Yesterday I was honoured to be a part of the Narrate/Cognitive Edge seminar yesterday in Westminster at which Dave Snowden explained in detail the conceptual framework for SenseMaker, aimed primarily at potential clients rather than practitioners.
We video recorded the entire event so if you have an urgent interest in seeing this please get in touch with Tony Quinlan in the first instance.
As an introduction Tony gave us a basic guide to the cynefin framework putting narrative and SenseMaker into context. Then, as usual, Dave shared enough material in three hours for the average PHd and even slowed down, the audio recording reveals a new idea every seven seconds worthy of noting in my, now full, moleskin notebook.
The sheer quantity of ideas and managing the camera meant that I had no time to tweet so what follows is a collection of narrative fragments from yesterday (slightly biased and selelected by my personal interests) from which you can make your own sense of the seminar and indeed SenseMaker:
Sensemaker is designed for intractable problems. You can use traditional methods in parallel but its inherent ‘null-hypothesis’ approach can reduce bias.
SenseMaker is essentially a monitoring device, Knowledge management system and Research Tool in one.
The earlier you see the weak signal the lower the cost to exploit or destroy it.
An ABDUCTIVE approach like this means that you can make connections between things that are apparently unconnected.
Distributed cognition – moving interpretation into the field not held at the centre.
The person who contributes the original material decides what it means not an academic or a computer.
If you measure attitudes you have a LEAD indicator but when you measure compliance you have a LAG indicator. Lead indicators have far more value for policy setting.
We don’t just interpret the content of the stories but add interpretive layers. Narrative is just part of the meaning so research where experts tag narrative is just partial representation.
SenseMaker combines QUALitative and QUANTitative in one method.
The aim is to avoid bias – don’t look at the narrative until see the pattern.
Disintermediation – Primary decision maker has access to the raw narrative, not relying on people summarising meaning for them.
This gives the ability to measure genuine impact rather than artificial outcome.
If you as a team or agency deliver more impact then you can be given more autonomy.
We need to switch from anticipation to alerting human networks into a state of anticipatory awareness.
When faced with a situation of high impact low probability events you need to change your strategy from one of Robustness to one of Resilience. “Fast detection Fast recovery”.
An inadvertent complexity insight from a book referring to how things happen accidentally: “Often if you attack a problem directly you don’t solve it but try an indirect approach and it solves itself”.
Ecological paradigm: Manage the present not the future. Manage the evolutionary potential of the situated present. We cannot manage the future.
The best we can hope for is a continuous description of the present.
The more you can then know where small interventions will produce major beneficial consequences and prevent major negative consequences.
Managing an evolutionary process requires far less energy ie both time and money.
This overall theme of doing things differently and more appropriate (to the circumstances) with less is worthy of note for everyone currently under pressure. Dave also showed that all great paradigm shifts 1820s and 1980s have been associated with a recession so perhaps this is the right time to consider just what SenseMaker can do for your organisation or intractable problem.