Monday, September 21, 2015

Leadership in Complexity

A stellar blog post initially written by Dibyendu De on in 2012. We feel that it is still relevant now.

             Sketch by @ddrrnt

“Leadership in Complexity” maintains a position and a viewpoint that each one of us is a leader of his/her own life not only to change oneself but also to act as agents of change for others through their actions and ideas. For this, one needs the courage to look at his/her own thought process to discover the underlying assumptions, beliefs, perceptions that create the apparent complexity and paradoxes one is engaged with in life.

That in short is the essence of social and cultural innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the important thing to be kept in mind is that we are not going to create any purely imagined ‘desired future’ in our minds rooted in idealism and run after that. For example, we are not going to say that ‘let us build a more resilient community’ or let us aim for more ‘structure and order’ realizing that resilience, structure, order are products of self organization.

Why is that? This is because ‘complex systems’ would not listen to what we ‘desire’. They produce their own emergence, which take on various forms. For instance ‘failures’, ‘insight’ ‘learning’, ‘wisdom’, ‘strange behavior’, ‘shortfall in attendance’ , ‘bad quality’, ‘low productivity’, ‘obesity’, ‘disease’, ‘epidemics’ and ‘love’ are all cases of ‘emergence’. And these are never fixed or static. They keep changing over time.

So, it is indeed stupid to have any fixed plan in the mind and exert our will to achieve the ‘desired mental model’ we have in mind. That of course does not tell us not to have any ‘intention’. Nor does it ask us to submit to ‘fatality’ of reality. Our path clearly lies in balancing between the two wheels of ‘reality’ and ‘desire’ forged by our will emanating from intention. Such balancing act is fueled by the heady mix of courage to pay attention to our thought process and the deeply felt intention to balance.

Our intention in most cases would be to adapt to the ongoing emergent phenomenon by exploring the rules that generate the emergence and then examine the underlying ‘paradoxes’ that shape and sustain such emergence enabling us to adapt through balancing (the Indian concept of Jugaard) to give shape to a better collective future. Our aim is not to achieve this or that. Our aim is to simply adapt based on the emergence. It is a delicate balancing act like walking on the sword’s edge and being in the fire at the same time.

I believe it makes life simpler, fun to live, helps us ‘survive’ better and also ‘collectively thrive’.

The philosophical base that we are going to use is ‘Complex Adaptive Systems’.

The process that we would use to do so would be #Nemetics

And the tools that we would use would be many but mostly Dialogs, Learning by Doing, Iterations, Improvisations and even employ mathematical tools, if needed, like Time Waveforms, Fourier Transform without losing sight of highly explosive techniques like Meditation and the use of Principles of #Nemetics

While knowledge lies in selecting the right technique for a given context or situation wisdom lies in balancing and adapting, where both knowledge and wisdom are contextual emergence.


Exchange @NEMETICS ~ Engage at

EduKare- Resilient Communities…

This post is initially written and published by Sean Grainger

By Sean Grainger

flickr photo via akaalias
“Seems to me if folks understand that EdUkare is about health and security and resilient communities, it would help clarify.”
Michael Josefowicz (@ToughLoveforX) tweeted the above a while back in the @EdKare stream, and the point deserves some attention. At the Twitter @edkare stream, Michael, Daniel Durant (@ddrrnt), I and others are involved in what I would call at this stage a global thought experiment in co-creating nemetics. Nemetics is a term that has evolved to explain phenomena surrounding the exchanges that occur in our emotional, cognitive and physical spaces.

To clarify, here’s some notes via Michael (with a few supplemental links added by me):
  1. Nemetics is based on three fundamentals: Nemes, NemiTubes and NemiSpheres. The focus of nemetics in an EduKare context is the study of neme exchanges called “NemeX”
  2. The term neme indicates a superset of replicators in all Complex Adaptive Systems. Replicators are memes, genes, “Lumenes”
  3. Memes are replicators in Cognitive Space. Genes are replicators in Physical Space. The term “lumenes” is coined by Mark Frazier, President of OpenWorld…for a free, resilient, and generous world (@openworld) in Emotional Space.
  4. “Neme” is an acronym for the fractal learning process of Complex Adaptive Systems. Notice (or not) Engage (or not) Mull (or not) Exchange (or not)… NemeX connotes the actual exchange in progress.
  5. Notice/or not, Engage or/not, Mull/or not, Exchange/ or not, and tweaking Time and Space is the basis for three dimensional Automaton Modeling Complexity.
  6. Physical Space is said to be Pwaves. Emotional is Ewaves. Cognitive is Cwaves. A Neme is said to Collapse ECPwaves to a Neme.
  7. A NemiSphere is a snapshot of entangled NemiTubes in which NemeX is constrained by Tacit and Explicit Rules.
I know, I know… clear as mud, right? Don’t worry; we’re all figuring this out as we go in what I would say is a real-time, distributed, online NemiSphere… hence the descriptor “thought experiment.” The boiled-down point illuminates the fact that we exist in society as an infinite series of complex adaptive systems; complex as identified by the absolute diversity of people, perspectives and levels of knowledge that exists within them, and adaptive as identified by the natural and intentional fractal ways that individuals and groups adjust to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical characteristics of their NemiSpheres.

