Loading Events
Banner2LondonCEMasterclass-DS-SW (1)
« Back to Events

Navigate uncertainty: Strategy and innovation with Cynefin™ & Wardley Maps. A masterclass with Dave Snowden & Simon Wardley

We live in a whitewater world. Change is rapid, and uncertainty is unavoidable. Leaders need the ability to navigate their organisations in these waters, but the old platitudes and tools are losing efficacy. Critical are frameworks and approaches which are developed for the deft management of uncertainty. How do we make sense of the world so we can act in it? And, how do we find some way of mapping our challenges to develop a business cartography that allows us to orientate? Two popular approaches are Dave Snowden’s Cynefin™ Framework and Simon Wardley’s Wardley Maps. Many people have found these useful separately, but increasingly people are exploring the potential synergies as they both provide valuable sense-making capacity in strategic and operational work, across a broad range of applications. Maps, frameworks, methods and manifestos all have their role and function in organisation theory and strategy, and understanding the differences and connections between them will be important as we enter times of increasing uncertainty.

This two-day masterclass is an opportunity to take part in an event where the two thought leaders will engage in a seminar-style dialogue which will explore the blending of both their thought houses, as well as interact with participants to include responses to their real-world challenges. The panel discussion between Simon Wardley and Dave Snowden at Lean Agile Scotland 2017 was considered one of the highlights of the event and has been much referenced. This masterclass has long been in the making. It promises to be a seminal event.

What will I learn?

Participants will build skills for facilitating discussions and promote emergent thinking that is action-oriented within leadership teams. In this masterclass, we will explore and put into practice the synergies between the Cynefin™ and Wardley Maps. Some of the discussions to look forward to are –

  • a concise introduction to the Cynefin™ Framework and Wardley Maps
  • the interplay between the Cynefin™ Framework and Wardley Maps
  • link Apex Predator Theory and climatic patterns of Wonder, Peace & War
  • the role of narrative and cognitive mapping affording weak signal detection and the anticipation of the evolution of components
  • some of the new work arising from the recent Cynefin Centre retreats on the role of scaffolding and constraints in managing complex systems
  • the use, discovery and separation of universal patterns, context-specific plays and economic rules of the game
  • organising the company around the Cynefin™ Framework and Wardley Maps

Who should attend?

Masterclasses are designed for advanced learners and practitioners. This master class is for senior decision-makers, C-suite (CTO, CIO, CEO, CSO), strategists, members of the Agile Community. We recommend anyone starting out with complex systems and are new to Cynefin™ and/or Wardley Maps, to attend the Cynefin™ Foundations online course and/or Wardley Maps Online course.

** Add Cynefin Foundations online to your order for only GBP200 when you complete your order registration form.

Notes on the Masterclass

The 2-day session will be a mixture of lecture, discussion and interaction with the participants. Cognitive Edge Masterclasses are designed to stimulate a deeply discursive and engaging conversation, and attendees often find value if they come in pairs or a small team such that the discussions and knowledge synthesis continue beyond the class.

About the facilitators

Dave  Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder Chief  Scientific Officer of Cognitive  Edge and the founder and Director of the Centre for Applied Complexity at the University of Wales. His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy, organisational decision making and decision making. He has pioneered a science-based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory. His paper with  Boone on Leadership was the cover article for the Harvard Business Review in November 2007  and also won the Academy of Management award for the best practitioner paper in the same year. He has previously won a special award from the Academy for originality in his work on knowledge management. He is an editorial board member of several academic and practitioner journals in the field of knowledge management and is an Editor in Chief of E: CO. In 2006 he was Director of the EPSRC (UK) research programme on emergence and in 2007 was appointed to the NSF (US) review panel on complexity science research. Dave holds positions extra-ordinary Professor at the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch as well as visiting Professor at Bangor University in Wales. He has held similar positions at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Canberra University, the University of Warwick and The University of Surrey. He held the position of senior fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at Nanyang University and the Civil Service College in Singapore during a sabbatical period in Nanyang. He previously worked for IBM where he was a Director of the Institution for Knowledge Management and founded the Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity; during that period he was selected by IBM as one of six on-demand thinkers for a worldwide advertising campaign. Prior to that, he worked in a range of strategic and management roles in the service sector.  

His company Cognitive  Edge exists to integrate academic thinking with practice in organisations throughout the world and operates on a network model working with Academics, Government, Commercial  Organisations, NGOs and Independent Consultants. He is also the main designer of the SenseMaker® software suite, originally developed in the field of counter-terrorism and now being actively deployed in both Government and Industry to handle issues of impact measurement, customer/ employee insight, narrative-based knowledge management, strategic foresight and risk management.


Simon Wardley, based in the UK, is a Researcher for Leading Edge Forum and the lead practitioner for Wardley Maps advisory service helping clients anticipate market and ecosystem developments. Simon’s is a seasoned executive who has spent the last 15 years defining future IT strategies for companies in the FMCG, Retail and IT industries. From Canon’s early leadership in the cloud computing space in 2005 to Ubuntu’s recent dominance as the #1 Cloud operating system. As a geneticist with a love of mathematics and a fascination in economics, Simon has always found himself dealing with complex systems, whether it’s in behavioural patterns, environmental risks of chemical pollution, developing novel computer systems or managing companies.  He is a passionate advocate and researcher in the fields of open source, commoditization, innovation, organizational structure and cybernetics. Simon is a regular presenter at conferences worldwide and has been voted as one of the UK’s top 50 most influential people in IT in recent Computer Weekly polls.

Cognitive Edge reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule the offered session.  In the event of cancellation or rescheduling, a full refund of course fees will be processed within 10 business days of cancellation or rescheduling notice.  Cancellations by registrants are only permitted with a minimum of 3 weeks notice ahead of course delivery date with refunds provided less a 10% processing fee. Substitutions are permitted at any time as well as rescheduling attendance to an alternate session within a 12 month period.

Explanation of the ticket choices:

  1. If you are part of a group of FOUR (4) or more people, then please email training@cognitive-edge.com for a group discount, or use the group ticket option.
  2. Premium Members get 15% discount on all training. Sign up for the Network here: Cognitive Edge network registration for a Basic membership. When you’ve done that you’ll be directed to the Network Dashboard page, click on the upgrade option to pay to become a Premium member and use the 15% discount code.
  3. Discounts cannot be used cumulatively with Network Membership discounts.


December 12, 2018 – December 13, 2018


8:30 am – 5:00 pm


From: GBP 2,395


De Vere Wokefield Estate Goodboys Lane
United Kingdom