The Butterfly Model

Why now?

Changing times provide challenges and opportunities for education, business and society. In periods of disruption and change a systems approach is needed in order to thrive and not just survive. 

This requires more than analytical thinking and an inflexible plan of action, because systems require a playful, curious and explorative mindset. 

As new problems and situations occur leaders can suffer analysis paralysis, seeking to find definitive answers to  problems.  

Alternatively, they can embrace their position in systems of interaction which require different skills and methodologies to lead and be successful.    

Change. It's About Time.

and relationships and resilience and results

How we are experiencing the present moment determines the actions we take and how effective those actions will be in navigating periods of great upheaval.

Taking the right action at the right time means engaging in the present, recognising the lessons of the past and envisaging a range of future possibilities. 

The skills of leadership and personal mastery require an intuitive sense of where the true challenges and problems lie in this moment. 

How does 'The Butterfly Model' approach work in practice?

The image above is a Strange Attractor
click here for a short explanatory video

We are both 'rational' and 'intuitive' beings and as such need to understand and engage in the world both practically and analytically as well as emotionally and spiritually. 

The Butterfly Model embraces these two, often contradictory, forces to create balance and dynamic growth for individuals, institutions and communities using 'serious play' that recognises and integrates both science and art at every stage of design, delivery and assessment.

simple systems

have a direct link between energy in and energy out

Simple systems do not necessarily mean 'simplistic'. The simple and observable 'cause and effect' creates habits, mindsets and process that form the foundation of an individual, institution and culture.

The starting point of any programmes we design makes sure the simple systems are in place first and regularly returned to. 

Failure comes when time is not invested in getting the foundations right.

complicated systems

have multiple moving parts in sequence or parallel which produce the same outcome

Engaging with complicated systems recognises that outcomes have to go through sequences, processes and the continuous transformation of self, others and the environment.

The second design of our programmes acknowledges the fact that relationships are complicated. 

Without a shared direction, clear systems, shared values and the ability to adapt, people are very unlikely to get to their shared destination.

Chaotic systems 

have regularity without predictability 

Organisation and communities can face challenging situations that seem to fade from memory but reappear again as their underlying factors have failed to be addressed.  The BLM movement is just one example of this.

The third design stage is to take action and create the means by which the individuals involved are give freedom to be spontaneous and unpredictable at the same time as having clear order, processes and the means to communicate.

complex-adaptive systems 

have the ability to learn and modify their behaviour to survive and thrive

Complex Systems have the ability to learn and store memories.  

By playfully engaging with such systems we can know where the challenges and features occur. Leading in complexity requires an intuitive approach to feel and engage in order to create system change.

The final design stage is to have the methodologies and capacity to reflect critically on the outcomes and the humility and capacity to adapt quickly. Unless the simple, complicated and chaotic systems are recognised and utilised consistently then the potentiality contained in the complex-adaptive will never emerge.

What next?

Get in touch to discuss how we can support you with coaching, staff training, student engagement, curriculum design and delivery, keynotes, conference addresses or whole system change.

If you just want a chat to find out more or discuss the various training options then please complete the form to the left and we'll get in touch.

Who created the Butterfly Model process?

Roy Leighton is the director of Undiscovered Country, founding partner of Positive Peace Cambridge  a senior associate at Independent Thinking Ltd

In collaboration with Professor Hilary Cremin (head of the faculty of Education at Cambridge University) and Cambridge University Press and Assessment, he has created two profiling tools for industry and education. The first is the ‘Conflict and Peace Audit’ that assess their ‘inner peace’ (wellbeing), ‘outer peace’ (relationships) and ‘environmental peace’ (processes and place) in the workplace and schools. The second is ‘The Personal Conflict Profile’ that explores how individuals react to conflict and change.

He has extensive experience of working with global business and schools internationally and is currently developing or delivering peace education programmes with international schools and universities in the U.K., America, Japan, India, Hungry, Argentia, Columbia and Kazakhstan.

His LinkedIn profile can be accessed here: