Understanding Complexity is Our Future

Most of the time, we never invent anything new! I would love to invent some revolutionary learning journey, but it’s more likely to transform what is already there. Sometimes we are faced with a challenge, we are then ‘inspired’, and stimulated to do the ‘right thing’……… This is when the adventure of creation begins.


Dee Hock created the term chaordic (chaos/order) to describe the self-organised and self-governed conduct of any organism, organisation, or system that harmoniously blends the characteristics of chaos and order. He is convinced of the organisational failure of the command and control model. This post is an opportunity to share with you my personal reflections and practices which are the fruit of the concept of chaordic in my career as learning designer and coach.


Is complexity chaordic? Nowadays complexity is used to explain and justify a state of permanent tension, a sense of urgency for change, transformation, and to evolve in order to survive. What was the order of the ‘complicated’ has become ‘complex’.

The succession plans for change are often obsolete before being implemented. This is because we have difficulties with letting go of the need to control a situation. It is the unknown and the fears aroused in our brains which are naturally wired to predict the worst!

So, as a person or organisation, if we reflect a lot, we think little….

appreciative inquiry

What is needed is to break away from the classic binary approach of driving change as ‘being for’ or ‘being against’. We most learn how to work within the parameters of the actual situation, with all stakeholders involved, relying on their strengths and a desire to succeed. It’s a great intension and the ‘makerspace’ needs a certain culture.

Involving everyone in the search is key to building trust. Without trust new behaviours where ‘letting go’ is part off, won’t happen. The appreciative inquiry approach is very powerful in creating trust and the search for a solution and above all in its implementation.

Some questions:

  • How does my organisation deal with complexity?
  • How does this complexity manifest in my daily work?
  • How much importance do I place on the need for order and how much can I leave to creative chaos?


leadership 4.0

Do you feel yourself becoming part of the ‘collective’? The age of visionary leadership is over. A leader who knows where we’re going and how to get there is a myth that is at best irresponsible, at worst suicidal.

The key point for leadership 4.0 is that a positive leader must meet at least two criteria:

  • Someone with life experience who is genuine and who possesses a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation;
  • A relationship with others and the environment based on confidence in their colleagues’ abilities, the aptitude to give meaning, to mobilise one’s emotions and those of others.

This means showing empathy, communicate positively and show the ability to engender a positive environment, as well as listening and being humble. Being humble does not mean giving up one’s beliefs and expression. It means considering one’s role and contribution to a vision which transcends. This can only happen through collaboration, not enforcement.

Some questions:

  • Are the leaders in my organisation humble or are they victims of visionairy leadership syndrome?
  • Do they communicate meaning to me?
  • Does my job fill my need for meaning?
  • How good am I at bouncing back after a setback?
  • Do I feel myself becoming part of the ‘collective’?


Attitude refers to psychological disposition. In other words our state of mind when it comes to engaging with or not, in action in a given context. Your state of mind influences the way you view as what you are responsible for. This also counts for to which extent you feel accountable in being part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem.

A chaordic organisation promotes a growth mindset (Carol Dweck). A developmental state of mind encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, take risks and try new experiences, thus exceeding your limiting beliefs. A positive attitude to failure is crucial to fostering a culture of innovation and seizing the opportunity to learn and improve.

Some questions:

  • What is my relationship to failure?
  • Am I an optimist?
  • Does my organisation encourage taking the initiative?
  • Does it allow one’s right to make mistakes?
  • How can I cultivate and convey an optimistic vision of the future?

Once you understand that you and your organisation are inseparable, then the idea of transformation at an individual or an organisation only level no longer makes sense, and that one cannot take place without the other. Both are necessary. All what is left is the transition from the role of spectator to that of performer of one’s own transformation. And you? Are you a performer or a spectator?



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