Dave Snowden

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Don’t prescribe sainthood

Dave Snowden

One of the many things that has always frustrated me about too many organisational change theories and practices is the assumption of sainthood. A model of the organisation, or its leaders, or the ideal employee or whatever is created.

In uncertainty lies resilience

Dave Snowden

This post is illustrated with Body of Knowledge , a steel sculpture created in 2010 by Jaume Plensa, located at the Westend Campus of Goethe University Frankfurt.

a need for empathy

Dave Snowden

There was a wonderful, if depressing, tweet from J.K.Rowling yesterday: If we all hit ctrl-alt-del simultaneously and pray, perhaps we can force 2016 to reboot.

Boundary conditions

Dave Snowden

For various complex reasons which started with a casual throw away remark at Lean Agile Scotland followed by a brief twitter storm I am spending two days in Dubai with a Kanban group. That includes the co-authors of Essential Kanban Condensed , namely David Anderson and Andy Carmichael.

Freedom through constraints

Dave Snowden

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about constraints in the context of complexity in general and cynefin more specifically. I’ve long used a constraint based definition to understand the differences between order, complexity and chaos.

Facile or felicitous?

Dave Snowden

I realise up front that there is a danger that this post may be misinterpreted. So to be clear I see nothing wrong in facilitation per se, I facilitate and I teach other people complex facilitation skills.

A return to constraints

Dave Snowden

I’m getting increasingly excited about the work I am doing on constraints. I first posted on this with an initial taxonomy back in September. Since then I have been working the ideas into a series of keynote speeches and more recently workshop exercises.

New partnership

Dave Snowden

Berlin has always been one of my favourite cities since I used to cross under the wall back in the 70s for various WSCF meetings.

to illuminate a small field

Dave Snowden

Anyone who has ever been walking in the hills will have had the experience of a sudden shaft of light illumining a previously unnoticed aspect of the landscape.

Price 54

The domain of disorder (iii)

Dave Snowden

I made the point yesterday that the disordered domain within Cynefin is one of false confidence, assuming you know how to act without first making an ontological assessment.

SAFe: the infantilism of management

Dave Snowden

I gave the opening keynote at the Agile conference in Brno today. A good audience in that they paid attention and were thoughtful.

Class 106

On stony ground?

Dave Snowden

I’ve choose Van Goch’s (after Millet) 1889 painting The Sower to illustrate today’s post as I want to build on the parable of the Sower from Matthew’s Gospel which I reproduce below.

Creating a knowledge strategy

Dave Snowden

I'm back at KM World in Washington having keynoted at the event for well over a decade now. Once it was virtual and I was represented on stage by a pumpkin, but I've learnt my lesson from that and now I turn up!

In the salt marsh

Dave Snowden

I’m still working on the new use of coupling and boundary constraints for Cynefin so readers will have to wait a few days for that. So I thought I would continue by theme of yesterday, namely the organisational use of narrative.

Intervening in a complex domain

Dave Snowden

A good conversation in Moscow this morning with David Anderson around and about the issue of managing a complex system and as is the way with discussion a half formed idea or two coalesced.

Understand backwards; live forwards

Dave Snowden

The headline of this post comes from Søren Kierkegaard’s famous quote “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” It came to mind in a Facebook exchange prompted by Sonja Blignaut.

C01: The Strathern variation

Dave Snowden

I promised an attack blog for each of the twelve days of Christmas and I got a lot of suggestions so there is obviously a market out there for taking down sacred cows, little tin gods and a paper tiger or two. As I thought about this while cooking the Christmas Dinner I mellowed a little.

Group cohesiveness & individual effort

Dave Snowden

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the murmuration of starlings. I’d arrived at the Hilton in Rome which overlooks St Peters. The family were joining me later for a weekend’s holiday which would include a Welsh defeat of the Italians in the Six Nations.

Social innovation labs, initial thoughts

Dave Snowden

For one reason or another I’ve ended up talking about various social innovation labs in multiple locations over the last couple of weeks and I’ve got a call on the subject tomorrow. Labs have become a little bit of a fashion item of recent years.

Agency: privilege & complexity

Dave Snowden

The daily email from Gaping Void is saving me the effort of searching the internet for images before posting.

To evaluate or describe?

Dave Snowden

Yesterday I referenced Max’s reminder to me of a conversation we had in which one or other of us came up with the idea that Stories are espoused theories whereas anecdotes are theories-in-use.

