Organizing the stuff in the toolkit

September 27, 2011

Mechanic Tool by hinnamsaisuy

Hi, everyone. I look forward to sharing with you how the work I do as a Cognitive Edge practitioner has impacted me personally and professionally. For some people, learning about complexity and chaos thinking is a totally brand new experience, a first time out of the starting blocks. For others, it’s a coming together of a mess of ideas, thoughts rummaging in your head or methods in your consulting toolbox. That was me in the latter. Ahh, a way to bring clarity and sensibility into the picture. In shop terms, a rather neat pegboard to help me organize and place my hooks to hang my tools.

How did I get initially involved? It began with a client who had a recurring safety problem calling me. As in typical assignments, the starting point was finding out what’s going on via traditional interviewing. So I dutifully prepared a list of questions based upon what I thought were the critical areas to explore. Yep, I was motoring right along all set to go using my survey templates. Thankfully I was working with a new colleague Giuseppe Sardone who knew nothing about my client and zero about the business. He stopped me in my tracks by asking: “How do you know what the workers are thinking?” I countered of course I knew because of my many years of experience and blah blah blah. Then it hit me. Is it possible I could be blinded by my buildup of so-called expertise and knowledge about the industry? Was there an alternative, a better way of really finding out what’s happening? No guessing, no postulating, just letting folks tell it like it is? Of course the answer is yes. Giuseppe had introduced to me a different approach. The next step was obvious. In May 2009, I attended the CE accreditation course in Vancouver and both of us have been members of the practitioner’s network thereafter.

Now whenever I see or hear the word “Complex”, it takes on an entirely meaning for me. I immediately begin thinking of the Cynefin framework and wondering are we focusing on uncertainties and/or lack of cause/effect relationships in the Complex Domain or is it really Ordered side behaviour in the Complicated Domain? I also have similar brain flashes for the word “Simple”. Out of curiosity, has this happened to you?

Heck, I even view sporting events differently now. Being Canadian, I’m sure you all expect me to be an ice hockey fanatic. Well, you’re right. I have been a season ticket holder for the Vancouver Canucks for many years. Sadly and somewhat embarrassingly I will admit I was at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and witnessed the Vancouver riot that followed the home team loss. Wisely I left the arena and headed south with my son and avoided the Downtown chaos. I intend to cover in a future posting my interpretation of the riot in terms of Cynefin framework dynamics. In the meantime, keep your elbows in, stick on the ice, and please join me as I travel down the SenseMaking road over the next 2 weeks.

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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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