LILA ~ Learning Innovations Laboratory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

June 2018 – 12th Annual LILA Summit

LILA 2018 Summit Animation: Emergence in Organizations

LILA 2018 Summit Animation:  Emergence in OrganizationsThis is the animation that reflects how the LILA community made sense of the theme of Emergence in Organizations: Shaping the Future as it Unfolds. To watch the animation click the play More »

Insights from Interactions: How do teams manage complexity? with Mary Waller

Insights from Interactions: How do teams manage complexity? with Mary WallerMary has studied what makes teams effective in a variety of dynamic contexts, such as flight crews, nuclear power plant engineers, hospital trauma teams, fire-fighting teams and emergency crisis teams. In her studies of interaction patterns she has identified some key lessons for leaders to keep in mind:   Setting the tone: interaction patterns emerge quickly and solidify.  Initial patterns of interactions influence the subsequent effectiveness during dynamism.  Teams that had reciprocal, balanced and consistent interaction patterns performed better in highly adaptive situations. In the thick of it: when teams face ambiguity, uncertainty, and incomplete data effective teams accept ambiguity better and avoid “solution tournaments.” Teams that have fewer entrenched interaction patterns  were able to drop routines and adjust more effectively than teams that had more. Switching gears: Planning happens during routine activities, or “slack time”.” However, too much planning time isn’t effective -- there is a sweet spot.   Her current research in military settings is now looking at how leaders switch gears from being directive to More »

"Three keys to leading emergent organizing" by Jim Hazy

Too often we feel that we are in control at a fine grain and local level, but too often in emergent contexts emergence it unfolding at a coarse grain and macro level in which we cannot control.  Traditional leadership still may still apply but the context matters more. An important first move is fine-grained to empathize with followers: what are their needs? A theory is that, as humans develop we move from dependence, independence, to inter-dependence.  Different leadership frameworks speak to these developmental needs.  For example, charismatic leadership speaks to dependence needs.  Transformational leadership speaks to independence needs, to support autonomy. Shared leadership speaks to interdependence needs.  What Jim emphasizes is that these needs are always there simultaneously and all the time in an organization. At a higher, coarse-grain level, leaders guide the emergence of the new order at a larger scale more than any individual.  Individuals can influence emergent organizing. Drawing on work in the animal kingdom, there are lessons at how these systems emerge based on the threats, energy and information that gets fed into the system:  from random milling around, to internal circulation structures, to collective directional alignment.   Each has different levels of order and form at the macro-level.  Given this there are different practices that speak to these levels of form:   Community building: practices that create dependence, belonging and group identity.  This practice is answering questions such as: who are we and who is them? Who do I trust (and not trust)? Am I safe here? It creates a sense of belonging, security, and More »

Authority or Community ? Two models of leadership emergence.

Authority or Community ? Two models of leadership emergence.Ned Wellman, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University will share his research on the role of cognitive relational models in leadership emergence. Although emergent leadership is an essential tool for organizations seeking to meet the demands of challenging, dynamic environments, facilitating such leadership poses real challenges. He will explain why and how organizations might leverage relational models to encourage desired patterns of leadership. More »


As we come together with the LILA Community at large, we will integrate our understanding of an Emergent Organization by revisiting some of the ideas from the year-­‐long exploration and inviting new voices into the conversation.

Documents to Prepare for the Gathering

Title File Name Caption Date
12th Annual LILA Summit Agenda 12th-Annual-LILA-Summit-Agenda-.pdf April 9, 2018 3:27 pm
LILA 2018 Summit Participants 2018-SUMMIT-Attendees-report.pdf A list of the members, staff, and guests in attendance. May 29, 2018 11:49 am
June 2018 LILA Brief final June-2018-LILA-Brief-final.pdf This is the briefing document for the 12th Annual LILA Summit - Engaging Emergence: Shaping the future as it unfolds. May 27, 2018 1:00 pm
LILA Summit 2018 P&P LILA-Summit-2018-PP.pdf This document has the description of the P&P sessions for the June 2018 LILA Summit. June 4, 2018 4:29 pm

Materials from the Gathering

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Optional Readings

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Blog Posts

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  1. Join us for the 13th Annual LILA Summit with Rob Cross and Ryan Quinn

    This has been another intriguing year at LILA as we have taken on the theme of Collective Mindfulness: Shaping the Human Systems in Organizations. I hope that you will join us at this year’s LILA Summit on June 12th in Cambridge where the two keynote speakers are Rob Cross and Ryan Quinn. They will be joined by six past LILA faculty who will share their latest research with participants during small group conversations. In these sessions, you will have an opportunity to exchange ideas on how the research can inform your individual and organizational practices. The Summit is also a great occasion to meet and interact with the broader LILA community, including faculty, researchers, and current and past members, and to get a better sense as to who we are as a learning community and what you might experience as a member.
  2. February 2018 Animation: Engaging Emergence

    The seeds of innovation and "becoming" reside in these random, unpredictable fluctuations. When the things we want spontaneously sprout up, we might call it serendipity in hindsight, but we often suppress deviations from the norm before it's even possible to guess the nature of what is germinating. Engaging with emergence entails letting go of preconceived solutions, a daunting challenge when performance measures loom at every level.
  3. October 2017 Animation: Unlearning for Emergence

    Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to start from scratch than to achieve wide-scale change in an organization. This might explain, in part, why restructuring is so common. The science of complexity offers insights into why this rarely results in lasting change. Emergence, the arising of ordered systems – both natural and human – can be viewed from many angles within complexity science.
  4. “Experiencing emergence, emerging experience” – Donald MacLean

    Every emergent system, whether it be musical improv or dance, has a discipline. The discipline is critically important, it defines the process of how we craft our plan for interaction, the reality of the activity, how we experiment, and then how we make sense of that experimentation. We felt this in our opening activity! Along the we each person receives feedback. Negative feedback is information that drives a system back to a predetermined state. Positive feedback drives a system forward, away from predetermined states. In many ways this is how we manage the emergence.
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Wendy Smith
Marina Gorbis
Michelle Barton
Sandy Pentland
Monika Aring
Sherry Lassiter


Harvard Graduate School of Education