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Systems, Design, and Strategy Within Complex Ecosystems: Navigation fieldnotes from leaders and teams

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Economics & Orgs

Gryphon Theriault-Loubier

What can systemic design tell us about how leaders and teams work within complex systems in the real world?

This presentation considers how leaders in a complex system bring intent and purpose into their organisational practice. It reviews the Government of Canada’s $50M Investment Readiness Program (IRP) as a self-described program of ‘systems change’ within a ‘complex context’ informed by ‘systems thinking’ and considers the efforts of leaders across multiple organisations in acting within the IRP.

The presentation considers leaders-as-designers, where intentionality embedded with a design context shapes the arc of strategic capacities across scales of organisation. We find adaptive, contextualized, reflexive capabilities throughout the IRP leadership team and consider how sensemaking of leaders within systems and their environments impact decisions and actions.
The presentation contemplates the variety of ‘principles’ informing the IRP as design material, from internal missions to explicit operational principles to Ostrom’s commons governance principles, and considers how these and other navigation aids work in situ in a complex system.

The research project frames efforts within a systemic design lens—listening, framing, bounding and exploring the possibility space while taking note of leaders idealising outcomes, appreciating complexity, finding purpose, and coordinating feedback (Jones, 2014; Ryan, 2014). By combining organisational and programmatic data alongside personal interviews, the presentation considers how leaders are able to act within complex systems from a systems and design perspective.

KEYWORDS: Systemic design, management, complexity, social finance, action learning, governance, strategy

RSD TOPIC(S): Cases & Practice, Economics & Organizations




Citation Data

Author(s): Gryphon Theriault-Loubier
Year: 2023
Title: Systems, Design, and Strategy Within Complex Ecosystems: Navigation fieldnotes from leaders and teams
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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