October 11, 2021
The process of strategy 2 of 3
Thanks to a sudden slip on greasy rock descending from Red Screes I’m home a couple of days early.  The […]
October 5, 2021
The process of strategy 1 of 3
This post follows on from the September series which looked at the whole issue of the learning organisation, and I […]
September 29, 2021
Of people, roles and ritual (3 of 3)
In bringing this three-part series of blog posts to an end I just want to remind readers that they are […]
September 28, 2021
Of people, roles and ritual (2 of 3)
To continue from my post of yesterday, and with less intent to be polemical, but definite intent to disturb, I […]
September 27, 2021
Of people, roles and ritual (1 of 3)
From time to time I am invited to speak at The Stoa, a group that got together at the start […]
September 26, 2021
Ralph Stacey 10/9/1942 – 4/9/2021
I can’t imagine that anyone interested in complexity in organisations will not know the work of Ralph Stacy, or not […]
September 11, 2021
20 years on, some memories
The love of wicked men converts to fear, That fear to hate, and hate turns one or both To worthy […]
September 9, 2021
Learning: an anthro-complexity perspective
If you go back in time then two books could be considered to have laid the foundation for what I […]
July 16, 2021
Siphonophorae not hybrid (2 of 2)
Yesterday I raised the idea of using a colony of different organisms that have evolved to collaborate as a single […]
July 15, 2021
Siphonophorae not hybrid (1 of 2)
I am indulging myself a little with the title to this post.  For those who don’t know it describes a […]
July 12, 2021
Spotting anomalies
From time to time I get very frustrated at the ability of consultants and academics to correctly diagnose reasons for […]
July 11, 2021
Natural science as counter-factual
I originally intended to publish this post way back in May and got all the notes together but a mixture […]
June 7, 2021
complex system
How the elephant got his trunk: what evolution can teach us about complexity
I’m going to assume that everyone who frequents this blog and is a regular reader of Dave’s work is very […]
April 9, 2021
To curate or be curated?
From time to time someone, knowing my interest in narrative sends me a link to yet another website collecting people’s […]
March 29, 2021
Flexuous flight
I first used the illustration to the left last November when I was updating the whole Flexuous Curves Framework (FCF). […]
March 28, 2021
Naturalising narrated
In recent times I’ve been engaged in a series of interesting exchanges with Dr Mike Jackson OBE, hereinafter referred to […]
February 17, 2021
The loci of competence
An alternative title for today’s post could have been sometimes necessary, rarely sufficient with the same subject namely the legitimate discussion […]
February 12, 2021
Geomorph: potamology 1 of 2
I’ve been meaning to start a series of posts looking at ideas of flow as they relate to sense-making and […]
February 6, 2021
Wherein lies coherence?
Things are building nicely for our Exploratory next week looking at the connections between sense-making, complexity, and network theory.  It […]
February 1, 2021
Root ’cause’ & complexity
There are two major forms of stupidity on the various debates that sprint on social media from time to time. […]
January 31, 2021
Two months of blogging
A little over two months ago I wrote a post summarising the previous year’s blog posts.  This proved useful to […]
January 31, 2021
Thinking about Networks – 2
It is funny, when we think about networks, we think about groups, communities, systems, and other complex collections of interacting […]
January 30, 2021
On organisational change
This is not the second part of the re-wilding post, but a building block towards it.  It addresses the issue of organisational […]
January 29, 2021
Re-wilding 1 of 2
I’ve given a fair number of talks over the last year around the general theme of Rewilding Agile.  And while this […]
January 27, 2021
The wonderful world of the wiki
For those who don’t know Wikipedia is twenty years old tomorrow.  It started in 2001 and I became an active […]
January 25, 2021
Comfort & resilience
My last post compared two approaches to protecting walkers from mountain weather.  For those of us who indulge in this […]
January 23, 2021
Comfort, the Páramo perspective
This is a two-part post.  Today I want to establish the context by talking about comfort and related factors such […]
January 22, 2021
Kataphatic aspects of leadership
Two days ago I wrote a post that looked at what leadership theory is not indulging my love of language to […]
January 20, 2021
An apophatic view of leadership
There is some continuity here with yesterday’s post on the mystical, or ineffable aspects of human sense-making. apophatic theology is […]
January 19, 2021
A sense of the other
I’ve started all the other posts in this brief series with a  health warning and today is no exception.  The […]
January 17, 2021
A trialectic method
The theory post of yesterday came with a health warning and this one does as well – There are some […]
January 16, 2021
Warning note: This post is an introduction to a practical method and approach to handling conflicts and differences in organisations […]
January 15, 2021
Assortive mating
Earlier in the month, I wrote two posts on networks, and in the second gave the first public airing to […]
January 13, 2021
Physical aporia
In this final, for the moment, post on creating aporia I want to focus on the ways in which physical […]
January 12, 2021
Aesthetic aporia
This is the second post in my three-part series on creating aporia and I will admit I was worried yesterday […]
January 11, 2021
Linguistic aporia
My post of the day before yesterday expressed concern about the general dumbing down of discourse and I explicitly linked […]
January 9, 2021
“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed”
Earlier today I got irritated by several things on social media. I admit that this is not unusual and some […]
January 7, 2021
Change, urgency, and new opportunities 2: What can we sense together?
It is 2021, and many of us don’t know quite what that entails. Most were very glad to see the […]
January 5, 2021
Twelvetide 20:12 at a turning point?
In this twelve-part series, I have been attempting to layout my understanding of the field of naturalising sense-making which I, […]
January 4, 2021
Twelvetide 20:11 Coherent to what?
The essence of a naturalising approach to sense-making is to use natural science as an enabling constraint.  Put simply if […]
January 3, 2021
naturalising sensemaking
Twelvetide 20:10 The fifth school
In this final section, I want to bring together the various thread into what I called naturalising sensemaking.  I define sensemaking […]
January 2, 2021
Twelvetide 20:09 Manege and menage
I think a lot of people don’t realise how novel the complexity stuff still and how threatening (needlessly) it is […]
January 1, 2021
anthropology anthro complexity
Twelvetide 20:08 Making distinctions
Yesterday’s opening post in this series provided a background to the initial sources and contacts I used as I started […]
December 31, 2020
Twelvetide 20:07 Early complexity influences
I can’t remember when complexity science came into the picture – it was in the fairly early days of my […]
December 30, 2020
Twelvetide 20:06 Narrative appreciated
A lot of the early work on narrative, which I summarised yesterday was largely based on instinct and common sense. […]
December 29, 2020
Twelvetide 20:05 Narrative the early years
As I indicated yesterday my group in IBM UK got into the wider field of narrative through the process of […]
December 28, 2020
Twelvetide 20:04 The variety of narrative experience
In this second section, I am moving on to the wider field of narrative.    I wrote a paper on […]
December 27, 2020
Twlevetide 20:03 Abstraction & codification
I’d been working on knowledge management for some time and have come across Boisot’s book Knowledge Assets.  Yasmin Mirali, then at […]
December 26, 2020
Twelvetide 20:02 Carbon is not silicon
In this second post within the knowledge management section, I want to summarise some of the material on human cognition […]
December 25, 2020
Twelvetide 20:01 Acts of knowing
As promised yesterday the main theme of this Twelvetide series is to summarise the main pillars of Naturalising Sense-making and […]
December 24, 2020
ASHEN redux
Redux came over into English in the 17th Century as one of those rare postpositive adjectives in English to mean […]
December 23, 2020
ASHEN reused
One of the purposes of ASHEN was to change the way we talk about knowledge retention.  Instead of saying What will […]
December 22, 2020
ASHEN revisited
Many moons ago, in the early days of my work in knowledge management one of the standard approaches was to […]
December 21, 2020
Returning to constraints
The more astute reader may have noticed that I have been writing a series of blog posts that update previous […]
December 20, 2020
ligne de fuite: 3 of 3
In my previous two posts I set the context for understanding the Deleuzian concept of the title to understand how […]
December 19, 2020
ligne de fuite: 2 of 3
In yesterday’s post, I started a conversation about non-cognitive approaches to sense-making, referencing biological models as well as a side […]
December 18, 2020
ligne de fuite: 1 of 3
Anyone starting to get interested in complexity theory will sooner or later come across various common biological metaphors or examples. […]
December 15, 2020
Thinking about Networks – 1
Initially Dave and I each wrote a post around what see as important to discuss in the upcoming Exploratory.  Part […]
December 12, 2020
Mycorrhiza & scaffolding 2 of 2
In my earlier post I reprised my earlier work on the role of informal networks with a view to updating […]
December 9, 2020
Mycorrhiza & scaffolding 1 of 2
Many years ago now, at the end of the Knowledge Wars in IBM, I ended up (as a part of […]
December 5, 2020
Leadership in context: 2 of 2
My post of yesterday put forward the position that while the nature of the system acts as both a constraint […]
December 4, 2020
Leadership in context: 1 of 2
So it’s the end of a long day and I am getting irritated listing to a fireside chat on YouTube […]
December 3, 2020
Selling novelty
May years ago now I left a job as Development Accountant at one of the Hunting Group Companies to enter […]
November 28, 2020
Of congruence and coherence
My old headmaster, of fond memory, was too find of appealing for harmony at school assemblies.  I think he wanted […]
November 27, 2020
Homo Narrans: archetypes
Two days ago (apologies for skipping a day) I said that I would pick up on the role of archetypes […]
November 24, 2020
Homo Narrans: preface
The  Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling were a key part of my formative years and I still refer to […]
November 21, 2020
Diversity & coherence
Problems of diversity, inclusion and associated conflict pervade modern society.  To be honest they always did but we are more […]
November 20, 2020
Flexuous focus (2)
In my earlier post on focus I identified the need to shift from the alpha to the omega points in […]
November 18, 2020
Flexuous focus (1)
This post (which will be several parts) is an extension of my posts on contextual strategy that started with a […]
November 15, 2020
The Ystwyth-curve continued
Yesterday’s post took around 18 hours of elapsed time interspersed by a dashed visit to the shops and two hours […]
November 14, 2020
Flexuosity untangled
I’ve always been fond of wolves, something that is probably due to a childhood spent with Kipling’s Jungle Book and […]
November 13, 2020
Transcend II: Learning and ritual
I’ve never really been a player of games.  I dabbled in chess when young and the family rituals on wet […]
November 12, 2020
Transcend I: cadence and control
This is the first of two posts that deal with existing from a crisis, the final stage of Assess – […]
November 10, 2020
“… intire of it selfe”
A health warning – this is an exploratory post starting to develop an anthro-complexity theory of organisational change.  As such I am working […]
November 7, 2020
Keeping the faith?
