Reflections on San Francisco

July 14, 2008

Last month I spent 3 days with a diverse and interesting group of participants in the Cognitive Edge Accreditation Course led by Dave Snowden and Michael Cheveldave. I felt a bit out of place because most of the participants were consultants or practitioners, but quickly focused on the research applications of what I was learning.

I was very excited about the methods presented and want to teach students about them. I’ll do this in my next graduate student Seminar in Organizational Psychology. I’ll have to be careful, tho – some of the theorists that Dave dissed are the ones highlighted in the most commonly used textbooks and books of readings for this course! Also, I wonder a bit about the implications of focusing a lot of the course material around a new and still relatively unknown method. On the very positive side, the students would end up on the cutting edge of practice. One thing I really liked about the Cynefin framework and the focus on narrative is that they add to the ‘respectability’ of qualitative methods and data gathering and the analyzability of qualitative data. From an academic perspective, this would be critical for getting work published. I think more academics should be recruited to expand use of the methodologies – acceptance in academic arenas would seem to be a positive factor in their dissemination.

I realize that I will have to hone my skills as a storyteller if I want to get seriously involved in this type of research. Dave teaches very much through examples and sample stories. I’d love to use the water engineer story in my class….

Professor Kathleen Mosier, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Psychology
San Francisco State University

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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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