Session Submission Summary

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CANCELLED A Pattern Approach to Leading Transformational Change in Complex Multi-Actor-Settings

Sat, October 14, 14:45 to 15:45, SQUARE, Circle 310

Session Submission Type: Workshop

Short Description

Large system change calls for new leadership approaches. Leading transformational change for sustainability requires conceptualizing leadership as the collaborative capacity of a collective, moving away from traditional concepts of individual leadership to processes of collective sense-making and collective co-creation. After a brief introduction into the conceptual background of the Collective Leadership Compass, participants will explore how its six features, derived from living systems theory, support transformational change. This session will focus on the integration of soft and hard leadership skills and how they intertwine and support each other in leading complex change in multi-stakeholder collaborations.

Detailed Abstract

Large system change requires new collaborative leadership approaches. The ability to recognize and shift human interaction patterns towards a widespread caretaking of sustainability issues might be a key leverage point in driving transformational change.

Climate change, environmental degradation, food insecurity, inadequate health care, unequal education, gender inequality, insufficient water and sanitation, non-renewable energy, unemployment, unsustainable human settlements or destructive consumption and production patterns, are all examples of large-scale complex systems challenges.

Moreover, as these challenges cannot be dealt with in isolation, it is important to explore leadership in multi-stakeholder collaboration as a response to the complexity of the challenges ahead. However, despite a strong belief in the ability of collaboration to solve challenges, the complex multi-dimensionality of problems faced in the sustainability arena is often not considered. There is a need to look beyond focusing on leadership development of individuals and also attend to the way collaborative structures and processes become occurrences of leadership. Moreover, the recent advancement of multi-stakeholder collaboration as an approach to systems change encourages a closer look at human interaction systems as a patterned occurrence, dependent on how cross-institutional interaction is arranged and enacted. Such a practice can enhance the understanding about both the patterns that enhance the shared liveable future of humankind, and those which hinder it.

The workshop explores applying a practice-tested approach to developing leadership capabilities of collectives in cross-sector, non-hierarchical multi-actor settings. It shows how such a leadership approach is promising for shifting the dysfunctional patterns of interactions, which cause the current complex and wicked global challenges, into more life-enhancing functional ones. Such an approach, however, requires conceptualizing leadership as the collaborative capacity of a collective of diverse actors across institutional boundaries. The workshop shows how six features derived from a comprehensive body of living systems theory can affirm and enhance the life-giving properties of human collaboration systems that aim at transformational change. It explores how keeping these features in mind and in adequate balance can contribute to the overall effectiveness of multi-stakeholder collaboration initiatives and make a decisive contribution to large system change at scale. Tools to capacitate collectives of actors should help both guide diagnosis and collective action. They need to invigorate and strengthen inherent human competencies to become practically useful for collective sense-making and collective co-creation because transformation encompasses more than change: it involves a shift in ways of thinking, acting, as well as enacting power structures and relationships.

The workshop will briefly explore in an experiential way how six features derived from living systems theory play out in transformational change stewarded by human collectives. The first feature, purposeful generativity, rests on the insight that life is intentional and with the urge of life to expand and create future. The second feature, permeable containment suggests that sufficient definitional ‘enclosure’, or boundaries that ensure containment and give identity, need to be combined with a sufficient ability to bring new energetic inputs in and release old ones. The third feature illustrates that integrally and inextricably linked with life is the creation of novelty through invention, adaptation, learning, exaptation or other features that engender innovation. The fourth feature, contextual interconnectedness, refers to the vast communication network of life that engenders constant interaction, reflection, and reaction in endless feedback-loops. The fifth feature stems from an understanding that life operates with integrated entities that constitute identifiable ‘wholes’ as nested wholeness. Lastly, feature six, proprioceptive consciousness, refers to the essential role of cognition in the process of life and is the ability of life to become aware of its emergence, evolution and interdependence through individual and collective reflection.

A methodology such as the Collective Leadership Compass will be introduced in an interactive session showing the possibility of translating the attention to the above-elaborated features, into more linear modes of leadership development and strategic planning in multi-stakeholder collaboration endeavours, by paying attention to dimensions such as future possibilities, engagement, innovation, humanity, collective intelligence, and wholeness. By integrating real life experience from organizational and cross-institutional change participants will practice using the meta-level guiding tool for collective sense-making and collective co-creation.

The workshop will then explore in an experiential way the applicability of the guiding tool in various settings. It will conclude with examples from the practice of international and local multi-stakeholder settings that became successful in stewarding transformational change across institutional boundaries.

Learning goals:
Participants will
• Have an introduction into the content of the pattern approach and application possibilities of the Collective Leadership Compass
• Explore potentials for application in their professional environment
• Get an overview when and how the compass has been used and the effect it had

Workshop Flow:
The workshops will start with a brief check-in round (5 min,)
After a brief introduction into the conceptual background of the pattern approach (10 min,), there will be an interactive reflection on global challenges and their dysfunctional human interaction patterns (10 min.)
In an interactive exercise participant will explore way of integrating linear and non-linear as aspects of leading transformational change in complex multi-actor settings (30 min.). This will be concluded by a joint reflection on understanding leadership as both an individual and a collective capacity. This will especially highlight the integration of soft and hard leadership skills and how they intertwine and support each other in leading complex change in multi-stakeholder collaboration (10 min.)
A plenary exchange follows where each group gathered around one dimensions will explain to all what they see as main features of how to bring forth this particular dimension in leading change in their professional environment (10 min.)
A short concluding lecture will explain how the pattern approach and the Collective Leadership Compass has been used in transformational settings (10 min.)
The closure will be a brief reflective check-out round (5 min.)

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