Complexity informed principles and practices for group facilitation and participatory process.

WHEN? Tuesdays: 25 Feb, 3, 10 and 17 March 2020

Hosting In Complexity from Beehive Productions on Vimeo.

Complex facilitation for addressing complex issues requires a special approach to working with groups. In the language of the Art of Hosting Conversation that Matter, we call this approach “hosting” to signify that it has its primary focus on the spaces and processes that we use to host dialogue rather than a more traditional facilitation approach that manages the content, meaning-making, and dynamics.

This approach is defined by a focus on the two key outcomes: emergence of meaning and self-organization for action. 

Chris Corrigan will share his insights of 15 years of trying to figure this all out sharing his current clarity that comes down to a simple set of underlying principles that have been heavily borrowed and deeply influenced by the work of Dave Snowden and Glenda Eoyang.

Chris first learned the term “complex facilitation” from Dave Snowden. “Complex facilitation” refers to an approach of working with groups that is grounded in good complexity theory. It is an important approach to take when the work you are doing is complex. There is almost always a temptation, when confronted with the uncertainty of a complex system, to default to control in order to drive the process towards a comfortable outcome. This can often result in a process becoming so constrained that there is no possibility for the magic of emergence or self-organization to happen. The desired outcomes of good complex facilitation process are precisely these two states: the emergence of meaning and understanding, and self-organization of a group.

Emergence means that a group of people leaves a room with insights that no one person brought into a room with them. When we are confronted with complex problems stemming from emergent phenomenon (culture, conflict, identity, shifting markets, new realities dictated by contexts we don’t control, interpersonal dynamics, “next level” anything…) we need to to create a process that invites emergence. Emergent problems are addressed with emergent solutions.

Self-organization means that a group of people organizes their time, attention and resources in ways that meet the urgent necessity of the moment. It is possible to create processes that allow for self-organization to occur by providing clear attractors and boundaries in a system. Self-organization represents an emergence of structure, which is what is needed to work with emergent ideas. It’s no good going away on an off-site retreat, creating a set of powerful new ideas, and then going back to the office and trying to fit them into pre-existing structures.

In this course from Beehive, we are going to explore complex facilitation in four components:

  1. Theory
    What makes a problem complex and how can we understand how that complexity is created?
    We will share an introduction to complexity theory and pattern spotting.
  • Creating the conditions for emergence
    Three practices for generating emergent meaning and designing interventions
  • Self organization
    Looking at a model of constraints that helps us understand self-organization and creates targets for interventions in a system
  • Adaptive action
    What? So what? Now what?
    Going beyond the PALE (Planning, Action, Learning, Evaluation)


  • Tuesdays: 25 Feb, 3, 10 and 17 March 2020
  • 10.00- 12.00 AM San Francisco/ 1.00PM – 3.00PM Boston/ 19:00 – 21:00 Central European Time
  • One Extra live Q/A sessions adapted to timezones for Australasia on 5th March 3.00pm San Francisco

All sessions will be recorded & made available to registered participants

Normal Price 300 USD*


  • Teams or groups of 3 or More (30% off) 
    (send names and email addresses of your group & we’ll send you the group discount code.

* We understand that finances vary based on location, industry, and personal circumstances, so Beehive offers all our courses on a sliding scale, trusting that everyone will pay what they can. See the registration form for alternate fees, and if you are really called to be with us but unable to afford any of the options listed, please be in touch with a clear proposal and we will see if we can work something out.


Hosted by Beehive Productions, Amy Lenzo & Rowan Simonsen and the delivery led by skilled complexity host Chris Corrigan

Chris Corrigan has worked for 20 years in the field of facilitation and participatory leadership.  He has worked across North America and Europe with organizations working to make their communities better.  He is a co-leader of an innovative BC based non-profits leadership program called Leadership 2020 and works extensively with indigenous communities, non-profit organizations, faith communities and groups of people confronting complexity in their lives and work. 

  • 4 Weeks


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