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Serendipity

January 31, 2008

So many discoveries are accidental. Looking for one thing, finding another. While the most famous example in modern times is Viagra, this is potentially of more use; as was penicillin before it. Managing for serendipity is not too difficult, we’ve got some of it squared up and in the accreditation programmes with more to come. However the process base of most innovation programmes is too explicit, too linear and too focused on efficiency. I plan to publish an outline model of how we would use SenseMaker™ to handle large scale innovation programmes, incorporating the suggestion boxes and other practices that still have utility. For the moment this is a timely, and serious reminder of how important it is to allow people to make novel and unexpected connections, to explore things without making their objectives explicit.

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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.
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