May 15, 2018

Harnessing the power of complexity in development

Starting in September 2018, Mesopartner & Narrate present an extended, unique expedition through complexity approaches to enhance agile, adaptive and appropriate work in dynamic and uncertain development contexts.

This course gives you a unique opportunity to gain experience and expertise in complexity, through a guided journey covering the fundamentals of complexity. Projects taken from participants’ real-world situations (not hypothetical case studies) will be used to apply these principles, teams being mentored all the while by two expert practitioners.

Over the course of three months, this programme will help you:

  • Understand what complexity and complex systems are all about
  • Grasp and practically apply the principles of working with complexity 
  • Apply the ground-breaking Cynefin framework to decide when complexity-based approaches are warranted for
  • Know when and how to combine expert viewpoints with community knowledge
  • Understand the limits of big data as a solution to big problems
  • Design the core elements needed for safe programme implementation 
  • Use complexity thinking in your daily work
  • Learn how to reach scale in complexity
  • Grapple with the organisational implications of complexity approaches

This exploration of complexity will include:

  • A guest speaker during the middle weekend, bringing in concrete experience from their own work 
  • An online environment to help participants collaborate, debate and share during the course and beyond
  • Real-world problems, not hypothetical case studies, to ensure experiential, practical learning
  • Mentoring and coaching from tutors throughout the course, including opportunities to consult on current work issues as well as on coursework

Course approach and structure

The aim is to build the theoretical understanding of complexity while enabling practical, hands-on experience of applying the ideas in real-world, participant-brought problems.

The course therefore combines intensive theory sessions with periods of guided application and experimentation. An initial three-day workshop held at Cranfield University, a mid-point one-day workshop and a final two-day workshop are supplemented with regular two-hour long drop-in sessions every two weeks. These shorter sessions are recommended, but not essential. These will also then form the skeleton dates for one-to-one clinic sessions for all participants to meet with trainers for advice and coaching.

All face-to-face sessions are held in the UK. The first three-day event is held at Cranfield University, drop-in session will be held in London. 



7-9 Building the bases – 3-day event
19 First drop-in session


3 Drop-in session
17 Digging deeper – 1-day event
31 Drop-in session


14 Final drop-in session
30-1/12 Wrapping up – 2-day event

The course tutors

Marcus Jenal, Mesopartner
Tony Quinlan, Narrate

Download the course brochure for more information.

Register here for the course.