'Learning from Complexity' LO12091 -now available.

Arthur Battram (apb@cityplex.demon.co.uk)
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 15:43:20 +0000

[Host's Note: Arthur mentioned this publication sometime ago... Here, he
is announcing it's availability. ...Rick]

Prices in pounds sterling:
Local authorities in England and Wales = 55.00
Registered Charities, Not-for-Profit Agencies = 71.50
Full Price = 110.00

Below is an 'eflyer', with more details, reviews, etcetera.

Thank you very much for your interest.

Best wishes

Arthur Battram

-- e-flyer --

Are you drowning in complexity?


"Esssential reading for every manager in local government who wants to
bring about creative change.

The potential is vast- harnessing complexity theory could make the claims
of TQM and BPR appear modest in comparison." Tony Bovaird, Director,
Public Sector Management Research Centre, Aston Business School, Aston
University, Birmingham

'Learning from Complexity' is a 'personal learning resource pack for
organisational learning'. It contains a unique and up-to-the-minute set
of insights drawn from complexity science, new management ideas, and
systems thinking, made accessible for local authorities. It will be
relevant to:

-SENIOR MANAGERS who want to create a learning culture

-ENABLERS who, also wish to develop and enhance organisational learning

-TEAM LEADERS who want to foster team-based learning

-ANYONE who wishes to understand new scientific ideas and their
application to modern management practice


"The author has grasped a wide variety of concepts from many contemporary
fields and made them accessible and useful for executives and managers.
Design of organisation, of practices and of management action can be
transformed by using his interpretations - and it is the interpretations
of new thinking that makes the difference. Breakthroughs in results will
occur if they are taken on board."

Michael McMaster, Director, Knowledge Based Development Ltd, and author of
'The Intelligence advantage'

"This resource pack is possibly the most challenging and rewarding
publication which LGMB has released in recent years. The subject is
'complexity' which may sound daunting. However, the real theme is
'managing learning in organisations by helping people organise themselves
to be more creative'.

"The resource pack is not an 'easy read' - but it is incredibly exciting
to see the tools and lessons of complexity theory come to life in a local
government setting. It brings the reader through the key concepts of
complexity science and it provides a practical reference work on how
complexity theory can revolutionise our conceptions of organisations,
learning, self-organising activity, and complex adaptation within social
systems and organisations. A long case study on 'Self-organising for
success: creating a learning culture' shows how these ideas have been
worked through with powerful results in one local authority"

Tony Bovaird, Director, Public Sector Management Research Centre, Aston
Business School, Aston University, Birmingham

"SOLACE is pleased to endorse the LGMB pack 'Learning from Complexity'.
The simple issue is that local authorities need to transform themselves in
their thinking and this pack provides a real source of assistance to those
seeking to change their approach "

David Henshaw, Honorary Secretary of the Society of Local Authority Chief
Executives and Chief Executive of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

"As members of an ex-centralised training department we are critically
aware that we can no longer be traditional 'Training Officers' and the
tool-kit that is the 'Learning from Complexity' pack is playing an
important part in helping us make that transformation.

Richard Gibson, Senior Consultant, The Development Team, Devon County

"The quality of my thinking and connections I'm making have multiplied
while I've been reading the pack. One of the things I like most is the
way it brings together ideas and concepts that make perfect sense to me on
an intuitive level. Several of the techniques are already part of my
practice so I feel very supported by the emerging new paradigm illuminated
in the Complexicon."

Sue Chapman, Consultant, The Development Team, Devon County Council

"It is something of a relief to find a book which dares to make a link
with a difficult and ultra-modern set of ideas without such confections as
'empty raincoats' . The authors promote a new approach to understanding
management: what is on offer is nothing less than a profound ecological

Gordon Sturrock, Independent Management Consultant

"The Learning from Complexity pack is full of fascinating material. It
will not be easy to assimilate but will repay the effort for those in local
government who recognise the need for a learning government for a learning
Professor John Stewart of Inlogov, University of Birmingham

"Arthur Battram has assembled a huge resource of the material which is
setting the agenda for organisations and strategy into the 21st century.
The way in which the pack is presented, combining a myriad of cross-links
and connections into theoretical material and case studies, both reflects
the message of the contents (There is no one "right" way of looking at
complex systems), and allows the user to explore these fascinating areas
in their own way. This pack does not attempt to provide easy answers, but
it provides a stock of crucial questions and insightful viewpoints for the
discerning leader, manager or consultant."

Mark McKergow, consultant at Mark McKergow Associates.

(a personal learning resource pack for organisational learning)


The pack comes in the form of an A4 polypropylene wallet, 50mm deep. The
wallet format of the pack offers flexibility of use and updating of the
material, and allows the user to augment the pack with their own
materials. With the Extensions, the pack will build up into a major
reference work containing local authority case studies, research papers,
analysis, and learning materials designed for use with teams and groups.
There are therefore 3 types of item in the pack:


This book introduces and explains:
the contribution that the new sciences of complexity can make
the nature of complexity in local government using contributions from
SOLACE, Professor John Stewart of Inlogov and others

This is:
-a guide to the purpose and contents of the 'Learning from Complexity' pack
-an explanation of the Tools for Learning concept and the rationale for
organisational learning
-introduction to the Learning from Complexity project

