“..sapping the vigor of the mind”

July 25, 2007

A brilliant quote from Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks courtesy of Mind Hacks

Irons rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind

It reminded me of two linked key points I have been making in various presentations this week.

  1. Stability and resilience are opposed, any stable system lacks resilience, any resilient system is never stable. In a resilient system we need to introduce a degree of inefficiency, noise in a way, if the system is to be effective. An over focus on efficiency, creates an equilibrium state which as the context shifts becomes increasingly sterile.
  2. There is a huge difference between a chef and a user of recipe books. The recipe book user (for which read the manufacturing model of consultancy) uses best practice to assemble the same ingredients in the same context to produce the same meal, time and time again. If they come into your kitchen, it will have to be re-engineered to confirm with the requirements of the recipe before they start to work (and you will pay in many ways for that). The Chef in contrast can work with whatever ingredients and utensils you happen to have to hand and create a great meal.

We need more chefs, more resilience, more variety in all aspects of a modern organisation. The problem is that the desire to have repeatable process leads to a sapping of the vigor of the mind

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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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