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Trojanmice Complexity Club. Newsletter 21


I was reading People Management the other day and came across this extract in an article on Sector Skills Councils.

Kate O’Connor, Executive Director of policy and development at Skillset (the sector skills council for audio-visual production) explains the stage her Council has reached. “We have identified all the skills issues for our industry, found out what education and training provision is out there, and produced a plan of what to do next. We know what needs to happen in schools, further and higher education, on-the-job training, business support and development, training for freelance professionals, careers information and advice and guidance – everything, in fact” she says.

It is interesting how we seem to want certainty in our world and are well able to tolerate false certainty rather than relish uncertainty.

Quote (again thanks mainly to Dave Gurteen)

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence.

*** Robert Frost ***


Open Space Technology, a self-organising process, which encourages buy-in and commitment

A site with links to a variety of resources 

An introduction to an innovative Mind Science-based approach to improving individual and organisational performance

A resource site relating to the work of Henry Mintzburg



This link takes you to an interesting true story by Theodore Marchese about learning and teaching.




A 2-day Symposium on Art, Complexity and Technology is to be held in Torino, Italy on 5 and 6 May 2005. All details can be found on 




Strategy and Business e-news. This newsletter often has interesting articles about business, whilst not primarily about complexity often include complexity related issues.

To review their archives:


A New Idea: The U-Process


This item is reproduced from Holger Nauheimer’s change management newsletter.

A new idea of how to understand change in organisations and communities: It has been presented by Otto Scharmer of the MIT. Check his website at

The U Process addresses an area of leadership of which most people are not aware. The usual pattern with which we approach complex tasks in leadership is by applying analytical tools which seem to help us predicting the future from the past: downloading, followed by reacting, followed by performing. This pattern might produce short term gains - it might also induce systemic reactions that we have not anticipated.

One of the best examples was the fall of the Berlin wall on October 9, 1989. The already rotten GDR government had tried to stabilize the system by introducing a new law that would enable citizens to travel to the West - a privilege only few people had enjoyed before. It was the GDR government's intenion to channel their citizen's dissatisfaction with the system. We all know that the strategy did not work out - the system collapsed on that very day. Although this kind of counter-reaction regularly happens in business, we usually try to apply the ostrich technique - cover our heads in the sand and just hope everything works well. This is supported by mechanistical tools of project management that suggest that if we just apply the right resources, we will get from A to B.

 New patterns of looking at our systems have emerged during the last 10-20 years. One of the significant innovations was the introduction of the Dialogue principle by David Bohm (described by Peter Senge in his "Fifth Discipline Fieldbook" and by Joseph Jaworski, in his book: "Synchronicity - the Inner Path of Leadership"). The principle of Dialogue is based on the suspension of our assumptions, which can help team members to learn from each other. Dialogue can lead to redesigning of processes, followed by prototyping, i.e. generating new processes that reply to a common mental map of the team. Otto Scharmer has described two more levels of understanding systems, which are based on suspension but go deeper. He calls the next level "sensing from the field", which can be translated to "learning from the future." 

Source: Otto Scharmer, 2005

Here we can apply some modern techniques of scenario analysis, leading to establishment of a common vision of how the future could be. Based on that image, a team can then start to prototype, i.e. developing a process that builds on this vision. Most likely, this stage can be combined with techniques of Appreciative Inquiry, where in the "Dream Phase" members of organizations co-create their future.
 The deepest level - the U-turn - is just emerging, and we can expect more practical applications to come in the future. It is about "presencing", i.e. listening to and learning from the future by letting go all our assumptions, preconceived models, answers, and even questions we have in mind when we approach the future, as Otto Scharmer calls it "allowing inner knowledge to emerge". "When we suspend and redirect our attention, perception starts to arise from within the living process of the whole. When we are presencing, it moves further, to arise from the highest future possibility that connects self and whole. The real challenge in understanding presencing lies not in its abstractness but in the subtlety of the experience."(Senge, et al., 2004: Presence, p. 89)            


Holger Nauheimer has produced a change management report and handbook.


It has four sections:

  • Part 1 introduces the concept of Change Management, objectives and methodology of the survey, and gives an overview on the geographical and institutional background of the respondents.
  • Part 2 provides an analysis of the survey results with regard to practice, future and limitations of Change Management approaches. Each analysis is summarised in the form of a lesson learned. The results are disaggregated for geographical area, business sector, position and length of experience of the respondent.
  • Part 3 is an A-Z of Change Management, briefly outlining 56 methods and approaches that are currently applied for initiating, facilitating and maintaining change processes.
  • Based on the survey results and on current and future trends, Part 4 describes three different scenarios of the future of Change Management. It answers strategic questions such as: How will Change Management processes of the future be organized? What will be the role of consultants in Change Management processes? Do we need new tools?


Keith Rice’s latest article which uses Spiral Dynamics, Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology (in an integrated way) to explain - not condone!! - sexual infidelity and to offer some ideas on minimising the risk of it.

Earlier this year (1999), in a speech to the annual meeting of the Planning Forum, Ray Smith, chief executive of Bell Atlantic and a network pioneer in his own right, explained why his company’s much-celebrated merger with cable giant Tele-Communications, Inc (TCI) fell apart just four months after it was announced. Bell Atlantic had agreed to the merger with TCI so that it could build a nationwide network capable of delivering interactive content to the home. But the merger plan, heralded as dramatic evidence of the coming of the information superhighway, triggered a massive wave of infrastructure announcements from other companies. This wave of investment meant that the new Bell Atlantic/TCI would face more competition than its plan anticipated. More important, it reduced the strategic urgency for Bell Atlantic to build its own transmission network. “We could ride on the systems built by other telephone companies,” Mr Smith said.

I have added an updated article to my trojanmice site by Jonathan Wilson entitled “No plans for the future”. Below is an extract that I believe is an interesting example of co-evolution.

A Point to Ponder

Paul Jacobson, a regular contributor has just completed an assignment on Leadership Effectiveness which has been researching all the good things that Leaders are supposed to do about reflection, including the ability to reflect on one's experience. He comments, “It's actually scary what humans are capable of doing with reflection”.

He has been pondering on how complexity influences our reflective intelligence, and invites us to ponder too. Any thoughts welcome.


And Finally

May your reality co-evolve productively.

Best wishes