WIT Press

Factors that facilitate organisational change in complex systems


Free (open access)


Volume 10 (2015), Issue 3



Page Range

253 - 260

Paper DOI



WIT Press




This paper explores the capacity of complex systems to find their own form of order and coherence, often referred to in terms of self-organisation emergent change, then asking the question, ‘What can organisational leaders do to create the systems and structures that would facilitate emergent change?’ Emergent change comes from within and through the active members of a system and is not imposed according to some external prompting or design. This results in the sort of change capacity that enables an organisation to be agile and resilient in highly volatile times. I have identified seven key organisation-specific factors that facilitate emergent change. These include: executive engagement, purposeful orientation, a culture of experimentation, a safe-fail culture, collaborative decision-making, collaborative quality measures, and intentional learning. These factors were initially identified through an extensive literature review, interviews with the CEOs of 15 Canadian healthcare organisations, and a think tank of subject matter experts. This resulted in the use of exploratory factor analysis to validate a survey that can be used to assess the presence or absence of these factors in a specific organisation, thus providing leaders with a framework for change.


change, collaboration, creativity, emergence, leadership, learning, self-organisation