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Complexity


Perspectivity fosters wisdom, passion and creativity for sustainable development in a complex world.

Within just a few generations, our world has changed profoundly and humanity has found itself in a situation that differs fundamentally from anything we have known before. Our knowledge and technological capabilities have developed with exponential speed, giving us an infinitely better understanding of – and greater influence on – the “hard” (material) as well the “soft” (human behavioural) world around us. These developments, however, have been accompanied by increased complexity.

At Perspectivity, we have observed three interrelated phenomena defining social complexity:

  • A dramatic increase in systemic complications – in the number, variety and interrelatedness of factors influencing local and global development.
  • Greater social diversity – in gender, religion, age, nationality, ethnicity etc. – of people involved in societal issues due to intensifying communication and mobility.
  • The fact that human activity is reaching its limits with regard to the available resources and ecological carrying capacity of our planet gives an acute feeling of global interdependence and puts extra pressure on global society.

Perspectivity believes that this social complexity is here to stay and embraces it.

 

Behaviour in complexity

In complex situations, we have the choice to focus on what is common in an issue, and on what is different. This can take two different shapes:

Focus on differences:

  • Self-expression: Seeking self-realization by developing and expressing one’s unique and pure authenticity; aiming to distinguish and excel in order to achieve something better than is available now, or
  • Polarization: Magnifying differences and classifying them as better versus worse; focusing on winning the debate in order to pursue one’s own predefined ideas.

Focus on what is common:

  • Appreciative understanding: Suspending judgement and prejudice and listen openly with the aim to truly understand the other in order to discover common ground and expand it by embracing differences, or
  • Enforced unification: Forcing unity, orchestrating, centralizing and standardizing; applying power to suppress differences and bring into conformity.

In complex situations, when we focus on differences through polarization and on what is common through enforced unification, we tend to create degenerative solutions, with outcomes that are characterised by resistance, conformism or subjugation, compromise, or divorce. This often leads to outcomes that are a far cry from what could have been achieved if the collective creative potential would have been brought to expression.

On the other hand, when we focus on differences through self-expression and on what is common through appreciative understanding, we tend to create generative solutions, characterised by integration, creation and innovation. In support of a common purpose, we tap into the collective wisdom of the group and the collective potential is brought to full expression. Because energy and enthusiasm are by-products of such creative processes, we tend to follow-through and sustainably implement the ideas.

 

Dialogue and learning

The concepts of inspired dialogue and self-reflective learning are central to Perspectivity. This is how we define them:

  • Inspired dialogue: a process of interaction among a group of multiple stakeholders, whereby all perspectives on a common issue are passionately expressed and appreciatively understood in an engaging, structured and balanced manner. Multiple perspectives are valued and integrated into creative, often innovative, shared solutions for complex challenges. Inspired dialogue is a fertile ground for self-reflective learning.
  • Self-reflective learning: a process of inner dialogue that leads to reflection on real experience or new information, of openly and honestly testing these against broader concepts and earlier assumptions, accepting any differences and integrating them into new insights. Self-reflective people actively create, capture, transfer and mobilize knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to adapt to a changing environment. Self-reflective learning is a capacity that strongly enhances the capability of dialogue.

It is our purpose to help people manage complexity by co-designing processes that enable inspired dialogue and self-reflective learning through an iterative process of appreciative understanding and self-expression.

Passion Code
Download the Passion Code.

Navigating Complexity

What to do with a blueprint approach when everything is permanently on the move?

Complex challenges are journeys of discovery, involving many actors and factors that are intertwined. The result of their interaction is unpredictable. Fortunately we can deal with complexity in a sensible way

From our extended experience with social change, we have identified nine key elements for successful transformations. Each block is a stepping stone on the journey to create collective impact. This navigator will help you to reflect on your specific situation.

Nine building blocks for creating collective impact in complexity

  • Urgency for change
  • Shared ambitions
  • Responsive leadership
  • Reinforcing actions
  • Adaptive learning
  • Involvement of all
  • Vital connections
  • Backbone
  • Joker

Want to learn more about navigating complexity?