Complexity A Leader’s Framework

Complexity: A Leader’s Framework for Understanding and Managing Change in Higher Education

George Siemens, Shane Dawson and Kristen Eshleman
Monday, October 29, 2018

The relationships between jobs, locality, families, housing, work and government policy, tax processes, crime, psychology, environment, access to education, and urban planning interact and converge in what is known as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS).

definition: Complexity can be understood as a theory of change and adaptation that details how change occurs within systems as well as the principles and mindsets needed to flourish in turbulent environments

he complexification of higher education is an intentional goal of engaging with complexity rather than attempting to reduce it to its constituent parts. Effective vision generation, planning, and goal achievement in the modern uncertain economic-social-technical environment benefits from embracing complexity and the utilization of strategies and actions that reflect a CAS.

ive principles of complexity science are of particular relevance to the higher education system. These attributes—networks, emergence, self-organization and social coordination, feedback sensitivity, and agility—are sufficient to provide higher education leaders with an entry into complexity science as a means of observing, understanding, and interacting with change.

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