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Cynefin Retreat: Anthro-complexity and human systems Recordings (USA 11-23)

£299 £299



Cynefin Retreats bring outstanding faculty and engaged, interesting participants together to sow the seeds of new creation. Part intensive conference, part symposium, and part laboratory, they allow us to keep evolving and ensure that our work is regularly exposed to new ideas, while also benefiting those who come to explore alongside us.

Anthro-complexity and human systems: Our November 2023 Retreat brings together a diverse group to explore the theme of anthro-complexity and human systems. Join us to explore what is unique about this particular kind of complex adaptive system, how can we manage and lead them, what can be managed?

Please see the “List of Recordings” tab to confirm the scope of this recordings package.


Each retreat is stimulated by a faculty, called Eagles, providing provocative food for thought and supported by the Cynefin Co team. Our Eagles represent different backgrounds and points of view and we deliberately combine academic and practitioner perspectives.

Our Eagles for this Retreat are:

Alicia Juarrero

Alicia Juarrero is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Prince George’s Community College (Maryland) and the author of key texts including Dynamics in Action (MIT Press, 1999), and more recently Context Changes Everything: How Constraints Create Coherence (MIT Press, 2023). Alicia is also co-editor of Reframing Complexity: Perspectives from North and South (ISCE Publishing, 2007), and Emergence, Self-Organization and Complexity: Precursors and Prototypes (ISCE Publishing, 2008), and has authored numerous publications in refereed philosophy journals.

As Co-Founder and President of VectorAnalytica, Inc., a software development company, her work focuses on applying concepts from complexity theory to empower local communities to better monitor and track vector-borne disease outbreaks. The software focuses on integrating complex systems’ techniques and models to anticipate and contain the emergence of contagion dynamics.

Dave Snowden

A self-pronounced Welsh curmudgeon, Dave is the creator of the Cynefin Framework and originated the design of SenseMaker®, the world’s first distributed ethnography tool. Often described as a theoretician, but deeply pragmatic, Dave brings a unique perspective to any discussion, sprinkling academic references that range from Derry Girls and Frozen to Deleuze and quantum physics. Dave’s role as an Eagle is a full-circle moment for the Cynefin Co, handing the facilitator baton to the next generation.

When not working, Dave can usually be found exploring the nearest mountains on foot, preferably with his camera to capture the incredible views. A proud Welshman, he will take hiking breaks for rugby matches, fine gin and opera. His collection of Welsh memorabilia is rivalled only by his collection of unique Starbucks travel cups. Dave recently also became a grandfather for the first time, which may or may not mellow his famously fiery social media persona.

Michael Garfield

Paleontologist-Futurist Michael Garfield helps people navigate our age of accelerating weirdness and cultivate the curiosity and play we’ll need to thrive in it. As host and producer of both Future Fossils Podcast and The Santa Fe Institute’s Complexity Podcast, Michael has conducted over three hundred interviews on systems in transition as an interlocutor for a worldwide community of artists, scientists, philosophers, and other visionaries.

His communications work feeds and is fed by over fifteen years of synthetic and transdisciplinary “mind-jazz” performances in the form of essaymulti-instrumental live musiclive performance painting, and public speaking, walking through walls between academia, tech, and entertainment, everywhere from Moogfest to Burning ManSynergia Ranch to SXSW to Boom Festival, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Innovation Lab to Ignite Talks and Pecha Kucha Talks to The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. He currently works as a creativity and communications strategy consultant and “venture altruist.”

List of recordings

LIST OF RECORDINGS: all plenary sessions are recorded

  • Introduction to Retreat & Triopticon process
  • Eagle 1 presentation
    • Responses from Eagles 2, 3
    • Raven groups discussion feedback
  • Eagle 2 presentation
    • Responses from Eagles 1, 3
    • Raven groups discussion feedback
  • Eagle 3 presentation
    • Responses from Eagles 2, 1
    • Raven groups discussion feedback
  • Introduction to action phase and Beaver groups
    • Beaver groups share their summary of learnings and insights
    • Beaver groups reflections on actions Day 2
  • Final reflections and closing

Retreat method: Triopticon


Cynefin Retreats follow the Triopticon method, bringing together diverse expert perspectives in a collective sense-making process. Read up on the Triopticon: see the Triopticon wiki page or the YouTube explainer video.

The Triopticon is designed to enhance exploration and understanding, allowing all voices to be heard (literally) and new possibilities to emerge. It uses experts as food for thought rather than ultimate authorities and prevents us from narrowing to a single point of view too soon.

In a Triopticon, three keynote speakers (Eagles) offer different views and perspectives on a theme, and the rest of the participants (Ravens) gather in small sense-making groups to process, distil insights and then recombine to consider concrete “so what?” implications and actions.


  • Eagles: A Triopticon begins with input from three Eagles, typically individuals seen as authorities or disruptive thinkers in their respective fields. These Eagles are invited to offer provocative viewpoints as inputs into the collective sense-making process. Each Eagle represents different but interconnected disciplines within a given overarching context or theme.
  • Ravens: in the initial phase of a Triopticon, while the Eagles are sharing their perspectives, the majority of the participants are playing the role of Ravens, working in set groups of 3 to make sense of the presentations. They are “the canny ones” working to extract insights and explore them through further discussion across Raven trios.
  • Beavers: In the second phase of the process, participants are the builders and makers. Beaver groups are formed through a recombination of the Raven groups. Each Beaver group ideally consists of 1 member from each Raven group.

In addition, Triopticon uses observers and agitators in specially choreographed roles to disrupt norms, support cross-pollination of thinking, and encourage entanglement.

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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