Dave Snowden

Narrative: picking up the scallop shell

Dave Snowden

Narrative has been an ever-present aspect my work over many decades now. I was lucky in that I initially entered the field in the pursuit of knowledge.

Exploring synergies and interaction between the Cynefin Framework and Theory of Constraints

Dave Snowden

As our business contexts become increasingly complex, the success rate of large scale transformation efforts and projects are rapidly decreasing. Many have been looking for answers to improve their performance and results, often jumping from one method to the next in search of “The Answer”.

Culture: the subject

Dave Snowden

The Oxford English Dictionary defines culture as “The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively” and “The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society”.

Narrative: exploring the world

Dave Snowden

The first time I saw the Aran Islands was back in the 70s from the Cliffs of Mohr. I was part of a weekend house party organised by Mary Condren (one of the faculty or our retreat) on the west coast of Ireland.

Twelvetide 18:04 empathy through perspective

Dave Snowden

Groups 226

The landscape of narrative

Dave Snowden

Back in 2014 I wrote the entry on organisational story telling for the Sage Handbook on Action Research. I wasn’t wild about the title at the time as I felt that was only one aspect of the field.

Mapping ….

Dave Snowden

Back in March 2018 I posted on the differences between models, frameworks, methods, manifestos and creeds; the first in a series of posts on Agile.

The liminal nature of narrative

Dave Snowden

I’ve been delayed in getting this second post in the series of the role and nature of narrative published. Many things going on in Cognitive Edge at the moment and I’ve had to make a couple of big decisions and I’m dealing with the aftermath of one and the promise of another.

Twelvetide 18:01 introducing axiology

Dave Snowden

I’ve managed to attempt, and sometimes complete, a series of Christmas posts most years on a range of subjects. I think I started in 2009 with a series of foods, then skipped to Children’s Books in 2012.

Narrative: paying the piper

Dave Snowden

One of my motivations in devising the Tricotocon approach to trans-disciplinary learning, which we will use in the coming narrative retreat, was to allow disputation between peers and subsequent reflection.

Culture 3 of 7: Identify the big shapes

Dave Snowden

While having specific goals is not possible in a complex system, and any cultural change is complex, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have a sense of direction and/or purpose. When a painter starts on their canvass they have a sense of what they are going to create.

Twelvetide 18:08 meaning making

Dave Snowden

Some years ago I was at an Academy of Management meeting in Washington DC to receive an award for original contributions to the field of knowledge management.

Twelvetide 18:09 habits & the soul

Dave Snowden

One of those quotes from the bible that most people are, at least in the western tradition, aware of comes from Mark 8:36 “ For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Can we start again?

Dave Snowden

One of the major issues in virtually any change initiative in organisations is the constant assumption that one can start from scratch. I addressed the issue of setting goals and targets in a series of four posts earlier this month which starts here.

Survey 267

Twelvetide 18:12 lle i enaid cael llonydd

Dave Snowden

Writing this series has been an interesting process – a few of the posts were planned but in the main I just started writing with a view to seeing what would emerge. Speaking can be like that as well and allows you to respond to the audience in the moment.

The tyranny of the explicit

Dave Snowden

One of the phrases I coined many moons ago is that of ‘ necessary ambiguity’ ; or, if I am feeling less assertive, ‘ requisit ambiguiuty ’.

Twelvetide 18:07

Dave Snowden

I’ve managed to pass the half way point in this series and I’m feeling confident about completion.

Groups 158

Context in narrative work

Dave Snowden

One quote from my contribution to the ‘StoryTheFuture’ event was picked up in social media. I’m not sure it really qualifies as going viral but it did have some impact. I said: Stop telling leaders to tell stories and (instead) get them to take actions that will generate stories.

Twelvetide 18:05 metaphor

Dave Snowden

Yesterday’s post looked at a case in which narrative techniques were used to present individual leaders with multiple challenging perspectives; seeing themselves as others see them.

A sheep in wolves clothing

Dave Snowden

Nothing pleases people more than to go on thinking what they have always thought, and at the same time imagine that they are thinking something new and daring: it combines the advantage of security and the delight of adventure.

Culture 7 of 7: Completion

Dave Snowden

When I started this series I said I was going to follow the metaphor of creating a painting with a twist at the end.

Compliance, disintermediation and wisdom

Dave Snowden

One of the really difficult aspects of leadership is that you have to get used to the fact that very few people will tell you the truth. Of you are new into a senior role everyone wants to be your friend.

