Dave Snowden on culture as emergent and why it can't be "built"
We speak with Dave Snowden about how we can better understand organisational culture through the complexity lens. Dave is a pioneer complexity thinker, Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, and the creator of the Cynefin Framework.Who is Dave Snowden?
Dave Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and Director of the Centre for Applied Complexity at the University of Wales. 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. He is a popular and passionate keynote speaker on a range of subjects, and is well known for his pragmatic cynicism and iconoclastic style.
He created the Cynefin Framework, which is a sensemaking and decision device that is used globally in everything from business management, military affairs, emergency management and software development. His paper on the topic (co-authored with Boone), A Leader’s Framework for Decision-Making, 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.
Dave’s 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.
Dave previously worked for IBM where he was a Director of the Institution for Knowledge Management and founded the Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity. During that period he was selected by IBM as one of six on-demand thinkers for a world wide advertising campaign.
If you want to get a quick idea about Dave’s approach to managing complexity, watching his hilariously smart Children’s Birthday Party story is a must.
You can follow Dave’s work or get in touch with him at:
- Culture is an emergent property of interactions over time, and how you can’t “create” an emergent property
- Why narrative matters, and how to understand culture as a body of stories
- How engagement questionnaires are flawed, and why self-interpretation is necessary
- Why effective change depends on finding the lowest energy pathway to the “adjacent possible” state
- Why breaking rules is necessary in organisations, and how you can create enabling constraints around beneficial rule-breaking behaviours
- How rituals can help more than rules
- How pushing individuals to change in organisational contexts may be unethical
- How you can recognise complexity in organisations, and how to best work with it
We hope you enjoyed this episode. We'd love to hear what you think. Get in touch with us via our website, LinkedIn or Facebook, if you’d like to say hello, dish out some high praise, or suggest a guest for the show.Episode keywords
Organisational culture, culture change, employee experience, employee engagement, complexity, leadership, systems thinking, narrative, narrative landscapes, cynefin, cognitive edge, emergence, adjacent possible, energy gradient, exaptative innovation, enabling constraints, ritual, sensemaking, change management, indigenous decision making, sensemaker