017: How To Build Resilience And Capability with Complexity-Based Tools and Methods with Viv Read

complexity based tools

In this episode of Thriving in Complexity, Susanne Le Boutillier talks to Viv Read about the importance of using complexity-based tools and methods in organisations. As the Director of Complexability Pty Ltd, a company that specialises in enabling collaborative projects with other independent consultants working in the field of complexity, Viv shares practical tips on how to effectively manage complex projects informed by her many years of experience in the field.
Viv highlights that complexity-based tools help organisations build resilience and capability by learning through doing and shifting power and responsibility away from external consultants into the organisation. She emphasises that knowing where an organisation doesn’t want to be is just as important as knowing where they want to head, and having boundaries and flexibility is critical.

If you are a senior business leader who is struggling with the complexity of the ever-changing context around you or looking for answers on how to tackle complex situations, this episode is for you. Tune in and learn how to use complexity-based tools and methods to effectively manage projects and create successful outcomes.


  • What are the complexity-based tools and methods (05:19)
  • Why should organizations use complexity-based tools and methods? (07:27)
  • The importance of knowing what you don’t want (10:56)
  • What does the term “safe to fail” mean? (13:50)
  • Working in complexity vs. pivoting in response to change (19:25)
  • The power of a narrative-driven process (24:53)
  • Meals on Wheels and the value of the brand (31:45)
  • Integrating indigenous thinkers and speakers into the network (37:12)
  • Common mistakes that organisations make when working in complexity (41:35)
  • Viv’s advice to other complexity practitioners (47:48)
  • Thriving in complexity according to Viv (53:09)
  • One thing Viv wants other people to remember (58:32)


“It’s just as important to know where you don’t want to be as where you do.” -Viv Read  

“What working with complexity does is help people build resilience and capacity by learning by doing.” -Viv Read 

” Focusing on what’s next, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a sense of where you want to head.” -Susanne Le Boutillier

Meals on Wheels

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Website: complexability.com.au

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Viv is currently the Director of Complexability Pty Ltd, (www.complexability.com.au) 

the company she established to enable collaborative projects with other independent consultants working in the field of complexity both in Australia and internationally; and a Director of Cynefin Centre Australia (www.cynefinaustralia.au), the Australia partner of The Cynefin Co (https://thecynefin.co)

She is currently finalising the change of the focus of the not-for-profit Foundation ARIO Ltd, to become a First Nations First organisation, with shared governance arrangements with First Nations colleagues.

Viv’s focus is the application of complexity-based tools and methods specifically designed to ‘make sense’ of complex issues, as the basis for taking action.  She has supported projects using these tools and methods, including the proprietary narrative software SenseMaker®,  in Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Singapore, The Philippines, Canada, the USA and the UK for over 25 years.

Viv is an experienced presenter, facilitator and co-designer of public and in-house leadership and organisation development programs, introducing the Cynefin® complexity framework and associated complexity principles and practice in a wide variety of contexts. 

She has an international reputation for her skill in the explanation and practical application of the complex concepts enabling people to operate effectively in times of inherent uncertainty.