November 25, 2008

I’ve suddenly realized that writer’s block might come because there is too much you want to say, rather than too little. I barely know where to start and yet know I don’t have a lot of time to sketch it out. I mean this in two senses: my guest blog is over in 4 days, and I am at the time of my work year where I just keep falling further behind.

Well, for today I’ll settle for describing Economists, since apparently we’re a bit of a rarity in the Cognitive-Edge community. Basically we’re quite close to accountants and engineers, since we’re good with numbers, but don’t have the requisite people skills for either profession : )

It seems to me that many Economists have a love-hate relationship with the discipline (or, at least, I hope it’s not just me!). I was attracted to Economics because of the potential to understand the world through numbers and models. I still enjoy Economics but now think that most of our models are not much beyond numerology. And I’m not saying that the solution is yet larger models!

However, at it’s essence Economics points out that 2 + 2 cannot be 5. The only thing that frustrates me more than neo-economic triumphalism is the wooly-headed insistence that “numbers” don’t matter. What attracts me to the Cognitive Edge framework is its recognition that numbers are useful and important in their proper quadrants, but that they are also limited. It appears to me that most of the Cog-Edge practitioners I’ve come across share my love-hate relationship to numbers. But we have to realize that our framework is literally incoherent to the large portions of the population that either only love, or only hate, “the numbers”.

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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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