Mark Cabaj Workshop

Moving the Needle on

Complex Community Issues

27 May 2015 | Auckland

Bookings Closed

Moving the Needle on Complex Community Issues


This workshop will introduce participants to the concept of complexity and complex adaptive systems. We also look at some emerging principles, pathways and practices of adaptive leadership and management aimed to improve the probabilities – but never guarantee – that people and organisations can move the needle on complex issues.


Dealing with Complex Challenges With Adaptive Responses

Twenty years ago, health officials in South Africa and Brazil were faced with roughly similar rates of HIV infections and were working within equally challenging institutional, demographic and public policy contexts.  Over time, South Africa’s incidence of HIV increased and remains stubbornly high while Brazil’s dropped significantly. Why? Officials in South Africa treated HIV as a complicated problem and used traditional problem solving approach that involved top down control and exhaustive expert driven research, planning and implementation.  Their counterparts in Brazil approached it as a complex challenge an employed an adaptive approach that engaged a wide range of unusual suspects, encouraged experimentation, and let solutions emerge rather than plan out and design every little detail in advance.

This workshop explores the latest concepts, principles and practices of adaptive approaches to complex issues, including the role of emerging and umbrella strategies, the overwhelming case for people most affected by social issues to be involved in the solution, and the critical need to turn traditional paradigms of accountability upside down.

Getting at Root Causes

Social innovators know that in order to generate deep and durable improvements in communities that they need to tackle the root causes – rather than the symptoms — underlying those problems. The process of mapping root causes can sensitize innovators to the complexity of the issue, identify areas of high impact, and help track the evolution of a complex issue over time. While everyone is clear on the importance of getting root causes, not everyone is clear on how to identify them systematically. This workshop explores four general approaches to mapping root causes — ranging from the easiest but less revealing to the most insightful yet challenging – using interactive techniques that supports participants experiment with technique for each method.


Be inspired by the following presenter:

Mark Cabaj

Mark is an Associate of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement and Vibrant Communities Canada. Mark is also the President of the company From Here to There.

Mark’s current focus is on developing practical ways to assist groups understand, plan and evaluate policies, programs and initiatives that address complex issues. This includes challenges such as neighborhood renewal, poverty and homelessness, community safety, educational achievement and health. He is particularly focused on expanding the ideas and practice of developmental evaluation, a new approach to evaluation which emphasizes learning and design thinking in emerging and sometimes fast-moving environments.

Mark brings experience from a variety of sectors. In the 1990s, he served as the Foreign Assistance Coordinator for Grants in Poland’s Ministry of Privatization, was the Mission Coordinator for the United Nations Development Program’s first regional economic development initiative in Eastern Europe, and worked with International Privatization Group-Price Waterhouse. In Canada, he was the Coordinator of the Waterloo Region’s Opportunities 2000 project – an initiative that won provincial, national and international awards for its multisectoral approach to poverty reduction – and served briefly as the Executive Director of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet). From 2002-2010, he was the Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Canada and a Director at Tamarack.

Mark lives in Edmonton, Alberta with his wife Leann and their children Isaiah and Zoë.

Price & Registration

One full day workshop: $195 + GST. This includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea.

Included in the registration:

  • Attendance at the 1 day workshop
  • Networking sessions during the day
  • Workbook material
  • Welcoming coffee/tea, morning and afternoon tea, and lunch
  • Inspiration!

There are 3 steps in the online booking process. You will receive an automated confirmation email. If you have any issues or questions about your booking, please contact Cris Sanders on 06 878 3456 or email:


Dates: Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre
58 Waipuna Road
Mt Wellington, AUCKLAND

Ph: 09 526 3024


We are pleased to receive the continuous support from the following partners:

© Copyright 2015 Moving the Needle on Complex Community Issues / GROW Ltd.