Workshop report

August 4, 2009

An all day workshop today as a build in to the ARK KM conference here. A good turn out, many people I know well plus some new people. We looked at the current situation surrounding KM. I was also charged to give people some experience of complex facilitation techniques, so I explained what I was doing as I went along. I promised to post the sequence so here it is:

  • Working in four groups, Future Backwards as an exercise on the current and possible future states of KM.
  • Each group then identified two complex and two complicated issues, broke into four (Complexity A & B, Complicated A & B) and the groups were recombined.
  • The rules for interventions in both spaces were explained (in particular the action form for complex), and the groups then prepared proposals and we went through three rounds of ritual dissent, before completing with a final “support not attack” variant
  • I then created five new groups by numbering all participants and gave then a two by two matrix to complete. The vertical dimension was from rigid process to no process and the horizontal from high technology dependence to low. The group was asked to identify five types of tool/method: Ones they feared, ones that were neutral (could be used for good or ill), hygiene (you just have to have them), hopes and demons (there were some interesting responses here.
  • After each group started to settle, I asked them to nominate the two members who had made the most contribution todate, and moved them on to the next group. That made them a minority in an established group, and allowed those they had left to take ownership of the material and modify it.
  • After half an hour I took one of the those two, and moved them on again, allowing them to take someone else with them. These two moves prevented entrainment, kept energy level up and increased scanning of material.
  • In a final session we reflected on what had been done and swapped stories about failures and success in the use of social computing.

Now the whole idea here is to prevent premature convergence by changing the membership of the groups and the tasks on a regular basis. The outputs are available on the photo stream here (and are readable). Thanks to all who participated and now to get ready for tomorrow’s keynote. I’m planning a new take on tacit knowledge.

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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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