Strategy and Adaptive Management in a Complex World

Jean Boulton
25 January 2016

We live in a VUCA world - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Meanwhile, the impact of climate change, conflict, globalisation, economic and social shifts means that change can come fast, be hard to predict and lead to emerging and unexpected outcomes to markets and contexts.

Meanwhile, due to concerns about budgets, and demonstrating efficacy, the desire to predict, control and measure has never been higher - particularly for the public and not-for-profit sectors. We want the world to operate like clockwork - with clear outcomes from clear inputs, allowing for detailed planning, rolling out of 'best practice' , a focus on process and on evidence.

The issue is that we have conflated our desire for the world to work like a machine, into a belief  that it works like a machine, and a belief that emanates from a view of what is scientific and professional.

In this talk, Jean will explain that the science of complexity gives us a new understanding of 'the way the world works' and what that means for practice. She will explain what complexity science has to say, and what it implies for strategy and adaptive management.

Jean Boulton has spent much of her career combining roles as director, non-exec director, trustee, strategy and change consultant. She is also a Visiting Fellow with Cranfield School of Management and with the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath and lectures on complexity with several institutions. She will draw on the recent book, Embracing Complexity, published by OUP of which she is a lead author. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.