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Dave Snowden

of Charlemagne and slime moulds

November 25, 2014  ·  Reflections

A couple of things came together to stimulate writing this post.   One was thinking about issues of management and control within organisations and the other was the recent BBC series Germany: Memories of a nation.  One of the key messages from the BBC series was the way in which the evolution of the Holy Roman Empire informs much of what counts as being Germanic over the centuries and into the modern day.  OK it was formally dissolved in the time of Napoleon but there was continuity of identity.  The italicised phrase is an...

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A return to ritual dissent

November 24, 2014  ·  Musings

One of the most popular methods I ever created is ritual dissent.  By happy coincidence it is also one of the most effective.  It avoids bland consensus in favour of increasing the range of material scanned before a decision is taken, but depersonalises intense criticism through the ritual of turning your chair around, or better still donning a mask.   I've seen everything here from commissioned costume masks from Venice to Guido Fawkes masks used by software developers.  An interesting choice buy the latter who, as a tribe like to...

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Of sandbanks and granite cliffs

November 7, 2014  ·  Knowledge Management, Reflections

It was good to see the strategy workshop picked up by Ian Thorpe in his blog and he beat me to publishing the final overview of the process (see below).  Later today I have a keynote to give where I intend to focus on narrative forms of knowing, but more on that tomorrow.   For the moment I need to complete my summary of this bottom up too down emergent approach to creating a knowledge strategy.   Importantly as should be becoming obvious it is also a shift from a linear approach of determine strategy - define needs - execute -...

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Dependency matrix

November 6, 2014  · 

One of the key things in understanding and managing a complex adaptive system is getting the granularity right.   Things that are too chunked are too big to change, to allow combination and recombination; too small and any such combination is not going to be visible or significant.  Granularity is one of the key factors in scaling success and one of the easiest to manage.  For example using smaller organisation units rather than a structured hierarchy or worst still a matrix structure with its two competing hierarchies.  The same...

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What is thought to be is rarely real

November 5, 2014  ·  Reflections

As I described yesterday, my use of narrative started with the need to discover decisions and their nature as part of creating a bottom up approach to knowledge management strategy.  Decision mapping has high utility in its own right as, done properly, it reveals the true nature of activity in an organisation.  That can then be contrasted with the formal understanding of the organisation, normally represented in a process map with supporting procedures.   In all my years of doing this work I have yet to see the two aligned....

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Creating a knowledge strategy

November 4, 2014  ·  Knowledge Management, Reflections

I'm back at KM World in Washington having keynoted at the event for well over a decade now.  Once it was virtual and I was represented on stage by a pumpkin, but I've learnt my lesson from that and now I turn up!   It is now the main KM event worldwide with other events suffering a decline in budgets and attendance and combines with other events using shared keynote.   I'm up on Friday before flying back to the UK.    Today I delivered a half day workshop on Creating a KM Strategy and I have, as promised, loaded the slides to our...

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Clusters in the tail

October 27, 2014  ·  Musings

A very satisfying first day in our Small Countries Big Ideas programme held overlooking the harbour here in Caernarfon.  The turn out has been good with a lot of potential synergies between the participants' potential projects.   Today we focused on the intractable problems and issues faced in government as well as a range of NHS issues.  Tomorrow we will create a matrix between populations, problems and perspectives from which we will define the starting point for emergent solutions.   I'll post more on that tomorrow but it's a big...

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Never mind tomorrow, it was wild ...

October 26, 2014  ·  Walks & Bike rides

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all

October by Robert Frost 1913


Tomorrow we start the Small Countries, Big Ideas project in Bangor with delegates from three continents and a real buzz about changing things.  I'll post more on that as we go through the week.  When we organised this a plan emerged to organise a walk in Snowdonia for those interested on the Sunday whichI readily agreed to.  Always good to show off the mountains of your youth...

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To be content not to know

October 25, 2014  ·  Reflections

Yesterday I made my views on making a difference clear in terms of what I valued, what Cognitive Edge is capable of and some of the Cognitive Edge capabilities in this area.   One of the things I attacked is idealistic future state definitions which I characterised as a form of neo-colonialism in the development sector.  That translates into patriarchy in a wider context, and the behavioural patterns of patriarchy are not confined to the male of the species.  

I've also posted in the past on the difference between sidecasting,...

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And here I stand

October 24, 2014  ·  Polemic

I was engaged in an interesting conference call yesterday while Michael was teaching a session in our four day programme here in Rio.   There is a forming idea to get together people with ideas who want to make a difference in the world (mainly development sector focused) to get some co-ordination, validation and overall to make a difference.

At the end of the call we agreed to define what we could all do, and in a mischievous mood I suggested we also list the things we didn't like.   Best I said to get that out in the open now....

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