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Introduction

I've just come back from my holidays feeling fresh and raring to go, and as I've got a busy spell coming up I thought I would get Newsletter No.3 out to you before I get involved in other things.

Stories

I have always been interested in story telling as a management tool and I use the technique in many ways to help people get to grips with complexity theory. Stories operate at many levels and I am finding them more and more fascinating, so much so that I am shortly going to create a new section on the "other resources" page on my web site dedicated to stories. Here is one from Anthony De Mello's book "Awareness" which I mentioned in the last newsletter -

The Eagle

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that" he asked.

"That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbour. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth - we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

You can view some stories on the story page of Dave Gurteen's website http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/ID/X000A1552?open&r=3&p=1578

Also "The Man Who Planted Trees" by Jean Giono http://www.eco-action.org/dt/planted.html is a lovely story. Arthur Battrum has a fascinating story about this story, but that is for another time or you can ask him yourself onapb@cityplex.demon.co.uk .

LSE's ICoSS Project

The project is now getting under way and Norwich Union have joined BT, Shell And Rolls Royce as the key business partners.

The Boss's Role

When I am talking about complexity theory and saying we should do away with plans, rules, job descriptions, managers etc. I am often asked "So what does the boss do then?" My reply is along the lines of the following based on my own experiences -

The Role of the Chief Executive

1) Scanning the Environment - both external and internal, looking for regularities and patterns and analysing their likely impact on the organisation.

2) Feedback - feeding back the findings from above and helping to make connections within the organisation, as well as between the organisation and other bodies and also helping other organisation to connect with each other.

3) Removing Blockages - looking for the remaining vestiges of command and control which were preventing people's natural potential shining through

4) Giving Oceans of Support - giving people time, space, encouragement etc and by consistently living the philosophy.

5) Stirring things up a bit - if things were getting too comfy and we started to drift backward towards equilibrium then I would give us a nudge forward to nearer the edge of chaos.

Surfing

Whilst surfing the web the other day I came across a fascinating interview with Karl Weick http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.04/weick_pr.html who has some really interesting views about complexity and organisations.

Although nothing to do with complexity (except that everything is) if you want to see some spectacular pictures which make you wonder then visit the Hubble Telescope site http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pictures.html

People

And finally I thought it would be a good idea in the spirit of networking to include a regular section on some of the people I meet in my travels

Tony Nicholls http://www.knowandgrow.co.uk specialises in helping individuals understand and develop in this rapidly changing environment. Much of complexity theory looks at things from an organisational point of view but Tony comes at it from the people perspective.

One of the books reviewed on my website is "Who Moved My Cheese". This was recommended to me by David Ault - djault@totalise.co.uk - who runs a business helping people develop financial pipelines. That is establishing activities that provide a long term return well after the event. For example after talking to him I seriously started working on my book as it will provide me with an income long after it is written, and I have begun exploring some other activities which capitalise on the beginnings of pipelines that I had unwittingly started to create in the past.

I had some stimulating meetings in London yesterday including meeting up with David Norman at lunchtime. David acted as my coach and mentor when I was the Chief Executive at the TEC and helped me hone my skills and also how to use myself as my key resource. He can be contacted at dnorman.dna@dial.pipex.com

Welcome to the club - Verity Kemp who has an increasing interest in complexity as a means of delivering her own consultancy practice and also as a means of revewing health and healthcare delivery. She has a particular interest in health, housing and regeneration. verity@healthplanning.freeserve.co.uk

That's all for this time,

Best wishes,
.