Professional Development Session

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Navigating Complexity

How Adult Development Can Enable Leadership for Effective Change

Day: 7 November 2024
Time: 9:00 – 16:00
Price: $65
Location: Hilton Chicago Downtown 
Facilitators: Jonathan Reams, Iva Vurdelja, Wayne Buckhanan

Sign-up for the pre-conference workshop:

Full Description

The gap between the demands of leadership roles and leaders’ cognitive capacities to adequately address them creates what is known as “the complexity gap.” This gap poses a significant challenge for organizations. Leaders must navigate diverse stakeholder interests, technological disruptions, and evolving market dynamics, yet many lack the cognitive tools to address these challenges effectively. This gap leads to ineffective decision-making, resistance to change, and missed opportunities for innovation. 

Our preconference workshop, “Navigating Complexity: How Adult Development Can Enable Leadership for Effective Change,” offers a transformative learning experience designed to introduce leaders to the tools and insights needed to thrive in complex environments. Drawing upon cutting-edge research in adult development and leadership theory, this workshop provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing the complexity gap challenge. 

This workshop offers academics, practitioners, and PhD students a unique opportunity to deepen their understanding of adult development, complexity and change leadership. Through interactive sessions where tools will be applied to participant cases, participants will gain practical insights and strategies for bridging the complexity gap in their organizations. By focusing on leveraging the 12 dialectical thought form framework, attendees will develop new insights and actionable solutions to their specific challenges, fostering innovation and driving positive change. 

Workshop Objectives 

  1. Explore the concept of complexity in leadership roles and its implications for leading organizational change. 
  2. Introduce participants to key theories of adult development, dialectical thinking, and leadership effectiveness. 
  3. Provide practical strategies and tools for enhancing leaders’ cognitive and adaptive capacity to navigate complexity. 
  4. Facilitate case-based discussions where participants learn to apply the 12 thought form framework to (analyze) illuminate (and address) and make sense of real-world complexity challenges. 


9:00 – 10:15 

  • Exploring the complexity gap 
  • Intro to adult development in the context of the complexity gap 
  • Application: What is your case for leading complex change? 

Morning Break 

10:30 – 11:45

  • Adult development models and techniques applied to leadership 
  • How dynamic skill theory and virtuous cycles of learning can help you lead 
  • Application: What skills are relevant in our individual case? 

Lunch Break on own 

13:00 – 14:15 

  • Introduction to Dialectical Thought Forms 
  • How to manage complexity by revealing broader context 
  • Application: Which of the Thought Forms apply to our case? 

Afternoon Break with coffee, tea, and light snacks 

14:30 – 16:00 

  • Participant peer learning: applying the Thought Form framework to your case 
  • Next steps: Identify individual growth-edge micro skill development opportunity 



Jonathan Reams

Jonathan Reams, PhD, practices the cultivation of leadership through consulting, coaching and action research on leadership development program design and delivery. He is a co-founder of and Chief Creative Officer at the Center for Transformative Leadership. Jonathan also was the Editor-in-Chief for Integral Review from 2005-2023 and held a position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) from 2007-2024. Jonathan focuses on the inner workings of human nature and developing micro-development processes to support building robust leadership capacities for today’s complex challenges. 

Iva Vurdelja

Iva Vurdelja, Ph.D. is a certified executive coach, organizational change strategist, and independent scholar-practitioner. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies and public sector leaders to develop organizational and personal transformation strategies. Her practice focuses on the impact of adult cognitive development on leadership capabilities for creating innovative, socially conscious, and purpose-driven organizations. Currently, she coaches leaders in global organizations and government agencies on how to build inner capabilities for leading in complex environments, engaging in dialogue with diverse stakeholders, articulating clear vision and purpose, orchestrating large-scale change initiatives, making effective decisions, promoting well-being at the workplace, developing leadership talent, fostering innovation and building winning teams.  

Wayne Buckhanan

Wayne Buckhanan, PhD has spent his career utilizing technology and language to positively influence behaviorA large chunk of this has been in the education and skill development fronts training professionals in the content and application of effective models across areas such as inter- and intra-personal communication, developmental coaching, skill development, human motivation, sales, leadership, and the explicit modeling of implicit expertise.  He also spent 20 years in higher education teaching technical topics as well as innovation, critical thinking, and leadership skills across multiple institutions and programs. Since stepping out of the classroom in 2021, he has been consulting and coaching start-up teams across industries as varied as blockchain-based virtual real estate, generative AI, social entrepreneurship, and global consulting.