All Courses Forums Course Discussion Forums Strategic Chaplaincy Week One: Essentials of Applying Complexity Thinking

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    • #4369

      Rose McKeown
      Member
      @rmckeown

      Week One: Essentials of Applying Complexity Thinking for Sustainability Leadership

      Rick’s introduction to this article “a difficult read…I hope you can plough through it..” was so true for me!!!? It was a plough!

      When I first started reading it, my mind was ‘twisted’. It actually hurt and I thought ‘this is why I got out of management. We had some of this in management courses offered to us by our healthcare system. I just don’t understand it all!” Like David, I’m having to read it several times. I really appreciated Joy Freeman’s reflection and how it was an enjoyable read for her! She kind of simplified the article for me talking in everyday, normal language. My mind got ‘untwisted’ and I am able to appreciate this article.

      I also realize that strategic management is necessary for long-term success. Healthcare, at one time a Mission, is now also a business, corporate. It has to have strategies to survive and succeed. I am more than grateful for the leaders we have in our healthcare system and in my own religious Congregation who are able to think and manage this way yet not lose sight of our mission of healing and caring.
      I believe we Sisters are using this complexity thinking in our own religious congregation as we look at our present-day reality and plan, as best we can, for our future. It is all of us working together. We are reminded that there is a leader in each of us. “There is no one so poor that they have nothing to give. There is no one so rich that they have nothing to receive” (Latin American theologian) .

      I appreciated the summary of the Six Complexity-Leadership Guidelines. These guidelines allow the Spirit to work in individuals and in the whole. I like the image of ‘dance’ and ‘have fun surfing the unknown….trust you have what you need..” Our leaders and all of us have what we need within our networks to support system development which also supports personal development. God is at work in us and that is why we can trust and dance and have fun.

      I appreciated the explanation of complex vs complicated: complexity- a sense of deep interconnectedness and dynamic interaction that results in emergence within and across” and how the ‘elements of complex systems evolve with one another, integrating their past with the present and their evolution is irreversible.” I appreciated Joy’s summary ‘that the idea is to see the system as a living organism rather than a structured organization” We have moved from the Industrial Era where leadership was more from the top-down and control. This kind of leadership is not sustainable in today’s world, the Knowledge Era…the era of globalization, technology etc. Leadership is becoming more ‘round-table’ rather than top-down.

      This is true not just for healthcare systems. It is true for all of creation. All of life is evolving. All of life is connected. Mystics saw this. Our understanding of who we are as human being on this planet earth is evolving. Our theology of who we are in the universe is evolving. Our understanding of “In Christ” is evolving.

      So, change happens. “And the only people who like change are babies” ?
      It’s happening as we move to our new building. What model of pastoral care will evolve..

      Thanks! Hope some of this makes sense!

    • #4373

      Joy Freeman
      Participant
      @jfreeman

      Rose,

      I deeply appreciate your spiritual lens that you brought to the idea of complexity thinking.  I think this is an important understanding for us as chaplains who work in the world of spirituality to remember that we not only seek a leadership role in the system and learn to speak their language but also we serve to continue to raise the importance of caring for the human document and the connections that come with that.

       

      Joy

      • #4378

        Rose McKeown
        Member
        @rmckeown

        Thanks Joy! Yes, as chaplains we are privileged to do our part in keeping that mission to care for the human person the focus of what we are all about!

      • #4414

        Hi Rose, I was struck by your Latin American theological proverb, and its relevance for complexity thinking.

        <span style=”color: #737373; font-family: Lato; font-size: 12px;”>“There is no one so poor that they have nothing to give. There is no one so rich that they have nothing to receive” (Latin American theologian)</span>

        Do you know where this quote is from?

        And I like Joy’s summary of learning to see a system as a living organism rather than a structured organization. Unfortunately, I’m not yet seeing the “round table” leadership in my organization. I have several chaplain colleagues who have gone on to get health management degrees and go into healthcare administration. I am not in the least interested in this, though I respect and support those who are. There’s enough of a rebel in me that does not want to buy into the disease model of illness, much less the “structured organization” model of leadership. Sometimes, alas, I wonder if I really belong in healthcare or religion at all. Both systems seem to me to be failing in many ways.