Just as a warning, this is a rather rambling post.  The overall theme is about constraints and is another theme […]
September 11, 2020
Anthro complexity
Anthro-complexity & aesthetics
Just before Christmas 2015 I posted on the subject of What’s in a name?  That was the first time I […]
September 10, 2020
The Triopticon revisited
Back in October 2017, I published a blog post on what I was then calling the Ticotocon.  The context of […]
September 8, 2020
Needles in Haystacks
The banner shot here was taken by me last Sunday in the late afternoon of what was a delightful hike; […]
September 5, 2020
freely ye have received, freely give
The tenth chapter of St Matthew’s gospel has two of the best-known quotes from the bible: the advise that if […]
September 1, 2020
Leadership: What is the locus of change?
This is the first in what will be an occasional series of posts in which I want to examine, in […]
July 30, 2020
Designing Ecosystems | A Learning Journey
On September 16, 2019, Cognitive Edge was invited to a Research Meeting convened by the Stanford Center for Design Research […]
June 18, 2020
Change, urgency, and new opportunities: talking about climate change during a pandemic
I have been thinking a lot about climate change during the COVID-19 times (and so have many many many others). […]
June 16, 2020
Reflecting on Leading in Uncertainty
On 11 June 2020, I had the privilege of being part of a fascinating conversation about leadership. We had a […]
April 23, 2020
Stuck Betwixt and Between
Three weeks ago, my uncle died from COVID-19. He was a second uncle and I hadn’t seen him in a […]
April 20, 2020
COVID-19 & Leadership
This blog post is written by Dave Snowden (the Cynefin Centre) and Millie Begovic (UNDP) to launch a critical experiment […]
April 20, 2020
COVID-19 & Leadership
This blog post is written by Dave Snowden (the Cynefin Centre) and Millie Begovic (UNDP) to launch a critical experiment […]
April 19, 2020
In praise of Texture
 I love this cartoon by Shannon Wheeler, that was posted by the New Yorker. When we watch apocalyptic movies, what […]
April 18, 2020
Narrative as abductive acts of knowing
This is the second post of several that I am publishing this month to update some of my original work […]
April 17, 2020
Lle i enaid gael llonydd
Some time ago while watching one of Iolo Williams reflections on the Welsh Landscape I noted his use of the […]
April 12, 2020
Big, thick and rich (the data)
Plans for a series of key blog posts after my March update series on Cynefin have been disrupted by COVID-19 […]
April 9, 2020
Reflections on Complexity, Chaos and COVID-19
In 1990, from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometres away, the Voyager 1 spacecraft took a now-iconic picture […]
April 5, 2020
Constraint Management in Practice : A 3-week participant-observer account
I am officially on Day 13 of my strict Stay Home Orders. I have not stepped out of my house […]
March 27, 2020
Aporetic Meditations
These have been trying times. Yesterday, I watched our National Development Minister tear up at a national address as he […]
February 23, 2020
Wherefore, part the second
In the first of these articles, I looked at Borton’s W³ question from the 1970s and more recent adaptations (with […]
October 22, 2019
mycorrhiza: abstraction & codification
In 2002 I published Complex Acts of Knowing, the first major article to include Cynefin in its near current form; if […]
October 13, 2019
Separated by a common language?
From time to time in social media I resist the temptation to respond when people talk about the Stacy Matrix; […]
August 31, 2019
Musings on Blake
One of the few good news items yesterday (don’t ask but it involves more tests) was my discovery that we […]
August 26, 2019
Coherent heterogeneity (2 of 2)
In yesterday’s post I said:  as you increase variety within the system to the point where it becomes heterogeneous, it […]
August 18, 2019
Thinking about design ‘thinking’
I’ve been thinking about the whole approach we are adopting to  design thinking  as the Whistler retreat approaches.   We […]
August 15, 2019
Linkages matter
Working in complexity you soon get a sense of which ideas and concepts are causing (sic) people problems.  One is […]
May 19, 2019
Martin Burns RIP
On the 11th of March this year I sat down for a meal at the Bridge Inn in Ratho (top […]
March 2, 2019
Patience is virtue of necessity
Around five years ago I spent a difficult and unplanned night in Toronto airport. I didn’t enjoy it but in […]
August 12, 2018
There comes a time …
Long distance walking is meditative in nature and often metaphorical in the nature of the reflection. Once you go beyond […]
August 1, 2018
The dance of the Librarians
If I look back at the highlights of my various speaking engagements over the years then those to librarians are […]
July 19, 2018
Spandrel & serendipity
In architecture a spandrel is the space between an arch and the vertical wall. It had no purpose until artists […]
July 17, 2018
In yesterday’s post I illustrated the difference between a resilient and a robust system by contrasting a salt marsh with […]
February 1, 2018
When can we start again?
Pressing demands on my time have meant I had to delay this final post of three. I’m also building a […]
January 25, 2018
Ursula Le Guin
Most people came to Ursula Le Guin through the Earthsea novels. I only read those as an adult and came […]
January 24, 2018
Can we start again?
