Dave Snowden

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.

Report 204

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 ’.

We need an new Albigensian Crusade

Dave Snowden

If I had to choose a heresy (and it may be heretical to even pose such a question) then it would be Pelagianism: the belief that human nature can choose between good and evil without the intervention of some paternalistic and anthropomorphised Deity.

Issues 130

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.

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 259

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 161

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.

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.

The dance of the Librarians

Dave Snowden

If I look back at the highlights of my various speaking engagements over the years then those to librarians are right up there in the highlights.

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 219

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.

… 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.

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.

Complexity, design and aesthetics

Dave Snowden

One of my better ideas last year was to put together the first Cynefin Centre Retreat in Snowdonia. By bringing together a trans-disciplinary faculty, interacting with experienced Cognitive Edge practitioners, we have an ideal generative approach to creating new thinking and new methods in key areas.

connections not things

Dave Snowden

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

Triage & trivia

Dave Snowden

For my generation one of the seminal television programmes was M.A.S.H, one of those cases where the spin off for the small screen was a better format than the original film.

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.

… which way I ought to go from here?

Dave Snowden

Scaling the Edge: Cynefin™ as a journey

Dave Snowden

For most of my life I’ve been working with various forms of symbiosis and synthesis. Bringing the natural sciences as an enabling constraint to understand social systems is the big idea behind Cognitive Edge.

Wiki 158

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 198

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.

Scaling in complex systems

Dave Snowden

I wrote a series of posts about scaling over three year ago which in part addressed some of the perversities of methods focused on accreditation revenue to which I referred yesterday.

System 216

Authenticity in Cynefin

Dave Snowden

The picture here is of Michael Bryant as Mathieu Delarue in the BBC production of Sartre’s The Roads to Freedom. Thought lost but then shown in full at the BFI in 2012 it has never been shown again and, despite demand, had not been released on DVD.

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.

Groups 274

Fidelity in complex systems consultancy

Dave Snowden

It been a week since my tirade against the abrogation of leadership by falling back to the crutch of a mega-consultancy report. Since then a mixture of bad flu, trans-pacific, trans-americas & transatlantic flights have all conspired against my blogging.

System 200

Ursula Le Guin

Dave Snowden

Most people came to Ursula Le Guin through the Earthsea novels. I only read those as an adult and came to her, as a teenager, through Rocannon’s World and The Lathe of Heaven. I soon progressed to her two great novels The Disposed and The Left Hand of Darkness.

Trends 183

On Experts, expertise and power

Dave Snowden

Remember Nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cookoo’s Nest ? Louise Fletcher won the Oscar for a brilliant portrayal of the emotionally and empathetically unconnected expert who always knows best.

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.

System 271

Conflict

Dave Snowden

You see conflict and care in all systems but humans are pretty unique in allowing both to exist outside kinship growth and for abstract ideas and values. Not only that we create rituals around both, we train people in rhetoric, we see conflict as an essential part of a good story.

In the Tricotocon …

Dave Snowden

Over the years I’ve developed a range of facilitation and workshop techniques based on the underlying principles anthro-complexity. Ritual dissent is probably one of the best known but we also have large group facilitation based on Cynefin, Silent listening and a few others.

When can we start again?

Dave Snowden

Pressing demands on my time have meant I had to delay this final post of three.

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.

A sense of direction (3)

Dave Snowden

I really should be cutting back on the email and task backlog at the moment but I keep getting distracted by the print of Cynefin on which I have made a growing body of notes so its probably best to get it out of the system.

Module 172

Manipulating narrative?

Dave Snowden

As promised yesterday it is more than time to update some of my thinking on narrative as communication. I’ve taught aspects of this from time to time on the four day Cynefin and sense-making courses, but I can only give it around half a day here and now I have two.

Liminal Cynefin: first revision

Dave Snowden

I posted an early version of the liminal variant to Cynefin a few days ago, then presented it a few times. Last week in Tallin I ran through it in a masterclass and realised I had over complicated things. If you look at the learlier post I had added liminal boundary zones everywhere.

The dispositional state

Dave Snowden

I’ve had a frustrating few weeks since my last post. An as yet uncorrected error in Blogo (which I otherwise love but …) associated with multiple images meant I lost two hours of work that I had put into a follow up to my last post on meaning and constraints.

Change 245

The domain of disorder (i)

Dave Snowden

I’m out to Milan tomorrow and I am starting to feel like a Typhoid Mary for the unexpected having been in the UK for Brexit and California for Trump. The rapid onset of crude (in all senses of the word) populism is not something I expected to be living through in the modern age.

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.

The certification question

Dave Snowden

The vexed question of certification came up in conversation yesterday.