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A hotchpotch or ragbag

By Dave Snowden  ·  January 24, 2013  ·  Knowledge Management, Musings

I ran through the various papers on narrative yesterday.  I spent longer than I planned on that post as I ended up reading several of them and taking notes.  We are looking at the overall training programme at the moment and I am thinking of bringing back a two day course on narrative.  I used to run that a lot a decade ago in IBM days, often in the Boat House at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.  We involved cartoonists and actors in the event which was a mixture of theory and practice.  IBM Denmark got a bit stroppy about it however as it was run by a commercial group and they thought they could make the money for themselves.   Of course they didn't, and the thing died.

Enough!  my job now is to summarise the remaining papers available, having covered off both Cynefin and Narrative that leaves a bit of a hotchpotch of material although its mostly knowledge management.

  • For a period I wrote a column Everything is Fragmented for KM World.  The link takes you to the various articles and they over co-evolution, ritual dissent, managing for serendipity and blog storming.  A lot of material is summarised there which continues to apply.
  • From Atomism to Networks in Social Systems was commissioned for a special edition of The Learning Organisation and provides my critique of social network analysis arguing that the technique is unethical and ineffective applied to individuals but has usefulness if applied to identities or abstractions.  It is also the clearest articulation of Social Network Stimulation which remains one of the more important techniques I have created over the years.
  • Facilitating innovation within the organisation was written for Finance and Management as a report on a lecture I gave.  You have to scroll down to find it.  It's in part a Cynefin article but its a little different given the audience.
  • In The landscape of management written with Peter Stanbridge, we summarised some of the work we had done in creating an EU report on knowledge management.  It includes the two by two matrix (yes I do use them) that distinguishes mathematical from social complexity.  Its an important article for that distinction alone.
  • ​Managing for Serendipity was a polemical attack on the use of best practice in knowledge management.  Written in haste and in anger it is still one of my favourite articles and still more than relevant severn years on.
  • I wrote on the abuse and misuse of the world Culture back in 2004 in a poorly titled article Being efficient does not always mean being effective.  It argues that culture cannot be engineered and that decision making is rarely rational.  There is some early complexity thinking there that I would update given the opportunity.
  • The intranet as a complex ecology has some useful material in it on JIT knowledge management but is otherwise a bit dated.  So are the series of articles on Organic knowledge management in three parts: ASHEN, Indirect Knowledge Discovery and Interventions. That series of three are notable for outlining the mapping approach I developed then, which I am currently modifying and developing for complexity.  Finally Storytelling and Other Organic Tools for CKOs and CLOs is also dated but included for the sake of the record.

Now there are other articles but we haven't got copies for the web site, and the material is covered by those listed above.  There are also several articles not by me on the web site, all of which are useful.   My next task is to sort out all the recommended readings, but that may take more time to get organised.