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Narratives of & by the Leader

Dave Snowden

I left the question of the role of the leader in story telling open in yesterday’s post. My contention remains that in anything involving change, actions generally speak louder than words. But there is a time and a place for story telling.

The myopia of metrics

Dave Snowden

I still have affectionate memories of my slide rule. We learnt how to use them around 14 or so and while they took away the mechanical aspects of computation you still had to have a sense of scale – the power of ten you had to work out in your head.

Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–

Dave Snowden

This is the first of a series of posts on the agility; of indeterminate length and intermittent in nature it will of necessity be at times polemical and curmudgeonly.

Should we start again?

Dave Snowden

I interrupted this series for yesterday’s brief tribute to Ursula Le Guin. In the first post a couple of days ago I asked if, realistically, one can start from scratch in any organisational change initiative.

Change 239

Twelvetide 18:11 the numinous

Dave Snowden

I first came across the idea of the numinous when I picked up a second hand copy of Rudolf Otto’s book The Idea of the Holy which I picked up on one the Ampleforth retreats I mentioned in a previous post.

Twelvetide 18:10

Dave Snowden

In my opening post I mentioned integrity as one of the key words I wanted to address and in this post I want to link it to the idea of virtue – Philosophers amongst you will anticipate a reference to Aristotle here and I’ll come to that.

Skills 141

Leadership & integrity

Dave Snowden

I’ve got a lot more posts lined up in the Alice series, but I’m going to interrupt as the mood takes me and the overnight Gaping Void cartoon picked up well on my theme of yesterday; namely the need to actions that allow desirable culture or ‘mindsets’ to emerge over time.

Twelvetide 18:06 Free Will

Dave Snowden

It’s very difficult to talk about ethics without at least mentioning the question of free will, and (I would contend) impossible to understand aesthetics without accepting its existence.

Design, value & constraint

Dave Snowden

The pictures here are from the first ever Cynefin Retreat in Snowdonia last year; our fourth retreat, the third of 2018 will be in the same location in a few weeks time. Last year we put together some interesting people and just let things happen; this year we have been more structured.

Design 176

Twelvetide 18:03 between obligations

Dave Snowden

I’m not sure when, or why, my life long dislike of Utilitarianism started but I still remember discovering the elegant destruction of the idea in Bernard Williams wonderfully concise book Morality.

Twelvetide 18:02 immersion in value

Dave Snowden

Art has many roles in human evolution but one of the most important is to teach values and trigger people to think differently. If you want a simple illustration of this look the attention brought to the Spanish Civil War by Picasso’s Guernica completed in 1937.

A sense of direction (1)

Dave Snowden

I had a really interesting exchange on twitter over the last few days. It’s nice when you can have an exchange with people mature enough to both take, and give, an argument rather than defend their various sacred cows.

Module 232

Systems thinking & complexity

Dave Snowden

A recent post by Sonja caused some reaction in social media and I promised to write something to clarify my position the subject. Now I should say up front that a lot of this is finding labels for things that are different, not the denigration of other methods and tools.

System 267

Xmas 2017: I Introduction

Dave Snowden

One of the oddiities of our increasingly digitial world is the way that birthday and other reminders pop into view for old friends who are now dead. Paul Cilliers, author of Complexity and Post-Modernism and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch died on July 31st 2011.

Resilience

Dave Snowden

In yesterday’s post I illustrated the difference between a resilient and a robust system by contrasting a salt marsh with a sea wall. The Sea Wall is highly efficient, it creates a clear boundary but when it breaks the result is catastrophic. It can only survive as it is.

Design 188

Reflections on the Whistler process

Dave Snowden

Out first retreat of 2018 explored the general area of design and innovation. It took place in Whistler with a great faculty and a lot of participation. Combining the event with our first ever Train the Trainer session also produced multiple benefits.

connections not things

Dave Snowden

Following last weeks highly successful Cynefin Retreat we had a Cognitive Edge management meeting at my home in Wiltshire.

… and reduced the answer to shillings and pence

Dave Snowden

The picture is of a doctor wearing a plague mask. The mask is to protect him from the night air, or miasma which at the time was thought to be the way the disease spread.

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.

Inherent uncertainty is our natural habitat

Dave Snowden

Yesterday I used Paul Cilliers list of characteristics of a complex adaptive systems to introduce the idea that complexity in human systems – anthro-complexity – has many distinguishing characteristics.

Spandrel & serendipity

Dave Snowden

In architecture a spandrel is the space between an arch and the vertical wall. It had no purpose until artists discovered its value for decoration. In biology is a byproduct of an adaptive selection for another purpose.