General
06 Mar 2008

Using nature’s toolbox to deliver business change

The worlds of science and business come together in a new book and workshop from Dr Elizabeth McMillan of The Open University. Learning from evolution and the development of complex living systems, Dr McMillan illustrates how concepts from the natural world can be applied in business to create major organisational change in her book, Complexity, Organisations and Change: Challenges for Practice.

‘Complexity science’, the study of the natural world and its complex systems, offers real benefits to the business world. Ants’ foraging patterns, for example, have been copied to improve supply chain logistics, warehousing operations and production processes. This knowledge has also been used to reorganise and revive the fortunes of organisations worldwide.

Dr McMillan’s book reviews current perspectives on organisational change and illustrates how businesses can become more effective, democratic and sustainable through complexity science. A one-day workshop is being hosted by Dr McMillan to explore the topics of the book in further detail and delegates will have a chance to participate in group discussions, learn more about complexity science applications in businesses and benefit from case studies and examples of this technique in practice.

Dr McMillan said: “Our planet was not designed using command and control principles, yet they still underpin much of today’s management practice. This approach is now 300 years behind the times! Learning from evolution and applying this to management is a leap in the right direction for businesses and will help them flourish in today’s competitive economy.

“The workshop will be very hands-on with delegates having the chance of working with change management models I have developed through my research activities. They will be able to go back to their organisations and apply this modern technique to drive forward change in a positive way.”

The workshop takes place on Wednesday 30 April, at The Open University in Milton Keynes. Delegates will receive a free hardback copy of the book, a buffet lunch and refreshments. Everyone is also invited to stay to a wine reception after the event where they can meet other Open University academics. The workshop is free to all full members of the Complexity Management Business Club, and costs £45 to networking members of the club. For all non-members the price is £95.

If you would like to reserve a place on the workshop, please contact Gemma Walker via email: g.m.r.walker@open.ac.uk or telephone 01908 652103. The closing date for registrations is 3 April 2008.

Notes to Editors
‘Complexity, Organisation and Change: Challenges for Practice’ is Dr McMillan’s second book and is published by Routledge.
ISBN 0-415-31447-X

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