The world is becoming increasingly inter-related, complex and fast-changing and yet many organisations continue to use traditional methods for strategy development, organisation change and leadership – even when they have questionable success. Why is this? What has to happen for strategists and policy makers to give up on behaving as if the world is predictable, measurable controllable? And what should be done instead?


In this latest workshop of the emerging community on “Complexity in Aid” participants reviewed the paradox of complexity and what it means for organisational and strategic approaches. They considered how to get people engaged in these ideas and what complexity thinking implies for practice.

The workshop was by Dr Jean Boulton. Jean has a PhD in physics and designed and led the teaching on complexity for several years at Cranfield School of Management; she now teaches complexity on the MSc in Responsible Business Practice at Bath School of Management and works
with organisations in the areas of strategy and organisation change; she is currently co-authoring a book, ‘Embracing Complexity’, with Professor Peter Allen, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2009. See and download Jean’s presentation on strategy and complexity 

The following questions were explored in some detail:
*       How is strategy developed in your organisation? To what extent does it shape practice? How do you know?
*       What ways, formal or informal, global or local, really impact on what actually is done by your organisation? What, in practice, has most influence on the  direction the organisation travels?

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] and policymakers in the sector. More on strategy in the face of complexity can be found elsewhere on this blog and on the Broker pages which summarise a major November 2009 conference on strategy and […]


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About Ben Ramalingam

I am a researcher and writer specialising on international development and humanitarian issues. I am currently working on a number of consulting and advisory assignments for international agencies. I am also writing a book on complexity sciences and international aid which will be published by Oxford University Press. I hold Senior Research Associate and Visiting Fellow positions at the Institute of Development Studies, the Overseas Development Institute, and the London School of Economics.