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Weak signal detection

January 8, 2015

Yesterday was a frustrating one in many ways.   I had to write a brief summary of SenseMaker® and its capability for weak signal detection for a key business partnership that has occupied much of my time over the holiday period.   Now writing something brief is hard and I realised that I had never laid out the full capability before so I decided I would start by writing the long summary as a white paper.  That complete I could provide a summary.   As is the way with these things (or at least as it is for me ….) once I started to write the article grew and I finished the day with a draft and very provisional article on weak signal detection and SenseMaker® comprising some 3.500 words. My first thought is that it should really be twice the length but I was in a state of mental anguish, torn between the need to keep it short and finish on the one hand and the desire to write something more comprehensive. What you see is a product of that tension.

By the time I finished it many hours and past and I was beyond summary so I tweeted a request and got two volunteers prepared to attempt a summary.  One was Kim in Australia and the other Iwan in Canada.   Both did a great job and if they read this and are happy then I will add their content to this blog.  I almost did that without asking permission but then thought better of it!   I’ve now loaded it to the web site for more general comment but remember its in effect an early stage draft.   I’m interested in everything from nit picking correction of spelling and grammar to bigger questions as to what the hell I am going on about or what is difficult to understand.   It’s the first time I’ve consulted at an early stage with other than a co-author so this is an interesting experiment. 

I opened it with one the various experiments conducted on radiologists by the cognitive scientists.   I don’t know what radiologist have done to offend that particular group of scientists but they seem to have done something!   Either way the summary and reference open the article so I won’t repeat it here.   The main point is that experts are subject toinattentional bias.  My additional statement to that is that it is not something we can avoid.  So we have to work with it rather than rail against it, or worse still try and pretend we can train the entrainment out of people.

​I thought about publishing it bit by bit on this blog but that seemed a little lazy in terms of generating original content and it would also be a pain to format it.  So I’ve posted it for download and reading.   If you pass it on please preserve the copyright and patent number that is in the footer.  Comments here or by email.

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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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