Episode 117 Influencing Pattern-Based Change


Episode 117

Influencing Pattern-Based Change

An Interview with Denise Easton 

December 13, 2018

In this episode, Angie talks with author and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Complexity Space Consulting, Denise Easton. Easton talks about how she became introduced to complexity science and how it has influenced her life and her work. She shares the story behind her book, Complexity Works!: Influencing Pattern-Based Change in Teams & Organizations, which she co-authored with Lawrence Solow and explains how Complexity Space Consulting leverages a pattern-based approach to understanding and influencing organizational change. Easton also shares her hopes for the future of complexity science.


Denise Easton is also Chair of the Board at Plexus Institute


Show Notes


Quotes from this episode:

“I am passionate about building capacity for complexity thinking, because it really helps diversify and bring multi stakeholder and multi discipline engagements into any conversation.” — Denise Easton

“If we can help an individual or a group understand their own part and influence in the system then we can connect them to not only their own environment, but to the bigger and bolder ecosystems that they are a part of. And this is where they become complexity thinkers.” — Denise Easton

“I think that complexity thinking is not only a mindset, but it’s a way of being. It just becomes embedded in your DNA.” — Denise Easton

“All the prophets were poets. And if you don’t know that, you try to literalize everything and make shambles out of it. A metaphor is really remarkable kind of formation because it both means what it says and what it doesn’t say. Those two things come together, and it creates an imagination which is active. You’re not trying to figure things out; you’re trying to enter into what’s there.” — Eugene Peterson (shared by Denise Easton)

“I draw a parallel to complexity thinking as the ultimate metaphor of our human capacity to adapt and continually act in complex systems.” — Denise Easton

Falling between order and chaos, the moment of complexity is the point at which self-organizing systems emerge to create new patterns of coherence and structures of relation. — Mark Taylor (shared by Denise Easton)

“John Casti who is also quoted in the book (The Moment of Complexity) calls complexity science the ‘the science of surprise’.” — Denise Easton

“Complexity thinking is this integrated and adaptive practice that is both somatic and intellectual.” — Denise Easton

“A colleague of mine, Barb Siegle, always says ‘complexity is something that is caught not taught’.” — Denise Easton

“My favorite concepts in complexity would probably be ecosystems, patterns, and the concept of the part, the whole and the greater whole. I think that they are so interrelated and at the same time give the most creative interpretation of how we live within and between complex adaptive systems.” — Denise Easton

“We thought one of the more interesting things about complexity science was how patterns influence and are influenced by the actions and interactions within the system.” — Denise Easton

“People think that change is simply doing something different, but it isn’t always that. Change is often shifting and influencing what’s happening at many different levels.” — Denise Easton

“Having people recognize that surprise is information and is an opportunity and not a disaster is where we hope the work with Complexity Space Framework—Larry and my work—will help people.” — Denise Easton

“Patterns become a consistent construct that help give the form and function to the dynamics in an organization. So you can talk about an ecosystem pattern and they’re really deeply embedded—you almost don’t even recognize them—but if you really dive down and try to unbraid what they are, you have history, you have culture, and you work within a particular context. And those are really important.” — Denise Easton

“We need to continually open up our options to possibilities and it’s the possibilities for what we don’t necessarily expect and what we can not necessarily plan for...it is the surprises that allow us to move in a different direction and may even give us a jump start on developing a new product or thinking outside of the box.” — Denise Easton

Resources from this episode:

Complexity Works! Influencing Pattern-Based Change in Teams & Organizations by Denise Easton & Lawrence Solow

The Moment of Complexity, Emerging Network Culture by Mark Taylor

Origin: A Novel (Robert Langdon) by Dan Brown

Plexus Institute

The Commons Project

SAM — Serve America Movement

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