Making sense of and using stuff from the Accreditation Program

May 26, 2010

The Accreditation Program I participated in Brisbane in 2010 was not actually run by Cognitive Edge but in conjunction with Emerging Options and I believe this is the first time the program was offered in this format so I am not sure of how it differs from others. For me the main reason I went was to learn more about Sensemaker and not to use the Cynefin framework and approach in a consultancy capacity. I was interested in trying develop research projects around Sensemaker but oddly enough, the first project that has adopted material from the Program is not based on Sensemaker. What a shock that was for me and interesting in how we have taken The future, backwards and used in a way that might not fit the Cynefin intent but seemed to work for us in dealing with a research project that began long before I had heard of Cynefin or Sensemaker.

The first project I want to describe in my blog is one that is part of a PhD in healthcare and obviously for ethical reasons I cannot be too specific about the subjects and the topic but I can give you a broad outline of how we are using The future, backwards to make sense of a large amount of video material that has been collected around meetings of healthcare networks. There is a large volume of text material to deal with and one of the problems facing us was to figure out what to focus on in describing what goes on in the meetings. A key question being explored is the type of leadership that emerges in this ever changing context in which many of the problems that face members has to do with what would fall into the complex domain in the Cynefin framework. So given that we can’t workshop the material at the moment and can’t go back to the members, we decided to try to make sense of the meetings by doing The future, backwards exercise.

The PhD student went through and identified key turning points (we can check these back with the chairs of each team) and then sorted the decisions that were taken into the Cynefin framework. We (the PhD student has done the analysis) have been able to discern that complex issues were not usually dealt with but the narratives that arose in trying to reach decisions around these problems/issues were much richer than those that occurred around problems that led to decisions being reached. Decisions were made much more frequently in the domain of the complicated or simple. Opportunities were lost to explore and discover novel and innovative ways of say engaging patients or other groups that would have improved the service. Teams that did engage in the complex domain had different dynamics and were stronger in the way they built relationship across a variety of contexts. We are going to use Dave Snowden’s Harvard Business Review article to see if we can discern patterns across the groups and to see where this gets us. We are also looking at the archetypes that are discernable in the narratives (anecdotes). We did not use critical incidents to do this analysis because it would not have given us the ability to see the way in which the turning points in themselves are patterned.

When I did the turning point exercise I realised it had a lot of uses and I have probably bastardised it a bit but then in this field everything is changing and emerging in different ways. My next blog will recount another project that again did not start with Sensemaker but is heading there.

Sorry no pictures today! This is my first go at doing the blog myself and I have had a very hard day filling in my insurance claims for when I was stranded in the UK with the volcanic ash episode (Mark 1 – the first major disruption). I have to say the whole episode did effect me in that I had the longest period of the jet-lag that I can remember! I had a 35 hour trip home to boot! I coined the term “VAT” to describe the syndrome and it has nothing to do with the taxes in the UK – yes, you guessed it – Volcanic Ash Trauma! I have a feeling there will be a lot of it before that ash goes away! Now to see if the insurance company claims an Act of God or just accepts that the wind blew it a certain way and that is all about the weather.

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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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