Leaders Need to Manage Amidst Complexity and Change

By Kristen Lombard, Ph.D., RN, PMHCNS-BC

Learning and Growing Together

You might recall the famous Chaos Theory image of the “butterfly effect,” in which a small change as minor as a butterfly flapping its wings in China can influence weather patterns in the Gulf of Mexico. In other words, the significant interdependency of the butterfly is that it triggers a small change, that triggers another small change catalyzing change that ultimately shifts a system.  The huge lesson here for leaders — meaningful change happens incrementally and often through seemingly simple interactions such as a conversation, a comment, team huddles, council meetings or processes that create space for diverse opinions to be heard.

Complex Adaptive Systems

There is an entire area of study dedicated to studying the power of interdependencies as it relates to change and innovation. It is called complexity science and it seeks to understand how complex adaptive systems (CAS) thrive. A human being is a great example of a CAS and so is an organization. CAS is about relationships between and among things. It teaches us how to effectively appreciate and develop relationships, how diversity enhances decision-making, re-frames our definition of wealth and prosperity, improves relational ethics, emotional intelligence and trust. It recognizes that innovations are most sustainable when the people doing the work make decisions about the work process.

Learning, Connecting and Re-Charging 

In September CHCM will hold our 2018 Combined Annual Gathering which leverages the science behind CAS. This Gathering will include facilitators of Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring and See Me as a Person, as well as facilitators of Leading an Empowered Organization (LEO) and Relationship-Based Care from our client organizations. The objective of the gathering is to convene facilitators to network, practice and hone leadership and facilitation skills for sustaining progress amidst the continuous change and complexity in health care. It is also an opportunity to connect and re-charge our batteries.

For example, the Combined Annual Gathering will enable participants to:

  • Reflect and communicate as equals within an environment where every person feels valued and respected
  • Learn the art of managing resilience amidst continuous change and chaos
  • Learn how to leverage small change to create a great impact
  • Discover how continuous transformation through emerging ideas and observation of trends are natural and valuable opportunities for organizational growth and learning
  • Participate in the evolution of curriculum content and innovations for sustainability of RBC.


We will dive into topics of resilience, and self-awareness especially attending to our physical selves. Here’s the list of keynotes:

  • Resilience and Leadership – Donna Wright, MSN, RN
  • Resilient Communities of Practice – Corey Martin, MD
  • The Outer Journey to Resilience, Brett Long, MHA and Corey Martin, MD
  • The Inner Journey to Resilience, Traci Hanlon, MN, RN and Kary Gillenwaters, MA, OTR/L

See you in September!