Imagine 14 seasoned professionals from all over the world gathering together for 3 days with only a framework agenda. No deliverables, no tight schedule, no content. Just a shared intention and the trust that collectively something with emerge from the current complexity.

Does that sound crazy?

Even though I’ve done it before it sounds crazy every time I do. So why do it?

I am grateful to be part of the LUME network, a collective dedicated to learning and sharing about Adult Development Theory. As stated on the website, “through LUME we collectively build theory, collaborate on research and writing, create and share practices, perspectives, theories, and insights on adult development. These collaborations support LUME members to make a real difference in the world; working with clients, supporting and inspiring individuals and organizations to grow or transform.”

Sometimes issues are complex, the answer is unknowable, we are dealing with a system in which there is no evident relationship between cause and effect. Events make sense with hindsight, but in the moment you don’t know what to do (remember Covid? That was a typical example).

The only way to manage these situations is to see the system using as much diversity and input as we can muster. As we try to make sense of all the different parts some possibilities will emerge. We are then able to set-up small actions to test if what is emerging is going in the direction of a desired outcome. We will reinforce what does and dampen the rest.

So this group got together to make sense of what was happening to our collective, talk about what we can see from our individual perspectives and seek to find emergence. It can be uncomfortable sitting in the unknown, sitting with discomfort when we would really like a quick solution to return to our comfort zone of knowing. Yet, it was by staying with the issue and having authentic conversations that the magic happened and some possibilities emerged.

Managing complexity is a skill that is becoming more and more in demand as our World is changing at an ever increasing pace, and one that requires time and presence. How will your organisation tackle it’s complex issues? Do you feel equipped to do so? Do you have the skills and resources to enter the domain of not knowing?