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Advanced Cynefin® Courses with Dave Snowden, Reading, UK

Whither Cynefin? Find out from the author of the framework and become part of its further growth in this unique opportunity, as Dave Snowden presents and develops the new ideas that will extend and enhance the Cynefin framework.

This series of Masterclasses takes place over three days and will be run in three cities on three continents. The first course is running in Canberra, from the 1st to the 3rd of August and is by invitation only. If you would like to be considered, feel free to send us your application at training@cognitive-edge.com.

In the coming year, these classes will be developed into Advanced Classes that can be delivered by  experienced trainers, but now you have the opportunity to join at the beginning of this journey.

You are invited to join a deep dive into three topics that are at the core of what Cynefin is, what kind of tools it has the power to support, and how you can take action when the world is constantly changing around you. You can attend one or all three days as you follow your curiosity and interests. Special discounts and early bird rates apply to those who book all three days, depending on availability.

The advanced classes are intended for participants who already know the framework. This class takes place immediately following our retreat in Snowdonia and retreat participants who are not quite ready to let go of their learning experience are especially welcome to join us.

This should not be your first go at these topics and you should know by now that Dave takes no prisoners. At the very least, participants must have attended a basic two-day Cynefin training such as the Cynefin® Practitioner Foundations or Cynefin® Online Foundations. Find a classroom course near you, or take the self-paced online course in your own time.  Anyone who has attended other Cognitive Edge three- and two-day courses over the last few years is also qualified to attend, as well as academics who have published using the framework or applied it.

Would you like to join us? Please contact us at training@cognitive-edge.com with your training experience and the type of ticket you are interested in. For a breakdown of the ticket options take a look at the bottom of the page. 

*UPDATE* This course is now residential! Accommodation and meals are included for the first two days with departure on the third day.

This will allow discussions to continue into the evening in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere and give the participants the opportunity to interact at greater depth and length with each other and Dave.

Day 1: Masterclass on the Cynefin® Framework – Advanced Material

Do you feel that you know Cynefin? Is the distinction between Complex and Complicated old news to you? Have you moved from Disorder to Sense-making? Then take the next step.


  • This advanced Cynefin class introduces the full version of the latest, liminal version of the Cynefin Framework. This incorporates movement into the familiar form of Cynefin and turns ongoing change into transitional spaces with unique properties.
  • The various domains of Cynefin are the subject of domain frameworks in their own right. These have been reworked to accommodate the liminal turn in Cynefin, as have the various Cynefin dynamics.
  • Learn how to apply Cynefin in practice through vivid stories and real-life examples, from scaling and exploiting new patterns, to distinguishing among the subtle variations of a context and reading their tendencies, to communicating between levels and contexts.
  • We will cover how to use Cynefin as a fractal sense-making framework in your organisation; creating a common operational and strategic language.
  • The advanced typology of constraints will be taught, linking to the domain definitions within Cynefin.
  • Manage for the unforeseen and unforeseeable by accessing the resources you already have through novel use and harnessing serendipity, not as blind luck, but through consciously creating the conditions for new discovery.


Day 2: Masterclass on Strategy in Complex systems using Cynefin®

What is strategy? Can you read the first stirrings of change? When new opportunities arise, do you know how to grab them? What does strategy mean in the context of leadership? This Masterclass combines Dave Snowden’s latest thinking on Cynefin with multiple strategy frameworks and military strategy, to give you something completely different.  


  • Learn about the ecosystem of the markets and your place in it, how to identify needs according to context and how to spot and respond to signs of coming change, using them to your advantage.
  • Gear your strategy towards overcoming your cognitive biases, to ensure that you do not miss opportunities that are right in front of you.
  • Manage a diverse portfolio representing apparently conflicting needs under complex conditions without relying on any single framework or dogma, but through responding to real contextual needs.
  • Managing risk and opportunity within Cynefin will also feature in this masterclass, along with organisational design issues relating to balancing resilience and robustness, when to let go and when to consolidate
  • Strategy at every level: use the wisdom of military strategy for your civilian needs and learn the difference between tactics, strategy and grand strategy in order to avoid fragile hierarchical command and instead create a resilient and adaptive distributed strategy.


Day 3: Experimental Masterclass on non-SenseMaker® narrative use

What are the stories people tell? What do they mean, and how do we move beyond them? Narratives are a powerful way of communicating strategy, heuristics and culture. Unravel the plot and characters of your own narratives to use a time-tested method of managing and using knowledge. This day looks at the wider contact of narrative, beyond, before, and around the use of  SenseMaker.


  • Approach the complexity of narrative by understanding its power as the most ancient form of effective communication, as knowledge creation and storage, and as narrative research. Understand the balance between narrative as a form of knowledge storage, a research tool, and the more conventional use for communication.
  • Discover tools you can immediately put to practice for communication, such as metaphor, parable, and heuristics.
  • The use of  archetypes, a long-standing Cynefin method, has been updated and extended. Here you will get a chance to learn and practice them in a multi-medial environment that goes beyond words and traditional learning.
  • Understand what an organisational application of narrative can do and how to use true-to-life learning stories as a way to talk about your values without resorting to prescriptive and cliched mission statements. Use the multiplicity of story to discover new things or points of view.
  • Develop a perspective on leadership that encourages action that creates new and different stories instead of the telling of empty tales.  Learn about narrative templates that allow for more effective communication, as well as discovering what is possible in terms of change – shifting from platitudes and idealism to reality.


Dave Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and head of the Cynefin Centre. 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. During his tenure at IBM, he was selected as one of the six on demand thinkers for w worldwide advertising campaign 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.

All Advanced Cynefin Courses with Dave Snowden


  • One day: 1o00 GBP
  • All three days: 2500 GBP
  • Front of Class rate on all three days: 2000 GBP. Front of Class rates apply until the 29th of October and for the first 6 applicants
  • Group ticket for four participants for all three days: 7500 GBP
  • If you are a Snowdonia retreat attendee, please e-mail us for special rates

19% UK VAT applies on all purchases

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 ticket discount options below. PLEASE NOTE the discount changes for 2019 bolded in (2).

  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
  2. Premium Members get 5% discount on Cynefin Retreats, Explorations/Masterclasses and 15% for Online courses and CE managed Foundations courses (Discounts apply only to Standard priced tickets). 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 then use the provided discount code.
  3. Discounts cannot be used cumulatively with Network Membership discounts.




November 29, 2019 – December 1, 2019


8:30 am – 5:00 pm


From: GBP 2000


De Vere Wokefield Estate Goodboys Lane
United Kingdom