What we offer

Let me be your thinking partner:

coachingChange-makers and leaders who find themselves in overwhelming complexity often simply need a sounding board and new ways of seeing to help them make sense of their environment.

Sonja applies her deep experience in complexity, narrative and various coaching methodologues to help leaders think, make sense and find new ways to move forward even when things are volatile and uncertain.

We strongly believe that enabling people in the organisation to make sense of their environments and decide on their “next wise action” is more sustainable than employing external consultants.

Contact us today to find out more and schedule your Thinking Partner sessions.

In the complex and volatile context we face today, change is no longer episodic but continuous. Therefore we can no longer afford to treat it like a project to be managed.  We need to find ways of enabling change resilience throughout our organisations; in effect, creating enabling and responsive environments that can naturally evolve when needed.


Change is the lifeblood of modern organisation, yet  seemingly neverending and rapid change have left many leaders and teams at a loss as to how to handle it.  From a strategic point of view, in order to remain relevant, many organisations have made strategic choices that though necessary, require radical transformations in how people think and behave.  An example we are encountering in multiple client organisations is a strategic shift from a focus on product, to a focus on the client (mostly referred to as client centricity).  This  shift  introduces massive complexities into already complex environments.  Decision-making often grinds to a halt, because role clarity and lines of authority become “blurred” as no one person owns the customer value chain anymore.  Incentive and performance management structures must change in order to foster greater collaboration.

Often these changes require people to “unlearn” old mindsets; for example what it takes to be successful (e.g. individual performance vs effective collaboration).  In this environment traditional, often linear approaches to change are no longer sufficient.  Approaching change like a linear project often creates or re-enforces negative perceptions about change and over time leads to a breakdown in trust between the organisation and it’s employees.

We have developed unique Change Fitness enablement processes that are principle based and enable leaders and change practitioners to fundamentally shift how they think about and approach change organisations.

We enable them to:

  • make sense of their context using the Cynefin Sense-making framework (described in the award winning Harvard Business Review article by Boone & Snowden, 2009)
  • understand which change methodologies are applicable in which contexts
  • deal with the non-linear nature of change in complex interdependent organisations where a small seemingly insignificant shift in one area can cause disproportionately big unintended consequences in another.
  • create enabling environments where new practices can emerge from the context, rather than mandating one-size-fits-all solutions that might not fit the context.
  • use narrative to map the current landscape and monitor the impact of change interventions
  • make change simply part of the everyday fabric of the organisation, not something that needs to be actively managed
  • create environments where people aren’t afraid of experimentation
  • enable de-centralised and rapid decision-making to increase agility
  • learn and adapt while moving forward and co-creating the change; or in narrative terms co-authoring the new story.

We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, so while have a change framework and methodology, we co-create every intervention to fit the client’s unique context. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Our view of culture is founded on the belief that an organisation is a complex adaptive system: more like an ecosystem than a machine or organism. We see culture as something that emerges over time from the miriad of small interactions that occur between the people, processes, systems and stories in the system. This has several implications, which we discuss in our white paper on culture that you can download from the White Papers section of the site.

The main focus of our culture interventions involve working with culture as something that emerges over time and is constantly evolving, like an ever-changing conversation. We can shape the evolutionary direction of our culture, but we cannot design or engineer the ideal culture and “create it”.

To shift a culture, we need to start with where we are. We look for the areas of evolutionary potential and evolve the culture into a beneficial direction through small actions in the present. We do not attempt to force a rigid design and fixed outcomes onto a naturally evolutionary process.

In a very real sense, everyone in the system is actively co-authoring the current culture every day through actions big and small, and the stories they choose to tell or not tell.

We therefore start our cultural interventions by seeking to understand the existing culture as defined by the day-to-day stories of work, those small anecdotes that get shared around the water cooler or braai.

Once we have this narrative mapping of the existing culture, we can look for areas where there is evolutionary potential. Often we find that beneficial cultural patterns already exist and simply need amplification. We therefore design small actions to amplify positive stories (more stories like this) and dampen negative stories (fewer stories like those) to start shifting the culture in a real and sustainable way. If we continue gathering stories from the organisation while we are intervening we are also able to monitor the effectiveness of our interventions in real-time and in a way that is not easily gamed. The only way to change the stories people tell is to actually change the environment they interact with, or the nature of their interactions with each other.