One of the major issues in virtually any change initiative in organisations is the constant assumption that one can start […]
January 21, 2018
Requisite conflict …
Probably the key phrase in my post yesterday was “Start not with what things should be, not how they came […]
January 20, 2018
Synderesis in Cynefin
I probably shouldn’t have brought an ancient scholastic text book with me but I still have a fondness for it, […]
January 19, 2018
Phronēsis in Cynefin
I’ve talked about some of the intellectual origins of Cynefin and yesterday addressed the question of quiddity, on in more […]
January 18, 2018
The quiddity of Cynefin
For those not familiar with it, quiddity is not about games played by wizards (although for all I know it […]
January 16, 2018
A sense of direction (4)
Taking the A5 route Anglesea late in the afternoon is normally a delight as the mountains of Snowdon start to […]
January 15, 2018
A sense of direction (3)
I really should be cutting back on the email and task backlog at the moment but I keep getting distracted […]
January 14, 2018
A sense of direction (2)
Having written yesterday’s post I started to play around with mapping various approaches to measurement, goal setting and the like […]
January 12, 2018
A sense of direction (1)
I had a really interesting exchange on twitter over the last few days. It’s nice when you can have an […]
December 25, 2017
Xmas 2017: I Introduction
One of the oddiities of our increasingly digitial world is the way that birthday and other reminders pop into view […]
December 6, 2017
Innovation on the cusp: symbiosis
Teaching intelligent people with real world problems is always one of the great pleasures of life and also a chance […]
November 13, 2017
Fidelity in complex systems consultancy
It been a week since my tirade against the abrogation of leadership by falling back to the crutch of a […]
October 30, 2017
Authenticity in Cynefin
The picture here is of Michael Bryant as Mathieu Delarue in the BBC production of Sartre’s The Roads to Freedom. […]
October 29, 2017
Drawing lines …
An abiding memory of childhood is being sent home by a Chapel going Welsh Primary School teacher with instructions to […]
October 28, 2017
Initial working on identity
One of my best ever Opera experiences was back in 1986 when I went to what looks to have been […]
October 8, 2017
In the Tricotocon …
Over the years I’ve developed a range of facilitation and workshop techniques based on the underlying principles anthro-complexity. Ritual dissent […]
October 1, 2017
Scaling in complex systems
I wrote a series of posts about scaling over three year ago which in part addressed some of the perversities […]
September 10, 2017
Thoughts on doctrine & inclusion
Over the years I have had various emails, social media links and other links to various versions of the Cynefin […]
September 4, 2017
The “R” words
I started to make some real progress on the development of constraint mapping when I realised the typology I was […]
August 30, 2017
Yes but… (and the Isaiah moment is still with us)
Coming to the end of two weeks in New Zealand and I’ve been struck by a dreaded lurgy, or possibly […]
August 27, 2017
The knotty issue of constraints
  I’ve been developing a theory of constraints both as a method for strategy mapping and as a way of […]
July 2, 2017
To Longborough Festival Opera today for the final performance of Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera and one of a handful of […]
July 1, 2017
Resonance in meaning
Many moons ago in the early days of knowledge management I argued that the ubiquitous DIKW pyramid was both flawed […]
June 22, 2017
On Experts, expertise and power
Remember Nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cookoo’s Nest? Louise Fletcher won the Oscar for a brilliant portrayal of […]
June 21, 2017
Systems thinking & complexity
A recent post by Sonja caused some reaction in social media and I promised to write something to clarify my […]
June 20, 2017
Liminal Cynefin
The Cynefin framework tends to be used in the main to categories situations within the four main domains (and for […]
May 28, 2017
Boundaries as domain shadows
I’ve been teaching a masterclass her in India to a mixed group and took the opportunity to push myself to […]
May 12, 2017
the right Promethean fire
Love is one of those words which has so many meanings in differencing contexts that any exposition on the subject […]
May 7, 2017
False dichotomies, reality avoidance
In my keynote on Friday at Agile Maine I opened by suggesting that there was a schizophrenic dichotomy in the […]
May 5, 2017
A light touch on the tiller
So its day five of the Gaping Void blog month and today’s cartoon brings together my earlier post on small […]
February 24, 2017
Human dampeners
The first time I went to Wellington I tagged on a visit to a speaking engagement in Brisbane around twenty […]
February 22, 2017
Experience & judgement
Two sessions in Wellington today along with a dinner meeting and I’m starting to loose track of what stories I […]
February 21, 2017
Cadence & granularity
Cadence and granularity represent concepts where we get some strong links between Cynefin and Kanban. In this context I am […]
February 14, 2017
James 2:24 & Cyborgs
An odd combination of things came together for this post. I was working earlier today on a signifier set to […]
February 12, 2017
The perils of the simplistic
I was catching up on episodes of Melvyn Bragg’s In our Time in the car today and listened twice to […]
February 6, 2017
Making meaning problematic
I spent a good part of today talking about our planned project on Meaning Making or The Making of Meaning […]
January 11, 2017
Options in uncertainty
In my last couple of posts I have been talking abound boundary conditions in Cynefin. I now want to extend […]
January 9, 2017
Boundary conditions
For various complex reasons which started with a casual throw away remark at Lean Agile Scotland followed by a brief […]
December 28, 2016
4: In fruitless battles for our masters
Yesterday I took a fairly positive poem from R S Thomas as my them. Lovers of the poet will know […]
December 27, 2016
3: to illuminate a small field
  Anyone who has ever been walking in the hills will have had the experience of a sudden shaft of […]
December 23, 2016
Dum Spiro, spero
Attempts to see a performance of the Seven Acts of Mercy at the RSC were thwarted last night by the […]
December 22, 2016
Non nobis solum nati sumus
My last two posts in this mini series selecting on the post-fact issue are going to titled with quotes from […]
December 21, 2016
On virtue
Rahner, who I referenced yesterday stands in a tradition that traces itself back via Geist in Welt (a fluid combination […]
December 20, 2016
On the role of grace
I’ve chosen Caravaggio’s Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy to illustrate this post on the concept of grace. To my mind one […]
December 19, 2016
Have we ever not been post-fact?
The theme of a post-fact, post-truth society is ever present in the press, social media and various think tanks, one […]
December 18, 2016
Unarticulated needs:directions
In my last two posts I have emphasised the need to get behind surface statements of requirement(s) to unarticulated needs. […]
December 17, 2016
Unarticulated needs: deep issues
My post of yesterday made the point that it is difficult to get anyone to state what they need in […]
December 16, 2016
Unarticulated needs: context
I promised yesterday that I would pick up the question of unarticulated needs, so that is the subject to today’s […]
December 12, 2016
Tests for coherence
As promised yesterday I will return to the issue of constraints and constraint mapping in a series of posts over […]
December 11, 2016
Dark constraints
In my post of yesterday I identified Dark Constraints within my wider category of resilience. The reference is to the […]
December 10, 2016
A return to constraints
I’m getting increasingly excited about the work I am doing on constraints. I first posted on this with an initial […]
December 7, 2016
Descriptive self awareness
Reflecting on the previous two days and more conversations over multiple meetings before boarding a flight to Helsinki I was […]
December 6, 2016
On navigating conflict
http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/on-navigating-conflict/ Interesting session today on the role of art in achieving change. I have long observed that one of the […]
December 3, 2016
The domain of disorder (iii)
I made the point yesterday that the disordered domain within Cynefin is one of false confidence, assuming you know how […]
December 2, 2016
The domain of disorder (ii)
Most people who have walked in the mountains will have experienced a temperature inversion at some stage. You suddenly discover […]
October 30, 2016
Agency: privilege & complexity
The daily email from Gaping Void is saving me the effort of searching the internet for images before posting. The […]
October 29, 2016
The dispositional state
I’ve had a frustrating few weeks since my last post. An as yet uncorrected error in Blogo (which I otherwise […]
October 14, 2016
of meaning & constraints (1 of 2)
I don’t know how familiar readers are with Dali’s 1943 painting Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man. […]
October 9, 2016
on meaning from a realist perspective
Yesterday’s post received a gratifying response, thanks to all who volunteered and I will be in touch soon to elaborate […]
October 8, 2016
a need for empathy
There was a wonderful, if depressing, tweet from J.K.Rowling yesterday: If we all hit ctrl-alt-del simultaneously and pray, perhaps we […]
October 1, 2016
Group cohesiveness & individual effort
I’ll never forget the first time I saw the murmuration of starlings. I’d arrived at the Hilton in Rome which […]
September 26, 2016
… or pseudo-scientific?
A long time ago I settling into a new strategic role within DataScience following the best part of a decade […]
September 25, 2016
… but is it scientific?
I landed in Melbourne after two long flights but with the satisfaction of an email in box reduced to 40 […]
September 23, 2016
Freedom through constraints
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about constraints in the context of complexity in general […]
September 15, 2016
In the salt marsh
I’m still working on the new use of coupling and boundary constraints for Cynefin so readers will have to wait […]
September 14, 2016
Manipulating narrative?
As promised yesterday it is more than time to update some of my thinking on narrative as communication. I’ve taught […]
July 29, 2016
so long as I get SOMEWHERE
I intended to complete these three posts linking ideas from Alice in Wonderland with the work of Agryris (and in […]
July 21, 2016
Cloying sentimentality
Yesterday’s post had a somewhat ambiguous title and illustration and I’m going to continue that today. Discovery often involves enigma […]
July 20, 2016
To evaluate or describe?
Yesterday I referenced Max’s reminder to me of a conversation we had in which one or other of us came […]
July 17, 2016
The grass suffers ….
There is an old african proverb: When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. The third party damage […]
July 17, 2016
Of honey pots and pits
Help, help!” cried Piglet, “a Heffalump, a Horrible Heffalump!” and he scampered off as hard as he could, still crying […]
July 16, 2016
Fragmented, fractal and fertile
I argued in yesterday’s post that to resolve conflict we first of all had to change the filters through which […]
July 2, 2016
Shooting the Sacred Cows of OD
Yesterday I referenced a tweet from the Welsh Academy session at which I was a keynote Thursday. A frantic couple […]
July 1, 2016
Things a leader can do
Just over a week ago I posted at the end of day one of the Helsinki think tank on Leadership. […]
May 11, 2016
On stony ground?
