Full from all kinds of follow-up thinking from the Cognitive Edge accreditation and SenseMaker workshop last week, so unloading it here…
I came across Dave Snowden‘s work on complexity and sense-making a while ago, played with some ideas, but didn’t have time to get into it properly. Doing the workshop was one of my post-PhD treats: while there are a lot of the materials online I wanted to have guided introduction to the theory and methods (and, of course, I also wanted to meet new people and to talk about something non-PhD related 🙂
Random comments about the experience (coloured by my experiences of living in the blogoshpere and doing qualitative research 🙂
- Overall I’m happy: working through the exercises resulted in concepts and principles sinking deep enough to start using them as a frame to think about the world. Working through the methods was extremely useful, although personally I’d prefer them to be applied on a slightly different selection of themes and cases.
- What I didn’t expect, but loved was an intro to complex facilitation (more), through the exercises, explicit discussion of the facilitator roles and multiple examples.
- I would like more theory. I knew that the course was more practice-oriented than before and that Dave wouldn’t be teaching it, but still… Between other things I missed an in-depth discussion on boundaries and attractors (in particularly as a managing tool).
- I glad that I decided to go for the (optional) third day focused on SenseMaker. While it doesn’t address my hopes of finding something that would help to make sense of an emergent space in an emergent way, it might be a pretty useful instrument to make sense of big volumes of qualitative data when modulators could be discovered beforehand (cryptic, I know 🙂
- And there is something that I can’t articulate quite well, some assumptions behind the stories told that give me some uneasy feelings:
- it seems that most of the experiences with the methods come from from big organisations (industry and governmental), so translating them to constellations of smaller organisations or networks (e.g. NGO world) requires a bit of a stretch
- the methods are primarily intended to be used as instruments to serve some “centre” outside of the system, not the actors in the system
- (SenseMaker specific) bringing primarily “why this approach is better than surveys” argumentation rather than positioning it on the spectrum on qualitative/quantitative methods
- [Update] Almost forgot about the “network” side of the course: next to connecting to the participants there was an opportunity to meet local accredited practitioners and talk about their experiences in applying the methods. What I’m very curious to see now is how the network works beyond the course.
Things to think and follow-up:
- complex facilitation (incl. more on three facilitators approach); using Cynefin for matching facilitation style to the nature of the domain/audience
- abstracting via two-stage emergence
- safe-fail probes and adoption of innovation [blogged]
- tagging as complex vs. chaotic behaviour
- alternative “innovation” trajectories (in particular open source and “bubbling” in weblog ecosystems)
- boundaries and attractors (and more on managing “the cloud”)
- ASHEN model
- SenseMaker boundaries
- social network stimulation and social objects, role of rewards?