February 6, 2007

I have been absent from the blogosphere for a few days thanks to a 13 hour flight from Singapore to London, followed 20 hours later by a ten hour flight to Dallas. Overall a 14 hour time difference and I am only just recovering. I presented today at an event in Dallas with old friend Hubert Saint-Onge (whose criticism of blogs and wikkis as knowledge tools will be subject of a corrective post tomorrow) and Major Bradley Hilton from the US Army. The latter reminded me of the criticality of KM. His story was of a company commander who spotted something odd about a sign in Iraq, as a result he was cautious and it turned out that the sign was booby trapped. The source of that knowledge was a fragment, a casual remark on a virtual chat area by another officer. It reminded me of one of the essential aspects of knowledge transfer, it works from fragments, snippets or anecdotes not well constructed doctrine and best practice.

I also recalled that all the experimental work I have done over the years, it is far more rewarding to work with the military. The reason is that they take exercises seriously. If they don;t understand something they seek to learn, rather than complaining that a workshop is too conceptual. I think one reason is that exercises are safe-fail rehearsals for situations where people get killed if you get it wrong. My earlier story also shows that effective knowledge flow can save lives.

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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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