Competence in Complexity – programme 25-26 April 2019, Scotland – International Futures Forum Academy

Source: Competence in Complexity


Competence in Complexity

Next running of the programme:
25-26 April 2019
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This programme offers a process to develop the 21st century competencies in participants and to demonstrate them in practice.

The curriculum is designed around three modules, typically of two days each.  There is scope to vary this pattern for something more or less intensive (for example, we also offer a condensed three day programme) and to extend it after the third module to provide greater support for the implementation of culture-shifting, transformative initiatives.

The programme is based on the book Dancing at the Edge:  Competence, Culture and Organisation in the 21st Century

Dancing at the Edge takes a distinctive stand in relation to competence.

  • We follow the OECD definition that competence is not an abstract achievement but “the ability to meet important challenges in life in a complex world”;
  • This is not a capacity of the individual.  Our competence is always demonstrated in a human system, in a culture, in a pattern of relationships. It is impossible to be competent alone;
  • Competencies are qualities of persons as a whole.  They cannot be distinguished one from another, developed in isolation and mastered one stage at a time.

The 21st century competencies are innate – but they require the right setting to show themselves and a supportive environment in which to develop.

We know that these competencies exist because we have seen them demonstrated in practice by the ‘persons of tomorrow’ all around us.

In tune with the underlying ethos of Dancing at the Edge, the programme offers all participants an opportunity to explore and develop their 21st century competencies in practice.  It offers a framework for mutual exploration, or – as the book has it – a ‘rehearsal space’.  It is an ‘experiment’ in the sense that life itself is an experiment – an opportunity for learning in the presence of others as abstract plans meet complex reality.

The flow of the programme starts with a first module (‘Awareness’) bringing to conscious awareness three ‘threshold competencies’ – which facilitate access to all the others.  We also call these ‘literacies’ since they are ways of reading the complex landscape – both within ourselves, our interactions with others and with the wider world.  These 21st century literacies are:  psychological literacy, cultural literacy and knowledge literacy (which includes knowledge in relation to the future).

The promise of this first module is to develop conscious capacity in all three of these domains – leaving participants less prone to overwhelm and to sub-optimal responses to a complex operating environment (at work, at home, in society at large).  Like Federer playing tennis, participants will leave feeling that they have more time on the ball.  They also leave with a sense of their own emerging 21stcentury competencies (their ‘edge’) and a plan to develop them.

The second module (‘Tuning Up’) deepens experience of these new literacies in practice and explores the qualities of being in the world that are associated with the 21st century competencies and demonstrated by persons of tomorrow, especially in groups and organisations.  The module includes a series of experiential sessions and practices designed to bring these qualities to awareness and foster their development.  It concludes by raising our awareness of the future potential of the present moment – as a bridge towards action that will help to bring about the future we desire.

The promise of the second module is to develop qualities of being in the contemporary world that will maintain health, balance, effectiveness and hope, tuning up these qualities of persons of tomorrow in readiness to take on ‘an important challenge in life’ to express the 21st century competences in practice.

The third module (‘Doing’) involves exploring an important professional challenge in the context of the participant’s work and organisation.  The module includes a structure to support and coach effective learning over time in the delivery of a culture-shifting initiative (‘a small act of creative transgression’).

The promise of the third module is that people will leave with the design of an initiative and a first step to take on the journey to demonstrate and expand their 21stcentury competencies in practice and deliver transformative results.  It is the accumulation of many such initiatives over time that will transform organisational culture, ambition and performance.

Some participants may opt to enrol in our Capability Accelerator following the third module – a process of peer-supported action learning to consolidate and deepen their learning through delivering a transformative initiative and exceptional results in their professional context.

Enquire about participation in a Competence in Complexity programme