I’ve choose Van Goch’s (after Millet) 1889 painting The Sower to illustrate today’s post as I want to build on […]
May 9, 2016
The hound calls
In Alan Gardner’s The Moon of Gomrath, Almanac, the last of the Children of Danu is called by the Hound Of […]
April 24, 2016
Dispositionality (i)
I’m finally getting on top of the backlog of email and writing after the Annapurna trek. Travel hasn’t made that […]
March 13, 2016
I posted on the subject of the lowest energy cost of replication while I was in the Yukon a month […]
March 13, 2016
I posted on the subject of the lowest energy cost of replication while I was in the Yukon a month […]
February 26, 2016
Predation & products I
For those not familiar with our distant ancestors, this is a therapsid or one of the early mammal like reptiles. […]
February 23, 2016
And so to the last, and most problematic of my 3’I’s of anthro-complexity, namely intention; problematic as it is one […]
February 22, 2016
Moving on from my consideration of identity yesterday we come to intelligence. Again I am exploring if my original 3’I’s […]
February 19, 2016
Power in abstraction
I’ve been using this slide for some years ever since it emerged from a conversation between Max Boisot and myself […]
February 17, 2016
Abide II
I opened yesterday’s post with the metaphor of a river in flow but with stable, or semi-stable elements. A river […]
February 16, 2016
Abide part I
I’m enjoying being back in Whitehorse and its day two of the course. The name of the town references the […]
February 15, 2016
Lowest energy cost of replication …
First day of the Cynefin and Sense-making course here in the Yukon to a government audience. Also one that has […]
February 11, 2016
The adjacent possible
I spent an enjoyable day with the LINK research group at UTA. A mixture of conversation and presentation with more […]
February 9, 2016
Ethnography Part I
In Act I of A Midsummer Nights Dream Bottom is asked to play Pyramus, “a love that kills himself, most […]
February 8, 2016
Mischief, thou art afoot
I promised yesterday to republish this table which I created some time ago after I had read Martin’s book on […]
February 7, 2016
Design funnels and Cynefin
Mary Boone and I spent all day working on our article on Complexity Theory and design thinking. It is the […]
February 6, 2016
generating fruitful patterns
Back in May 2011 I got an email from Max Boisot, pictured enthusiastically engaged in a ritual food ceremony in […]
February 4, 2016
Knowledge economy?
I promised to summarise my contribution to the Kuwait event on the Knowledge Economy. The subject has been around for […]
February 1, 2016
… apparel oft proclaims the man
I’m in Kuwait for the next todays taking part in a Government event on the Knowledge Economy. My first time […]
January 31, 2016
Proceed with care
I’m feeling rather pleased with myself for getting back into the habit of daily blogging. Today makes it a full […]
January 19, 2016
a priori?
  The last two days have been spent in Shipley in Heaton Mount which is a part of Bradford University. […]
January 13, 2016
The banality of measurement
One of the insights which can come with age/experience is that the vast majority of people have good intentions or […]
January 10, 2016
The art & science of being a Curmudgeon
So in this final post on the 3Cs of research in organisations I’m returning to the Cynics. I might have […]
January 9, 2016
and then to context
For those who were emotionally deprived in childhood by not being read the Pooh stories I suggest a quick refresh […]
January 7, 2016
Cynicism, curiosity and context
In the course of writing my Christmas series I came up with a throw away comment about the 3Cs of […]
October 25, 2015
A sense of direction
I left the question of direction open in yesterday’s post; if evidence is an emergent property of a complex system […]
October 24, 2015
Somehow an image from the Salem Witch trials with a powerful image of patriarchy seems appropriate to continuing by discussion […]
October 23, 2015
It is never that simple
If you read the report I referenced in yesterday’s post you will find multiple claims that there is growing evidence […]
October 7, 2015
Mistaking volume for veracity?
Laudato Si’is the latin title of the encyclical letter On Care for our Common Home which has caused some controversy […]
October 6, 2015
Take small opportunities
  Today started early with a brisk walk in the rain to explore the area before getting a lift back […]
October 2, 2015
The ethics of intervention
A brief two day visit to San Francisco saw me teaching day three of the Cynefin and Sense-making course with […]
September 17, 2015
Nudge or Yank (sic)
The recent White House Executive Order has given considerable credibility to behavioural economics and to the whole idea of Nudge […]
September 16, 2015
A new mode of explanation?
One of the illustrations given when I was at the session on Constructor Theory at Hay-on-Wye was the difference between […]
September 15, 2015
Reflections on atomism
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I was starting to think about the range of the work I and others […]
September 14, 2015
Linearity is seductive
A couple of years ago I coined the phrase Just because you draw a linear process as a circle it […]
September 10, 2015
Respect the past, but …
I gave a longish lecture today as a part of the Public Service Commissioner’s event in Whitehorse, Yukon. I started […]
August 29, 2015
The evolutionary potential of the present
Many moons ago I used to drive into work everyday from Lockeridge to Farnborough. It took around an hour and […]
August 28, 2015
Oh no we’re not …
In my last post I asked the question Are we doomed to chaos? I planned to answer the question with […]
August 26, 2015
Are we doomed to chaos?
One of the cases used in Embracing Complexity (see my post of yesterday) is a reference to Holling’s work on […]
August 25, 2015
The door is not always open
I was reminded of the Daoist quote of the title while reading Embracing Complexity over the weekend. I knew it […]
August 21, 2015
Change through small actions in the present
I wrote my first post Towards a new theory of change some weeks ago, but life has been frantic since […]
August 2, 2015
Towards a new theory of change
A few things came together this morning: the quote on growing people through empowerment from yesterday’s tribute, Accenture giving up […]
July 30, 2015
Triggering attention in Cynefin
Cynefin as a framework has always been as much about dynamic movement between domains as it has been about the […]
July 6, 2015
Cynefin and cluster connectivity
I recently heard that Complex Acts of Knowing had been assessed as a classic paper in Knowledge Management, moreover it […]
July 4, 2015
Of practical wisdom
I couldn’t have found a better image for today’s post which is about the proper balance of theory with practice; […]
July 3, 2015
Fractality and Cynefin
A fractal in mathematics describes a phenomena where similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, each pattern or instance is […]
June 30, 2015
Participatory or paternalistic? p2
The essence of my post yesterday was to suggest that much of Nudge Theory involves a form of reverse linear […]
June 29, 2015
Participatory or paternalistic? pt 1
My first full day in New Zealand involved some interesting meetings and a presentation to the Hugo Group in the […]
June 28, 2015
Abstraction as shared context
Yesterday’s post was about the need for abstraction, something I recognise years ago when I first met Max Boisot and […]
June 27, 2015
Was he a beast if music could move him so?
One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin Probably […]
May 9, 2015
Democracy, a complexity perspective
I think this is the first year in which I have not been in the UK for a General Election. […]
April 22, 2015
Narratives of Culture: 2nd Movement
I tend to ration my use of Gaping Void cartoons otherwise I would be using one every day! However this […]
April 21, 2015
Think trope not meme
There are some words that irritate the hell out of me for the concepts they embody. One of those is […]
April 19, 2015
When to relax constraints?
One runway was out at Bogota when we flew in late last night so we had to circle for 45 […]
April 18, 2015
An odd sort of a day today. I spent most of it working on my laptop in the Hyatt at […]
April 16, 2015
A day in New York
So back to New York last night to open the second day of LeanUX2015.   Last year we were in […]
April 14, 2015
Causal effect through engagement
We’re finally there with Culture Scan but its too late here in New York for me to put together a fairly […]
February 23, 2015
Narratives of Culture: 1st movement
One of the problems with cultural surveys in organiations is that they tend to be evaluative in nature.   The […]
February 22, 2015
Narratives of culture: the score
This is going to be a little out of sequence, but I want to come to how we gather narrative […]
February 21, 2015
Narratives of culture: overture
There are some basic truths about culture in organisations that are pretty self-evident to anyone prepared to engage with either […]
February 19, 2015
Lines in the sands of time
Up to Hull today to deliver my first lecture tomorrow in what I hope will be a long term relationship. […]
February 13, 2015
A memory of Peter Drucker
I’m back in San Diego again for a series of meetings and if things work out I am going to […]
February 10, 2015
Judgement overrides propensity
Most of my journals are on the iPad these days, but I keep a few in paper form.   One […]
February 8, 2015
Anthropology in schools?
