Sunday in Alexandria

April 26, 2009

P1010139.JPG Sunday has been spent in Alexandria, Virgina and a busy day. It started early (around 0400) getting involved in low level detail on our Children of the World project as we move overseas from the first UK test run. It exciting to see schoolchildren realise the value of oral history and engage, but the real tests are to come as we mange things remotely. I took a break to join Stephen Carey of Applied Knowledge (whose logo with its stylised Lorenz attractor is too good not to share) and his wife at the Chart House Restaurant which has one of the best locations i know for brunch. As you can see we got a window table. We last met at a conference in 1999 in San Deigo and it was good to catch up.


We talked over a range of issues, including the state of knowledge management here in the US. I think that we both share concerns that much current effort is going into very conventional approaches, repeating rather than learning from the mistakes of the last decade. His wife’s family come from Swansea so there is a welsh connection which is always good to discover! One of the reasons for the lunch was for me to update on the post IBM work and talk about ways in which Cognitive Edge could support his company as a part of the network. I talked through something we have done a few times now (we really must make it into a formal offer on the web site), namely create a multi-client lab environment to test out complexity based approaches and SenseMaker™ in particular. This involves a two day training and project definition session for between three and ten participating clients. After that each client runs a contained pilot project with help from us half way through and during the final analysis stage. It’s something any network member can package up and offer as a way of gaining market interest, and it’s also as a great way of being trained and building a case based track record.

Lunch was a good mix of business and more general topics which was good. I then walked back up King Street (which on a weekend iso ne of the delights of this part of the world, stopping off for a coffee and then an excellent diary for a quart of organic milk (which is now resting in the hotel fridge. Back at the hotel and I had a briefing for a session I am doing on judgement in military decision making on Tuesday (with another network member), and getting ready for the midpoint workshop on our project for IFC (part of the World Bank. Interestingly the IFC project came out of the process I described below, but run in-house for a single organisation. All of that was a lot easier thanks to my growing symbiosis with Myfanwy……..

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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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