The Complexicon is a reference work, full of new language and concepts
designed to help you explore new possibilities for change. Think of it
as a 'Rough Guide to Complexity': it will give you a background knowledge
of the places you are preparing to visit, warn you of the dangers, and
direct you to the most interesting places to experience. It is organised
into five sections as follows:

Section 1: The Patterns Of Organisation
The title refers to the shape of events and the processes that create,
maintain and change them, rather than the structures of buildings or
personnel charts. 'Organisation' as a verb, not a noun. In this section
several key ideas are introduced which underpin much of the rest of the
Complexicon: the nature of systems, the effects of complexity, the crucial
insights we can gain from studying complex adaptive systems and a new view
of two old ideas, the hierarchy and the network. The entries are:
-complex adaptive system
-network and hierarchy

Section 2: Landscapes of Possibility
This section focusses on the neccessary learning, communication and
possibility without which we cannot hope to cope with complexity. Using
dialogue and metaphor, we can walk the landscapes of possibility, examining
our world from many different perspectives, searching out creative
solutions to complex problems. The entries are:
-RBC [receiver-based communication]
-possibility space

Section 3: Complex Behaviour
'Complex behaviour' refers to the often paradoxical and suprising
behaviour of simple-seeming systems governed by simple rules. In this
section we examine the forces that operate to produce a kind of stability
in complex systems. Computer simulation sits in the background of several
of the entries in this section: computers are a key tool of complexity
scientists. Several fondly held notions about change and change management
are shown to be either erroneous or at best of limited use. The entries
-The game of life
-'the edge of chaos'
-Increasing returns and lock-in

Section 4: The Web Of Life
'The web of life' represents the interconnectedness that is perhaps the
most striking and perplexing feature of living systems, the most complex
systems in the universe. The interplay of agents in competition with each
other creates the environments in which improvements continually evolve, in
which organisms and organisations seek to preserve themselves against a
background of constant change. The entries are:
-evolution of cooperation
-fitness landscape

Section 5: Kevin Kelly's 'The Nine Laws Of God'
"From the frontiers of computer science, and the edges of biological
research, and the odd corners of interdisciplinary experiementation, I have
compiled The Nine Laws of God governing the incubation of somethings from
nothing." Kevin Kelly

The Nine Laws of God are:

1-Distribute being
2-Control from the bottom up
3-Cultivate increasing returns
4-Grow by chunking
5-Maximise the fringes
6-Honour your errors
7-Pursue no optima; have multiple goals
8-Seek persistent disequilibrium
9-Change changes itself.

This case study examines the application of teamwork communication
techniques to service improvement in a large Metropolitan authority. The
'dialogue' approach used here is based on the systems thinking of Peter
Senge coupled with ideas from the emerging sciences of complexity.

This work offers insights into the basic patterns of interactions in
systems as diverse as local authorities, teams or the learning process in
the mind. By understanding the deep similarities in different systems we
can develop a deeper understanding of the systems in which we find
ourselves. Read in conjunction with the other contents of the pack it will
assist the reader to understand:
-- the nature of systems
-- the language of systems thinking including key concepts such as:
--the nature of processes in systems

[Limited edition- only included in the first 600 copies of the pack]
These little books are background reading on topics covered in the
Complexicon, including: language, evolution, and thinking.

Ben Okri Birds of Heaven: 2 essays on the power of language. The special
nature of language is a key part of the multiple perspectives of
complexity theory.

Charles Darwin 'Natural Selection': extracts from the 1872 edition of 'The
Origin of the Species'. Darwinian and neo-Darwinian ideas are important
within complexity theory.

Richard Dawkins: 'God's Utility Function' extracts from his bestseller
'River out of Eden'. Dawkins is the inventor of memes, a key complexity

John Brockman and Katinka Matson [Editors] Science, Mind and
Cosmos[extracts from"How things are'. ]: Chapters by Stephen Jay Gould on
evolution, Steve Jones on genetics, William Calvin on Darwinian approaches
to thinking, etcetera.

This combined item is an A4 flyer which opens out into an A2 poster. The
flyer summarises the content of the pack and provides two forms: a
Publications order form for extra copies of the pack, and an enquiry form
for further information about the Learning from Complexity project and
related LGMB activities. The poster features a complete listing of the
Complexicon entries and the Complexity cards in the form of a
cross-referenced diagram, which can be used to navigate through the pack.
clarifies diagramatically the links between the ideas.


For more information please complete and return this form to:
Arthur Battram, Organisational Learning, The Local Government Management
Board, Layden House, 76-78 Turnmill st, London EC1M 5QU, or fax the form
to: : (44+) [0] 171-296-6581, or email the details to

Please send me further details on the following: [delete/amend as necessary]

'Designing possibility space' workshops
In-house 'Learning from Complexity' Workshops
Regional 'MagNet' network meetings: an opportunity to learn with and from
'ElectroMagNet' email discussion group
Extensions: case studies, etcetera

Please could you provide further information on:

Job Title:
Dept :
Local Authority or Organisation:

Phone: Fax:


from Arthur Battram, organisational learning adviser, helping local authorities to apply complexity concepts to personal and organisational learning. 'Learning from Complexity' pack available NOW finally, 110 pounds sterling full price, 71.50 to registered charities, 55 -half price- for local authorities in England and Wales who finance LGMB, for details email me: apb@cityplex.demon.co.uk

***the truth? that would be an ekumenical matter...***

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>