To the Athens of Latin America

May 2, 2013

After a long flight via a disrupted immigration line in Miami I made it to Bogota late yesterday.   I've grown very fond of the place over a limited number of visits in the last two years.   From my perspective the climate is perfect, not to hot not to cold and I've got some good friends and partners to work with.  There is an immanence (in the theological sense of the word) to the mountains that surround the city and the banks of clouds that build over them, often sharply illuminated by the sun.  The presence of mountains is something I grew up with and find it difficult to live without.  There are none in Wiltshire so there is a sense of comfort when I end up near them anywhere in the world.

This project which is finally starting (the one thing I do not like about Colombia is the insane bureaucracy of its procurement process) is a fascinating one.  Working over the five major cities using SenseMaker® and linked intervention methods to understand how to improve entrepreneurial behaviour from high tech start ups to local shops.  This week is a mixture of training, advocacy and investigation.   Just driving around (not an easy feat in Bogota) and visiting different places, talking with people has no substitute.  We found an inspiring Professor looking after the education of children confined to hospital and that triggered the idea of using them as citizen journalists to capture the stories of post cardiac surgery business people.  That is not central to the project, but it could produce highly relevant material.  The great thing about micro-narrative research is that the incremental cost of capture is low so you can afford to play a few hunches.

This cultural mapping of cities and populations is becoming somewhat of a speciality of Cognitive Edge and with SenseMaker® we have the only tool that can handle distributed ethnography.  More critically the only tool that empowers people to interpret their own narrative rather than surrender that right to a computer algorithm and/or expert.  Allowing an authentic voice to be spoken and heard was one of my main motivations when all of this started a decade or more ago.  Its also pleasing to find more and more people discovering the need both at government and industry level.  Hearing people in their own voice is the first step to understanding, insight and dare I say it: wisdom

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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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