Scouts - running the famous ‘children’s birthday party’ every week

September 22, 2010

The best blogs I’ve read have a good dose of reality as we connect bits in our lives up with other bits…. profession, community, family and friends. We lead a fairly messy existence in our household and this often blends bits from each of life’s zones. The bits often connect up without any formal help at all. The children’s birthday party needs no introduction as the classic story which people instantly get as a metaphor for complexity. I only just realised that I run one of these every week, and sometimes more often. Some of you might not get this, but a lot of my life is taken up by scouting…. you know, camping, caving, games, building things, a bit of everything really.

I’ve described it as a complex dynamical system for years without using those exact words. We basically tell the kids so far no further, keep the Scout Promise and Law and go and have fun. And they do in every conceivable way – messy, tired, excited, scared, proud, amazed – you name it, it happens. As an organisation it has been growing recently, as parents, some of whom have never been involved, see that the kids need a loose fit, some other role models, a bit of creative risk and citizenship and access to gear and people to show them how to do some cool things mixed together with lots of trust. I can take 10 – 15 teenagers in scouts well anywhere and they’ll listen to me and follow instructions as needed. This would be a bit risky with a similar sized group the same age who didn’t have the same history.

Our Troop seems to meet all the requirements of autopoesis – self- regulation, self-steering, self-maintenance, self-reference, self configuration, even self- (re)production between generations within a family (not involving the younger ones yet, thank goodness but this characteristic gets a bit more interesting to manage as they get older). We do knock the edges off them a bit and they tend to bounce back nicely over time – resilience is another key feature.

Tomorrow night we are having a sleepover reunion with some of the kids we took from Canberra to the 2010 Australian Jamboree. There were 12,000 Scouts and 3,000 leaders and helpers together for 14 days – I worked directly with 40 of them. There is an international Jamboree in Sweden in 2011 with around three times that number of people. And it all works. Brilliantly. If Lord BP was still with us, it would be interesting to know what he thought of the Cynefin framework. There are certainly lots of stories that get shared around. It would definitely make a good subject for research with Sensemaker. On a practical note, I better get to bed as sleep-overs usually turn into wake-overs, but then we can usually get them to listen and go to sleep – because that’s the way it works!

Recent Posts

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.


< Prev

Making and managing links

We're all human so finding any little advantage that helps us to get an edge ...

More posts

Next >

Art for art’s sake

One of the things I love to play with is perspective. I see Cognitive Edge ...

More posts

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram