For Immediate Release:
February 18, 2003
  For Information, Contact:
Marc Levinson, Director of Executive Communications





Complexity and the New Science Helping
Public and Private Sector Leaders Adapt in a Changing World


HOUSTON, TX – In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, how can our leaders tackle the demands made of them? What tools can help private and public leaders develop new ways of thinking about problems – and solutions – in order to meet the challenges of the future? Irene Sanders, Director of the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy, believes the answers lie in chaos theory and complexity science. U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and National Defense University, ICAF Commandant, Major General Harold Mashburn Jr. are just two leaders who have asked Sanders for help in understanding the use of complexity science as a framework for new ways of thinking about education and national security.


Sanders delivered the first lecture in this year's Commandant’s Lecture Series at National Defense University. Response was so positive that she was invited to return to the campus earlier this month to participate in the National Security Strategy Exercise. She has also been quoted in articles in the Washington Post and Investor’s Business Daily discussing the importance of nonlinear thinking and the use of complexity science to effectively fight terrorism.


In November 2002, the U.S. Department of Education funded the Center for Complexity and Public Policy to study how complexity science helps educators better prepare students to face their futures. The result of the Center’s efforts will be incorporated into a report entitled “Education and the New Science,” due to be released March 1, 2003. It will include a set of recommendations and prototypes of educational materials for use within the Department.




Houstonians will have an opportunity to hear Sanders in person on March 28th when she delivers the keynote address at the Heart of Gold Celebration, a fundraising luncheon benefiting Neighborhood Centers Inc., a major local non-profit organization dedicated to helping families and children in need. “Houston has faced tremendous change in its corporate landscape and that is having a tremendous impact on non-profit organizations that rely on community support for funding,” Sanders says. “I believe the new science can help Houston understand how to use this difficulty to influence the future to its advantage.” NCI and other area non-profits are facing serious funding shortfalls this year due to the slumping economy and the crash of major energy industry giants. Yet Sanders expects that Houston will develop new ways to address the current economic crisis. “Chaos theory tells us that systems are constantly recreating themselves, reorganizing and improving. Something new and better will emerge from the demise of the old, and what that will be is the question of the moment.”


Sanders pioneered the application of chaos theory and complexity to strategic thinking with her book Strategic Thinking and the New Science: Planning in the Midst of Chaos, Complexity and Change (The Free Press, 1998). “Complexity science helps us understand the context, structure, processes and ongoing development of complex adaptive systems, such as our educational system,” Sanders says. “It also helps us develop intuitive, associative forms of pattern recognition and use nonlinear thinking to respond to problems and, more importantly, to see and influence them before a crisis arises. This is what makes the new science so relevant to leaders in organizations of all types.” While complexity science has already found wide applications in manufacturing, financial management, high tech and other fields, the Center is at the forefront of applying its principles to the processes of strategic thinking and planning, public policy and leadership development.


For event information, call Kate Rybka at Neighborhood Centers Inc. at 713-669-5217.




       T. Irene Sanders, Director
      Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy
      One Dupont Circle N.W. Suite 700 Washington D.C. 20036-1133 202 429-3733