Big Little Shifts:
Leadership for adaptive change

An experiential program about how to lead adaptive and systemic change designed for senior to middle managers, human resource practitioners, and sustainability professionals – those who want to influence adaptation and change more effectively.

Our ‘unprecedented times’ have meant that most leaders are:

  • Experiencing various degrees of tiredness from taking the lead during the emergency phase
  • Aware that there are longer term, underlying issues that now need attention (e.g. changing business models and staffing arrangements that influence culture)
  • Desiring a cohesive leadership team approach to ‘future proofing’ the organisation – adaptability has to be a part of that strategy.

Big Little Shifts will help you make progress on the issues that matter most, while engaging and developing people along the way as they become valued partners and even initiators of change.

Intended program outcomes

This short program (two full days OR four x 3 hour online sessions) is designed to enable you to improve the way you lead and influence change. You will learn core principles and processes and apply them to your own circumstances as the program is delivered.

You will have the advantage of discussing your real life concerns with a seasoned change catalyst with over 10 years of direct experience in this endeavour.

 Other program outcomes include:

  • A better understanding of the nature of change and a framework to diagnose your change challenges so you can act more appropriately.
  • Recognition of the influence of the larger system you’re working within and the ‘tools’ to develop a strategic approach to influencing that system.
  • Identifying values, needs and mental models that may be implicated in an adaptive change for people and groups of people.
  • Understanding how to listen and ask questions to sow the seeds of adaptation.
  • Identify basic facilitation skills to lead group discussions that enable adaptive change to emerge.
  • Identifying some of the personal leadership qualities required to ‘hold the space’ for adaptive change and to manage the emotion in the conversations.
  • Employing self-reflection process of self-adaptation as you exercise your leadership.
  • Learning how to make progress on adaptive change challenges you identified and worked with during the workshop.

Beyond personal learning and development, we also intend that progress is made on existing systemic or adaptive issues within the organisation.

Live online or face to face

This program can be delivered in person or online and, like all of our work, can be tailored to meet your organisational needs with delivery in person or online. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss delivering this program in-house.

The Big Little Shifts: Leadership for adaptive change program is a skills development companion to the book (Big Little Shifts: a practitioner’s guide to organisational adaptation and change). The flow of the program follows the book – which will be supplied to all participants.

The program is available in house for teams within your organisation.

Program in four modules

These four models will progress you through the seven elements identified in the model.

  1. Principles of adaptive leadership

This module identifies how leadership of complex or wicked challenges need to be different because of the nature of the challenges. At the very heart of the shift in leadership is a movement from controlling for predetermined outcomes to trusting and engaging those within the system to experiment their way forward. This means the role of leadership changes to facilitating learning. You will identify key development areas for yourself.

2. Understanding your challenges and the system

In our very hectic world, slowing down to better understand the complex challenges we face can seem like a luxury. This module will provide you with specific processes and frameworks you can engage others with so that your conversations are deliberately developing a better shared understanding. Even these conversations are an intervention in a sense because any conversation that produces a shift in awareness or perspective is a type of action. You will be encouraged to try these frameworks out in practice before the next session.

3. Moving into action in the system

Facilitating emergence within the system requires specific skills to create and the hold the space for people to reconsider the pro’s and con’s of change. This is the art of facilitating adaptation. We will identify these skills that can be utilised in individual or group conversations. You will identify what skills you need to develop and how.

4. Uniting people and monitoring your progress

When working in complexity, we are unable to predetermine concrete outcomes – the conditions are just too uncertain. So how do we monitor our progress. We will identify one methodology that we have developed and employ. This method also has the advantage of bringing people together and holding them together for the long haul that working with complex challenges often requires. We will make a distinction between measures and indicators and identify how to use indicators in group settings. You will identify the process you can use to monitor your success.

What clients have said

“It was engaging and thought provoking – the program was adjusted to what the group needed and the agenda reflected an understanding of our current challenge(s)”

“I really got a lot of value for the concept of mental models – I thought I was an adaptive leader with no bias’s however inherently I have bias’s – this really was eye opening and very much an ‘aha’ moment!”

“ I feel confident to take on the ‘slippery little sucker’ issues and helping staff work through what is required. And … always checking that we aren’t slipping into technical solutions that won’t necessarily result in the outcomes we hope for.”

“Just wanted to say again how much I loved and valued our recent training. I completed a feedback form but I also wanted to say a few words separately. I felt the way you took the team though the various stages and ‘levels’ of adaptive leadership, was inspiring and impressive. You understood what was happening in the room with admirable insight and grace and then you interpreted the various opinions and beliefs in the room with real professionalism to enable us to unpick them, and take them forward. The topic you taught us is clearly a real passion for you and it showed. There is nothing better than being the company of an expert who wants to share her experience and learning with others. Thank you so much again.”

The Theory Behind the Practice: Big Little Shifts

The theory behind the practice.

Dr. Josie McLean’s “Big Little Shifts: A Practitioners Guide to complexity for organisational change and adaptation”.

To purchase your book click the buttons below

If you’re interested in a wholesale order, please get in touch – we can do much better than the retail distributors.

Book reviews to date:

Across Friday and Saturday I read your book. I loved it. So well written, so easy to understand and such good sense. So very useful. I’ve highlighted and written in there (very difficult for me to do in a lovely new book, but I saw such parallels with the work we’re doing and great reminders and points to focus on, that I was fully engaged and needing to get the pencil – not pen – and highlighter into action) and thoroughly enjoyed the read. Very inspiring and such great guidance.” Sarah Rhead, Manager Organisational Development, Helping Hand.

“I highly recommend this easy to read, practical and transformative book from Josie McLean, PhD. If you are looking at transforming your organisation or adapting to changes in this unprecedented times, this is the book for you. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter are thought provoking.” Boo Hooi Jimmy Khoo, Senior Project Officer, Program Development & Delivery at Department for Correctional Services.