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Introduction

December 1, 2008

PA15171222907 Thanks, Dave, for the invitation to this shared inquiry. There is nothing like a probing question, a rousing discussion, or a disturbing story to move me to challenge old assumptions and build new insights. In fact, that is the greatest thing about my current role as founding Executive Director of the Human Systems Dynamics Institute—I get to have lots of stimulating conversations. Each one strikes a match that could land on dry kindling or soggy leaves. Sometimes a bonfire erupts, and sometimes the energy smolders for months. Of course the outcome depends more on the environmental conditions than on the match manufacturer. The match is still necessary, even if it is not sufficient.

So, over the next few weeks, I will plan to share some of those amazing and mundane conversations in hopes of sparking more fires here and perhaps igniting others in your corner of the forest.

I want to start with some questions that have been generating energy for me and my colleagues recently: I

  • Is an agent-based computer simulation model more powerful when it is used as a proof or as a laboratory?
  • What are the barriers and bridges to building generalized practice and localized theory?
  • In systems thinking, does ontogeny recapitulate phylogeny?
  • What are the rules, risks, and rewards of running a network-based institution?
  • What do we need to learn, be, and do to manage our human systems as effectively as we already manage our electrical and mechanical systems?
  • Why is Six Sigma such a failure in so many contexts, in spite of tremendous promise and even larger investments?

If you have answers, I’m all ears. If you have questions of your own, that is even better!

Glenda

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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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