirational Leadership


By Sue Cheshire, Managing Director, Academy for Chief Executives


Inspiration is about offering freedom and choice. Someone once described inspiration as the act of “sprinkling magic on a person or people” so that they respond in a positive way. How we respond in any given situation affects others profoundly. Organisations are a reflection of the leadership in terms of the language, behaviour and attitudes. As such, the nature of our responses will be witnessed and instilled into everyone we meet.


Although we cannot change the path of events, we can choose our response in any given situation in line with the outcome we wish to achieve. How we address critical events as leaders is a result of the quality of relationships we have with others and the relationship we have towards our inner selves.


At a recent corporate CEO think tank I attended, a global business leader who heads up a major multinational said, “the quality of any decision or intervention is dependent upon the interior consciousness and condition of the responder.” So perhaps the biggest gift we can give ourselves is to continue to work on our own patterns of beliefs and values. If we are not choosing, we are not leading.


Over the past seven years whilst working alongside members of The Academy for Chief Executives and leaders from around the world, we have identified four characteristics that inspirational leaders demonstrate on a daily basis and these have become our core values.


Inspirational leaders model excellence from others and hold a deep belief that we are all part of an interdependent community, shifting roles whilst caring and empathizing with and for each other. This key characteristic of COMPASSION or com...passion (with passion) is the passion in oneself which gives the person strength to maintain integrity despite social pressures.


Inspirational leaders also need to have the COURAGE to communicate their vision. This must include a crystal clear purpose and vision that people want to follow and embrace. I have heard a wonderful description of purpose as being the still point; the wellspring from which everyone else’s purpose can bubble out. These leaders operate from the law of attraction rather than the law of promotion. Courage is required to go beyond the comfort zone of mediocrity; edge walking is enticing! Attachment to the old way destroys vision. Embracing the concepts of ethics, inspiration and the bottom line requires fearless focus.


Inspirational leaders also believe in the power of voracious learning; learning about anything and everything – from HIV issues in India, to learning to juggle and benchmark. Of greatest significance, inspirational leaders work continuously on their own journey of self-awareness and insight. They acknowledge the importance of personal mastery, they know the origins of their hampering and nurturing thought patterns and so can choose their response rather than react.


Voracious learning is infectious. A constant state of CURIOSITY leads to a love of the questions rather than solutions. Organisations are shaped and move in the direction in which questions are asked. Our future will be shaped by inquiry and questioning. Inspirational leaders are the role models they wish to see in others. They are models of self-healing. They have the capacity to deal with stress and absorb a huge amount of change in a short period of time. They do not agonise over past events. Equally, they know the past is a place of reflection, not residency.

Finally, INTEGRITY is perhaps the most important value to be modelled by any leader today. Being authentic, being true to whom we say we are, staying on purpose and living our values. Leaders with integrity give an organisation, a community, an individual what it needs, not what the culture expects or demands.

And Finally

Back to the theme of challenging my thinking, that I raised in the introduction ~ there are a number of items in this newsletter which have done just that and I hope that some of it has challenged your thinking too!

Best wishes