One simply has to look at current business literature to see that the role of the leader in modern organisations has shifted.  In today’s complex and volatile work environment, leaders are called upon to lead very differently to what their predecessors did.

“Leaders will no longer be seen as grand visionaries, all-wise decision makers, and ironfisted disciplinarians. Instead, they will need to become social architects, constitution writers, and entrepreneurs of meaning. In this new model, the leader’s job is to create an environment where every employee has the chance to collaborate, innovate, and excel.”

Gary Hamel (Moonshots for Management, HBR 2009 (https://hbr.org/2009/02/moon-shots-for-management)

There is a prevailing concept of the individualistic super-hero leader: who has the answers, is never wrong, and always in control. We expect leaders to be chess masters, seeing the whole board, expertly moving pieces around, and making every single decision.

However, the world has changed. Speed, interdependence, and complexity have created a world where no single individual can understand the adaptive challenges we face, nevermind have answers.

Instead of directing chess pieces around the board and mulling over every single decision, leaders instead should act as gardeners— tending the environment, shaping the ecosystem, growing the organization that can adapt and win.” – General Stanley McChrystal

Most leaders realize that old ways of leading are simply not cutting it anymore, but are at a loss as to how to lead differently.  They all know that world is volatile and uncertain, increasingly complex with seemingly endless trade-offs and paradoxes, but they are stuck in old mindsets and habits. Before leaders can think and act differently, they need to become aware of and question these assumptions so that more options become available to them.  Often the only away to achieve this is through potentially disruptive learning experiences (not just exposure to new information).

We offer custom designed leadership journeys for leaders across all levels of the organisation from the C-suite and down.  In these journeys we employ well-researched methods and practices from complexity theory, cognitive science and narrative practices.  We combine these with disruptive elements for example:

  • Think like a chef, not a recipe book user – We learn from the world of culinary sciences how to improvise in uncertainty
  • Co-create and lead like a jazz-band leader – We learn from the arts (music, improv theatre or visual arts) to collectively improvise and cocreate novelty in uncertainty
  • Create jungles, not zoos to enable coherent organisations and collective responsivenes – We reflect on the containing spaces we create in our organisations and if they are enabling or disabling.  We learn from scientist who manage ecologies.

Each journey is a unique combination of theoretical input; practical application; transformative and disruptive experiences.  We partner with the best local (and international) thought leaders and authors to deliver these custom designed journeys.

Contact us today to co-create a leadership journey for your leadership cohort.


Sensemaker® is a software tool that was first developed for the Singapore government as part of a larger horizon scanning system to monitor and detect weak signals of civil unrest and terrorist threats. It has since been used in various projects in government, corporates as well as development agencies.

It’s patented approach of allowing story tellers to self-interpret their stories into a quantitative framework makes it an advanced research, decision support and monitoring tool that enables the collection of thousands of micro-narratives. These narrative landscapes provide decision-makers with a whole-of-system perspective of people’s actual experiences and perceptions i.e. what is actually happening the system, and why. Using these “storyscapes” we are able to monitor the impact of our interventions by focusing on movement of the stories in a given direction over time (vector) vs reaching a specific outcome or target. This is more congruent with the ever-changing landscape of complex phenomena like culture.

Sensemaker® can be utilised for a multitude of applications including but not limited to:

  • diagramCulture transformation in organisations and society
  • Risk & resilience (horizon scanning and weak signal detection)
  • Leadership Journeys & 360 degree feedback
  • Learning Journals e.g. journaling key insights during learning interventions and conferences
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing
  • Safety Culture
  • Enabling and supporting decision-making
  • Crowd-sourced scenario planning and strategy
  • Narrative-enhanced Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • User requirements capture
  • Customer & Brand Experience
  • Academic and other research
  • Attitudinal audits e.g. to ethics & safety as a lead indicator or risk

Talks-Master-ClassesSonja is a sought after speaker at conferences and corporate events.  She has several talks and master classes that cover topics such as:

  • Future-fit leadership
  • Leadership agility
  • Thriving in uncertainty – an introduction to complexity
  • Cynefin 101: making sense of the world so that we can act in it
  • Becoming entrepreneurs of meaning: How to change the world by asking different questions

These talks work well as conference keynotes, but also for Exco and other leadership breakways.  They range from 45 minutes up to 3,5 hour mini workshops and one day master classes.

If these topics don’t completely suit your needs, feel free to contact us for a custom-designed talk.

Contact us today for a to discuss your unique needs and/or make a booking.