La complexité adaptative se montre sous forme de décalage entre l´ambition du système et la difficulté d´individus et équipes pour apprendre et s´adapter. Pour rendre opérationnelle cette hypothèse systémique, lors de nos interventions dans des systèmes humains nous devrons travailler sur les leviers du système qui entravent son apprentissage et adaptation; voici quelques uns:

  • La saturation des individus et des équipes, motivée parfois par le nombre d´initiatives en marche, par la faible coordination entre elles, ou par une fatigue mentale et émotionnelle.
  • Le sentiment d´alienation ou de déficit d´auteur, présent dans beaucoup de membres du système.
  • La difficulté à partager un sens au sein l´équipe dirigéante; cette pluralité de sens se traduit, par exemple, par des ordres et des initiatives qui se contredisent entre elles ce qui fait accroître l´ambigüité. Et même quand elles ne se contredisent pas, il y aurait une perception partagée de tour de Babel.
  • La fracture au sein de l´équipe dirigeante, car elle amène de la rivalité, du bypass mutuel, ou de l´ambiguïté au sein du système.
  • La pratique des individus de quitter le rôle assigné dans le système et à prevaloir des rapports personnels voire irrationnelles
  • Trop de management vertical (hiérarchique) et nul ou insuffisant management horizontal (équipes). Autrement dit, trop de « pouvoir sur » et nul ou insuffisant « pouvoir pour », ou trop de solutions cuites par la hiérarchie et pas assez de sentiment d´auteur parmi le reste.
  • L´ambition de resultat économique sans une visión partagée, sans une marque renonmée ou sans de l´innovation.


Learning communities: aligning learning circles

Learning communities and multi-system collaborative initiatives are quite common at both social and business environment. For the last three years, at the Global Association of SOL Communities (GASC), we have been organising a European Learning Journey and Conference. In this post, I explore resistances appearing at this sort of community learning process.

The three learning circles

The first hypothesis sets there are three relevant learning circles in this form of community learning journey:


  1. Co-creation: People involved at this stage can learn from virtual meetings, experiences, previous debriefings, books and articles shared among members. All the valuable information is stored in shared folders on the Drive.
  2. Co-facilitation: Because there is not enough space for all co-creators to play a visible facilitator role, some co-creators have to collaborate as a shadow facilitator. The conference enables regular debriefings between visible and shadow facilitators.
  3. Co-dissemination: These are either members of learning networks (ex.: SOL community members) and participants attending to the conference.

Aligning learning circles

The second hypothesis sets that we should pay attention to potential imbalances among the three learning circles:

  1. Imbalance among co-creators: some co-creators believe they can influence on colleagues much more than colleagues can influence on them; some co-creators show uneven energy and commitment throughout the co-creation process, which usually last for few months; as the conference deadline approaches, co-creators become more sensitive to the agenda than to the learning process; finally, quite often co-creators sell their approach as one man shop, loosing the collaborative vision of the journey.
  2. Imbalance between visible and shadow facilitators: visible facilitators get more credit from participants than shadow ones; both visible and shadow facilitators get more credit for the learning journey than participants, however the latter play a relevant role during the learning journey; facilitators tend to believe the learning process ends up with the feedback process.
  3. Imbalance between circles 1, 2 and 3: the success of the conference is too much credited to visible facilitators and not enough to participants; also, co-creators and facilitators leave the conference very enthusiastic but there is little follow up of the co-dissemination process.

Five business containers for collaborative leadership

In a previous post, I mentioned how relevant organizational containers are to help self-organize individuals and teams activities. I´m focusing myself on five containers:

  • Adopting a systemic model: each pillar in the model helps to explain both individual and team activities.
  • Generating future business scenarios: plausible futures help to expand individual and team perspectives; desired future requires individuals and teams willing to share a vision.
  • Sharing common vision and brand architecture: brand claim, touch points and storytelling fixes individual and team desired interactions with clients.
  • Developing business principles and cultural identity awareness: business principles pose individual limits to collective action; they are often connected to brand touch-points.
  • Creating a sustainable collaborative habitat: multi-system learning communities become containers for adding individual value and for learning how to expand business.

