Emergent leadership series

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Executive program


Join us for this series to build competence and confidence to lead and manage in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

The Series includes:

This course will run as an online and distance program in 2021. It is scheduled to run for four weeks, 8 - 18 November and 29 November - 10 December 2021, with a course orientation / meet and greet on 8 November 2021. Specific dates and times (AEDT, Canberra time) to note in your diary are as follows:

  • 2-3pm Monday 8 November 2021 - meet and greet session
  • 2-3:30pm Thursday 11 November 2021
  • 2-3:30pm Thursday 18 November 2021
  • 2-3:30pm Thursday 2 December 2021
  • 2-3:30pm Thursday 9 December 2021

Note: Dates and times are in Canberra time (AEDT/GMT+11). The calendar invite for each session should automatically adjust to your timezone when you add it to your calendar. You can check at a site like this to be sure.

Contact to find out more.

Course date: 
8–18 November 2021
29 November – 10 December 2021
Online and distance

Before/by 8 October 2021: $2,195

After 8 October 2021: $2,495

Group discounts available.

Course overview

As humans we are driven by unconscious patterns of behaviour that shape our perception, thinking, decisions, capabilities and actions. They also contribute to define who we are and how we relate and respond to the world. During more stable times these capabilities, practices and ways of being have been relatively successful in dealing and managing situations. In a volatile and uncertain world, our capabilities, ways of being and entrained patterns of behaviour are becoming increasingly inadequate to successfully respond to current and emerging situations.

If we are to be successful in a new world, we will need to redefine ourselves to have the identity with the appropriate skills and capabilities to lead and manage in a VUCA policy environment. This means that we need to develop new patterns of behaviour that will support new capabilities and ways of being that will give us the confidence and competence to take on the challenges and situations to lead and manage in new and rapidly shifting contexts. We require advanced skills and capabilities in how we:

  • relate to each other;
  • make sense of complex and uncertain situations and issues and be able to communicate that with others;
  • model and understand complex systemic issues and be able to present them to a variety of audiences;
  • make sense of the VUCA environment by crafting narratives that explains the situation for ourselves and for others;
  • can identify emerging patterns that need to respond in an effective way;
  • develop policy, strategy and responses in complex and uncertain situations; and
  • challenge our beliefs, perceptions and thinking that will improve decision-making for today and tomorrow.

When developed within us, these capabilities and skills will assist us to undertake a transformation in who we are- in how we relate to the world. This will support our quest in having the requisite frames and confidence for operating in a VUCA world.

Who should attend?

  • Any sector that needs to understand the nature of its business environment and develop an organised response with the capacity to identify emerging trends and be able to respond to them
  • Policy development and implementation business units
  • This course is suitable for APS6 - SES, or equivalent level.

Adaptive thinking for complex policy development

Topics include:

  • An overview of the concepts and principles of complex adaptive systems;
  • Application through group-work of those principles to contemporary issues identified by participants to better understand complexity and how to respond to it;
  • An overview of how we can use the concepts of complex adaptive systems (CAS) to better understand human behaviour relating to decision-making, strategy and policy development and the implications for leading and managing as adaptive organisation and projects

Learning outcomes:

  • The capability to lead and manage for adaptation to a complex and volatile social, business and policy environment
  • The capability to lead and support cultural change
  • Learn the skills and techniques that will assist to develop adaptive policy and strategy in response to issues that are emerging in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous operating landscape
  • Understand and apply the principles of complex adaptive systems to better understand complex policy environments
  • Understand and practice how people work together, to make decisions, develop strategy and policy using the frameworks and principles of complex adaptive systems
  • Identify with the Worldview of complex adaptive systems

Strategic thinking and planning in a complex and uncertain world

Topics to be covered:

  • Framing strategic thinking and planning in an uncertain and complex policy environment
  • Understanding the nature of change and how that influences the nature of policy and strategy development
  • Understanding ambiguity and uncertainty when undertaking strategic thinking and strategic planning and how to respond to each
  • Models and frameworks for strategic thinking and planning
  • Principles of Systems Thinking and Complex Adaptive Systems to understand complex and uncertain business/policy landscape
  • Application of models and principles for undertaking strategic thinking and planning
  • Understanding and managing entrained human behaviour patterns and their impact on strategy development

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the nature of change and how that influences the framing of policy and strategy development
  • Understanding the distinctions between strategic thinking and strategic planning
  • The capability to identify the difference between ambiguity and uncertainty and how to respond accordingly to develop strategy
  • The capability to identify uncertainty, understand it and include the implications of it throughout the strategic plan
  • The capability to design a strategic plan and develop statements of outcome with the associated performance indicators and activities
  • The capability to better understand people during strategy and policy development and how to better manage relationships to achieve intended business outcomes

Online training: How it works

This is a real-time, date-specific course, in which you will join live classes, engage and connect with experts, other course participants and the Executive Education team. Here’s how it works:

  • Pre-course live session. This is an opportunity for you to grab a cuppa and join our meet and greet before the course commences.
  • Practice + Study. Set aside up to 2 hours per day – this time commitment will vary depending on how deeply you choose to engage with the material. It is up to you.
  • Course pack. Each participant will receive a carefully curated workbook, which includes everything you need to guide you through the course.
  • Live sessions with presenter. This is a specified date and time for you to come together with the presenter and other participants to consolidate your learning.
  • Post-course. On completion of the course, you will receive your post-course resources for your reference and further learning.

Why choose online training?

  • No time off work – study and practice when you can.
  • Busy schedule? No problem, you can go at your own pace, join just the live classes, and do the course work whenever suits you best. We know that work and family obligations can be overwhelming. Mix and match the schedule to fit your life.
  • No travel. This is a course right at your fingertips. With no travel expenses, this is a very affordable option for high-level training with world-leading experts.
  • Live interaction with world-leading experts. You’ll have direct access to all the best resources and trainers.
  • Working remotely? With the online and distance format, we welcome participants from around the world to join us.


What if I can’t make a live session? No problem, we understand you are busy. Live sessions are recorded and transcribed for you to catch up in your own time.

What if I’m in a different time zone? All advertised course times up until 3rd October 2021 are scheduled in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) otherwise known as GMT+10. From 3rd October to 3rd April 2022 scheduled times are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) or GMT+11. Convert for your time zone here.

What if I am not tech savvy? As long as you have access to a phone or computer, you’ll have no problems. This is a low-tech course designed for everyone. If needed our team is here to help – contact us at

What if I have questions? We would love to hear from you. Contact our team at

Course presenter(s)

Dr Gary Saliba

Dr Gary Saliba is Director of Strategic Journeys, a management consulting company, which assists people in organisations in strategy development work.

The unique role of Gary and his company is the integration of systems thinking, complex adaptive systems with futures studies and strategy development. This approach has enabled him to consult extensively across a range of government and commercial enterprises to develop organisational strategy that is based on plausible futures, using the scenario development methodology.

Gary’s approach is to work with people to enhance their processes in understanding their organisation’s operating environment and their own ways of operating. This all leads to more informed decision-making and improved responsiveness and flexibility in an ever increasingly complex environment.

Gary holds a BSc(Hons), PhD in Applied Mathematics and Dip Ed from the University of Sydney. He is a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Previous positions include:

  • CEO- Regional Development Australia- Murray Region
  • Manager Australian Taxation Office
  • Projects Officer and participant on the Middle Managers Program- Department of Defence
  • Manager, Ionospheric Prediction Service- Department of Administrative Services

Updated:  26 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team