Crafting change

Collaborating in complexity


Just as artists and woodcarvers can achieve an infinite variety of results by mastering a few simple tools and principles, so too change-makers can work together with confidence and flexibility once they have mastered the basics of their craft.

This stream will introduce key principles and tools that have been distilled by Reos Partners over 20 years of tackling complex, often intractable, challenges around the world. Reos projects bring together multiple partners that each hold a piece of the solution, though they may not have been collaborators or even allies in the past. Adam Kahane, co-founder of Reos, has documented some of the learning from this approach in three best-selling books: Solving Tough Problems, Power and Love, and Collaborating with the Enemy.

Ian Prinsloo brings his own lens to this work. As a former theatre director, he knows how to set the stage for dynamic, productive collaboration. He understands that co-creation needs the right balance of structure and freedom, serious commitment and playful engagement. He is able to equip new players with what they need to quickly begin acting and discovering their way forward. Sophia Horwitz and Gregory Woolner, co-founders of COLAB have worked locally, nationally and internationally to bring participatory and evaluation practices into complex change work.

This hands-on stream you will learn and apply some of the simple tools and principles that make up the craft of change-making in complex environments—

Designing action cycles

  • Relationships first

  • Create with those who wish to serve

  • Progress over perfection

  • Consistency and commitment


  • Start with a core group

  • Form an alliance that connects parts of the system to each other

Stretch collaboration

  • Embrace conflict and connection

  • Experiment a way forward

  • Step into the game

Come prepared to work on your project. It is ideal if you can come with other members of your team or one of the partners you are working with. If that’s not possible, arrange to check in by phone once or twice during the week. You will move your project forward by the end of this stream.

Sophia Horwitz hosts processes that support generative conversations and co-creation to uncover innovative approaches for social impact. While completing her Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability she was introduced to the change-making methods and theories that she practices today.  She is a partner and co-founder of COLAB, where she has helped launch programs, projects and organizations such as Mainstreets, Art of Social Innovation, Participatory Budgeting, Placemaking Halifax and cross Canada Placemaking research and network development. Her wide ranging roles have included acting as sustainability officer in Honduras to ambassador of North America in Japan’s rebuilding efforts post 2011 tsunami. Sophia’s current work is focused on providing leadership and sustainable community development trainings in Canada and internationally.

Ian Prinsloo is a senior consultant with Reos Partners. He has been on the faculty of Leadership Development at the Banff Centre in Canada since 2009, designing programs and facilitating custom work for a wide variety of clients.  The focus of this work was the capacity development of leaders to initiate collaborative processes that reframe change as an act of creation. During this time Ian also ran his own consultancy, working with a wide range of clients across the corporate and non-profit sector.  He has been a regular lecturer with the Kaospilots in Denmark since 2011 where he instructs in Creative Process and the Art and Craft of being a Kaospilot.

In his previous life Ian was an award-winning freelance theatre director in Canada, as well as being Artistic Director at Theatre Calgary for eight years. Ian is a published author on the development of the Ensemble Relationship, Metaphoric Thinking, and Creative Process within Social Change.  

Ian holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree (theatre studies) from the University of Calgary, is a past alumnae of Leadership Calgary and an accredited facilitator of the Immunity to Change process.  Helping people connect to their inherent ability to create as the leverage point for change is at the centre of all of Ian’s work.

Gregory Woolner is a life-long learner dedicated to tackling social and environmental challenges one step at a time through interdisciplinary collaboration and rigorous research. With an Honours BA in Sociology, and Masters in Adult Education, and as a partner of COLAB, he brings many years of experience in process design, developmental evaluation, program development, and facilitation. Lately his work has been split between initiatives that seek to increase civic participation and citizen agency, and working as developmental evaluator with regional and national organizations on solving complex challenges, including NouLab, New Brunswick’s Social and Public Innovation Lab, Canada’s EcoFiscal Commission, the Pan Canadian Joint Consortium on School Health, and The Donner Canadian Foundation.

Susan Szpakowski