Humans organize

We organize into social systems

We organize into families and communities of all types

We organize to make sense out of complexity

We organize for procreation, companionship, protection, recreation, worship, conflict, to do work, and to govern.

It is our nature to organize into social systems; that is what we do as humans.

In the western world, we tend to pay attention to what we organize to do rather than how we organize to do it. In so doing, we focus on the work that we do as humans and not on how to organize into healthy and vibrant social systems; social systems that in turn do the work.

In organizations designed to do work and deliver value, there has been so much focus on managing work, work improvement, process improvement, and efficiency, that we have left leading social systems on the back burner.

There has been a false separation of management and leadership. Often the conversation turns to whether to focus on the hard business skills or the soft business skills. The problem is that we are asking the wrong question. The appropriate question should be . . .

“How do we develop a world class social system and world class work?”

It is not an either or proposition. We need to be able to both lead a world class social system and manage world class work.

We need to embrace both world class management and leadership
We manage work (work systems) . . .
Linear, rational, objectivist, mechanistic, quantitative, designable, predictable, controllable, structured, measureable
We lead people (social systems) . . .
Messy, qualitative, emotional, relationships, unpredictable, not controllable, chaotic, conversational

In a world marked by complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity, it is no longer sufficient to focus just on work. Using legacy strategies that were born in a more stable and predictable world, strategies that were learned in a world that no longer exists, sows the seeds for organization and community failure. In a world where continuous change is the norm, we need to draw off of the wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and experience of every person in our social system as no one person, or small group of people, even begins to have the necessary knowledge to lead an organization or community in this environment.

Leading in this complex environment requires a transformation of world view or mindset into one that embraces the role of a leader that is fluent in collaboration, inquiry, dialogue, and crossing of traditional hierarchical boundaries.

It is the work of John Inman Dialogue to partner with you to create the transformation in leader mindsets necessary to transform organization and community cultures into ones that will thrive in the new world of complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity.

The Problem

The problem is that we have grown up in a western world founded on principles that are more suited to the management of work than to the leading of social systems.

These principles have been the foundation for some of the extraordinary successes we have seen from our western cultures and at the same time have been the cause of many of the worst destructive practices responsible for social, financial, and ecological degradation. When we have a lopsided view of management over leadership, this is a natural outcome. It is time to bring our systems back into a natural balance by focusing on both leadership and management. Let’s do the right things first, then do them well.

In the western world, we think that we should lead social systems the same way that we manage work (rational management comes to mind)

The mindset shift is this: To lead in complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity, we need to embrace conversational leadership to start to develop world class social systems that will produce world class work and value to customers

The new mindset is collaborative, inquiry based, dialogic, and crosses traditional hierarchical boundaries

The Practice

Dr. Inman has a unique combination of organization systems and human systems expertise combined within a dialogic consulting framework. He is a human and organization systems leader developing effective strategic management and differentiated value chains through organizational effectiveness (OE) analysis. He delivers system improvement and optimization that prepares enterprises to thrive in complexity and uncertainty.

Dr. Inman designs containers for, convenes, and hosts transformative conversations.

We develop leaders who thrive in complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty

We develop leaders who create engaged team members and high performance teams

We develop leaders who foster a culture of innovation

We develop leader competence in conversational leadership

We develop cultures in all settings where members work together to co-create the future

Personal capacities of a conversational leader

Creates a climate of discovery and emergence

Evokes and honors diverse perspectives

Asks powerful questions

Suspends premature judgment

Explores assumptions and beliefs

Embraces ambiguity and not-knowing

Listens for connections between ideas

Captures key insights and articulates shared understanding

Contact Dr. Inman at 541-497-3774 or at to explore how he can help you transform managers into leaders who thrive in complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity.