An introduction…

August 20, 2007

By Michael Cheveldave

Well, here we go. Another milestone reached by Cognitive Edge with the role out of a new website and a separate site that presents their software offerings. It’s an exciting turning point for CE. As the first guest blogger I hope to help mark this transition with a series of interesting posts discussing my experiences and lessons I have learned through working with Cognitive Edge methods during the past few years. I was first introduced to the methodology and thinking in 2003 (in the days when the effort was part of IBM) and it has been an interesting journey going from being amazed and fascinated by the theoretical concepts to putting them to practice on real-world applications and exciting projects.

First a little background. From an academic perspective I have an undergrad in engineering and more recently a graduate certificate in knowledge management. I am a Canadian living in rural BC (by choice) which is located a little over 2hrs drive north of Spokane, WA. Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere amidst the mountains but a beautiful place to call home. Happily married and a father of two children – a daughter who is about to be 6 yrs old and a son soon to be 3 months old. So caffeine consumption is higher than normal these days in order to deal with interrupted sleep and a busy work schedule.

My career transition from engineer to management consultant specializing in complexity and sense-making approaches was bridged by a 6 year effort in building a technology company. It was the hard lessons of understanding people dynamics, venture capital financing, and start-up company transitions that gave me an interesting backdrop and a rich set of “lived” stories to think deeply about the Cynefin framework and the evolved Cognitive Edge methodology. The intensity and tension between ontology, phenomenology, and epistemology in a startup company context is fascinating. Looking at this from the lens of the Cynefin framework offers insights into successes and failures. In my case, much of the learning was in retrospect and so I was unable to apply my new knowledge and understanding to help save the company from falling victim to Moore’s Chasm. Hence I embarked on a career transition from business development and IP management in a mature (but struggling) start-up to a management consultant with no consulting experience. What better way enter this arena than to work with a group promoting open-source consulting methods in a subject area that fascinated me. As such NuOptiks Consulting was born, specializing in the application of complexity informed methods with a foundation of entrepreneurial experiences. At first I wondered if this value proposition would sell. At the start I was a bit skeptical but after initially offering services on a volunteer basis to non-profits and then taking on small pilot projects on a commercial basis the value proved to be very strong (some help from referrals by close friends helped a lot as well). That was nearly three years ago and over 20 projects / engagements with clients.

I look forward to 2 weeks of throwing ideas out and sharing experiences during my guest appearance here. Although I may not achieve the same pace of posts as Dave, I will endeavor to have something up every other day.

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About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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