Dave Snowden

Cognitive Edge accreditation

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We have maintained a somewhat ambiguous position on accreditation over the years.   During the IBM period we experimented with examinations and essay writing but that consumed resource for little return and consistency was a problem.   For Cognitive Edge’s education programme we went with an approach which said if you attended our 2-day Accreditation course you were an accredited member of the network with an expectation that you would contribute to the methods via the wiki and also publish cases.  That really didn't work either!

So after a year of discussion and thought we have come up with the following basic construct.  I offer it now for people to respond and we are open to ideas.

Accreditation is important to us as we have three major strategic shifts that are underway, all of which are required to ensure that Cognitive Edge – and its network – are seen as reliable, quality partners in complex projects. This is particularly important as we are getting more and more requests for internal training programmes and individuals who want to license our training materials to instruct others.  The three shifts are:

  • We will increasingly sub-contract work into the network rather than do it ourselves.   This will provide added value to network membership as well as creating greater resilience.
  • Shortly a major set of partnership initiatives will be launched.  We are seeking to become the Intel chip of complexity-based consultancy.  Providing software and methods that allow industry and geography specialists to use our material to create added value offerings.
  • Training programs and material will be available to network members in good standing for them to create and run both generic and specialist training using our material and software tools.

While this is going on, we do not want to fall into the trap of seeking to own or certify a field.  I have railed against snake oil salespeople and charlatans in the knowledge management certification game for far too long to fall into that particular sin.

We recognise that different sectors and geographies will require adaptation by experts in those fields, but – following our own principles of operating in complex spaces – we are establishing boundaries, making material suitably finely-grained and encouraging people to experiment in partnership with us.

We also want to keep to our principle of theory-informed practice and to create incentives for network members to share their experiences and learning.

So what are we proposing to do?

  1. We have created a list of modules or discrete units for all the various methods and tools.  In some cases these are the same as what we used to call methods or assemblies.  In some cases they are different.  They represent what we consider the right level of granularity to allow experimentation that matches specific contexts and organizational needs.
  2. For each of those modules we have created a brief audio-recording and slide set.  These will be augmented by methods, worksheets (a simplified version of the current ones) and links where appropriate to SenseMaker standard offerings.  They will appear shortly on the web site with links to existing methods, concept papers and the like.  Over time the older structure will disappear and we will just have the modules, with one simple-to-use navigation page showing everything.
  3. The modules will be assembled into a set of standard training courses, and will also make it easier for approved partners to create their own courses while maintaining the Cognitive Edge brand on specific material.  It will also make it a lot easier to offer in-house training options and knowledge transfer as well as customisation of material for markets such as AGILE.
  4. The modules will be graded on a scale of 1-3 based on level of difficulty.   Grading will be not only for understanding but also for practice – the scores may not be the same.  That process is underway and we will publish a basic list shortly. 
  5. Attending a training course will thus gain each participant points for each module.  Reporting practice on the web site will get further points – sharing cases is a crucial part of becoming accredited.  (This will be a simple form and it will be possible to keep the client name private, but a client contact will be required on a private field.  That will allow us to do a quality check from time to time.)
  6. Once you have accumulated a certain number of points from training, you qualify for Level One – the equivalent of the old two-day Foundations   Levels Two to Five of accreditation will be based on accumulating points, but with a minimum of points from both practice and training.  (We will also have additional points that can be gained for publishing papers relating to the methods and tools, approches, etc)
  7. We will take any training within the previous three years into account, or longer if practice cases are published.
  8. We are also planning to launch a specialist master practitioner programme at least once a year with limited numbers.  This programme will bundle training courses with blended learning and online coaching sessions.  It will include time for us to support candidates on their projects and generally mentor them through a series of engagements.  There will be a price for this programme and it will, to a degree, be customised for each individual.  We see this as the qualification that allows people to create their own training programmes.  We are currently developing this programme in house for two organisations and will then generalise that into a public course.  If we get significant demand we may bring that forward

It's not set in stone yet so comments are welcome, either here or feel free to email me directly.

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