The story of SenseMaker® in UNDP Eastern Europe and CIS

April 16, 2015

In December 2012, I flew to Bratislava with Dave Snowden where we met with a roomful of smart, enthusiastic UNDPers (led by the redoubtable Milica Begovic) for a two-day event based around SenseMaker®.  In two days, we moved from an introduction to narrative and self-signification to identifying half a dozen projects and then to developing frameworks.  By the end of the second day, we had frameworks ready for testing and translation.

In the following months, projects moved at different paces and in different ways – a couple falling by the wayside, other succeeding beyond all expectations.  And in May 2013 I was back in Bratislava with UNDP and Millie for another two days to teach how to use the SenseMaker® Explorer software and – after a suitable amount of overnight homework – review people’s data and conclusions.

We’ve subsequently done more projects with UNDP – and are gearing up for more in the coming months. It’s been an exciting series of projects – the benefit of having multiple projects running at the same time has been that the occasional failures (which are inevitable, if we’re pushing the boundaries) haven’t invalidated the whole process, but allowed us all to learn more about how projects work (or not) in different contexts.

The various teams have also been blogging regularly over the whole period.  If you’re interested in learning from people who have been applying micro-narratives, self-signification, SenseMaker® and collection to real-world problems, look no further.

I am, of course, fabulously biased here – I was involved in the inception of many of these projects and am lucky enough to call the people running them friends.  But if you’re looking for lessons/benefits/pain points of running a SenseMaker® project – I’d strongly recommend looking here first.

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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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