April 2017

Navigating Complexity: Going Beyond Systems Thinking

Status: This seminar has been cancelled due to lower than expected registrants.
Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Time: 8:30 AM-9:00 AM: Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM-4:00 PM: Navigating Complexity: Going Beyond Systems Thinking
Location: Vancouver, BC
Presenter: Gary Wong, P.Eng., MBA
Gary Wong & Associates
Credit: 6 Formal Professional Development Hours (PDH)
Cost: Early Bird Price Engineers and Geoscientists BC Member: $349.00 + GST = $366.45 until Apr 11, 2017

Engineers and Geoscientists BC Member and EIT/GIT Regular Price: $449.00 + GST = $471.45

Non-Member Price: $449.00 + GST = $471.45

Student Member Price: $224.50 + GST = $235.73
Please Note: *A minimum number of registrations are needed by April 11, 2017 to proceed with this seminar. Please register early to avoid cancellation.
**All prices are subject to applicable taxes.
Contact: Jennifer Chan | Professional Development Coordinator
Direct: 604.412.4861
Toll Free: 1.888.430.8035 ext.4861
Fax: 604.639.8180
Email: [email protected]
Engineers are accustomed to applying Systems Thinking as the approach to resolve problems. Educated to be competent reductionists, we can take apart a broken thing, find the cause, fix it, and then re-assemble so that it works once again. We've been trained to see a business as process, technology, and people components that can be put together like a jigsaw puzzle to create an orderly system.

Seminar Description

Industries such as aviation, energy, retail, government, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and construction to name a few are complex adaptive systems (CAS). Evidence is mounting that Systems Thinking if inappropriately applied in a CAS can lead to unintended negative consequences and project failure.

A more complete view of the non-linear real world recognizes wicked problems that linger in a CAS and can sink a project. Resolution means going beyond reductionism and evolving to paradigms based on complexity and cognitive sciences.

One pragmatic way to make sense of CAS behaviour is the Cynefin Framework. When dealing with uncertainties, confusion, and unpredictability, resilient methods and tools are preferred over command and control techniques.

The session provides an introduction to complexity science and the Cynefin Framework. Also covered is how planning, strategy development, and project management demand a different perspective when facing complexity.

The key take-way is appreciating why you cannot manage, simplify, nor control complexity; you must absorb and navigate through it.


After the session, participants will be able to:
  • Understand why naturalistic strategic planning makes more sense than creating an idealistic future state in a complex adaptive system.
  • Explain why in a non-linear world major catastrophes called Black Swans will happen more frequently.
  • Know when predicting the future is worthwhile and when it can be a waste of time.
  • Decide when to deploy and not to deploy best practices, a business case, metrics.
  • Describe why gathering project data using stories is better than traditional surveys and interviews.
  • Deal with unknowables and unimaginables that emerge on projects including serendipitous opportunities.


Introduction to Complexity

  • Complexity science, complex adaptive systems, Cynefin Framework Cynefin Applications and Implications.
  • Planning (situate idealistic, naturalistic approach).
  • Decision Making (situate business case, value proposition, DA cf. AHP).
  • Project Management (situate PMI’s PMBOK, Navigating Complexity practical guide).


  • Use of Narrative (stories) cf. traditional surveys, interviews.
  • Safe-to-fail experimentation.


  • Stop, challenge, choose.

Target Audience

Engineering professionals and associates involved in the planning and delivering of projects and programs.


Gary Wong, P.Eng., MBA
Gary Wong & Associates

Gary Wong has over 40 years of experience starting with his career at BC Hydro where he worked in engineering, line operations, business consulting, and training roles. He later joined Ernst & Young Consulting (now Capgemini Consulting) as a Senior Manager in Strategy and Transformation. During his association with the global consulting firm he acted as a lead practitioner for Change Management in Canada and the local Knowledge Management coordinator in the Vancouver office.

Gary has operated his own independent consulting practice over the past decade. He is a Franklin Covey training consultant for programs such as the seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

As an accredited training partner with Cognitive-Edge Inc., Gary co-developed and co-delivers a 2-day complexity-based Creating and Leading a Resilient Safety Culture course.

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