    • #4376

      brandeaton
      Participant
      @brandeaton

      Rose,

      I too, appreciated the “spiritual lens,” mentioned by Joy that you brought to the concept of complexity thinking.  I am reminded of the Trinity interpreted as perichoresis, the dance of the Three.  It is non-hierarchical and free, yet interpenetrating and communal.  Of course, I also appreciate your early comment that reading the article made your head hurt–my response, exactly.  Having spent my life working in hierarchical organizations and manager/supervisor directed contexts, in which the leader was seen as the “vision caster,” complexity theory is a tough concept to get my head around, even if my heart resonates with the organic nature I detect in it.

      Brand

      • #4379

        Rose McKeown
        Member
        @rmckeown

        Thanks Brand! I have not met you yet and I couldn’t find your introduction! It is probably in there somewhere. I did see your reflections and will respond to them before the day is over.

        I remember the word ‘perichoresis’ from my theology classes. It is a beautiful concept of how the Trinity- they all dance together as One!

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one whose head hurt! 🙂 Yes, complexity theory is a tough concept to get one’s head around because we have all been raised in the hierarchical model at home, at Church and in our work places. All that is changing now. It is God at work in all things and all peoples and all of creation. I look at my nieces raising their children. The will ask the little ones “now, which cereal do you want?” – it’s the round table. When I grew up it was ‘we’re having oatmeal this morning” 🙂

        Change is happening all around us. So fast, we can’t keep up with it. We are seeing it now almost being forced to happen within our Catholic Church. The Spirit is at work. Leaders in healthcare systems don’t talk Spirit language but we can. But we also need to learn their language and for a lot of us, that is a hard language to learn!

    • #4383

      brandeaton
      Participant
      @brandeaton

      I regret missing the interview today with Larry, but will connect to the recording as the link becomes available.

      I continue to ponder the concepts of complexity thinking.  I am wondering how accountability is seen as effectively exercised under the complexity thinking rubric?  I believe accountability has relevance to the understanding of  leaders as “destabilizers who encourage disequilibrium and disrupt existing patterns of behavior” (Leadership Myth #3).  This certainly would be a form of change agent behavior–a positive form of leadership when a system’s stasis is prohibiting innovation.  However, it seems such a leader still needs to be have a vision of some outcome, to which the leader is accountable, in order to assess a current process and then seek to destabilize in hopes of reaching that better outcome.

      • #4413

        Thanks for the comments about periochoresis and the spiritual lens of complexity theory. I’m in such a strongly hierarchical environment that I can hardly imagine complexity thinking in healthcare. I’m wondering if anyone has experience with this type of theory or has seen it in action?

    • #4384

      Joy Freeman
      Participant
      @jfreeman

      You raise an interesting and important question about the role accountability plays in all of this.   I like how you are pairing vision of outcome with accountability.  I also wonder if accountability should also be paired with understanding of organizational personality if we are looking at the organization as a living system, is there a certain accountability to the core values that give the organization the best parts of it’s culture/ personality/ vision?

       

      Joy

    • #4411

      Before I delve into your reflections, I wanted to make a statement about my own thoughts on this article.

      Wow. This was a dense read. I certainly would see healthcare systems such as the one I work in as a complex organization. This theory is completely new to me, so I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. It’s hard for me to imagine our current senior leaders allowing or even promoting a sense of chaos and disintegration in order to bring about better adapted systems and structures. I would love to see this in action in my institution, for sure. I may understand the theory better if I could see an example in healthcare.

      It strikes me that this theory requires a certain type of skill set in leadership. All leaders are not visionaries who can look at the big picture and see patterns. Or who can lead by setting up broad parameters of expectations. On the other hand, this theory does seem to be rather egalitarian, which I like, rather than hierarchical, which is our current state.

      I’m left wondering if complexity theory “works” in a broken system, or if a capable, innovative team top-to-bottom is required?

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