Managing the Complex LO20028 -Conf March, Boston

Michael Lissack (
Sun, 29 Nov 1998 20:40:13 -0500

On behalf of NECSI, I hope you will be able to join us at the Managing the
Complex gathering next March 17-21, 1999 at the Swissotel in Boston,

Our theme is "Mastering Corporate Complexity -- Doing It Not Just Talking
About It -- The Role of Coherence."

"Managing the Complex" will be a unique event -- 4 days of discussions and
problem solving focused on the relationships between managing
organizations and the science of complex systems. Our aim is to be
learning together with a focus on solving problems not merely intellectual
chat. We will focus on the problems of six invited companies. Each
company will send four people and a problem to be solved. As learning
material we will have presentations from fifteen invited speakers. The
bulk of our time will be spent in discussion sessions involving self
organized working groups. Each of these groups will focus on one of the
six company problems -- using the lessons from the speakers and the
interactions with each other the groups will strive to solve the company's
designated problem.

Our format calls for the breakout groups to meet after hearing each
invited speaker. The groups will each have an assigned facilitator to
help focus the discussion on what was just heard and how this perspective
might help in dealing with the company problem. At the end of the
conference, each of the groups will report outcomes, so that the
participants can learn from one another.

Participants are urged to prepare a poster for the conference. A large
hall will be used as an always open poster session through the four days
of the conference. In addition, participants with related academic papers
will have an opportunity to present their work.

The focus on interaction around solving problems is a direct result of the
learning experience of the last two conferences. At our meeting in
October 1998 two significant conclusions were reported out by the
assembled group:

1) Complexity science within an organizational setting can be looked upon
as the solution to "the paradox of intentional emergent coherence."

2) The relationship between complexity science and management will best
advance with dialogue about particular corporate problems as a context.

Each participant will have the opportunity to address these points in his
or her own manner throughout the conference.

Two books are planned as outgrowths of the conference: a trade book
relating the experiences of the companies as they make use of the
complexity perspective, and an academic book about the experiences of the
conference itself. In addition, at least one Ph.D. dissertation is
planned around the conference interactions.

"Managing the Complex" will attract managers, academics, consultants, and
others interested in the possibility of applying the insights of the
science of complex systems to day-to-day management problems. At our last
two meetings the discussion was both deep and broad. Attendance will be
limited to 200 in order to keep the size of groups at the level optimal
for discussion.

Notes of our October meeting are available at

Current List of Invited Speakers is at

The conference website will be and should go
on-line in mid December. In the meantime please go to

Michael Lissack <>
Director, Organization Science Related Programs, 
New England Complex Systems Institute
Editor-in-Chief, Emergence: A Journal of Complexity Issues In
Organizations and Management
32 Garrison Street, Apartment #50-104, Boston MA 02116
phone 617-536-4109 fax -- 212-208-4349

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