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Managing the situated present

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 30, 2014  ·  Reflections

Probably the most important phrase in The Children's Party Story is the conclusion: We manage the emergence of beneficial coherence within attractors, within boundaries.  That simple phrase packs a lot of meaning and potential.   Key to it is the idea of managing the situated present.  To unpack that a bit I am using situated in the sense of situation assessment, sensing what is happening in its context which includes the past and in particular our perception of the past.  In anything involving change in human systems we need to get...

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Scaling: the perversion of order

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 24, 2014  ·  Reflections

To my final post on scaling, at least for the moment as it's a big and developing subject.  There is a tendency in some complexity writing to simply abandon the whole question of management to vague and idealistic statements about self-organising and natural systems.  The simple fact is that choosing not to do something is as much an intentional act as to do something; sins of omission are at the same level as those of commission.  The issue is not management, but what is the focus of management.  To put it simply it's all about...

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Scaling: context is all

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 23, 2014  ·  Reflections

In my second post on scaling I talked about about two types of scaling and the last two posts handled the issue of scaling up within the enterprise.  The essence of yesterday's post was that we need to allow cluster patterns to emerge from finely grained objects in three areas: strategy, capability and needs.  Each of those patterns allows a new emergent potentiality to shift to realisation.  This evolutionary approach is all about sustainability and resilience, designing capability not product.  In this post I want to pick up the...

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Scaling: of gaps and things

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 22, 2014  ·  Reflections

Yesterday I promised to move on the How do you scale success? question but working on Friday's seminar with Simon that afternoon various other thoughts came to mind and I started to sketch out the diagrams that appear below.  

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So my plan today is to talk more about the issue of granularity and non-linearity in scaling.  I want to do this in the context of understanding the dynamic between three aspects of an organisation:

    ...

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Scaling: merge, match & masticate

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 21, 2014  ·  Reflections

Scaling as a subject seems topical at the moment.   Cognitive Edge has been working with the UNDP on how do you scale success in the development sector and we recently ran a fascinating event in New York look at the science of how complex adaptive systems scale which is now moving into early experimental use.  At the same time in the Agile community we have the controversies over SAFe where scaling seems to mean ​how do I get senior IT management to adopt Agile practice rather than how do I scale success per se.  Now both of these...

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