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Dave Snowden (1st December) | Coach Developers

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Posted in: CDC Extra

Dave Snowden (1st December)

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  • ABradshaw

    We were delighted to welcome Dave to join the group in conversation on Tuesday 1st December - the session recording can be found here - Dave Snowden - recording

     

    To get you in the mood here are some links and reading:

     

    There’s plenty to explore on the Cognitive Edge website:

    Cognitive Edge - Cynefin

     

    These two blogs from Sonja Blignaut (one of Dave’s collaborators) link to some of our recent conversations:

    The strange in-between

    Navigate complexity - three habits of mind

     

    I’ve also attached an excerpt from the recent Cynefin book, for those that want a deeper dive!

     

     

  • Singleblade

    Back in 2005, Dave Snowden wrote about going to conferences and asking a simple question: "faced with a difficult or intractable problem, would you use a best practice database or find a group of people with relevant experience and listen to their stories?" He was making a simple point about the merits of "placing oneself in a position where one can encounter happy accidents and thereby synthesize new meaning and understanding." 

    That 2005 piece went on to warn (among other things) about a tendency to use narrative in "deterministic" fashion: assuming stories "have (or can be constructed to have) specific meaning" - and to explore a few ways in which we might tap into "water cooler stories" to develop a more nuanced grasp of realities on the ground. It leads into what I tend to see as the key focus of all Dave's work: how we get to a point where we can ask "how do we get fewer stories like this and more stories like that."

    attitude map, built from micro-narrativesThat's all by way of context for one of Dave's recently released blogs: “… intire of it selfe” - a great starting point for anyone new to Dave's work. It includes this "attitude map"... which was built from micro-narratives and which he uses to illustrate the idea of evolving from where we are right now through steps designed to encourage movement to an "adjacent possible" position.

    A minimal read of Dave's recent work might then jump to **** Narrans: of infinite-resource- and-sagacity. Here we find talk of how "you are more likely to get to the truth if you allow people to indulge in speculative what-ifs" and more. That leads into **** Narrans: archetypes: his most recent contribution, but one which explicitly links back to the 2005 paper mentioned above, and to the roots of so many of his tools.

    Beyond all of that, making sense of Dave's thinking (and of the Sensemaker tool, and of his Cynefin Framework) is perhaps best achieved by watching a few of his recorded presentations. I have gathered together links to a few I'd particularly recommend at the end of my Living With Uncertainty document (a document which reflects some of my own engagement with Dave's thinking).

  • Singleblade

    Beyond all Dave's personal contributions... I would also recommend this video:



    Now Imagine asking "What story would you tell if a close friend was thinking of committing to be part of a programme with your coach?" - and asking the athletes or players to place their story on triads.

    Not sure what that might look like? Check out this Sensemaker project on Climate Change (real, live project: you can place your own story now).

  • Singleblade

    One related theme which had cropped up a lot in Coach Developer Conversations has been culture. The tie in should be self-evident... but one of Dave's most impressive blogs draws out many themes from his personal take. This is from the day two blog (one of a series of seven). 

    1. The only time you get to start from scratch is if there is no significant historical context [...]
    2. Even if there was nothing there at the start you need to understand [...] the limitations of what is possible and the energy gradients involved in making any shift.
    3. [...] In cultural change beliefs, common myths and the like all create patterns that both enable and entrap human action and interaction [...]
    4. [...] the only thing you know for certain about any intervention is that it will have unintended consequences [so] don’t release a flood without first building the channels to direct and contain it.
    5. Remember that the most important expression of culture is not what people say, but what they do [...] We are justified by works not by faith … 
    6. [...] if there are negative stories about you don’t argue they are wrong go and do things that make them increasingly difficult to tell.
    7. So preparing the canvass is as much about exploration and experimentation as it is about conventional mapping [...] 

    Happy reading :)

  • Marianne

    When I first heard of Dave Snowden, it was in relation to my work in corporate coaching. I was reading and studying lots of research around complexity (and dynamical systems) including the brilliant work of Margaret Wheatley which I really recommend if you are not familiar with it. 

    Fast forward almost 20 years and I am incredibly excited to have an opportunity to listen to Dave Snowden as he joins the Coach Development Conversations.  

    Greg and Andrew have put up a great selection of pre-reading if you are keen and have time. If you have time, don't worry, I think you can also just join and listen with fresh ears/eyes. An open and curious mind is definitely a bonus though. 

     

  • Singleblade

    Just on cue: a new "review" blog from Dave - an overview of his blogs from 2020, which puts the contributions into some sort of order/context & highlights the key reading...

