A conversation with Nora Bateson & Dave Snowden
When meaning loses its meaning

As the theory and application of complexity and systems thinking translates into new epistemological worlds and emerging ontological possibilities, there is an ever-growing need for rigour, attention and creative understanding of the language and metaphors that circulate.
This is the first conversation between Nora Bateson and Dave Snowden to explore the uses and shifting meanings of some of the key concepts and ideas in the fields of complexity and systems theory. We will dive into the origins and histories of concepts, like abduction, to explore how meanings stretch, transform and sometimes wear out across ecosystems of communication. This journey with Nora and Dave offers unique perspectives – tracing the roots of ideas and discerning subtle differences – towards a shared curiosity in the integrity of cultural dialogue and tending vital connections across understandings.






Abducted” by liminal ghosts: A Halloween special with Nora and Dave

*** A note for when you are watching…

Around 3 minutes in the conversation, there was sharing of clips we had to cut. To warm you up for the upcoming discussion, we have chosen a classic of science fiction. This is a Star Trek episode that reflects on metaphor, communication, stories, and connections, as our heroes encounter a species that communicate only through the medium of reference to their body of stories – in this language, everything becomes a metaphor.

You can watch the clips here –

1: Exploring the conflict (with a bit of technobabble to partially ignore, if you don’t have the rest of the episode)

2: Discussing abstraction in an alien language

3: Sharing stories 1 and 2


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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.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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