Common confusions on SenseMaker®

July 8, 2014

An odd sort of day which started with my getting up before 0400 to make the 0601 train the Bonn and finished with me winning a bidding war on eBay auction with my last bid while watching the German humiliation of Brazil in a bar in the centre of town.  The good Burghers of Bonn  were remarkably undemonstrative from the start which was a bit surprising.

In between I gave a presentation about the use of narrative in development work which was, in my humble opinion, one of the better summaries I have done but I may regret some of the polemics downstream.  For those interested the podcast and slides are available via the link.  I forgot to pick up on Yasmin's use of ​the adjacent possible in her speech which came before mind, but overall it was pretty comprehensive and I was able to demonstrate the new iOS Explorer (awaiting formal approval in the iStore) on one of our african projects. That made it easier.

Interestingly in several discussions after we had two of the more common confusion/questions that its worth picking out:

  1. People find it very difficult to get their minds around the fact that people self-interpret their own stories.  Even after you have repeated the message a few times and demonstrated the capture process they still ask how the interpretation is applied after you extract the stories.  Its a sort of pattern entrainment, people only know post hoc tagging so real time signification takes a lot to grasp.  It always surprises me, but we maybe need to get people to play with the system in real time and show them, something we could now do.
  2. We got the debate over how the signifiers are designed.   Again the normal ​why not let people work out their own triads at the time and the like.   The whole point is to create what I call a grammar of meaning which requires some structure.   What we do is a form of longitudinal research but instead of a computer or a research deciding how a story should be flagged, we take the theory said agents are using but empower people to do their now own interpretation.

Now both of these are pretty self-evident if you have done a few projects, but it is difficult for people coming at it for the first time.  As per the Gaping Void cartoon, all complexity work is simple, but only when you stop thinking in a complicated way

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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.

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