From chaotic ripples to complicated waves

This is turning out to be a fine example of cynefin dynamics and of ‘safe to fail’ experiments.

I initially facilitated the foundation workshop looking at ways to reduce the pressure on the accident and emergency dept at Coventry Hospital. Using Participatory Narrative Inquiry methods I held open a space with no constraints. Many ideas emerged, some were more enthusiastically owned, story-boarded and supported than others.

A while later, one idea, named RIPPLE started to deliver, a self organised local community group, informal, educational as well as entertaining but most importantly social. Demonstrating a prime principle of complex adaptive systems it started to deliver more than the sum of its parts in ways that had not been predicted but could now be explained in hindsight.

One such hindsight insight was that they were reducing isolation (in TRIZ terms a known harm in every social system) and if you watch this video you will see it highlighted as one of the programmes initial aims.

Personal happiness seems to be the biggest benefit to be observed and amplified. I love the (much later) insight that the staff are getting a boost from this approach as well.

As the months passed the patterns began to form. Beneficial patterns were amplified, harmful patterns dampened. Slowly the system could be  moved from complex to complicated where it could be exploited as it now had governing constraints that would encourage and allow the NHS to run six more franchisee experiments, copying the patterns but not the blueprint of RIPPLE.

Each different local area encountered different problems, different people and adapted accordingly to meet local context.

What I like most is that the structure, ethos and lessons learned (shared regularly, face to face and in a knowledge base) grew into enabling constraints, just enough structure to work within but creating the conditions for local quirks and genuine innovation.

I have mentioned this quote before but Jules Pretty in his book Agri-Culture in a much more ecological environment, said:

When people are organised in groups, and their knowledge is sought, incorporated and built upon during planning and implementation, then they are more likely to sustain activities after project completion

…long term sustainability was only guaranteed when local institutions were strong…

…projects failed when there had been no focus on institutional development and local participation”

In the initial and subsequent idea generating workshops we made the invite as wide ranging as possible to include patients, third sector, specialists, local GPs, chaplain, NHS staff, University etc. If you watch for the ownership in the eyes of everyone participating in this video you get an idea of just what might be possible.

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A symbiotic relationship between TRIZ and cynefin

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I have worked with both the cynefin framework [Dave Snowden – Cognitive Edge] and Oxford TRIZ [Karen Gadd of Oxford Creativity has spent years making TRIZ more understandable and teachable, hence my use of ‘Oxford TRIZ’] for more than 12 years and have become intrigued as to why complexity work does not embrace TRIZ and visa versa.

For this first post I have summarised six ways in which I believe Oxford TRIZ might be the missing ‘x-factor’ when working with complex systems that makes it easier to generate oblique probes, feedback loops and amplify and dampen, by way of more stories like this and fewer like that.

– In a complex situation we need to generate multiple diverse and oblique interventions/probes. The TRIZ 40 principles are perfect for this.

– the whole Oxford TRIZ emphasis on ‘concepts’ is the ultimate example of exaptation. Altshuller, the father of TRIZ, discovered previously unrecognised patterns in the body of registered patents. How to take an idea from one scientific discipline/business domain and exapt conceptually similar solutions for use in another.

– interventions that are “safe to fail”. The Oxford TRIZ Standard Solutions were purposefully derived to reduce costs and harms.

– TRIZ 9 box thinking triggers ideas at different scales within the system and before, during and after activity. This ensures a more diverse, divergent, less constrained portfolio of experiments.

– The Oxford TRIZ evolutionary trends which include S-curves can help ‘guide’ new and exciting cynefin dynamics/paths through the landscape.

– Finally, the Oxford TRIZ Standard Solutions include measurements which can help greatly in building feedback loops for each of the multiple ‘safe to fail’ experiments.

TRIZ may have its origins in the search for an algorithmic systematic approach to engineering problems in the cynefin ‘Complicated Domain’, but inadvertantly and beneficially its use of concepts, principles, metaphors and the more recent Oxford TRIZ use of cartoons has made it a perfect sherpa guide for expeditions into more complex ecosystems.

Next post will look at this ‘the other way round’, TRIZ principle 13, why cynefin and PNI are needed in TRIZ.

 

Step Change Disruptive Innovation

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I am very excited to have been invited to run two workshop sessions at this Innovation Symposium back in my native North-East of England.

“Creative Fuse Tees Valley and Design Council have teamed up to bring you an exciting one-day symposium to explore disruptive innovation models within small and medium sized businesses.

Blending hands-on workshops with short talks from leading innovation specialists at national organisations, this symposium will be a practical introduction to innovation implementation, and is a great way to kick start a step-change in your organisation.

Taking place in the Teesside University Campus in Darlington on Wednesday 20th June, I have been told that I can invite any of my North-East connections, so if you want to meet and catch up and/or suffer the hexagon frenzy of one of my workshop sessions you can find further details, speakers and book tickets here.

Storytelling Masterclass in Oxford

Storytelling Rondon

Twenty years of working with stories and my very kind friends at Oxford Creativity have given me my own Storytelling day. Wednesday 16th May at Oxford University.

Looking at four perspectives on narrative I will be sharing as many of the key insights I can fit in between 9am and 5pm.

  1. Why Story?
  2. Working with story
  3. Your Story (and it’s close relationship with community)
  4. Storytelling

The day will include participatory exercises, book recommendations, hints and tips and an in depth explanation of some of the top tools and techniques. Hexagons, sharpies and willow magic wands/talking sticks will all be in abundance.

Further details on the day and how to book can be found here. Mention this blog when booking for a very special deal either on this day or on a combined Triz for Dummies and Storytelling. What better way to spend three days?

 

Complexity, citizen engagement – Dave Snowden at Tedx

Happy New Year. It is 2018, 20 years since Dave Snowden first introduced me to the wonders of narrative, 15 years since I attended my first cynefin training and 10 years since I did some of the early probe citizen engagement (Children of the world) experiments using Sensemaker.

In this video recorded at the recent Tedx event, Dave reveals how all three of the above have come together into a coherent approach to ethnography, complexity and most interestingly, change.

Watch carefully and make copious notes notes in your journal, then re-read and add your own perspectives on what it means to you.

Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15 – a new book

david book

A good friend of mine, David Withrington, has just had a book published. I went with him, several years ago, on one of his adventures to Slovenia and had a hugely enjoyable and knowledge expanding time.

Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15: Estonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia, Hungary and Slovakia – an illustrated account of summer visits by a group of naturalists from England. David Withrington and Paul Raven, 2017. 104 pages with 360 colour photographs. Available here from Natural History Book Service £12.50

What do staff of the statutory nature conservation agencies do when they retire? Go on holiday of course!

In June 2012, David Withrington, Paul Raven, Neil Hailey, Peter Marren and Steve Berry – all former staff of English Nature and its predecessor body – decided to visit Estonia, a country to which none of them had been before. The objective was to discover the country’s wildlife, especially the birds, butterflies and flowering plants. The accommodation and itinerary were arranged after online research by David.

The main features of Estonia are – its Baltic coastline, large areas of peat bog and Lake Peipsi, which sits on the border with Russia – though this did not seem to deter the birds. It was not just the amazing variety of wildlife and habits which made the holiday, but encounters with people, cultures and nightlife. All these are chronicled and illustrated in the book. The reader lives the journey with our intrepid adventurers. 

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