How to master the art of creating the ‘Adaptive Spaces’ that enable innovations to spread – with Prof Mary Uhl-Bien (4pm GMT, 4 Dec, Zoom meeting) | Q Community


Source: How to master the art of creating the ‘Adaptive Spaces’ that enable innovations to spread – with Prof Mary Uhl-Bien (4pm, 4 Dec, Zoom meeting) | Q Community


4th December 2019

Zoom video call – online/phone (all welcome) *4 pm*

We’re delighted to welcome back Prof Mary Uhl-Bien, a leading pioneer internationally in complexity thinking and practice.

One regional healthcare leader who participated in the last Q Community Zoom with Mary said it was “incredible to participate in!” (and it’s the most popular video on the Q Community’s YouTube channel).


Mary’s decade-long research program focused on uncovering the key sources and mechanisms that enable innovation, transformation and change – including in hospitals and across health systems. A framework was developed from these lessons for how best to support new forms of leadership for adaptability and organisational agility.

This research found that successful innovations emerge from informal/entrepreneurial networks but must be supported and developed in (temporary) ‘Adaptive spaces’ if they are to fulfil their potential for transforming formal bureaucratic organisations (like the NHS, as well as other public and private sector organisations).

Tools including Labs, Liberating Structures, Design Thinking, Adaptive Salons and Summits and Positive Deviance can help us create these vital ‘Adaptive spaces’.

In this Zoom Mary will focus on the practical steps we need to take to effectively initiate and support these ‘Adaptive Spaces’ – as well as the new ‘Enabling Leadership’ needed to help them function effectively, complementing the current leadership approaches.

Important preparation for this Zoom…
This will not be an introductory overview of Mary’s framework: please familiarise yourself with the basic framework before this Zoom session (eg watch Mary’s 2018 Q community Zoom video: ‘How ‘Adaptive Spaces’ enable innovation in healthcare and beyond‘).

Reading matter includes:

Great short (5 pg.) article: ‘Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting from Human Capital to Social Capital‘ (People + Strategy, 2016) – open access.

If you have more time: ‘How to Catalyse Innovation in Your Organisation’ (Sloan Management Review, 2017 – open), co-authored with organisational network analysis pioneer Prof Rob Cross and others, highlights the three network roles that are key to catalysing emergent innovation.

Also recommended: ‘Complexity leadership: Enabling people and organizations for adaptability‘ appears in Organizational Dynamics (2017) – closed access.

Mary Uhl-Bien is the BNSF Railway Endowed Professor of Leadership at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University. She is an expert on complexity leadership, relational leadership, and followership. She is active in executive education nationally and internationally and has taught for the Brookings Institute and the Gallup Organization.




Source: How to master the art of creating the ‘Adaptive Spaces’ that enable innovations to spread – with Prof Mary Uhl-Bien (4pm, 4 Dec, Zoom meeting) | Q Community

Enrolments open Complex Systems Leadership Program 2020 – starts 30th January (Wicked Lab Australia)


Enrolments open
Complex Systems Leadership Program 2020

Starts 30th January

Creating change is hard – but you won’t be alone in this highly supported and mentored online program

Are you ready to lead systems change?

Begin creating change with our Complex Systems Leadership program (CSLP). This program is project-based and designed for people ready to take action on tackling wicked problems. This is a rigorous 4 mth program that will build your capacity to take a complexity, systemic innovation and ecosystem approach to tackling complex social policy problems.

This isn’t a passive experience.

As a participant in this program, you’ll work on a wicked problem of your choice in a community of your choice. You’ll apply the knowledge, skills and tools you gain to your real-world wicked problem using Wicked Lab’s Tool for Systemic Change, a tool to map, track and measure ecosystem transitions.

If you’re motivated to create real change for wicked problems, change that sticks, this program provides the resources and tools to help you make that happen.  As a CSLP participant, you’ll join a cohort of other individuals from across the globe focused on addressing wicked problems. The program kicks off January 30th and finishes end of May 2020.

What can you expect from the program?

  • Learn about the unique characteristics of wicked problems
  • Master tackling wicked problems using nine Focus Areas an online Tool for Systemic Change
  • Apply your learnings to a real-world problem
  • Feel supported with monthly small group mentoring where we’ll guide you every step of the way.
Learn more
Download program outline
Ready to lead systems change?

Submit your application today and our Admissions team will be in touch.

Register now

Did you miss our webinar? Catch up now

Learn about our approach, our Online Tool for Systems Change and the Complex Systems Leadership Program
Watch now

Get the tools you need to lead systemic change

As a participant on the program you’ll receive a 1yr license to the Tool for Systemic Change, which you’ll use to map a solution ecosystem. Learn more about what this means and how the tool works in this overview video.

Wicked Lab’s Tool for Systemic Change

CAPITALISM’S CYBERNETIC SUPREMACY, and why socialism does not work – Javier Livas

To me, such a weird selection of good and bad ideas and argument – but the interesting stuff is very interesting – particularly the ten characteristics of viable systems from about 17:00 onwards:

1 – viable systems have evolved and are built from the bottom up in growing complexity
2 – viable systems are not hierarchical, or based on authority
3 – viable systems rely on their viable components acting with the maximum possible autonomy
4 – viable systems evolve into the future by experimenting with different options, they take a more ‘natural selection’ route
5 – viabe systems make a very wise use of their coordination function
6 – viable systems live in the border of thermodynamic chaos
7 – viabe systems are sentient; and they can detect wrong moves and mistakes
8 – viable systems have a shared identity
9 – all viable systems depend on a positive feedback to produce energy and a negative or control feedback to provide control
10 – to control and be controlled at the same time are two side of the same organic structure

(30 minutes but I had no problem listening to this one at 2x speed)

An Explanation of Perceptual Control Theory by Rick Marken, and Can Perceptual Control Theory Deliver the Promises of Cybernetics? – YouTube


Theories underpinning psychological practice ‘wrong’ – Feb 2019


Source: Theories underpinning psychological practice ‘wrong’

Theories underpinning psychological practice ‘wrong’

psychological practice wrong, University of Manchester psychologists
© Nataliia Shcherbyna

A computer game devised by University of Manchester psychologists has called into question the theories which have been used for over a century, suggesting psychological practice has been wrong

Dr Warren Mansell says the theories that divide up ’stimulus’ from ‘response’, which underpin smoking cessation programmes and most psychological therapies, should be re-evaluated.