An article in the Guardian today argues that axing anthropology as a subject in schools in cultural barbarism.  Ignoring the irony of […]
February 6, 2015
Trophic cascades
For those not familiar with the term it describes the various changes that take place in an eco system when […]
February 4, 2015
Rendering plants for people
An interesting day working with a group of Partners from ETHOS with whom we are starting to form an interesting series of […]
January 31, 2015
Description not evaluation
One of the things I am enjoying at the moment is the way a lot of things are coming together […]
January 30, 2015
On the dangers of transparency
My promise of yesterday to post on the question of transparency was promoted when I came across this image in […]
January 29, 2015
Humans are messy
Day three of the Cynefin and Sense-making course focuses on new forms or organisation and the various aspects of cognitive […]
January 28, 2015
Of effects & things
I’ve been developing more material around the whole issue of dealing with the humanity (a double edged word) in complex […]
January 27, 2015
The ethics of unintended consequences
I taught the first day of of the Cynefin and Sense-making course here in Zurich without slides.   I’m breaking […]
January 26, 2015
On fragments and lessons learning
A transition through Bonn today to spend time with the German Development Agency before moving onto Zurich.   It involved […]
January 23, 2015
Of a journey or two
Given a weekend in Brighton anything involving mountains is not really possible but the Downs and the Seven Sisters are […]
January 21, 2015
Some thinking about decisions
I’m still working through possible material for next weeks training programme in Zurich.  One thing I want to tackle in more […]
January 13, 2015
Systems? Day 2
After the cathartic moments last night we moved on this morning spending forty minutes discussing if we should spend and […]
January 12, 2015
Systems? Day 1
An odd sort of day today, the first of two in a small session discussing system thinking, complexity and the […]
January 8, 2015
Weak signal detection
Yesterday was a frustrating one in many ways.   I had to write a brief summary of SenseMaker® and its […]
December 23, 2014
Anticipatory awareness
A rather complex set of circumstances involving the family, two cars and the need for daughter to visit aunt; all […]
December 18, 2014
Perspectives on Cynefin
Over the years I have increasingly used a picture of Cynefin which includes three dynamic movements rather than just present […]
December 15, 2014
Creating an architecture for change
Yesterday’s post was partly inspired by my reading David Chandler’s 2014 book Resilience: The Governance of Complexity. My daughter recommended […]
December 14, 2014
Another Drucker memory
My other vivid memory of Peter Drucker (and it still hurts) was when I naively criticised Taylorism and ended up […]
November 25, 2014
of Charlemagne and slime moulds
A couple of things came together to stimulate writing this post.   One was thinking about issues of management and control […]
November 7, 2014
Of sandbanks and granite cliffs
It was good to see the strategy workshop picked up by Ian Thorpe in his blog and he beat me […]
November 5, 2014
What is thought to be is rarely real
As I described yesterday, my use of narrative started with the need to discover decisions and their nature as part […]
November 4, 2014
Creating a knowledge strategy
I’m back at KM World in Washington having keynoted at the event for well over a decade now.  Once it […]
October 25, 2014
To be content not to know
Yesterday I made my views on making a difference clear in terms of what I valued, what Cognitive Edge is capable […]
October 5, 2014
Intervening in a complex domain
A good conversation in Moscow this morning with David Anderson around and about the issue of managing a complex system […]
September 21, 2014
Please, not more of the same (2 of 3)
I had to get up at 0400 this morning to make the morning flight for Berlin.  The reason was that […]
September 20, 2014
Please, not more of the same (1 of 3)
Last month Paul Tudor alerted me to a 2012 McKindsey report Delivering large-scale IT projects on time, on budget, and […]
September 18, 2014
From the malarial swamps of Darien
It would be too easy to comment on the Scottish referendum tomorrow, or even late tonight when we know the […]
August 4, 2014
Weaving a common context
Luckily I had my Yellow Fever vaccination certificate with me this morning or I might have had a problem getting […]
July 30, 2014
Managing the situated present
Probably the most important phrase in The Children's Party Story is the conclusion: We manage the emergence of beneficial coherence within attractors, […]
July 23, 2014
Scaling: the perversion of order
To my final post on scaling, at least for the moment as it's a big and developing subject.  There is […]
July 22, 2014
Scaling: context is all
In my second post on scaling I talked about about two types of scaling and the last two posts handled […]
July 21, 2014
Scaling: of gaps and things
Yesterday I promised to move on the How do you scale success? question but working on Friday's seminar with Simon that […]
July 20, 2014
Initial thinking on scaling
I had more time to think than I planned on the flight to Sydney last night.  I got upgraded to […]
July 20, 2014
Scaling: merge, match & masticate
Scaling as a subject seems topical at the moment.   Cognitive Edge has been working with the UNDP on how […]
July 17, 2014
Anticipatory alert
I had a key meeting with a Singapore government agency today, in part to report on a SenseMaker® project and […]
July 2, 2014
Hermeneutical Unity
An interesting first day at the Summer Institute; we started with a Danish song about love and followed that with […]
July 2, 2014
Safety zero?
An interesting day at the Summer Institute which ended gloriously with a long evening of discussion and story telling with […]
July 1, 2014
In preparation for a deep end
I'm in Copenhagen for the rest of this week for the Summer Institute where I am speaking or facilitating several […]
June 29, 2014
Family affairs
The original plan for today was to walk from Goldcliff into Cardiff taking advantage of the family being together with […]
June 22, 2014
Gravity is not the same as gravitas
Ye pushed them raw to the battle as ye picked them raw from the street. And what did ye look […]
June 21, 2014
Mind your P’s and W’s
I KEEP six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And […]
June 20, 2014
Thinking simply, in context
One of the common social media comments post a Cognitive Edge course (especially when I run it) is that people'r […]
June 5, 2014
Judge not, but enable judgement
After yesterday's productive session at Bangor University I got the train back to London and took daughter to dinner and […]
June 4, 2014
Brambles II
In my first post on our new project(s) in Bangor yesterday I promised to make some comments today on complexity […]
March 21, 2014
The new Luddites?
The luddites were not the first to resist the introduction of new technologies and I have always had some sympathy […]
March 18, 2014
Early detection, fast recovery
One of the points I have been making for years is that a degree of failure is inevitable in any […]
March 16, 2014
Health polemics
I ran a workshop today for several NHS groups in Leatherhead.  It was a basic introduction to complexity theory and […]
January 27, 2014
Authentic action
My little tirade yesterday about the primitive linear causality of Blair's article in yesterday's Observer prompted a few to ask […]
January 17, 2014
… for extraordinary need
The trip home overnight was a lot less eventful than the flight out!  The plane left Minneapolis on time, O'Hare […]
December 20, 2013
Peer to peer knowledge flow
I promised yesterday to talk about peer-to-peer knowledge flow.  Like yesterday's post this has an ideological aspect as well as […]
December 19, 2013
Whose voice?
Another too long day with an early morning flight to Amsterdam.   I had booked an airport hotel and should […]
November 3, 2013
Symbiosis: scaffolding
I'm continuing the lichen pictorial theme for these posts in which I am exploring a definition of a new type […]
October 18, 2013
Robbin Island
Today was a day without work.  We started with a brief tour of the cape and in part the route […]
October 17, 2013
Homo ludens
We had a lot of fun in a intense one day workshop at the Worldsview Academy today and my thanks […]
October 8, 2013
The ‘N’ Word
I flew into Frankfurt with David Gurteen today who sinned greatly by messing up the on line checkin to confine […]
October 5, 2013
Design thinking & complexity pt 3
In my last post in this series I argued for managed exaptation as a method to avoid premature convergence.  I […]
October 4, 2013
Design thinking & complexity pt 2
In a very important sense, then, from the perspective of material engagement, cognition has no location.  The active mind cannot […]
October 4, 2013
Design thinking & complexity pt 2
In a very important sense, then, from the perspective of material engagement, cognition has no location.  The active mind cannot […]
October 3, 2013
Design thinking & complexity pt 1
I promised to address this yesterday following a presentation on Design Thinking at the conference here in Ohio.   I […]
August 30, 2013
Complicated domain v45º
The advanced seminar we held in Seattle earlier this month was very useful in developing a whole bunch of stuff, […]
July 20, 2013
Reflecting on the future
Foresight week over and I am flying back to the UK today.  I will  then take a few days off […]
July 15, 2013
Design principles in DSS software
An exciting week in Singapore with a series of events including IRAHSS 2013 all held in the Raffles City Convention […]
June 10, 2013
Iain (M) Banks RIP
Yesterday I pre-ordered Iain Bank's last book The Quarry, today I learnt via Neil Gaiman that he had died, shortly […]
May 25, 2013
Convergence of description
One of the thing that was an undercurrent of thinking and discussion in Paris this week was the perennial debate […]
May 23, 2013
Chaos & disorder
I often get asked about the two transitionary domains in Cynefin and its not in frequent for people to assume […]
April 25, 2013
Nancy Dixon, in response to my keynote yesterday, expressed a preference for getting people together to talk about things rather […]
April 25, 2013
Context, is well contextual
It's been the best part of twenty years now since I moved out of operational and strategic management  roles and […]
April 18, 2013
Knowledge has to be situated
My original plan for yesterday was to spend the day walking around Krackow with the camera before getting the flight […]
April 16, 2013
and so to SCRUM/KANBAN
Yesterday I updated the Complexity domain model, but left the coherence diagonal for today.  I promised to do this in […]
April 15, 2013
… when engineers run the world?
