Edgeware - Aides


Summary of the Nine Complexity Aides

Stacey Agreement & Certainty Matrix

  • A method to select the appropriate management actions in a complex adaptive system based on the degree of certainty and level of agreement on the issue in question.


  • Using discussion of an analogous system as a way to help people gain insight into the operation of the CAS they are in.

Wicked Questions

  • Wicked questions are used to expose the assumptions which we hold about an issue or situation. Articulating these assumptions provides an opportunity to see the patterns of thought and surface the differences in a group. These patterns and differences can be used to discover common ground or to find creative alternatives for stubborn problems. Wicked questions invite participation in both forming the questions and searching for solutions to address them.

Generative Relationships

  • When really innovative ideas are needed, when the future is very uncertain, traditional approaches to planning are of limited utility. An alternative approach involves the use of generative relationships. In this approach new ideas and strategies emerge from such relationships inside and outside the organization. The role of the leader is to foster generative relationships and learn from the results, letting direction emerge instead of being "set" in advance by a central authority.

Minimum Specifications

  • Establishing only those very few requirements necessary to define something, leaving everything else open to the creative evolution of the CAS.


  • The art of temporarily detaching oneself from a situation in order to think clearly about it, assign interpretation and meaning to the situation, and draw out deeper learnings.

Life Cycle/ Ecocycle

  • Growth doesn't always mean building. Frequently, destruction is a necessary component in the life cycle of a system - much like a forrest fire that provides rich nutrients to replenish the soil. Drawing from a biological metaphor, this aide invites leaders to think about what they need to deliberately destroy or stop doing to facilitate the renewal of their work in health care - and to realize that a healthy organization has elements in all phases of the ecocylce simultaneously.

Board Evaluation & Appreciation

  • Does it feel like you are restricted in your use of a complexity approach because of a Board that is unconvinced, uninterested or stuck in a command and control mindset? You're not alone. But rather than take a polarizing "me versus them approach, consider the leaders of the organization through a complexity lens... and reflect on these tools for helping them assume the additional roles of adapting and learning.

The Difference Matrix

  • The Difference Matrix is a frame that helps you think about the emerging patterns of a group's behavior and your behavior within the group. You can use it to plan an activity, observe an interaction, or intervene to increase a group's capacity for adaptation. Use it to understand and encourage emerging systemic change in organizations.

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