Clusters in the tail

Dave Snowden

A very satisfying first day in our Small Countries Big Ideas programme held overlooking the harbour here in Caernarfon. The turn out has been good with a lot of potential synergies between the participants' potential projects.

Complex or Chaotic?

Dave Snowden

The distinction between complexity and chaos theory can be problematic depending on who you are talking with, or what you are reading. There is no full agreement in the literature as to how the terms are used.

Design thinking & complexity pt 1

Dave Snowden

I promised to address this yesterday following a presentation on Design Thinking at the conference here in Ohio.

Fragmented, fractal and fertile

Dave Snowden

I argued in yesterday’s post that to resolve conflict we first of all had to change the filters through which people viewed the present. In order to do that we need to change the perception of the past, not create a future vision.

The Stepford syndrome in KM

Dave Snowden

I was in a bad mood this morning. A consequence of drinking far more than I am used to these days and knowledge of the purgatory of near starvation I will need to go through to get my weight back to where it should be at the end of the week. Ok its not that bad but its how I felt.

And here I stand

Dave Snowden

I was engaged in an interesting conference call yesterday while Michael was teaching a session in our four day programme here in Rio.

Please not more of the same (1 of 3)

Dave Snowden

Last month Paul Tudor alerted me to a 2012 McKindsey report Delivering large-scale IT projects on time, on budget, and on value. I pulled it out yesterday as I wanted to read it for my opening keynote at the Global Scrum Gathering in Berlin next week.

The Aggregatative error

Dave Snowden

Everything is simpler that you think and at the same time more complex than you can imagine. Goethe. I'm not the first person working in the area of complexity to use the Goethe quote and I am sure i will not be the last.

so long as I get SOMEWHERE

Dave Snowden

I intended to complete these three posts linking ideas from Alice in Wonderland with the work of Agryris (and in part Schon) over a week ago but there is only so much time in a day.

Great is the power of steady misrepresentation

Dave Snowden

I promised yesterday to clarify some aspects of Cynefin. This was triggered by Roger's Linked In post and some of the response (reported yesterday) but it is not a specific response. Rather see it as a summary of multiple responses both articulated or otherwise over the last few years.

OMG, its culture change time

Dave Snowden

If in doubt, blame the culture seems to be a golden rule in consultancy and management alike. And of course once blame has been allocated we end up with a visitation from the cultural change specialists with their tool kit of communication plans, key drivers, motivational posters, games and the like.

Creating an architecture for change

Dave Snowden

Yesterday’s post was partly inspired by my reading David Chandler’s 2014 book Resilience: The Governance of Complexity. My daughter recommended it and it has occupied me on a series of flights from Mumbai to San Deigo by way of Heathrow and Dallas.

Actions speak louder than experiences

Dave Snowden

Soma is the drug that keeps people happy in Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World. It has, to quote, All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.

On navigating conflict

Dave Snowden

[link]. Interesting session today on the role of art in achieving change. One of the most difficult audiences for understanding complexity is often people of good will. They rightly want people to have shared aims, trust each other, have aligned interests and so on.

On the dangers of transparency

Dave Snowden

My promise of yesterday to post on the question of transparency was promoted when I came across this image in a set of archetypes I was using as a project example.

Cost 51

Patterns & significance

Dave Snowden

A series of emails and skype calls today built up a head of frustration with some people's obsession with statistics and data. An obsession that attempts a substitution for sense-making, rather than as a tool to support it. One conversation with a research head of a British local authority who had been passed a HBR article which said data was more accurate than human judgement in recruitment and sooner or later all recruitment would be a big data algorithm.

The tyranny of the explicit

Dave Snowden

I thought I would pause my series of interesting dichotomies to make a minor tirade about the general assumption that all learning has to be explicit to be real. It is a particular manifestation of the engineering metaphor of the last few decades.

Scaling: of gaps and things

Dave Snowden

Yesterday I promised to move on the How do you scale success? question but working on Friday's seminar with Simon that afternoon various other thoughts came to mind and I started to sketch out the diagrams that appear below.

Of artisanship

Dave Snowden

A couple of years ago at the Hay Festival there was a debate on the relationship between art and craft. The argument of Mary Midgley and others was that you can't call something art just because it is asserted as such. Instead art has to display evidence of craft to be understood as such.