I've fallen behind on this blog over the last week and I have some backfill posts to make on IT […]
March 22, 2013
The new Calvinists
I don't think I ever repeat a presentation, but over time certain elements stay constant, then new ideas are tried […]
March 10, 2013
Control is key in managing a CAS
I really apologise for the opening picture, but it was too good not to use.   Yesterday I picked up […]
March 1, 2013
On rethinking constraints
The power went out this morning in Lockeridge and the surrounding areas.  The some what cryptic  Southern Electric answering service […]
February 25, 2013
OMG, its culture change time
If in doubt, blame the culture seems to be a golden rule in consultancy and management alike.  And of course […]
February 16, 2013
Objects of desire
One of the problems we (in the sense of all users of) get with Cynefin is the temptation to put […]
February 9, 2013
A Symposium
Today was a good day, in part due to events in Paris but also for good conversation and good ideas. […]
February 8, 2013
Design the process, not the outcome
Coevolution in biology  occurs when two parties exert selective evolutionary pressures on each other as a result of which they […]
February 6, 2013
Don’t mention the Lichen
As I returned to the car from Castell-y-bere last Friday the beech trees on the side of the hill were […]
February 6, 2013
Those who know their Dr Doolittle will know that the Pushmi-pullyu has two heads, one of a gazelle and the other […]
February 5, 2013
Service as co-evolution
I made it back to Henley in the early hours of the morning following an outstanding production of Eugene Onegin […]
January 31, 2013
The place of belonging
I was thinking a lot about identity today.  I'm at Bangor University, running a whole day seminar for the Welsh […]
January 29, 2013
Rules is rules
There are those who love the language of complexity, but fail to really think it through.  Self-organisation and emergence are […]
January 27, 2013
To be gracious
It used to mean Godly now it means to be marked by kindness and courtesy, marked by tact, characterised by charm, […]
January 21, 2013
Start with action, then reflect
I promised some time ago that I would post on Scharmer's Theory U.  I wasn't that impressed with the 2005 […]
January 19, 2013
Wheatley, Nietzsche & the Blues
Today was a somewhat bazar set of coincidences.  I had little sleep in part due to the travel traumas of […]
January 9, 2013
Aspects of narrative work: III Power
This picture of a Gypsy boy in Hungary taken in 1931 and it tells a story; what story is an […]
January 8, 2013
On having a bath
One of my favourite columnists in the New Statesman is Martha Gill with her Irrational Animals piece.  In the 4-10 […]
January 6, 2013
Aspects of narrative work: II
I made some progress on patterning the various approaches to narrative today, but less on the two encyclopaedia entries I […]
January 5, 2013
Aspects of narrative work: I
As I indicated yesterday I have to write one, possibly two entries for Sage's forthcoming Encyclopedia of Action Research and I […]
December 16, 2012
Demon spawn
Yesterday I referenced the tragic events in Connecticut.  The day before at the MIT Press I had both Neiman's Evil […]
December 15, 2012
I can’t image the horror …
On the plane back from Boston today I was reading some back copies of New Scientist.  One article suggested that […]
December 13, 2012
Purpose as virtue: mapping
Yesterday I talked about parables, heuristics and ritualised habits as ways in which virtue could be instantiated in practice to […]
December 12, 2012
Purpose as virtue: three elements
I promised to pick up from my philosophical musings of yesterday with a more practical working out of the use […]
December 11, 2012
Purpose as virtue, opening thoughts
The question of purpose is an important one for anyone trying to apply complexity thinking to any human system or […]
December 7, 2012
Stoned to death by cornflakes
As most people know the meaning of the word Cynefin  does not really translate directly into English, its literal translation […]
December 1, 2012
Cynefin: revised leadership table
I managed to get back to daily blogging in November, albeit with the odd retrospective posting.  Its good to be […]
November 29, 2012
CASinGov 2: opening thoughts
I made a promise yesterday to talk more about the questions posed by the Auditor General and to do so […]
November 29, 2012
CASinGov 2: being & believing
When I said that this series would be two or more posts I don’t think I realised what I was […]
November 25, 2012
A Parable is worth many ‘values’
The parable of the sower occurs in three of the four gospels, and its always been one of my favourites. […]
November 22, 2012
Complexity sub-domain framework
Either the adrenaline search of my hoodie-avoidance behaviour of last night or the general state of exhaustion resulted in my […]
November 13, 2012
The endless cycle of idea and action
One of two most popular, and to my mind least useful, models in knowledge management has been the DIKW pyramid. […]
November 11, 2012
More on OODA & Cynefin
Mark Hart made an important point in his comment on my post of yesterday.  Boyd’s model was developed for decision […]
November 10, 2012
The OODA loop & Cynefin
Earlier this month I picked up a tweet from Clay Spinuzzi of Austin University asking how the Cynefin framework related […]
November 9, 2012
Of purpose & virtue
One of the very strong memories of my youth is the scene in the BBC production of Sartre’s Roads to Freedom where […]
November 2, 2012
where is thy sting?
Following on from yesterday's reflection its worth remembering that today is The Day of the Dead or more famously Día de los Muertos. […]
November 1, 2012
Today is hallowmas or All Saints Day in the Catholic tradition.  It celebrates the Community of Saints, those who have […]
October 29, 2012
Its all about the granularity
I did a lot of thinking on the walks this weekend, especially during the painful finale to day two where […]
October 20, 2012
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
If asked for which poems first impressed me at school I would list two.  Crow by Ted Hughes which inspired […]
September 25, 2012
And…I’m back!
Excitement mounts. In a couple days I'll be flying to Jakarta as one-sixteenth of Cappella Martialis to sing Brahms' Ein […]
September 11, 2012
… for which you never blamed us
To the Netherlands today, after a brief respite from travel.  Setting the alarm for 0430 to make the early morning […]
August 23, 2012
Simplicity after understanding
I'm not a huge fan of De Bono but one quote from him is just perfect: Simplicity before understanding is simplistic; […]
August 22, 2012
Sidecasting in a flow
It’s time to bring this series of posts to an end, but it is far from an end for the […]
August 21, 2012
Sidecasting techniques
After due consideration, I’ve settled on sidecasting over the alternatives.  It has an edge to it and was the favourite […]
August 18, 2012
“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see”
A longer than normal title to this post (from Martin Luther King) should not be seen as a modern-day version […]
August 17, 2012
The response to ‘sidecasting’ (in contrast with forecasting and backcasting) as a name was generally favourable and it is a […]
August 15, 2012
Casting around
On one flight in the last few weeks (to be honest, I cannot remember which one) I caught up on […]
August 14, 2012
Learning: the why and the how
I've been enjoying myself at various client meetings here in Singapore demonstrating the new SenseMaker® app on the iPhone and […]
August 2, 2012
Thinking about coherence
I promised in my last post that I would talk more about coherence as a part of my development of […]
July 28, 2012
When first we practise to deceive!
