Complex Systems, Complexity, Chaos Theory,Complex Adaptive Systems,Complexity and Strategy,Organisational Change,Self Organisation,Complex Systems and Knowledge Creation,Brain,Mind,Complex Systems Resources,Complexity and Chaos Resources,Organisational Form, Complexity Theory,Consultancy

This section of my site is to enable me to share with you the work of others. My aim is to challenge how you see things so most of these resources are not learned works but a variety of interesting items designed to help you think differently.

Conversation Cafes
Complexity In Practice

"The greatest unexplored territory in the world is the space between our ears"

Bill O'Brien CEO Hanover Insurance


I am not a great reader of textbooks or academic tomes. I like books that make me
think.  Here are a few of my favourites

Who moved my Cheese                                                        Dr Spencer Johnson
Pub: Vermilion

An amazing book about how to handle change.  It is told in the style of a child's story
but it impacts at many levels - a must read.

Leadership and the New Science                                 Margaret J. Wheatley
Pub: Berrett Koehler

Using the exciting breakthrough in biology, chemistry, quantum physics etc. Margaret Wheatley paints a brand new picture of business management.  She demonstrates that the new relationship between business and science is nothing less than an entirely new set of lenses through which to view our organisations.

The Paradoxicon                                                                    Nicholas Falletta
Pub: Turnstone Press

A collection of contradictory challenges, problematical puzzles and impossible illustrations.  Great Fun.

The Dilbert Principle                                                                    Scott Adams

Based on the daily strip cartoon this book pokes fun at just about every aspect of management and business process.  The ideas expressed in the book really are an example of seeing things differently and deserve more than a passing thought.

Funky Business                      Jonas Riddestrate + Kjell Nordstom

I heard about this from a colleague - this is the e-mail he sent me:

"started to read this stood in my kitchen - I was still there an hour later.  I think it is
right up your street.

Traditional roles, jobs, skills, ways of doing things, insights, strategies, aspirations,
fears and expectations no longer count.  In this environment we cannot have business
as usual.  We need business as unusual.  We need different business.  We need innovative business.  We need unpredictable business.  We need surprising business.  We need funky business".

Navigating Complexity                                                     Arthur Battrum
Pub: The Industrial Society

A fascinating book which describes all the aspects of complexity theory and gives comprehensive descriptions of each of the terms in this new language.  Packed with useful

Awareness                                                                         Anthony De Mello

Pub: Fount

A life-changing book about how to see oneself. About how to be more aware of who you really are and how to relate to others

If you wish to buy any of these books here is a link to Amazon


Here are links to some of the web sites that I like to visit.  Between them they present a fascinating and diverse range of perspectives on the way we will need to work in the future.

If you know of other interesting sites please E-mail me or join the complexity club and share the information with everyone.

LSE Complexity Project                                         

This site describes the various complexity projects being undertaken by the London school of Economics and also lists the various workshops and events that the LSE complexity group organizes.

Gurteen Associates                                                         

A knowledge management site.  It is packed with interesting concepts, quotes, book reviews and other resources.

 21st Century Learning Initiative                                        

A fascinating site which explores and promotes radical changes to education.  It
contains some really interesting articles on how the brain works and how we think.

Action Science                                                             

This is the site of the action science network which explores the strategy of ogranisational development which has been developed by Dr Chris Argyris.

The Wisdommeme                                                   

This site explores how we can use various forms of dialogue to elicit the natural wisdom that is in us all.

Edward De Bono                                                       

Edward de Bono is famous for his lateral thinking ideas.

New Leadership                                                          

A site about an organisation that explores collaborative learning, dialogue and the
concept of stewardship in organisations.

Tom Peters                                                                  

Typical Tom Peters, lots of fun, lots of ideas.  If it makes you think its done its job.

Thinking Page                                                                 

A source of information on improving organisational and individual thinking.


A very comprehensive listing of articles, links and other resources relating to complexity theory. Some are rather heavy but many are written in a business context.


A source of ideas on organisational learning, cross boundary working and networking.


More fun and feet on the ground views from Dilbert.

MHA Institute Inc                                                            

A Canadian site with lots of articles and references about organisational
learning, complexity, thinking etc. I strongly recommend the newsletters on
"The New Sciences and the Learning Organisation"

New England Complex Systems Institute              

This site gives some good descriptions of the various aspects of complexity.

Complexity & Artificial Life Research Concept.      

A fascinating site packed with articles and links on all aspects of complexity, and much
more besides.


This site full of amazing fractal pictures.

The Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence

This is a non-profit research institution located in Boston and the Netherlands. Its
mission is to promote pragmatic dialogue concerning the areas of networking, emergence, and complexity studies with the aim of assisting practicing managers in
the complex task of managing. It is assisted by a consortium of professionals drawn
from industry, academia, management consulting, and the non-profit sector.
The institute publishes the Emergence Journal which is a collection of articles of a qualitative nature relating complex systems, sense making, psychology, philosophy, semiotics, and cognitive science to the management of organisations both public and private. The articles can be read for free at

The Plexus Institute                                        

An American organisation which is about fostering the health of individuals, families, communities, organizations and our natural environment by helping people use
concepts emerging from the new science of complexity. It is a membership
organisation but individual membership is free, and there newsletter is well worth

David Whyte
This is the site of David Whyte the corporate poet who uses poetry to find deeper meaning in those places where we work.

Appreciative Inquiry                                

This site is full of resources on this vital process of connecting in a complex adaptive system.


This is a link to an amazing site called Boids which is about those simple rules that inform complex systems and it includes computer simulations of flocking and shoaling behaviour.

Complexity Explained                      

A site which explains what is meant by all those strange complexity terms. It is organised in the form of a FAQ (frequently asked questions) sheet.


Codynamics is an excellent site which gives a very clear explanation of a number of aspects of complexity in simple everyday terms.

Complex Adaptive Systems Research                  

A site jam packed with links and resources

The Change Management Toolbook

This site is full of resources, which include many tools and methods, which are intended to help with facilitation, training and coaching.

More Links
This is a fascinating site with lots of interesting articles and resources about complexity.
An interesting site about creativity that also has useful tools and resources.
There is a growing trend to use Art to illustrate complexity, a good example are the Mateo Willis paintings.
Dave Gurteen has just set up a section on his website about Organisational Complexity.
The Washington Centre for Complexity and Public Policy was established in 2001 in response to the growing interest in complexity science as a framework for understanding, influencing and developing better public policy
An interesting site which is about how can we develop a more inclusive society and a learning society through systems and complexity thinking.
The Sante Fe Institute is generally considered to be the birthplace of complexity theory.
Llinks to a variety of sites to do with chaos and complexity
A site relating to the “Corporate Soul”
A site about the changes that will affect corporations over next decade
A site about “Enlightenment” with several articles about different ways of thinking
The site of Dee W Hock and his “Chaordic Organisations”

Keith Rice’s new site contains many resources on Spiral dynamics.

Communities of Practice

At a recent event I was facilitating I was asked to find some resources on Communities of Practice. These are where people with the same role or function in an organisation, industry or sector come together to share.


Frances Storr                                               Tel: 01535 654908

Frances Storr is an occupational psychologist with a 15 year track record in organisational development and organisational learning. She has published several
papers and spoken at a number of conferences (details of which are available on
request), and actively integrates complexity research with the down to earth reality
of business life.

Amanda Dale                                                              Tel: 01430 827209

Amanda is a coach, facilitator and consultant on a range of business and life issues.
Her particular area of interest is in helping individuals and organisations create lasting, beneficial change by altering their perceptions and patterns of thinking. Through a collaborative and developmental approach, Amanda supports her clients in building their own self-awareness and potential.
She believes passionately in our capacity as human beings to learn and grow - intellectually, emotionally and spiritually - and brings this belief to life through her work. Her services to business include one-to-one life coaching, communications health checks, team building, stress management through Reiki, and facilitation of 360-degree appraisal.


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 have decided to create this new section dedicated to stories.

A story about Out of the Box Thinking sent in to the Complexity Club by Dennis Martin

A Native American story

Who moved my cheese

The Prince and the Magician

The Eagle

Two Caterpillars

This story is courtesy of Margaret Parkin who has written three books on storytelling. Further details can be obtained at:


The Wise Teacher

A Cautionary Tale

More stories can be viewed on the story page of  Dave Gurteen's website

Web Sites

“The Man Who Planted Trees” by Jean Giono is a lovely story.

Stephen Denning is a former program director, Knowledge Management at the World Bank in Washington D.C, where he spearheaded the introduction of knowledge management. In his book, "The Springboard" he helped spark the growing international interest in storytelling for knowledge management and organizational change. His book describes how storytelling was used to introduce knowledge management into the World Bank and explains how storytelling can serve as a powerful and formal tool for organizational change and knowledge management.

The Plexus Institute
The section on stories towards the bottom of the main page is well worth a read for those who are interested in complexity in action.

If you have any stories that you wish to share please send them to me.

This section lists some of the newsletters that are relevant to the subject of complexity.

