Dates and venue : March 22 to 25, 2021 in Barcelona

Complexity fitness workshop for international aid and peace professionals

As our world is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent, it is also becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable. Along with this change, practitioners have been confronted with the ways that many of the tools and ways of thinking in common use simply don’t work in complex contexts. Thus, for more than a decade, global development actors have been experimenting with approaches to delivering aid that draws on the science of complex systems. These new methods and approaches are changing aid practice in promising ways, challenging old modes of thinking and doing, at the same time requiring practitioners to tool up in some very new ways.

As complexity becomes a new kind of normal, and as the ways we work are changing, it is more and more a strategic imperative for leaders everywhere to be able to navigate this territory with greater agility, creativity and resilience. Those that can do so bring a distinct comparative advantage to their work. This workshop is designed to deliver just that. The Complexity Fitness Workshop draws from thinking and practices in complex adaptive systems, adult development, neuroscience, somatics and mindfulness.

This workshop is intended to help aid and peace professionals to become better fit to navigate the challenges that we face in a complex world. More particularly, it is intended to help practitioners working to apply new tools and practices that emphasize learning and adapting. The workshop weaves cutting-edge theory, research and practice that has been proven to help leaders in becoming the best possible version of themselves as they work to address overwhelming challenges.


Participants will:

  • Learn to distinguish complex contexts from complicated and obvious contexts
  • Gain valuable insight into changing aid practice, and why approaches to problem solving used in the past, don’t work in complexity
  • Practice pragmatic leadership strategies for leveraging complexity to unlock new possibilities
  • Increase your ability to see patterns and recognize solutions
  • Increase your ability to deal constructively with conflict, diversity, paradox and ambiguity


This will be a highly experiential workshop. As a participant, you will work with habitual reactions to complexity through emotions, body, language, and meaning-making (Sensing). You will practice cultivating internal states of awareness and resilience (Being). And you will be guided to develop action strategies for engaging with complexity (Acting).

You will be asked to come with a personal or work challenge that you are finding difficult to resolve and that you are willing to work on with others. You will also be asked to help others work on their challenges.

For whom is this course?

This workshop is designed to benefit global professionals working in contexts of peacebuilding, international crisis management and humanitarian assistance. While the activities and examples will be drawn largely from these contexts, the content is applicable for anyone who wants to develop a self that is fit for the complexities of our world. In addition to global aid professionals, it will benefit coaches, leaders and people working in organizational development roles. In fact, the workshop is suitable for anyone who is curious about how they can resource themselves and others to more skilfully meet the increasing demands and uncertainties of their life.

Organized by

The Barcelona International Peace Center (BIPC) jointly with Cultivating Leadership.

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Course description and fees

Cultivating Leadership

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