Leadership 2020 Newsletter: Working in Complexity

– by Chris Corrigan, Leadership 2020 Hosting Team

Leadership has always been about wise action that lasts. Our groups, communities, and organizations are trying to create a better more sustainable future but our context—the world around us and the problems we’re facing—is full of complexity and change on a scale we haven’t seen before. Many of our modern systems failing to sustain themselves in the complexity of our times.

That’s why the Leadership 2020 program focuses so much on ways to understand, identify, and work through complex situations and surroundings. And thankfully, we have resources available to deal with the complex challenges we face—resources as old as we are: conversation, learning, relationship, community.

Many of the frameworks and models we use in the program—the Cynefin Framework, the Two Loops Model, Open Space Technology—can help us work in complexity and the resources I’m sharing below can be added to your leadership toolbox. There is a great series of videos by the author of Simple Habits for Complex Times, a great article about applying the Cynefin Framework in our daily work, and a collection of 33 Liberating Structures—novel, practical, and no-nonsense methods to foster engagement, innovation, and participation in your teams.

Remember, when it comes to complex problems, there are rarely clear finish lines. The moment we change one thing, the system changes in response. They require practice-based solutions that within an ever-shifting context. And they require leaders like you—leaders that can hold on to a core purpose and leverage a variety of approaches for moving forward. I hope the approaches below help you on your way.

Confronting complexity video series

Jennifer Garvey Berger (the author of Simple Habits for Complex Times) offers a series of videos and recordings on a range of topics—all aimed at making complexity simple to understand.

From ‘Asking different questions’ to ‘Seeing systems’ and ‘Cultivating wisdom’, the series of videos (and some helpful animations) are a great series for any Leadership 2020 participants interested in better understanding and working in complexity. (If the Cynefin Framework resonated with you during the program, you will likely appreciate this great little series.)

You can access the videos, animations, and recordings here.

Using Cynefin to help strategy

Most organizations can be quite good at solving complicated problems—either they develop the necessary skill sets through hiring and training people, or they turn to consultants or experts whose knowledge and experience can un-complicate the complicated.

But not all problems are not created equal and it is increasingly important for us to understand the true nature of the problems we’re facing and how to adjust our approach accordingly.

This article by Keith Johnston, Carolyn Coughlin, and Jennifer Garvey Berger uses the Cynefin Framework to help us understand how to better lead our teams (and ourselves) through complex problems. They use the framework to help you and I understand the difference between the predictable and the unpredictable and then offer simple and helpful approaches we can take when surrounded by the unpredictable.

This one is worth bookmarking—check out the PDF article (and the helpful appendix which breaks down the “language of complexity”) online here.

Liberating Structures: Tools for meetings

When you feel included and engaged, do you do a better job? Do you think teams in which people work well together produce better results? Have you noticed the best ideas often come from unexpected sources?

This website introduces you to Liberating Structures—easy-to-learn approaches, processes, and tools that foster participation, trust, and engagement in groups of any size. The collection of Liberating Structures (there are 33 in all) offer alternative ways to approach and design how people work together—meetings, design sessions, interviews, networking, brainstorming—than can replace or complement conventional workplace practices.

Every person involved in Leadership 2020 is interested in leading change—in their region, their organization, their team, and/or themselves. No matter where you’re focusing your efforts, you can use these Liberating Structures to help you improve the way you do your work.


Federation Webinar Guide

This guide will help you take part in Adobe Connect webinar meetings with The Federation. Follow the steps in order to prepare for and participate in online webinar meetings. Please note that Federation webinar meetings may be recorded for training and/or future viewing purposes and may be shared with our membership and other provincial organizations.

If you require further assistance, please call our office at 250-480-7387.

Caregiver Screening Webinar (Nov 2017)

Below is a recording of the first of three online sessions The Federation is hosting for contracted agencies across the province regarding MCFD’s caregiver screening policy changes. Staff from MCFD explain the upcoming changes to organizations providing residential care for BC children and youth.

You can view a recording of the Adobe Connect online meeting here.

This webinar focused on the caregiver screening work that MCFD’s Specialized Services Hub will be conducting for new applicants working in agencies across the province (as well as existing applicants). The highlights include:

  • An MCFD policy representative spoke to some of the policy changes related to caregiver screening.
  • An MCFD team leader who will be overseeing the work explained what to expect.
  • MCFD staff also spoke about the IT requirements (from the agency standpoint) for accessing the new service-provider portal as well as some of the system requirements that will be part of the new process.

For more information about this work and/or upcoming webinars about MCFD’s caregiver screening policy, please contact our Community Engagement lead Kathy Powelson at kathy@fcssbc.ca.

A time for thanks and for looking forward

It’s that time of year when we focus on what matters most to us and when we reflect on where we’ve come from and where we want to go in the months ahead.

I expect 2018 will be a very busy year in which The Federation builds on new opportunities, strengthens relationships, and works even harder to create a strong and sustainable community social services sector in BC. We have a lot of work ahead of us. But we also have some new and exciting opportunities and I’m very much looking forward to what the new year will hold.

A change in season (and in attitudes)

Last month, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released their report on the budget consultations. The report devoted a large section to social services and used specific language from our own presentation to the committee when detailing the issues that should be addressed.

“Workers in this sector earn less than their counterparts in community health, and compared with wages in education and the public service, the disparity is even more pronounced. One way to improve service delivery is to support and appropriately compensate the people who deliver these services in recognition of the importance of their work.” – Report on the 2018 Budget Consultation, Pages 21-22

As we look forward to the February’s provincial budget (and beyond to collective bargaining in 2019), the statements made in the report are clear signals that our voice is being heard and, more importantly, listened to. Multiple recommendations were focused on child care, early childhood development, poverty reduction, income and disability assistance, support for kids in care, as well as labour and immigration (see pages 24-25 of the report).

This is the kind of opportunity we’ve been waiting for. And for that reason, I hope we see a large contingent of Federation members at the February Social Policy Forum. We’re bringing to the table colleagues and stakeholders—sector partners, unions, umbrella groups, government staff, and politicians—and together, we’re going to begin tackling some of those issues. (Seats are filling up quickly so register soon! The early-bird rate ends December 31st.)

What we’re looking forward to

And as much as The Federation has accomplished over the past year, our team has even more planned for 2018. I am particularly excited about the launch of our next Leadership 2020 cohort in January and the beginning of brand-new (and long-awaited) program for Leadership 2020 alumni and graduates.

We’ve also been working on other ways we can support our members. The Federation’s monthly Research Bulletins have re-launched, we’re kicking off a new Applied Promising Practices project, and we’re bringing back the Research to Practice network to get cutting-edge research, programs, and models onto the desks of your staff and volunteers.

Over the past few months, our staff team has also been doing outreach to better understand what else we can do to support our diverse membership. And we now have even more ideas that we look forward to sharing with you in the new year. (If you have additional feedback about what we can do to better serve and support our members, contact our Community Engagement Lead Kathy Powelson.)

Thank you

As the holidays approach, it’s hard not to notice the extra attention that is given to acts of caring and giving. But I want to take a moment to recognize the fact that people like you approach every day of the year with a caring and giving mindset. And I want to thank you for that one final time before 2017 comes to an end.

I want to thank The Federation Board for their leadership and guidance. I want to thank The Federation staff for their hard work over the past 12 months. And I want to thank you—our members—for your continued commitment to the vision of this Federation. It’s because of you that we continue to be altogether better.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director