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Healthy together!

June 10, 2013

The wonderful weekend brunches are a real delight here in Melbourne. The breakfast culture is very strong and is similar to Wellington, NZ. Great coffee with a healthy and unique breakfast is a treat especially when one needs to be away from home on an extended business trip (Bircher Muesli enjoyed at the Hardware Society this morning).

For the past week and weekend I have been in Melbourne enjoying the southern hemisphere’s start to winter (mild compared to Canada) and have another week to go. Dave and I will be delivering our new 4-day Cynefin course this week to a sold-out audience. It’s lining up to be a great session with a mix of experienced and new practitioners all to be immersed in the most current thinking and advances in CE’s methods and approaches.

Last week I enjoyed introducing complexity and SenseMaker® to senior and frontline leadership teams at the Department of Health and the Healthy Together communities. The state of Victoria in Australia has initiated one of the most innovative approaches to public health in the world and we are quite excited to be working with them.  It is an interesting theoretical exercise to explore complexity theory as a concept but to put it to practice and inform decisions and strategy requires bold and innovative leadership.  As the Abraham Lincoln quote we often reference says, not only do we need to “think anew” we also need to “act anew”.  The people we are working with at the Department of Health and Healthy Together have that quality and are definitely thinking AND acting anew!

In preparing for my two leadership talks I was reflecting on the difference between the public health “system” versus the acute / chronic care “system”.  Acute / chronic care is focused on the individual which is obvious.  Hence, if behavioural changes are required to improve the health situation of an individual, the healthcare practitioner encourages that individual to make appropriate changes.  Unfortunately research has shown that individuals more often do not make lifestyle or behavioural changes to improve their situations even upon receiving such motivations.  That’s when I realised that public health is the biggest lever in relieving the exploding pressure on acute / chronic care… it leverages a populations ability to reinforce or disrupt behaviours that lead to favourable population health improvements.  We need to remember however that such population reinforced behaviour patterns are emergent and can just as easily result in unfavourable patterns as favourable ones.  Hence the need to apply complexity theory and effective scanning methods such as SenseMaker® for early detection and fast response.

Yesterday we took the opportunity of a sunny but crisp day to tour parts of Melbourne by bike. It was a nice way to get to know a city a little better. I have visited four times over the past year but have seen little outside of the downtown core. Today the mode of exercise will be back to ambulation so attention will be less drawn by a diversity of sights and vistas and more on stimulating conversation. Always a treat with @snowded!

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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.
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