Plexus Complexity Post

This is a weekly post from the Plexus Institute, which explores the phenomena of complexity in our everyday world. Contact them at

Change Management Newsletter

This is the newsletter of Holger Nauheimer in Germany . Each edition describes a different change management tool as well as other items about change. To subscribe

Complexity Digest

Complexity Digest is an independent publication that gives extracts and links to new items relating to complexity. For individual free e-mail subscriptions send requests to:  

Gurteen Newsletter

This is Dave Gurteen’s newsletter which majors on Knowledge management . but which also has many other interesting items. Dave’s site is a great source of quotes as well as much more.

Oryon news

A monthly newsletter with a series of articles about new ways of looking at the world. Subscribe via

The MHA Institute

have stared a new series of newsletters entitled Corporate Culture and Complexity
Also there previous series on The New Sciences and the Learning Organisation is well worth a read if you have not already done so.

Kurzweil Newsletter

A weekly look at the latest scientific findings, many to do with complexity

Vanguard News

An interesting newsletter is produced by John Seddon; he can be a bit belligerent but has some interesting points to make.

Back copies can be obtained at:

Worldwide Democracy Network


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

I have mentioned in my newsletters about “trojan thinking” which is an informal networking event held on the first Thursday of every month at Planet Coffee here in Hull . If you would like to come along give me a call on 01482 443676.

Recently I have been reading about Conversation Cafés that seem very similar to “trojan thinking” To quote from a Plexus Newsletter:

“Conversation cafés are an intentional way to create a living network of conversation around questions that matter. A Conversation café is a creative process for leading collaborative dialogue, sharing knowledge and creating possibilities for action in groups of all sizes. When we consciously focus attention on "questions that matter"--for our families, organizations, and communities--we are contributing to the evolution of the knowledge and wisdom that we need co-create the future. We "grow what we know" individually and collectively. We notice the possibilities for mutual insight, innovation, and action that are already present, if only we know where to look.

 People who have conducted conversation cafés have described these sorts of powerful conversations as having passion, energy, insightfulness, authenticity, and the presence of new perspectives”.

 If you want to know more try these links

“The Birth of the World Caf é”

“Connecting Diverse People and Ideas”

“Conversation Caf és: A Guide to Better Understanding”

“Conversation as a Core Business Process”

“Conversation Caf és: A Guide to Better Understanding”

Also Dave Guteen organizes a Knowledge Café – more details at

Here are some examples of complexity in practice:

The Humberside TEC Experience

This the text of a presentation I gave to a conference in Bibao on the topic “The practical applications of networking in a complexity context

CD: Organisations as Complex Adaptive Systems

I have produced an interactive CD on this topic which is available for £11.75 (£10 + VAT) to cover costs.


I came across a fascinating example of self organizing in the Plexus Newsletter – it’s called “slugging”.

“It is a form of commuting — solo drivers picking up strangers so they can all cruise to work legally in high-occupancy-vehicle lanes — is called "slugging." Passengers are "slugs," a label alluding not to their energy or wit but to counterfeit tokens and coins. A ride, too, is a slug. Drivers are drivers, or less commonly, "body snatchers," "scrapers" and "land sharks." With little notice outside Washington, these Northern Virginia commuters to the nation's capital and big office sites of nearby Arlington, Rosslyn and Crystal City have blended hitchhiking and carpooling into a quick, efficient way to outmanoeuvre a traffic-choked freeway.

Slugging started by spontaneous eruption and runs by perpetual motion. When the area's three-person, high-occupancy vehicle lanes opened 30 years ago, some guy and then another and another picked up commuters at bus stops to get the passengers needed to use the lanes. No government agency sanctions slugging, runs it, regulates it, promotes it or thought it up. The Census Bureau, which tracks most forms of commuting, knows nothing about slugging.

In slugging, there is no supervisor, dispatcher or schedule, no ticket or fare.”


Challenged with how to get cement to where it was needed when it was needed, given the ever changing schedules of building sites, the difficulty of keeping cement useable and the preparation time of fresh cement, Cemex adopted a radical solution. Instead of a complicated production planning schedule, Cemex loads its fleets of cement trucks every morning and dispatches them with no predetermined destination.

They follow algorithmic rules: deliver as much cement to as many customers as rapidly as possible, stay as far away from other cement trucks as possible, customers are guaranteed cement within two hours of notice.

How does this work? Cemex has taken a brave decision to work with a self organising distributed intelligence model rather than the classic centralised organisation, which stipulates specific delivery schedules.

From Pascale et al (2000) Surfing the edge of chaos 2. Three Rivers Press.

Saint Luke’s Hospital, Kansas City

Creating a world class stroke program by facilitating self-organization and emergence. Click here for a copy of the article, courtsey of the Plexus Institute.

Other Examples on the Plexus site


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