flickr image via Song_sing

To ground all of this in a purpose-driven context, schools are if nothing else, complex adaptive systems. An EduKare approach within schools posits that the complex adaptive system describes the fact that kids are social, emotional, cognitive and physical beings that require individualized services and supports within a system that is complex because it is comprised of the litany of unique individuals (students, staff and others who support its purposes,) and adaptive simply because it recognizes and strives to meet the needs of each one of them.

EduKare schools are about health and security and resilient communities. They understand that before kids can learn in the cognitive spaces (Cwaves) they have to be stable and high-functioning in their social/emotional/physical spaces (Ewaves and Pwaves.) An EduKare school places the deliberate support of healthy Ewaves and Pwaves as their primary objective. For so many kids, the process will be quite efficient as many arrive at school in kindergarten as adequately well-adjusted in the social-emotional and physical domains… but there are those (and to be honest, we can’t seem to find an algorithm that would absolutely define predictive determiners,) that are not OK in the social-emotional and physical domains for any number of reasons. It’s virtually impossible to determine this in a clinical sense owing to the factor of resiliency. Resiliency is the X-factor that helps us determine how well-adjusted kids are when entering school, but more importantly, it is the known factor that provides a targeted focus for supportive adults to nurture increased levels of resiliency in the young people they serve. Resiliency can be nurtured and taught as evidenced by contemporary research in the fields of education, psychiatry, social psychology, medicine, social work, mental health etc. Until we know how resilient individual kids are (or are not,) and then begin work to support the requisite growth of resilience in all kids, we can’t optimally support learning.

Although we can’t know how resilient kids are upon entering school, we can embark on a process of learning their stories that helps us put the pieces of their resiliency profile together. In the context of nemetics, we have to notice these stories, mull (think) deeply about them and then make responsible, informed decisions about how we are going to exchange with the data they provide to support the growth of resiliency in all students, but particularly the more challenged ones. It’s critical to understand also that the primary writers of these stories are the students themselves; we simply support the process by empowering them to weave their own stories; to take ownership of their learning paths in a complex adaptive system we call the EduKare school environment.

Who does this in an EduKare school? Good question… In the first EduKare post at KARE Givers, I explained that an EduKare school is one that accesses the specialized skills of helping professionals in a wrap-a-round service provision model. Ideas for a Comprehensive, Integrated School-wide Approach is a UCLA paper from all the way back in 1977 that proves this is not a new idea, but perhaps one that will need a deeper NemeX process to divine where the rubber will meet the road in providing comprehensive, coordinated services for children in general. More specifically, the EduKare model posits that the locus of service provision should be based in schools; the places where kids spend a large part of their wakeful hours for thirteen years of their lives, and one that is designed to support learning. This point is key…

To optimally support learning, teachers need to be present and accountable for what they are trained to do; teach. The fact remains, however, that learning detractors are present in the social-emotional and physical lives of children… these detractors are part of their learning stories. In order to help learn these stories, and to help write them in a teaching and learning context, teachers need support from those other helping professionals that are trained to do what they do; mitigate social-emotional and physical detractors in the lives of children, (that will ultimately also detract from learning.)

What better place to coordinate these processes than the schools that conveniently dot our local landscapes, that reflect our diverse nature and that are designed as teaching and learning environments?

EduKare schools are fundamentally those that understand their role in promoting the health and security of resilient communities through the nurturing of healthy, secure and resilient kids and their families. EduKare teachers are those that fundamentally understand that support for the cognitive growth of their students depends largely on how effectively the social-emotional and physical needs they manifest are provided for. Working collaboratively with others who support these needs is the path to a successful EduKare service provision model.


Mull more over the book, Innovative Voices in Education: Engaging Diverse Communitiesfrom 17 ground-breaking educators and community leaders around the world who share passionate first-person accounts of how to engage students and families of diverse backgrounds.

Exchange @GraingerEd @NEMETICS

Engage on Google+ with Sean Grainger and at

Notice & Mull more at