Cognitive Edge Course – Day 1

Today I began the 2-day Cognitive Edge accreditation course which will be followed by a 1-day Sensemaking software course.   Upon completing the accreditation course one can join the Cognitive Edge network.  The network uses the methodologies developed by Dave Snowden and the Cognitive Edge group.  The Sensemaking software is a propriety level tool developed by Cognitive Edge.   The methodology has interested me for this past year because it has clearly many hooks back into ethnographic research.  The roles of participant observer and native informer and the importance of collecting the natives point-of-view through the collection of their myths, narratives and day-to-day events and tasks.  Cognitive Edge doesn’t describe what they do like I have here; explicitly in terms of participant observer and the native.  However, the approach uses many aspects of classic emic-based ethnographic research methodology.

The cast of characters is made up of 2 trainers from the Singapore HQ of Cognitive Edge and 1 trainer from a Sydney based training firm.  The students are myself, unemployed HK based American corporate warrior, a HK based Scottish woman doing independent organizational development and management consultant, a HK based Canadian woman doing independent management consulting and management coaching, 2 Chinese women who are HKPolytechnic graduate students at the PhD level, 1 Chinese woman who is a HKPolytechnic graduate student at the Masters level, 1 Chinese woman who is a member of the HKPolytechnic KMRC (a research and consulting centre), 1 Australian man who does consulting primarily to the education sector in Australia and 1 Thai man from a comunications consulting background.  The Thai man took the course about 4 years ago and is taking the course for the 2nd time.  The rest of us are taking the course for the first time.  Its a good mix of people.  I had been worried there would only be 4 or 5 people so it is nice to have 9.

What did we do?  First, we split up into 2 tables and listened to a theoretical lecture on the Cognitive Edge approach.  The approach is about looking at the organizational issues with the purpose of getting the people in the organization to reveal to themselves their problems and solutions.  They use the Cynefin framework (Cunevin Framework) which has 5 domains; Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic and Disorder.  Simple and Complicated are ordered domains.  Complex and Chaotic are unordered domains.  The domain of disorder (sounds like something from a fable, doesn’t it?) sits in the middle of these four domains.  You can read all about in the papers of Dave Snowden which are widely available and  many can be found on the Cognitive Edge website here so I’m not going to go into this much farther.   We then spent the rest of the day doing exercises and learning how these could be used in an organization so that the ‘natives’ to reveal themselves and how we could be good ethnographic participant observers.

This explanation of the Cynefin framework (Cunevin framework) used by Cognitive Edge and developed by Dave Snowden and Cynthia Kutz is from Shawn Callahan.  Shawn’s explanation is good, simple and to the point.  He should have mentioned the fifth domain in the middle, Disorder, but his explanation of the four other domains is better than anything I could offer up.

Yes, its quite good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the day after.  I don’t want to describe the actual tasks here because I feel I would explain them poorly and most probably irritate the Cognitive Edge people who are running this accreditation course for profit.


1 Comment »

  1. […] the Cognitive Edge 3-day course in September 2009 in Hong Kong and it has been very useful, see here for Day 1 and here for Days 2 & 3. It was practical and gave me a good understanding on how to implement […]

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