    Dave talks of his annual update of his Cynefin Framework. The previous year's updates were big, but this year's really added a lot...

    • Part one updated the Cynefin framework with Clear replacing Obvious and Confused replacing Disorder.
    • Part two looked at the aporetic liminal aspect of the confused domain
    • Part three answered some common questions
    • Part four looked at what we can and cannot manage in a complex system
    • Part five looked at using the aporetic liminal as an exit strategy from chaos

    I'd forgotten that Big, Thick and Rich data and See-Attend-ACT were both new this year. The former is great if you're wondering how this work ties into existing traditions of data science, and the latter is good starting point for looking at weak signal detection. Add The need for order as a good riposte for those inclined to romanticise complexity.

    I was unsurprised to see …intire of it selfe highlighted as the most important blog of the year, but was even more delighted to see diversity and exclusion presented as the next most important: as "part of a growing body of work on of democracy and citizen engagement are front and centre to our work" - especially as that ties into my own work on Transgression, Inclusion & Diversity in the Outdoors.

    A final one to highlight hear: What is the locus of change on "Leadership in the context of social interaction" - with direct practical application in coaching:

    1. Understanding the context which may or may not afford you the ability to make changes
    2. Tell stories but don’t try and be a storyteller
    3. Compliment your weakness
    4. Find ways to hear the truth

    Link that to the second part of What? So What? What Next? cool

    Dave Snowden Photo

  • ABradshaw

    Session recording is here - Dave Snowden - recording

  • Singleblade

    But I'm saying you have to move beyond the qualitative. And this is something that feminists called epistemic justice [...]

    Beth, who works for me, has a wonderful way of saying it, which is classic South Wales Valleys humour. Right. She basically says, you know, old men are philosophers, old wives tale tales. And that's an example of Epistemic Injustice.

    The way you language the problem, you know, deprivileges certain people. So the key thing that matters on narrative or micro narrative is who interprets the story, not the story itself.

    [...] It seems to me the key things you have to do with athletes and everybody else is privilege them the right to interpret their own experiences, not just to tell you stories about it. And that's kinda like one of our, one of our main focuses.

  • Singleblade

    "How do we change the environment of leadership development so it is less dependent on reflection & articulation of learning, & more based on process, interaction management, & also critically physicality"?

    That's c/o Dave - who also talks of a "significant difference between coaches who come from a sports and performance background and those in the corporate coaching world" ...all en-route to a query:

    Does the sheer physicality of performance coaching pretty much forces a more trans-disciplinary (trans-contextual?) approach.

    Towards the end of the piece we get elaboration around these seven examples to illustrate a possible direction of travel:

    1. Requiring people on leadership programmes to keep daily learning journals;
    2. Cross-industry engagement as apprentices;
    3. Creating a diversity of perspectives before the leader makes decisions;
    4. The use of archetype sets and asking groups of leaders to discuss and agree on small actions;
    5. Gathering employee narratives and presenting differences for peer discussion;
    6. Use of naive interviewing and shadowing with the naive agent diarising their experience;
    7. Anthro-simulation using metaphor in a game based environment;

    Lots more beyond that: enjoy :point_down:

    https://www.cognitive-edge.com/leadership-in-context-2-of-2/

  • Singleblade

    Mike Haber has written a delightful little blog on Complexity, Hard Hats and BMX. It revolves around training & preparation for high-stakes moments in a high performance world.

    It comes complete with a few quite remarkable Youtube clips. I'll add teaser content here cool

    We could call this blog "Myth, Ritual & the BMX World" as it's about "where complexity science shows up in real life, & how we can deliberately and intuitively approach problems with different methods to get the outcome we want" - and it's explicitly tied into what he's learnt about Cynefin through Cognitive Edge "Basecamp" Training! 

    The content should speak particularly to those with an Ecological Dynamics background...

    "Riding bikes give you a way of seeing & acting in our environment in creative ways. Always looking to progress and push skills & boundaries. Skateboarders will know this feeling too. You never see a city the same again" 

    sss

    In BMX there is a ever moving boundary of things that have been done. Not only by you, but by anyone. Once you know something has been done it opens possibilities [...] Just knowing someone has done something similar changes what you think can be done

    "...people employing security guards to do their job are thinking they are setting up governing constraints. But often these become enabling constraints, creating the pressure & opportunity to get things done" & "stuff gets done when security turn up

    Take an environment that rewards progression: "doing things you couldn’t do yesterday, doing things that no-one had considered doing at this place, doing things no one else had done, and doing things no one else had even thought of" - words for coach developers to reflect upon?

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