March 2018

Navigating Complexity: Going Beyond Systems Thinking

Status: This seminar has been cancelled due to low registration.
Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018
Time: 8:00 AM-8:30 AM: Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 AM-4:30 PM: Navigatign Complexity: Going Beyond Systems Thinking
Location: Vancouver, BC
Presenter: Gary Wong, P.Eng., MBA,
Gary Wong & Associates 
Credit: 7 Formal Professional Development Hours (PDH)
Cost: Early Bird Price Engineers and Geoscientists BC Member: $399.00 + GST = $418.95 until Feb 22, 2018

Engineers and Geoscientists BC Member and EIT/GIT Regular Price: $459.00 + GST = $481.95

Non-Member Price: $459.00 + GST = $481.95

Student Member Price: $229.50 + GST = $240.98
Please Note: *A minimum number of registrations are needed by February 22, 2018 to proceed with this seminar. Please register early to avoid cancellation.
**All prices are subject to applicable taxes.
Contact: Julie Killin | Project Coordinator, Member Services
Direct: 604.558.6656
Toll Free: 1.888.430.8035 ext.6656
Email: [email protected]
When faced with a problem, engineers and geoscientists are accustomed to applying systems thinking to resolve a problem. 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 have been conditioned to see a business as the combination of process, technology, and people components that can be put together like a jigsaw puzzle to create an orderly system. However, when faced with uncertainty and unpredictability, it's insufficient and we must go beyond linear systems thinking. This 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.

Seminar Description

A complex adaptive system (CAS) recognizes real-world phenomena that linear systems do not such as emergence, diversity, tipping points, feedback loops, self-organization, and irreversibility. In a CAS, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The more complete view addresses unexpected surprises which can lead to unintended negative consequences and project failure.

Industries, governments, cities, and countries are complex adaptive systems. Resolving complex issues 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 turbulence, confusion, dilemmas, and ambiguity, resilient methods, and tools are preferred over command and control techniques such as policies, regulations, standards, and hard-fast rules.

This 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-away 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 the difference between idealistic and naturalistic planning.
  • 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, or metrics.
  • Describe why gathering project data using stories is better than traditional surveys and interviews, and
  • Deal with unknowables and unimaginables that emerge on projects including serendipitous opportunities.

Target audience

Engineering and geoscientist 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 7 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 course, “Creating and Leading a Resilient Safety Culture.

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