Implementing any of the above container requires both individual and collective learning mostly through a collaborative conversations process. Collaborative leadership implies influencing system learning and adaptation through the selected container, while been sensitive to individual and team resistances to learn and adapt.

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit:

Communities in Collaborative Leadership


If client experience is part of your brand promise, then learning communities might be relevant collaborative leadership containers to deliver your brand promise to clients. Both client experience and brand promise are strongly connected to improve people agency. What questions shall we address to inter-connect these three circles? (see above).

How do we incorporate clients voice internally? What collaborative technology shall we use to improve people agility and agency? What client-centered conversations are relevant? Do people need to learn collaborative leadership approaches in order to align individual skills and collective capabilities to brand promise? How do we balance between thinking, talking and doing? What transformation should happen at power organizational pillar in order to improve people agency? As organization, can we live in a sort of free-style liberated mode? How could we use the 6PM to set an organizational container?

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit:

the-6pmThe Six Pillars Model (6PM)

The Six Pillars Model (6PM) has been developed by myself and tested several times over the last few years as a container to help leaders and teams engage large system initiatives and transformations. This simple and innovative model poses that any human system might be approached through six pillars (see above). Each pillar can be considered as an active lever. Beyond the diversity of the pillars, the 6PM offers three major systemic innovations allowing us to embrace complexity:

  • The first one is the antagonistic relationship between levers: vision vs. culture, power vs. co-creation, innovation vs. result. The vision requires emergent behavior to be shared. Innovation is the most important way to regenerate future results. Co-creation means ensuring that skilled people have agency to refresh and influence system behaviors.
  • The second one is that there are three levers helping the system to open up to other systems or to eco-system, which means learning and adapting to new market conditions; these levers are vision, innovation and co-creation. Also, there are three levers that deal with closing up positions: power, results and culture. Power means “power over” other people; this is strongly connected to supervising, controlling and prioritizing; people getting power want to keep power. Results mean reproducing similar economic outputs at worst, improving at best. Culture means sharing a similar container – people capabilities, believes, behaviors, relationship, rituals, etc. Most often, the shortest and easiest way leaders see to legitimate power is by pushing the system to reproduce similar results, which implies aligning the system culture to power desires. As a conclusion, the system requires both: learning and adapting (visioning, innovating and co-creating), and reproducing (controlling, repeating and memorizing).
  • The third innovation is related to the overall balance across the six pillars. Is it there any preferred system position? Intuitively, we believe that leading implies pushing the system towards a stable or static position. However, the 6PM sets that leading implies building a continuous dynamic balance among the six pillars. This is not possible without collaborative leadership.

Collaborative Leadership

Levers in antagonist relationship? Opening up levers? Closing up levers? Building a dynamic balance by leveraging on the six levers? Would that reflect a too complicated system? YES, especially to be managed through traditional leadership approach. NOT, by learning collaborative leadership approaches and tools.

Through the 6PM, we become aware about tensions, contradictions and paradoxes happening in any human system; some are visible and some are hidden. They all connect people to resistance, opposite views, lack of understanding, stress, blaming and conflict. Collaborative leadership implies raising awareness about the self –language, body, and emotion – in order to contribute to the team, and to have a team collaborative conversation in order to promote this dynamic balance.

As a conclusion, most of the complexity we are encountering in business those days is due to the fact that, 1) we prefer using quite simplistic models; 2) there is a preference for simplistic leadership approaches as they preserve power as a main argument to embrace complexity, and 3) most leaders ignore how to combine the self, teams and the large system. Collaborative leadership shows us that complexity might be an excellent excuse to do nothing.

Collaborative leadership, the main focus of our workshop taking place in Paris November 8 and 9, 2016. For more information or to register visit: