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Keynote: Designing for Inherent Uncertainty through Sense-Making

Business Analysis Conference Europe – Live Streaming and Face to Face

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Keynote: Designing for Inherent Uncertainty through Sense-Making
Dave Snowden, Chief Scientific Officer, Cognitive Edge

We live in a world where complexity and unanticipated change is part-and-parcel of day-to-day life, and the balance between human decision-making and artificial intelligence is increasingly blurred at all levels. The succession of management fads, the latest of which is Agile, have all promised to provide a solution, throwing away what came before. All have succeeded to a degree but none have been sustained. One reason for this is that we don’t distinguish between two basic types of system, one where the future can be known and the other where we can only influence the present and respond quickly to change in near real-time. This has profound implications for the role and nature of business analysis which we are only just starting to explore.

This presentation will attempt to navigate a path for delegates through this uncertainty. It is based on Snowden’s original work in counter-intelligence for DARPA before and after 911, where he focused on weak signal detection and anticipatory awareness, to his latest work on a complexity science approach to design and design thinking. Pragmatic techniques to map and influence culture, to understand (quantitatively) unarticulated user-need and to architect for uncertainty will be outlined.

Delegates will learn:

  • You can navigate complexity – you can’t control it; but that doesn’t matter if you know how.
  • Engineering is a limited metaphor for managing the organisation, we need to think more of ecology.
  • Humanity is best augmented by technology, not replaced.


September 21 – September 23


(All day event)



United Kingdom