Joan Lurie is a leading developmental psychologist and acclaimed thought leader in the field of systems thinking and change. She is the founder of the emerging field of Organisational Ecology and the ground-breaking methodology Orgonomics™ which provides a ‘map’ for leaders to navigate today’s complex context.
The story of Orgonomics began in Johannesburg, South Africa. Joan was born and raised in the context of apartheid. From an early age she was confronted with the destructive power of systemic racism, embedded prejudices and rigid patterns of thinking. She was challenged by the idea of changing these patterns and unlocking systemic change for social equality.
She knew organisations presented one context for doing this work and she was curious about how they could be used as containers for change, but also how to bring about change in them.
In 1993, her perspective on the adaptive challenges of organisational life was fundamentally reframed. While working in a culture change role at a successful publicly listed company, she was introduced to Irving and Bella Borwick, who had developed a revolutionary systemic approach to organisational change which was yielding remarkable results.
Through this new systemic lens, she observed how new and different ways of seeing could be formed in the minds of individuals and different ways of relating could be mapped and reconstructed within organisations. It was a new way of understanding roles and repatterning relatedness, for adaptive change that really worked. And once seen, it could not be unseen.
Practising this for years in South Africa in full-time and consulting roles, she worked in fields as diverse as banking, technology and manufacturing, which she continued after emigrating to Australia in 2004.
Joan holds two masters’ degrees – the first in Adult Education and Development from Wits University, South Africa, and the second in Developmental Psychology, from Columbia University, New York, where she was a Fulbright Scholar.
The past two decades have seen her partner with executives and leadership teams from some of Australia’s pre-eminent organisations, developing their systemic and adaptive capacity and co-creating new ways of operating with transformative commercial and cultural outcomes. In her own words ‘Doing this work has always been good for organisations, but now it’s an imperative for our whole ecology.’