An early morning briefing session today for a strategy session I am facilitating next week. I've done a few of these over the years but they seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment. Another sign that complexity thinking is coming into its own. It is going to be interesting as I run a process based session on one day, then on day two they will get the more personal experience, examine yourself type session that is characteristic of the soft end of systems thinking.
I had to put an outline together to explain what goes on and decided to publish it here both for the record and to inform others. Most people who have been through the Cognitive Edge training (advanced) should be able to run one of these, although best to be mentored the first time. I've taken a fair number of people through it over the years and its always fun when they realise if you hold the final deliveries for as long as possible then you get powerful, divergent actions as a result.
No idealistic statements that will require work to make them tangible downstream, just hard concrete, tested actions. It is also directed, it is not open space as people don't choose what they discuss or who they work with. In this type of workshop we are more concerned to extend scanning capability of the group as a whole.
There are new action forms for this, and also a whole new approach to portfolio management of complex interventions. Those are all taught on the new courses which we will announce early next week.
Overview of Workshop
The Cynefin action workshop is designed to engage participants in thinking differently about a generic area or a specific problem or collection of problems. The workshop is constructed based on insights from cognitive science (in particular breaking pattern entrainment and ritual dissent) and complexity science (sometimes know as the science of uncertainty).
Background material for the principles can be found in the HBR article A Leaders Guide to Decision Making by Snowden and Boone as well as a wealth of material at http://www.cognitive-edge.com
The basic structure of the workshop varies depending on if it is over one day or two and also is adjusted on the day depending on the responses of the group. It is around 80% doing by participants and 20% instruction and guidance.
The workshop allows for engagement by senior management either during the event or to review the actions at the end. If they choose engagement throughout then its important that they are participate in an open way, not imposing authority on the group.
As stated the structure can vary but in general follows this pattern:
In the final session specific actions have been completed with detailed implementation plans. These can then be reviewed by Executives and/or the group as a whole.
These actions are reviewed in a structured follow through process agreed with the client after the event and has variable engagement from Cognitive Edge from coaching to review.
The process can be run with small groups, although less than 12 requires some modifications. It has also been run with several thousand, although for those numbers a large facilitation team is required.
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