Just to be clear up front, the title of this post is intended to be ironic and self-deprecatory as a […]
July 27, 2012
Rethinking the complex domain of Cynefin
Yesterday I took up again the exploration of Cynefin that I started back in January.  In that post (please read before […]
July 26, 2012
Disabling disorder
Back in January I started to share some of my thinking about the next evolutionary phase of Cynefin.   While […]
July 23, 2012
Today was one of those very long days, mitigated, nay transformed by good conversation.  I had to get up at […]
July 14, 2012
It ain’t necessarily so
Another cartoon from Hugh opens these continued reflections on project management and its a good one.  The hairy assed project managers […]
July 8, 2012
You can’t create a craft by committee
From time to time in knowledge management circles the cry of standardisation is raised. It's just happened again with a […]
June 8, 2012
HTLGI2012: Nature of Evil
Flying into Bristol from Belfast last night was a good preparation for a consideration of evil.  The pilot did well, […]
June 6, 2012
HTLGI2012: of money, markets and machines
Pope Julius II left two things to the Vatican, his preserved ears and, through patronage of Michaelangelo, the painting of […]
June 5, 2012
HTLGI2012: on the edge
The phrase I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, attributed to […]
June 4, 2012
HTLGI2012: Philosopher Kings
Bad weather and to much work prevented my taking the bike into Hay today and it was a full day […]
June 3, 2012
HTLGI2012: on Death
The festival is now moving into full swing, but I was confined to one morning session by an afternoon appointment […]
June 1, 2012
HTLGI2012: of hills, progress and cyborgs
The festival is still in its warm up stage with evening events only so I spent the morning working then […]
May 31, 2012
HTLGI2012: Getting started
The festival starts on Thursday with an evening session or two so I planned to get down to Hay-on-Wye in […]
May 30, 2012
I first went to this celebration of Philosophy and Music last year for a few days and resolved to spend […]
May 9, 2012
ABIDE - overview of process
Picking up on yesterdays post on ABIDE.  As I suspected forcing myself to teach the idea produced some innovation and […]
May 7, 2012
Fast falls the even tide
When we put CalmAlpha together back in January I was somewhat shamed by Joseph Pelrine talking about his use of […]
May 4, 2012
Nowt wrong with fiction
I'm not sure why Shawn over at Anecdote reacted so badly to Jonathan Gottschall's article on Story Telling.  Ok it not […]
May 1, 2012
Calan Haf
My determination to spend at least one day every weekend on a long distance walk is starting to pay dividends. […]
April 2, 2012
Exaptation & managed serendipity: II
In this second of three posts on exaptation I am going to continue to build on reporting discussions and ideas […]
April 1, 2012
Exaptation & managed serendipity: I
The feather original evolved for regulation of temperature, but then evolved for flight.  In 1942 a scientist at Raytheon was […]
March 15, 2012
Matthew 7:12
For my many and various sins I have, for the last few months, been engaged in one of the strangest […]
March 4, 2012
And on a day we meet to walk the line
The title of this post is from my all time favourite poem by Robert Frost, and the picture is of […]
February 24, 2012
An uncivil practice
My last day in Singapore on this trip, although I will be back at the end of March. It's been […]
January 16, 2012
Meaning and truth
I have always rated Yiannis Gabriel’s writing and the various conversations I have had with him over the years. Of […]
January 9, 2012
It’s not often a month goes by without one Gaping Void’s cartoons providing cause for thought. This one came in […]
January 5, 2012
A work in progress
For over a year now I have been playing with differ ways of representing the complex domain of Cynefin. As […]
December 31, 2011
The Aggregative error
Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you can imagine Goethe I’m not […]
December 28, 2011
Mark 12:17
Last night I took Eleanor and Huw to Stratford for the RSC production of David Edgar’s Written on the Heart. […]
December 27, 2011
The Herriot effect
When I was young there were only four TV channels available in the UK, heating was confined to one room […]
December 2, 2011
ESADE commemoration of Max Boisot
I flew into Barcelona yesterday on the final leg of an overlong trip. The reason was to attend a gathering […]
November 19, 2011
… was so skinny and thin
The trouble with allocating Saturday as a work day in a city centre apartment hotel on floor four is that […]
November 17, 2011
…the baby has gone down the plug hole
Coevolution in biology references a change triggered by one object interacting with another over time. Bumblebees interact with flowers over […]
November 14, 2011
… to control the mind
I never liked Utilitarian Philosophy although I can see its popular appeal, it has an element of mathematical calculation to […]
November 11, 2011
The Boisot blog
A few days ago I got a friendly reminder from Plaxo that I should schedule an eCard for delivery on […]
November 10, 2011
… forever blunt and merciless
There was a speaker panel at KM World with myself, Verna Allie & Bob Buckman, chaired by Patrick Lambe. All […]
October 27, 2011
language is the master of (wo)man
“Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of […]
October 23, 2011
Algorithmic custodians and the lazily indulgent
Now it may not be immediately obvious, but this picture contains one of the most dangerous of predators a Grizzly […]
October 22, 2011
Typology or Taxonomy?
The Academy of Management award for my HBR cover article with Mary Boone says among other things that the paper […]
October 20, 2011
A typology of Foresight
I enjoy the responsibility of summary type presentations. You have to sit through a whole day of speeches that vary […]
September 10, 2011
Max Boisot 1943-2011
It has taken me some days to be able to write this, and I still have not come to terms […]
August 15, 2011
AoM2011: Redemption Day
Not so much “a train heading straight to Heaven’s Gate” but we made progress today. Yesterday was more “Fire rages […]
August 11, 2011
Wilful blindness
One of the pleasures of returning home is to catch up on the various magazines I subscribe to. For the […]
August 10, 2011
Paul Cilliers 1956-2011
Paul Cilliers died of a brain aneurism on Sunday July 31st at his apartment in Mouille Point, a memorial service […]
May 7, 2011
The necessity of partial constraint
At LSSC11 I used the constraint based definition of different system types: Ordered, highly constrained; Chaotic, no constraints; Complex, partial […]
May 6, 2011
as he sowed, some fell by the wayside
One of the points I made in yesterday's keynote was that it is a mistake to write down your values, […]
March 23, 2011
The resilient organisation: introduction
Yesterday I talked briefly about the need for a prepared mind, and a prepared organisation to ensure the fast detection, […]
March 22, 2011
The prepared mind
One of the key points I have been making in the new seminar (and a few keynotes) over the last […]
March 13, 2011
Obsession and melancholia
I was catching up stored documentaries this morning and a BBC documentary on Sir Kyffin Williams RA, whose use of […]
March 11, 2011
Scenarios: mapping the possible
My post on resilience yesterday got extensively re-tweeted with a lot of favorable comments, so thanks for that. The presentation […]
March 11, 2011
Meaning & the content heresy
This posting continues the theme of the past two days so you might want catch up first! I’ve been talking […]
March 9, 2011
The mantra of resilience
We’ve been involved in an interesting project on social resilience and I have been working tonight on the presentation for […]
March 8, 2011
snowflakes, models, myth and magic
Two interesting articles (well more than that actually, but two in particular) in the current edition of the New Scientist […]
March 7, 2011
Counter narratives
If you move around government and intelligence circles, or touch them tangentially (as I do) from time to time you […]
February 11, 2011
Nylon sheets and melancholia
I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain — and back in rain Today […]
January 27, 2011
One’s first opera
I took a late train up to London today to see the ENO perform La Boheme in a revival of […]
January 22, 2011
The aging workforce (part 4)
Last time (and too long ago) I talked about some general principles, many of them society based, which presented possible […]
January 14, 2011
I flew into Toronto by way of Miami last night (don’t ask its just the way the flights worked out) […]
January 13, 2011
Utility in narrative
For many years now I’ve made a strong distinction between narrative and story telling. In IBM days and afterwards I […]
December 15, 2010
Of war and nation
An interesting conversation this morning about war. I was talking about the greater ease of getting the US military to […]
December 12, 2010
The aging workforce (part 3)
In my two earlier posts on this subject I started by challenging the knowledge management orthodoxy of codification and then […]
December 10, 2010
Asymmetry & hacktivism
For over a decade I have been immersed in issues around asymmetric warfare (otherwise known as terrorism, liberation struggles etc.) […]
December 4, 2010
The classification tango
The heading of this post is an indirect reference to the incomparable Tom Lehrer’s The Masochism Tango; listen before proceeding. […]
December 3, 2010
The aging workforce (part 2)
Dilbert is one of the challenges is a classic knowledge management will occur today. Back in 1990, more people claimed […]
December 2, 2010
The aging workforce (part 1)
Today’s Dilbert raised one of the classic issues in knowledge management. Back in the 1990s people argued that core knowledge […]
November 28, 2010
Of chickens and eggs
One question raised in the comments to my post on Perdition was from Chavin Parekh who asked for my views […]
November 22, 2010
On conscription
The news today that Germany is to abolish Military conscription triggered a memory or two and a reminder of an […]
November 9, 2010
Arizona: Managing the situated now
Final session of the Phoenix conference and I have a brief to provide a What do you do next summary […]
October 22, 2010
A different skyscape
I was sitting outside chatting with our Thatcher yesterday. As you can see from the picture he has had to […]
September 25, 2010
The temptation of equilibrium
Last Thursday I was invited to attend a seminar organised by the Institute of Physics at the Judge Institute in […]