The theories were spawned by the influential BF Skinner since the American psychologist John Watson famously claimed in 1913 that the aim of psychology is ‘the prediction and control of behaviour’.

The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General today.

Dr Mansell’s computer game, based on ‘perceptual control theory’, supports the view that our behaviours vary from moment to moment rather than being triggered by thoughts or learned by ‘associations’ to ‘stimuli’ in our surroundings.

“Humans strive to get ‘just right’ experiences, such as keeping a comfortable temperature or keeping safe, said Dr Mansell.

“So it’s unsurprising that most of the initiatives for changing people’s behaviour based on removing stimuli that trigger habits like smoking or trying to make children behave with rewards and threats, fail in the long term.

“This is because psychologists privilege the observer’s view of behaviour over the experience of the person who is doing the behaviour.

“Our study shows quite how at odds these two perspectives can be, and it paves the way for a new generation of interventions to help people with habits, fears and addictions.”

Dr Mansell discussing his experiment and findings

A total of 164 people did the game, in pairs. One person, the actor,  was instructed to move a computer mouse to keep a cursor located within a circular target at the bottom of the screen.

The mouse movements left a trace at the top of the screen and the second person, the ‘observer’ was asked to observe the actor and the computer screen.

The movement of the cursor that the actor had to counteract to keep the cursor on target was upside down mirror image of the word ‘hello’.

Most of the actors were unaware they had written the word ‘hello’, and most of the observers were unaware that the actors were trying to keep a cursor on target.

Dr Mansell added: “There was an almost 100% contradiction between the actors’ and observers’ answers. This is because we only think that the ‘eye-catching’ side effects of behaviour – in this case writing the word ‘hello’ – is the intended action.

“From programs to help people stop smoking, to managing children’s behaviour in schools, this century-old view that the outsider can most accurately measure, predict and change another person’s behaviour has dominated.

“Therapies for a range of mental health problems should instead help people to become more aware of what they are trying to control in their lives, and balance them in more helpful ways.

“We feel that this approach would be applicable in diverse areas such as learning new skills, coping with dementia, and even building robots.”


Source: Theories underpinning psychological practice ‘wrong’

The systems school – community of practice note on mental models, and info about their December session

The systems school is at (based in Australia)

sign up to their community of practice:

Their next systems community of practice meeting:
interview: bill walker – client voice framework (dhhs vic) for community services
december 12th 11:00-12:30 AEST

  • you will receive a calendar invitation separately if you are already registered for the community of practice


1. last session: mental models
watch the video here

review the slides here

check out these links to over hundreds of mental models


In our group discussion on mental models – we talked about some of the challenges and opportunities working with mental models.

  • individual mental models/community mental models – powerful social narratives at play
  • learningful conversation must go with the grain of culture (too often dominant cultures assume ignorance and impose their own ways including technologies of learning rather than accepting everyone has lived experiences eg of poor services/policy failure)
  • advocacy [from the list of activities to work on mental models] such a missed opportunity – seeking to understand others
  • maybe one of the hardest bits of being open to evolving mental models is vulnerability…especially when it involves critique from others and self, and the realisation that we are all wrong in some way. that’s a hard place for lots of people to sit!
  • culture is the mind of the community – you need to address these social narratives at a community level for change to happen
  • dysfunctional systems arise from dysfunctional shared mental models (and the behaviours and relationships they produce + the expectations these generate)

we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are
~ anais nin

2. case study released!
a few sessions ago we heard from hannah opeskin at caulfield community health service about their use of systems thinking and the systems change framework

read the case study here


3. commitment to act
we have introduced an activity called ‘commitment to act’. these are small exercises to support you staying connected to your systems practice.

at the end of our session i asked our community what their commitment to act:

  • share systems thinking with my university mentees
  • reflect more on my own mental models
  • schedule time for regular reflection – use guiding questions provided
  • carry this content through into the work and facilitation i have coming up

what commitment will you make to build your systems practice between now and our next session?

4. upcoming events and training
introduction to systems thinking

  • 5 week webinar series – starts november 13th – registration starts at $125 for individuals
  • more details here
  • we’ve kicked off, but not too late to join as we are sharing the recordings

innovating systems thinking: methods, practice and leadership

  • 2 day event in melbourne february 11-12 202 – for experienced systems practitioners
  • registrations open november 18th
  • more details here


Copyright © *2019 The Systems School, All rights reserved.

Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Selection 1

Inquiry Into Inquiry

Regulation In Biological Systems

10/3.The foundation. Let us start at the beginning. The most basic facts in biology are that this earth is now two thousand million years old, and that the biologist studies mostly that which exists today. From these two facts follow a well-known deduction, which I would like to restate in our terms.

We saw in S.4/23 that if a dynamic system is large and composed of parts with much repetition, and if it contains any property that is autocatalytic, i.e. whose occurrence at one point increases the probability that it will occur again at another point, then such a system is, so far as that property is concerned, essentially unstable in its absence. This earth contained carbon and other necessary elements, and it is a fact that many combinations of carbon, nitrogen, and a few others are self-reproducing. It follows that though the state of…

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