Facilitation of a panel discussion on Leading in a Changing World, the new book by Keith Coats and Graeme Codrington

Promotional video for the de:humanise presentation and workshop:

Live interview on ANN7 talking about the de:humanise book:

Reflection on a presentation delivered to WorldsView Academy on frames of mind required when encountering complexity:

Creamer Media interview on the state of humanity in the mining sector:

Online Media

Overcoming Perplexity – Frames Of Mind For Engaging With Complexity

Publisher: WorldsView Academy
August 12, 2013

This article is the seed into a facilitation conversation at WorldsView’s Organisation Development Cafe on 21 August 2013. It is largely based on a recent Ecology & Society journal article that I co-authored with our good friend Prof. Kevin Rogers (and others) which looked at the uptake of complexity principles in social-ecological research. This specific article applies a psychological lens to the issue and addresses the difficulty of overcoming reductionistic mindsets in embracing complexity.

Video – Overcoming Perplexity

Complexity, Modeling, and Natural Resource Management(Link)

Publisher: Ecology & Society

This paper contends that natural resource management (NRM) issues are, by their very nature, complex and that both scientists and managers in this broad field will benefit from a theoretical understanding of complex systems. It starts off by presenting the core features of a view of complexity that not only deals with the limits to our understanding, but also points toward a responsible and motivating position. Everything we do involves explicit or implicit modeling, and as we can never have comprehensive access to any complex system, we need to be aware both of what we leave out as we model and of the implications of the choice of our modeling framework. One vantage point is never sufficient, as complexity necessarily implies that multiple (independent) conceptualizations are needed to engage the system adequately. We use two South African cases as examples of complex systems—restricting the case narratives mainly to the biophysical domain associated with NRM issues—that make the point that even the behavior of the biophysical subsystems themselves are already complex. From the insights into complex systems discussed in the first part of the paper and the lessons emerging from the way these cases have been dealt with in reality, we extract five interrelated generic principles for practicing science and management in complex NRM environments. These principles are then further elucidated using four further South African case studies—organized as two contrasting pairs—and now focusing on the more difficult organizational and social side, comparing the human organizational endeavors in managing such systems.

Fostering Complexity Thinking in Action Research for Change in Social–Ecological Systems(Link)

Publisher: Ecology & Society

Complexity thinking is increasingly being embraced by a wide range of academics and professionals as imperative for dealing with today’s pressing social–ecological challenges. In this context, action researchers partner directly with stakeholders (communities, governance institutions, and work resource managers, etc.) to embed a complexity frame of reference for decision making. In doing so, both researchers and stakeholders must strive to internalize not only “intellectual complexity” (knowing) but also “lived complexity” (being and practicing). Four common conceptualizations of learning (explicit/tacit knowledge framework; unlearning selective exposure; conscious/competence learning matrix; and model of learning loops) are integrated to provide a new framework that describes how learning takes place in complex systems. Deep reflection leading to transformational learning is required to foster the changes in mindset and behaviors needed to adopt a complexity frame of reference. We then present three broad frames of mind (openness, situational awareness, and a healthy respect for the restraint/action paradox), which each encompass a set of habits of mind, to create a useful framework that allows one to unlearn reductionist habits while adopting and embedding those more conducive to working in complex systems. Habits of mind provide useful heuristic tools to guide researchers and stakeholders through processes of participative planning and adaptive decision making in complex social–ecological systems.

Giving change a boost with the power of narrative(Link)

December 21, 2012

By harnessing the power of narrative, organisations would be in the position to solve amazingly complex problems in surprisingly simple ways. By knowing what stories people are telling about the change, and what metaphors they use to make sense of it, narrative becomes a powerful communication tool that speaks to the hearts and minds of staff. Conveying change messages and the vision of the company through stories, makes them more memorable, and creates more buy-in than other more traditionally employed methods such as PowerPoint presentations or posters.

Re:humanising the workplace – the masks we wear(Link)

Publisher: SA Leader
March 14, 2013

Whether or not our personalities change over time will continue to be a widely debated issue. What is not debatable is the fact that we adopt corporate personas incredibly quickly when entering organisations. The hardcore corporate persona has served us well in a world driven by capitalist whims and desires, where delivering shareholder value is the mantra of leaders. However, the business landscape is changing, and it will be companies that know how to rehumanise their people and allow them to remove their masks that will be at the forefront of these shifts.

Do Ideas – Thought Piece(Link)

Publisher: 21 Tanks

Ideas are everywhere. Everyone has them. If you look at something that isn’t working correctly, or optimally, and consider a possible solution to fixing it, you’ve had an idea. You have them all day, every day.

The problem, however, is that the percentage of these ideas that we actually act upon and execute is minimal. Extremely minimal. Why? Well, everyone has their own reasons why, of course. Time, resources, fear of failure. The list goes on. So ideas sit in our heads, stagnating, and are filed away in the “One day…” cabinet of our brains. A very dark place to be.

Do Ideas is designed to encourage every person with an idea, to do that idea.

Electronic Media

Mining Weekly: Recent strikes a symptom of a much bigger problem – dehumanisation, with Aiden Choles (video).


Radio 2000fm – 22nd January 2013 – Aiden was interviewed on the trends we’ll see in 2013 revolving humanity in the workplace

ChaiFM – 11th January 2013 – Aiden was interviewed on the reasons why employees ‘check-in’ their humanity at reception