Dave Snowden

Complexity in Human Systems

Dave Snowden

Many of the readers of this blog will know that one of the drivers behind the creation of the Cynefin framework was a desire to break the fad cycle.

Linkages matter

Dave Snowden

Working in complexity you soon get a sense of which ideas and concepts are causing (sic) people problems. One is the whole dispositional v causal aspect on which I have written several times, most recently at the end of 2017.

Avoiding paralysis in major change

Dave Snowden

Over the last three weeks I’ve been engaged in a diverse set of projects. Firstly the Singapore foresight and horizon scanning event, then a steelworks in Australia followed by masterclasses and multiple government meetings in New Zealand.

Change 201

Turning truth into myths

Dave Snowden

My original intent for today was the write a post about a new event for all those interested in the application of complexity theory in human systems. But the web site isn’t ready yet so all I can say for the moment is keep the 7th/8th November in Washington DC.

Swarm ‘intelligence’ 2 of 2

Dave Snowden

Yesterday I talked about wikipedia as a technology mediated form of collective intelligence.

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Cynefin & Theory of Constraints – Webinar II

Dave Snowden

This week CE hosted an open webinar on the topic of Cynefin & Theory of Constraints. This webinar featured CE practitioners and TOC experts, Steve Holt, Jabe Bloom, Greg Brougham, and Hilbert Robinson.

Liminal Cynefin & ‘control’

Dave Snowden

I was searching for my original known-unknown-unknowable matrix for today’s post and, as you do, came across a variation of Liminal Cynefin I used at and event to talk about the whole issue of control within organisations.

Cynefin St Davids Day 2019 (2 of 5)

Dave Snowden

It’s taken longer than I hoped but I now have the time to complete my series of five update posts on Cynefin. In my last post I explained the change from ‘Simple’ to ‘Obvious’ in the ordered domain.

Martin Burns RIP

Dave Snowden

On the 11th of March this year I sat down for a meal at the Bridge Inn in Ratho (top picture) near Edinburgh with Martin and Lucy Burns along with Simon Wardley. It was the end of an enjoyable three days. Wales had beaten Scotland (just) to stay on course for the Grand Slam and I was there.

Thinking about design ‘thinking’

Dave Snowden

I’ve been thinking about the whole approach we are adopting to design thinking as the Whistler retreat approaches. We started a journey on this at the same location last year and we are currently shifting into a formal method with associated tools and training.

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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”.

Swarm ‘intelligence’ 1 of 2

Dave Snowden

Today is the 13th anniversary of my starting to edit Wikipedia. I’m now up to 34,937 edits at an average of 7.4 a day. Most of what I do is to patrol a broad range of articles.

Cynefin as of St Davids Day 2019 (1 of 3)

Dave Snowden

An email came in yesterday from our new CEO Marion asking if I could explain why I had changed simple to obvious within the Cynefin framework, why I called it simple in the first place, had I thought of any other words and did it change anything to do with the dynamics.

Climate Change, Waste & Festivals: a collective fight needing a common understanding

Dave Snowden

Social media feeds in Summer 2018 here in the UK were, for those of us who work in the festival industry, awash with turtles trapped in plastic and discarded tents on no man’s land-esque muddy festival fields on a Monday morning. It was emotionally overwhelming and we were all fearful of how our own actions might be contributing, but not always sure how to help in a meaningful way, beyond giving a story a “like” or pleading with someone not to leave their tent behind. .

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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”.

A Retreat on narrative – where better to meet than in Ireland

Dave Snowden

The location of the Cynefin Retreat about Narrative in Organisations (Ireland, 18-21 March 2019) is specially chosen for its unique landscape and naturally rugged beauty.

Cynefin St David’s Day 2019 (4 of 5)

Dave Snowden

The introduction of liminality to Cynefin necessitated a slight rethinking of the main dynamics within Cynefin. To be clear multiple dynamics are possible but over the years these have emerged as the dominant ones. As the name implies the dynamics in Cynefin are all about movement between domains.

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.

Bringing the human element and complexity thinking to rebuilding resilience in Puerto Rico

Dave Snowden

Cognitive Edge, through the Cynefin Centre, is part of an exciting project team funded by a United States National Science Foundation grant.

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.

Monocarpic banality

Dave Snowden

I’m starting to think that it is only a matter of time before I graduate from being merely curmudgeonly and cynical to full blown cantankerousness. Now these are commonly seen as negative words. Johnson defined a curmudgeon as “An avaricious churlish fellow; a miser, a niggard’.

Culture 2 of 7: the canvass

Dave Snowden

I’m using the metaphor of a painting to provide structure to this series and all paintings have to start somewhere. One of the reasons for this is the sense of doing something with intent.

Twelvetide 18:04 empathy through perspective

Dave Snowden

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Becoming well?

Dave Snowden

I returned from two fruitful days in South Africa working on what we have temporarily named the new cognitive edge but suffering from a bad cold.

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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.

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.

Cynefin St David’s Day 2019 (5 of 5)

Dave Snowden

In my final post in this update series on Cynefin and I’m reserving the right to change things when I think about it more. I’ve been playing with options here on trains to and from particularly dark productions of tragic operas and the experience may have influenced by thinking.

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.

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

Patience is virtue of necessity

Dave Snowden

Around five years ago I spent a difficult and unplanned night in Toronto airport. I didn’t enjoy it but in part survived by using the experience as an opportunity to study crisis management as a sort of amateur in situ ethnographer.

A reflection from the Cynefin™ Retreat on the Aran Islands in Ireland

Dave Snowden

The Aran Island Cynefin™ Retreat on narrative was a resounding success. It was a small and intimate group which suited the remote, but spectacular setting.

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.

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.

Being labeled as ill …

Dave Snowden

One of the concerns I raised in yesterday’s post was the danger of assuming the need of a therapeutic approach in organisational, or for that matter individual wellbeing. I’ve long railed against the unthinking transfer of techniques and theories from one field into another.

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 ’.

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.

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.

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.

Housing 2019

Dave Snowden

This is a holding post. I will summarise the talk with links and details of the possible collaborative project tonight or more likely early tomorrow morning. In the meantime this is a longer lecture with some of the material in it.

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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.

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 238

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 206

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.