People don’t need experts

August 19, 2006

I’m writing in this in the middle of an narrative project in Toronto Canada. We are looking at health and life style issues relating to the use of drugs. There are some interesting paradoxes here. To take one example :

I freely decide to purchase and take vitamins and yet I resent taking the medicines prescribed by my physician…

Now we have 31 people with in four groups, each of which has a common condition such as asthma. They are all ages and social groups and we want to end up with several hundred stories, each of which is interpreted by the story teller not some expert. We want to real voice of the patients to come through and be heard.

They are a great group to work with, and they have trotted to and fro the video booths throughout the day to tell some profound and moving stories. They have done that with no facilitation in the groups. We gave them cards with open questions, or showed them pictures of life style conditions and left them to it. No focus group facilitator to influence what they said. No one telling them that they had to tell positive stories, or forcing them to decide which story was the most significant, or was the most important.

They have just spend the day telling stories, interpreting those stories and meaning is emergent and therefore triumphant

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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.

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


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