How I spent Halloween, but missed out on the Pinot Noir

November 15, 2006

I have been going to KM World as a speaker for several years now, and for the last few years it has coincided with Halloween. This is always more fun in the USA than the UK as its taken more seriously by adults and children alike. KM World has always been one of the best KM events, It also provides a chance to catch up with contacts in San Francisco and San Jose and always provides good conversation and new ideas. This year discussions on the future of Knowledge Management enlivened the week, and my keynote was well received with the exception of one vitriolic attack for anti-americanism on this blog after the event. The future of KM and the question of anti-americanism are worth separate entries; which will go up today or tomorrow depending on how many flight delays and opportunities for wireless access I get between Caracas and Salzburg, by way of Lisbon and London

For those who have been asking for my slides they are now available and the web site has a host of material relating to the subjects I covered. Sharing the platform with Cindy Gordon made be focus on getting some essential points across in half an hour, which was a good and educational discipline. I think the recording is still available from the organisers.

With other meetings I did not manage to attend as many sessions I would have liked. I managed to make Euan’s session and did his usual good job of showing how KM can be achieved bottom without major expenditure, drawing on his experience in the BBC. I was really sorry to miss Steve Barth on games and one of the other keynotes Dave Weinberger. Both were commended highly by people I trust and respect. I finally spent some time with Dave Pollard which was a pleasure.

Aside from KM World I attended and spoke at a Complexity Cluster on the Monday, spent valuable time with former colleagues in IBM discussing what looks to be an interesting event on complexity next April. From a personal point of view it was good to be talking with people who supported the Cynefin Centre in IBM, were frustrated that a home could not be found and were to a degree now vindicated in their support as the market, and IBM three years later is picking up on the idea of using complexity theory in social systems. IBM remains, despite the frustrations one of the great companies and its a pleasure to be working with them again.

In the complexity cluster, despite the subject, only two of the presentations were on the subject of complexity. Mine of contextual complexity and Verna Allee, precise and to the point as always on the subject of living systems theory and value networks. The small, but intellectually high powered audience ensured a stimulating and good natured debate in which prisoners were not taken, punches were not pulled and a lot of learning took place. A meal with Verna surrounded by halloween revelers finished off a stimulating day. I think we may have worked out some links between her work and ours, which may make a major contribution to issues of measurement. More on that after further meetings and conference calls over the next week or so.

Farshad, whose company IGEN are responsible for the development of Sensemaker™ joined me, both to show the software to interested delegates and also for a meeting with Lisa Petrides who is President of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. Mary Lee Kennedy and I met her at the same event last year and we hope to do some work with her Institute over the next year. Her Institute is located on the shore line of Half Moon Bay and she is also an artist of considerable ability, something I had not known until I saw her work exhibited on the walls of the institute.

I also had a chance to have dinner with Chris Bellavita whose Socratic Tale I blogged last month. His full article is now available by the way. The meeting was all to brief, but we plan to meet again. I am pleased to report that his conversation is as witty and erudite as his writing.

All in all a good week, aside from one major disappointment. Last year Mary Lee and I discovered probably the best Pinot Noir I have ever tasked from Roar Wines. Given my loyalty to New Zealand Pinots this is praise indeed. It was so good that it would be a sin not to have had a second bottle . The resulting general feeling of well being persisted to the next da, critically without a hangover. I hasten to add that it is not my normal habit to consume a whole bottle in other than exceptional circumstances but this was something special. I accordingly planned to track down a bottle or two and started by returning to the same restaurant. Horror of horrors it was off the wine list, and I had limited time to attempt to find a local supply and failed abysmally. Next time I will plan better and ensure sufficient time is allocated to the quest.

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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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