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Trojanmice Complexity Club. Newsletter 21


Clearly Africa is high on the agenda at the moment and nearly everyone seems to have their own simple solution, but the trouble with simple solutions is that if it were that simple it would have been done long ago. My belief is that until our leaders have a better understanding of the world in terms of complexity thinking, spiral dynamics etc nothing much will change. If we are to help Africa we need to see it from their perspective and not our own.

“We see people and things not as they are, but as we are.”

*** Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) Jesuit Priest ***

Quotes (again thanks mainly to Dave Gurteen)

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

*** George Bernard Shaw ***

“Remember, happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think."

*** Dale Carnegie (1888 - 1955) American Public Speaker & Author ***

“The most moral activity of all is the creation of space for life to move around.”

*** Robert M. Pirsig (b. 1928) Author ***

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

*** Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate ***


Here is a site about a concept which is surely of great relevance to Africa

Positive Deviance 
In every community there are certain individuals (the "Positive Deviants") whose special practices/ strategies/ behaviours enable them to find better solutions to prevalent community problems than their neighbours who have access to the same resources. Positive deviance is a culturally appropriate development approach that is tailored to the specific community in which it is used.
Kieth Rice has added some interesting articles on spiral dynamics to his site,  in particular one on the relationship of Spiral Dynamics and Enneagrams.

If you would like to find out more about Enneagrams and to find out your type then go to:


Here is a free daily newsletter which is aimed at helping virtual teams, but which also has a great deal of more general interest: It is called “The Bumble Bee”   

The international journal Emergence: Complexity and Organization has a special Double Issue - Volume 6 Numbers 1 & 2 Fall 2004, which is still available for free at:


An interesting article on the “The Value of Corporate Values”
by Reggie Van Lee, Lisa Fabish, and Nancy McGaw

Another interesting article on management style, and in particular some of the skills f upward management; “Are You a Yoda” by Jill Geisler

We all know what feels like to be micromanaged – not usually an enjoyable experience! We probably also know what it feels like to micromanage others – most of us don’t enjoy this either but unless we admit to being ‘control freaks’ we can usually justify it to ourselves. A Yoda (the ancient and revered Jedi Master from Star Wars) is the exact opposite of a micromanager – more like a wise teacher who wants to help their pupils become the best they can be.
Jill gives some good advice to staff who feel they are being micromanaged. Instead of complaining or just sulking they should first examine their behaviour to see if they are giving their boss reasons to micromanage them. Only after this self-examination is it time to have the tactful meeting with the boss to explore their management style.

Thanks to “The Bumble Bee” for pointing to an interesting article on way back in 1999 entitled “The organic enterprise thrives on your knowledge”

The article explores one of the fundamental, but often forgotten reasons why organisations, enterprises, teams and communities should adopt biological principles – they will live much longer if they do!

“Companies, like any species, are organic entities whose survival requires carving out a territory within a dynamic ecosystem. They are not — as some executives and consultants claim — machines that can be reengineered, reorganized or reprogrammed”

Referencing “Bionomics: Economy as Ecosystem” by Michael Rothschild, 1990, the author scorns technology companies without any long-term plan and whose “entire reason for being was to sell out to Microsoft”. This was, as we all now know, a chillingly accurate prediction of the crash which was still a year or so away (early 2000).

Training Opportunities

This course of sessions is aimed at managers and consultants who want to enhance their practice by reflecting on the dynamics of the systems they are working in and the systems they are creating, and by experimenting with new methods and intervention techniques.

The systemic group would meet thereafter every six weeks over eight months and work with systemic theories and ideas using participants' experience. This acts as  group supervision in an Action Learning format for participants to both:

  • reflect on their practice by bringing pieces of work for consultation
  • and to reflect on their learning as enabled by the group

If you want to try it out before committing to the whole programme, please come along on September 28th at a charge of £80.00 for the first session only. Contact Elspeth Campbell,, or Teresa Norman, or go to: courses.

 A Point to Ponder

The following article was provided by  Plexus News’ Complexity Post:

The Things We Feel May Not Be Real 

Can trust be chemically induced? Swiss and American scientists think it can, and they have even produced a nasal spray that seems to make people more willing to part with their money.
A team of researchers, led by Ernst Fehr, of the University of Zurich, investigated whether oxytocin, a chemical produced naturally in the brain, could influence behaviour when externally introduced. The answer seems to be yes. Michael Hopkin, writing in the June 1 on line issue of Nature describes the experiment. Oxytocin is produced naturally by a range of stimuli, including breast-feeding and sex, and it has been associated with the formation of many other social bonds and attachments. Some theorists believe people only decide to trust each other, in love or business, when the brain’s oxytocin production is elevated. Now there is evidence the elevation doesn’t have to come from our own emotions.

Researchers created an investment game, in which volunteers played with real money. The players could hang on to their money, or give some or all of it to a banker. Giving it to the banker would quadruple the investment, but it would be up to the banker to decide how much, if any, to give back. Volunteers were told the experiment was about decision-making. Investors who inhaled a synthetic form of oxytocin were much more likely to trust the banker. According to an Associated Press story reported on CNN, of 29 investors who inhaled the potion, 45 percent tuned over all their money. Researchers called that “maximum trust.” In the placebo group, only 21 percent parted with all their cash. 

The synthetic chemical in the nasal spray was absorbed by mucous membranes in the nose and then entered the bloodstream and the brain. A total of 178 male students from universities in Zurich took part in the experiments. Researchers said the doses given were harmless. Dr. Fehr reported that the maximum effect of the oxytocin was observed after 50 minutes, and wore off after two hours. 

Dr. Ferh says a new round of experiments will use brain imaging, in an effort for researchers to identify the brain circuits that produce the observed effects.

Trust underlies every human interaction, from personal affections love to international relations, and society would collapse into anarchy without it, theoreticians suggest. Understanding the neurobiology of trust, and developing an ability to manipulate it could help in the treatment of autism, in which social relationships are impaired. It might also help treatment of some rare disorders, such as Williams syndrome, in which children with a range of developmental difficulties are unusually verbal, sociable and fearless with  adult strangers.

But potential for abuse also exists. Ethicists worry about any neurochemical manipulations. Might politicians spray a crowd to get better reception for their partisan pitches? A Washington Post story by Shankar Vedantam addresses that issue. Antonio R. Damasio, a neurologist at the University of Iowa, who has studied the neurobiology of human emotions, has written a commentary accompanying the research. He suggests that politicians and marketers are already triggering the release of oxytocin in our brains, and he adds that he is more worried about the manipulations of marketers than about the possibility surreptitious nasal spraying.

And Finally

Despite the above extract ones own world is a much nicer place if one is predisposed to trust.
So happy trusting

Best wishes