Launching our cybernetic leadership report

How can cybernetics inform leadership in the 21st century?

Picture of ANU School of Cybernetics

Written by: ANU School of Cybernetics
12 Aug 2022


The cover art of ‘Redefining Leadership in the 21st Century: the view from cybernetics’. Photo by Makoi Popioco.
The cover art of 'Redefining Leadership in the 21st Century: the view from cybernetics'. Photo by Makoi Popioco.

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11 August, Canberra—The School of Cybernetics and the Menzies Foundation launched on 3 August a report that proposes a set of cybernetic principles for leadership in a time when the world is going through transformative challenges and teeming with complex systems.

Entitled ‘Redefining Leadership in the 21st Century: the view from cybernetics’, the report challenges some assumptions about leadership and puts forward some cybernetic skills for leading change in the 21st century.

The School of Cybernetics is pivoting the report to a cybernetic leadership program and transformational experiences that aim to equip Australia’s current and emerging leaders to navigate the fast, smart and interconnected world they are inheriting, and to shape its future state.

Here are a few event highlights in photos. You can watch the recording of the launch event below.

Uncle Wally
Ngunawal Elder Uncle Wally Bell led the Welcome to Country and greeted guests with the words “Yuma” which means “hello” in traditional Aboriginal language of the ACT region.
Uncle Wally wide
Liz Gillies
In her message, Menzies Foundation CEO Liz Gillies explained that the Menzies Foundation seeks to build a leadership movement that asks people to reflect on leadership, pivot to purpose, build their leadership capability and contribute to the greater good. “Service lies at the heart of the Menzies Foundation’s aspirations. Service to the land--service to each other and service to our community--is one of the fundamental and defining pillars of our future,” Gillies said.
Prof. Genevieve Bell
School of Cybernetic Director Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell said the report is part of a body of work that the School has been thinking about and talking about for nearly 5 years, and that is the notion of what would it mean to take the idea of a system as an analytic lens by which to make sense of the world.
Prof. Genevieve Bell ms
“Proposing that the system is a or the unit of analysis, and particularly a powerful unit of analysis in a time when the world is going through multiple transformative and complicated challenges, is not just a research tool, is not just an analytic for our classroom. It’s also a challenge for our leaders,” Prof. Bell said.
Maia Gould
Our Strategic Services Lead Maia Gould, one of the report’s main authors, shared a few highlights of the report. "The leader is often at the centre of thought, training and action about leadership. We cannot lead effectively in the 21st century without challenging this assumption."
Prof. Katherine Daniell
Prof. Katherine Daniell is also one of the report’s main authors, along with Prof. Bell and Design Lead Andrew Meares. Prof. Daniell talked about the School’s Master of Applied Cybernetics and how the program trains its cohorts to think about how to scale technology safely, responsibly, and sustainably and ultimately lead change around these technologies within different sectors and disciplines.
Maia Gould
The launch was the first in-person public event the School organised since the lockdown in Canberra in 2021. The event was also livestreamed for online attendees.
Maia Gould
The event was held at the beautiful Innovation Space on Level 2 of the newly renovated Birch Building, the home of the School of Cybernetics.

Watch the launch event:#

You are on Aboriginal land.

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

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