[Our situations] are dynamically complex, which means that cause and effect are far apart in space and time, and so are hard to grasp from firsthand experience. They are generatively complex, which means they are unfolding in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways. And they are socially complex, which means that the people involved see things very differently, and so the problems become polarized and stuck. (pp. 1-2, Kahane, A. (2004). Solving tough problems. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.)
Because of the dynamic, generative, and social complexity of our situations, leaders need new skills and capabilities to ensure their groups and organizations can innovate and develop agility in the face of these multiple layers of complexity. Fostering and facilitating good conversations is one way leaders can guide others to work more skillfully with complexity.
Conversations that work skillfully with complexity are:
- open and dynamic
- ensure that multiple voices and viewpoints are invited and included
- open to new ideas
- curious and willing to understand others
- able to take a step back to reflect on what is happening and emerging
- a balance of advocacy and inquiry
Basic skills of advocacy, inquiry, and reflection are relatively easy to learn and ensure open conversations that foster creativity and make it possible for complexity to generate fearless optimism. Fearless optimism makes the most complex situation workable. We are able to learn from the complexity and to develop innovative solutions for solving the toughest problems and most compelling needs.
As thoughtful leaders in collaboration and collaborative leadership, ICO helps leaders gain useful and practical skills to help them navigate and engage with complexity and to work across differences and distances with greater ease and effectiveness.