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Learning to learn - the “Ah ha” moment

November 19, 2009

As I complete final preparations for the next Cognitive Edge Accreditation course which I am co-facilitating with Steve and Viv next week in Canberra, I have been reflecting on what I enjoy most about the accreditation courses. For me it is experiencing with participants their “Ah ha” moment around complexity. I am a great observer of body language and seeing participants reactions to complexity change over the course is really exciting. You normally have some people who are clearly uncomfortable with what is being explained about complexity – concepts that are challenging their long held mental models, some who immediately “get it” and are itching to hear more and some who are sitting on the fence – they can see the possibilities but are not yet convinced. By the end of Day 1, having had an intensive intro to Complexity and participated in a number of practical exercises, people are already looking to how they can apply what they are learning back in their organisations. Most if not all, have had the “ah ha” moment (which for many comes with the practical application of the methods being taught). You can see the participation and enjoyment levels rise throughout the day and questions asked turning more to application of the methods rather than challenging the concepts.

The most rewarding moment I find comes in the final session of Day 2, where participants are asked to choose a complex issue they are facing and in groups apply combinations of the 8 methods they have been taught. Each group then presents back how they would approach the complex issue they have chosen. It is here that I am always amazed at the way the methods are woven together into cohesive approaches that could readily be applied. In these sessions, I always find that I also learn something new from the way people approach the complex issues being considered. Indeed, I regard it as a privilege to learn something new from each course as those attending all bring differing and unique perspectives to the table.

The day I stop learning something new from these courses is the day I will quit!

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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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