Dave Snowden

ABIDE - overview of process

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Picking up on yesterdays post on ABIDE.  As I suspected forcing myself to teach the idea produced some innovation and resolution of problems.  Thinking back nearly everything original I have developed (including the various Cynefin representations) have been achieved on my feet in front of an audience.   Some people are visual thinkers, some written, I think I reflect the oral tradition I come from, the interaction with an audience opens up new channels of thinking.

I said yesterday that I was stuck as a result of thinking that ABIDE (and something else now yet worked out on Culture) had to have an identical pattern to ASHEN.  The insight overnight and through conversation with Michael was to break that pattern, both in starting point and completion.  So how does ABIDE work?  I'll outline it here, but the full method will end up in the Network library.

  • We start, as in ASHEN in seeking to map the decisions that are being made within the field of study.  That might be an organisations own processes, it could encompass customers and suppliers or citizens or whatever.  Generally the field of study on any complexity programme should extend to intersecting areas if at all possible.
  • Decision mapping is best derived from a mass narrative capture, but can be achieved through interviews or workshops.  The key thing is to gather material without analytical questions or any form of judgement.  We are after what decisions people make daily, weekly, monthly, annually, exceptionally.  Stories give context that will be useful later but they are not critical.
  • Each decision is summarised (with backup material) on to a hexi, either using a concept mapping tool of physically and the decisions are then clustered.   Now to this point the ASHEN and ABIDE process is identical so that can usefully be done in parallel as one will inform the other.
  • For each decision cluster, we then augment the decisions with a description of the situation or context within which that decision is being made.  Again this is where the narrative helps ABIDE as it can objectivise those descriptions.
  • WIth that material, either by survey, by interview or workshop (or a combination thereof) we ask people involved directly and indirectly the ABIDE question:  In this context, what attractors are present, what boundaries or barriers are in play, what is the identity structure, what level of diversity do we have and what are the environmental factors.   I will blog on each of those separately over the coming days.
  • Each item disclosed is then put on a hexi, and the results again clustered.  This is two stage emergence which is a key aspect of many of out methods.  We are breaking things down, then assembling them again in a different way, then repeating that process.  This is designed to break entrained thinking, detect new patterns and gain new perspective and insight.
  • We now map the results onto Cynefin so that we know what is simple, complicated and complex.  Its unlikely anything there will be chaotic.  Having done that mapping we then move into safe to fail experimental design for the things which are complex, and project planning for those which are complicated
  • The resulting plans are clustered and processes put in place to monitor results.

In ASHEN we move from ASHEN components to knowledge objects, then match those objects to business objectives and create projects on the intersections (more on that in the formal method).  With ABIDE we are closer to immediate interaction so that is an unnecessary step.

So that is the high level outline.   In subsequent posts I will describe the ABIDE elements in more detail, summarise experimental design and talk about integration with a knowledge management strategy using ASHEN.

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