Pre-Conference Workshop

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April 15, 2019
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Prevailing organization design models assume a predominately economic view of the firm. A result of this predisposition is organizations that struggle to enlist true commitment and that fall short of creating environments where members can truly flourish. These challenges are exacerbated by dynamic technological changes that are driving new ways of organizing, juxtaposing the social and technical elements of the organization. In this session we will draw on principles and provide frameworks for designing organizations as flourishing living systems that are resilient, adaptive and innovative in an ever-changing environment.

Fundamental to flourishing living systems are four wisdoms. Derived from biomimicry and ecological systems, these principles reflect what we strive for in organization design:

  • Design Thinking is Fundamentally Conservative
  • Natural systems evolve through generative tensions
  • The design of natural systems emerges in the context of ecological adaptive cycles
  • Natural systems create conditions conducive for flourishing

In this session, we will explore principles, strategies, and practices of the Flourishing Living Systems platform and their practical application to organization design. Through applied biomimicry, we will delve into the emergent properties of healthy ecosystems and how to draw on these as design principles in organizations. We will examine the creative role of generative tensions in living systems and how to design to optimize the natural flow of these tensions. We will offer design strategies for creating conditions for flourishing and practical design insights based upon the adaptive cycle of ecological systems. The session will include frameworks and tools, case discussions, and opportunities for participants to think creatively about how to incorporate these concepts into their design practices.

Learning objectives

  • A new/deeper understanding of how to use insights gained from examining the emergent properties of living systems as design principles in organizations
  • Design strategies (tools, building blocks) for creating conditions for flourishing
  • A new/deeper understanding of generative tensions (polarities) and how to design to optimize the natural flow of these tensions (i.e., designing hierarchies that enable (rather than control) flow (framework, tools)
  • Practical design insights based upon the ecological adaptive cycle of ecological systems

APRIL 15, 2019
1:00 – 5:00 PM
$149 Registration Fee

If you have already registered for the Conference,
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Sally Breyley Parker is co-founder of TimeZero Enterprises, LLC. Together with a growing community of collaborators, she focuses on environmental conditions — such as strategy, design, and culture — that create flourishing systems and foster transformation and enhanced performance. Sally’s passion is social process innovations that tap the genius of natural systems to release the authentic power of the human spirit. The outcomes are inventive strategies, innovative designs, and transformed businesses grounded in a deep sense of purpose.



Dr. Sue Mohrman is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Her research is in the areas of organization design and effectiveness. She is an author/editor of 25 books and has published papers in professional journals on the topics of organization design; organization development, learning, and change; design of teams; and other topics.

With Chris Worley, Dr. Mohrman is Co-Faculty Director of CEO’s Certificate Program in Organization Design and research programs on Sustainable Effectiveness.


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