Navigating Complexity – beginning the dialogue

June 30, 2008

On May 26-27 2008, Wageningen International and Learning by Design organised an innovation dialogue on ‘navigating complexity’. It sought to articulate insights from the complexity sciences and systems thinking. And examine how these could reshape assumptions about the design, monitoring and evaluation of development work. This event was born out of a growing sense of urgency about the dilemmas facing the development sector. Development organisations are guided by protocols that are essentially based on a linear approach to meeting objectives and on processes that are assessed in comparative isolation of the dynamic context. Many efforts work with limited and out-of-date insights on their operational contexts. The consequence for those managing development efforts is a reduced capability to guide strategic engagement, which affects effectiveness. Any planning process is based on many assumptions. Some of these assumptions will be quite predictable, while others may be but wishful thinking. Presentations, participant video interviews and other materials can be found here: (click on Innovation Dialogue for the presentations and video interviews).

Irene Guijt

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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