August 18, 2010
Still wondering why
I watched Rabbit Proof Fence with the children tonight (well at 18 & 21 children no longer). It is one […]
August 17, 2010
Thinking back to my MBA
To Middlesex University today for a startup meeting on the use of SenseMaker® to understand student experience. The idea is […]
August 13, 2010
…an inescapable network of mutuality
Washington DC today, and an all day session with Global Giving who have been running a project with SenseMaker® for […]
August 8, 2010
Power laws & abductive research
I promised a more substantive post about our Friday session at the AoM on new forms of research, and I […]
August 6, 2010
Humans are not ants, agents or angels
First day of the Academy of Management today and my session with Jim Hazy, Max Boisot and Pierpaolo Andriani was […]
July 31, 2010
The enemy of my enemy is my friend
It’s being interesting over the last couple of weeks to come across several examples of people defining their position either […]
July 30, 2010
Bogging the horses down in mud
I sat up late tonight, well into the early hours of the morning but I will backdate this post to […]
July 28, 2010
Legitimising rhetoric not a real guide to action
My thanks to Iwan Jenkins for drawing my attention to this article by economist John Kay which acts as a […]
July 24, 2010
I’ve made numerous attempts over the years to watch The Hunt for Red October through without dozing off. The reason […]
July 17, 2010
Towards a co-evolutionary praxis of value
In my post of yesterday I suggested that: far too much management “theory” is shoring up executives by making them […]
July 15, 2010
Living with uncertainty
Two similar quotes from contrasting sources which capture (in very different ways) the essence of dealing with uncertinaty: “The key […]
July 13, 2010
The Origins of Cynefin - Part 7
It's time to bring this series of seven posts on the origins of Cynefin to a close. I started it […]
July 12, 2010
The Origins of Cynefin - Part 6
We've now reached the penultimate episode in this series (and don't worry Dumbledore won't die, this is not The Hero's […]
July 11, 2010
The Origins of Cynefin - Part 5
The Cynefin framework is frequently (and legitimately) used as a categorisation model around the four domains of simple, complicated, complex […]
July 10, 2010
The Origins of Cynefin - Part 4
We ended episode 3 of this series with the Cynefin framework in a recognisable form after well over a decade […]
July 9, 2010
The Origins of Cynefin - Part 3
I have resolved to complete this history over the next couple of days. In part 1 I took the history […]
July 7, 2010
Vogans, values & verisimilitude 2/2
Moving on from the yesterday’s Vogans to their traveling companions the Dentrassi; for those who are not aware these creatures […]
July 6, 2010
Vogans, values & verisimilitude 1/2
To continue with my theme of yesterday by looking specifically at the near obsessional need of many organisations to write […]
July 4, 2010
Creating excellent sheep
Catching up on my RSS feed late last night while watching Godfather II into the early hours of the morning, […]
July 2, 2010
Avoiding talking about success
I agreed to take part in an interview some weeks ago on success. The transcript is now available here. It […]
July 1, 2010
The Sloan Managment Review recently published a paper on evidence based decision making which is well summarised in the abstract […]
June 7, 2010
New seminar programme
I’m looking forward to my impending four week tour of New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. A mixture of meetings, project […]
May 29, 2010
Society is more than an aggregation of individuals
I’ve never really understood why anyone gets taken in by arguments along the lines of “get the individuals right and […]
May 12, 2010
Its information to data we need, not DIKW
I had a fascinating ad hoc meeting with various US Army KM people in Washington just over a week ago […]
May 9, 2010
Tommy can you hear me …
On a whim I recently bought CDs of all the LPs that I had loved and lost from the early […]
May 5, 2010
From robustness to resiliance
April 17, 2010
A brief conversation with Gary Klein
I’ve been under the weather this week, starting with flu and moving on to a poisoned toe. Interesting reflection there, […]
April 9, 2010
Origins of Cynefin: By any other name would (it) smell as sweet?
A very confusing thing happened today. Google alert and a few friends pointed to this interesting post by Harold Jarche. […]
April 3, 2010
Abrogation not assumption
I made the point yesterday that many of the tools and practices used within the HR function are focused on […]
March 24, 2010
The Origins of Cynefin - Part 1
Its been a long time coming but I'm getting to the next stage of the Knowledge Sharing Across Silos series […]
March 14, 2010
Situated meaning, a reflection
  I’m sitting in my room at The Residence in the Singapore Recreation Club looking out of the window onto the […]
March 2, 2010
Purity and danger
As ever Gaping Void gets to the heart of a dilemma. When to compromise and when to stand firm. It […]
March 1, 2010
For St Davids Day
In 1998 my parents gave me a book for a Christmas present. It was the 80th year of the life […]
February 11, 2010
Narrative as mediator
I was half way through writing KSS4 when I realised I was taking some language for granted, so expect a […]
February 7, 2010
The evolution of Cynefin over a decade
I’m working on a history of the Cynefin model. The number if citations and mentions seems to have gone up […]
February 5, 2010
Ask not for whom the axe falls
A literate insult, with complex metaphors can be a delight. Regardless of your views on the legitimacy or not of […]
January 15, 2010
KSS3: A transition to solutions
So far I have talked about the issues and common misunderstandings as to the nature of the problem and its […]
January 12, 2010
KSS2: Organising principles
Just before Christmas I started off this thread by summarising the reasons that people have given me over the years […]
January 10, 2010
Elephants, fleas and the City of London
Just before Christmas I got a paper from Bill McKelvey of UCLA with a request to see if I could […]
January 8, 2010
Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of an evening at home with daughter. Her work had been cancelled due to […]
December 22, 2009
KSS1: Why its an issue and common errors
Apparently my Ballerinas and Aircraft Carriers post gained some interest at ministerial level in Wales last week, and I was […]
November 6, 2009
Familiarity breeds usefulness
I found this telling cartoon in the process of hunting down references for an overdue chapter in a book on […]
November 5, 2009
More thoughts on cooking
My earlier post on The Chef & the recipe book user attracted several interesting comments and was heavily re-tweeted. One […]
October 31, 2009
Great people. a real debate then bureacratic insanity and insects
Overall October has been a bad month for the blog. I normally achieve a daily contribution, but I will only […]
October 9, 2009
A rich passion
To the opera yesterday for he opening night of the ENO’s new production of Turandot. Now if you go to […]
September 8, 2009
Speciation & co-evolution
Gala Dinner: Bresaola con rucola e grana, Verdure grigliate, Insalata; followed by Gnocchetti sardi gorgonzola e noci with Crespelle al […]
September 7, 2009
Lunch: Pasta agli spinaci, Coniglio al forno con patate, insalata & Frutta Siesta time here at the Palazzo Feltrinelli (pictured […]
September 7, 2009
The IBM PC, understood as an earthworm
Dinner: Pasta spek e piselli, Strudel di verdure e formaggio, Verdure al vapore, Insalata & Dessert After an afternoon catching […]
September 2, 2009
Triggered memories
I was pleased to find from a google alert that my recent posts on Go/Chess and Resilience/Robustness and saved me […]
August 30, 2009
Chess to Go
Go uses a 19 by 19 Grid, 181 black stones and 180 white stones. While the average number of legal […]
August 1, 2009
Aesthetics and meaning
Settled into Adelaide for a weekend of email catch up and hopefully writing, I went out for a morning walk […]
July 30, 2009
Hydrostatic lift
If I look back at the years at the really memorable keynotes, then Melbourne audiences stand out. To speak well […]
July 26, 2009
Three years on …
Thanks to the twitterverse (@iharkness to be precise) I discovered that I have now been posting to this blog more […]
July 22, 2009
Complexity in Government
Today was the first day of my three day programme at the Civil Service College in Singapore. It’s my second […]
July 15, 2009
Fleeting memories
I was chatting today with a former Harrier Pilot in the US Marines, now in a senior position in Boeing […]
July 9, 2009
Back to basics,& ICT in schools
A good article in the Independent today on the growth in the market for coaching in touch typing skills and […]
July 3, 2009
It’s been an interesting few weeks managing a narrative capture in the UK and Pakistan, interpreting the material and writing […]
June 18, 2009
A curious question
An interesting email came in from my old friend Karl Wiig this evening. He is looking for a list of […]
June 2, 2009
Interwoven flows of activity, not a PERT chart
I enjoyed the two London sessions to day, talking in seminar form about version 3.0 of SenseMaker™. It was good […]
June 1, 2009
Closer to home
For those of you in the UK with access to the BBC iPlayer I can strongly recommend this wonderful narrative […]
June 1, 2009
Soon my country you will be rich
And while we are on the subject of the BBC iPlayer and culture, this is a real treasure. Only the […]
May 12, 2009
To die consistent with life
I shared a quote from Brave New World a couple of days ago, so thought I would follow it up […]
May 9, 2009
Emergent meaning or prescription?
I was chatting with David Tebbutt on Skype today on a range of subjects from knowledge management to some named […]
May 8, 2009
My gapingvoid print arrived, now to find frame
May 7, 2009
Understanding justice - citizen engagement
I’m looking for help with a very interesting project we are about to start. It will look to measure the […]
May 6, 2009
The good old days
BBC2 has a very interesting programme on snow this evening, some fascinating stuff on the only major casualties from an […]
May 5, 2009
Country lanes and public transport
I started today with a 55 minute walk down country lanes to catch the 0700 bus to Swindon and thence […]
April 30, 2009
We are not good at being objective
i have been working up some new material around the pattern basis of human intelligence. As a part of that […]