Learning through contrast

September 11, 2008

Watching someone else facilitate with an established method is always fascinating. Contrasts make you think. Cognitive Edge facilitation focuses on extending the problem definition phase for as long as possible, then creates structured interventions which are owned by one team through three or four iterations of testing using ritual dissent (the link will only work for registered practitioners). The idea is to prevent consensus and premature convergence. In contrast with that, over the last two days I participated in a different approach. A brainstorm narrowed to a set of proposals (determined by the facilitation team) which were then refined by groups the next day, and passed on as codified documents to the next. So the balance was to reduce the problem definition phase and instead focus on an extended process of product refinement by different groups. I plan to reflect a bit and then pick up my notes and blog on the differences and learnings. In particular the question of hands on and hands off facilitation.

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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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