Observations on a paradigm shift

November 7, 2008

I should get back to the Think anew, Act anew series early next week and I plan to do one or two a week up to Christmas, but not hold up on normal blogging in between. You’ll be able to spot them by the pretty coloured glass pictures from Melbourne Art Centre and most should start with a quote for good measure. Round about Christmas we may publish the series as a pamphlet. In the meantime I’ve had an enjoyable day on my first visit to Nova Scotia, albeit between red eye flights. Thanks to Cindy for the hospitality, especially the best Calamari I have had anywhere in the world at Salty’s. I always enjoy speaking to Canadian audiences, they are polite but direct! One thing I have noticed over the last fortnight (three full training programme and several presentations) is that it is getting a lot easier to engage people in thinking differently about the application of complexity.

I was reflecting on this and remembering that the last major management movement, BPR mixed a new organisational paradigm (horizontal process not vertical functionalism), a new type of enterprise software (SAP in particular an ERP in general), a new service model (Letting the large consultancy firms take the implementation revenue rather than holding it within the application software company) and most critically a recession which forced organisations to depart from their existing comfort zones and find new ways to do things at reduced costs.

Now I am starting to see something similar and it goes a bit like this:

  • A new paradigm in complexity theory, the networked organisation, seeing organisational identity as coalescent coherence rather than a bounded structure of categories
  • Social computing as a radically new type of software environment and our own SenseMaker™ as an example both of application software working with fine granularity information objects, but also as providing an integration architecture for social computing within a corporate environment
  • A new service model, the growth of independent consultants, our own open-source network of methods and people.
  • Finally, regrettably, but interesting another recession with pressure to do more with less!

Its a sort of pattern really, interesting …

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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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