As promised, here are the slides from last week's presentation at the Partnership for Peace base in Ankara. The usual caveats apply - I'm not sure how much sense these make without my discussion over the top...
As promised, here are the slides from last week's presentation at the Partnership for Peace base in Ankara. The usual caveats apply - I'm not sure how much sense these make without my discussion over the top...
A great morning at QCon in London today - speaking on using SenseMaker® to understand user requirements better. I had to rush out the door, so didn’t get to hear Chris Matts and Shane Hastie in the afternoon.
As promised, the slides are here: Download 001 SenseMaker® frameworks
For those who want to know more about Cynefin, SenseMaker and using complexity and narrative, Michael Cheveldave will be running a one-day workshop in New York as an adjunct to the Lean UX conference - the course details will be here next week - book next week and get $50 off. I’d seriously recommend it!
Last week saw the last Cynefin and Sense-Making (CSM) courses of the year, Dave and I sharing the presenting/facilitating duties. A full room of different backgrounds and nationalities, which kept everything interesting - lessons and applications getting swapped across sectors and countries.
Following up is always a challenge - so much intense material often needs some time to settle. And I'm a big believer in putting some of the exercises to use to discover how best to use them - as I said last week, I can give some examples and indications but there are always more...
For practitioners and facilitators, the advice is simple enough:
And as I promised last week on the course - this Friday there are a bunch of 30-minute slots available to talk on Skype. That's something I plan to do more of in 2015. (If you want one of the remaining slots, email Dawn Lincoln at email@example.com )
And for those who didn't make it to the courses this time around, the schedule for the first half of 2015 will be announced this week - watch the Cognitive Edge website for details.
It's been an "interesting" few weeks at breakneck pace, so I'm a bit behind in putting things up. So, catching up bit by bit - here are the slides from the ESRC Learning From Incidents seminar at Southampton University on 15th October, along with some reflections from the morning.
I had to rush away after lunch - missing some sessions that looked particularly interesting that afternoon. But I was particularly struck by a couple of comments in the morning.
Firstly, that the toughest element of preventing incidents (by which we're talking power station problems and signficant events, not minor health and safety incidents) boils down to human beings and their biases and distractions. Again, the piece that strikes me is what I've talked about in other environments like financial services and national security - expecting people to report things that are out of the ordinary is a dangerous approach, doomed to failure.
People don't notice things - and in organisations, a gradual shift (in attitudes or dispositions in particular) is more difficult to spot. And the investment required by a whistleblower is too high to rely on (a separate post on alternatives to whistleblowing is long overdue).
Measuring compliance to some procedure or set of rules - the usual solution - is also a "lag indicator", i.e. it identifies problems after they've happened and become significant enough to notice. Measuring underlying dispositions instead is a "lead indicator", i.e. before they manifest in the dangerous actions we're looking to avoid.
The second comment, made by Professor Vaughan Pomeroy in passing, was easy to miss in so much interesting material, but strikes to the heart of an issue that's often missed.
Mention was made of "exercises" in which people were put through scenarios that were to resemble potential problems (meltdowns, crashes, etc). Much of the emphasis was being put on how to make them more lifelike, more likely to generate the adrenaline and cognitive problems of a real situation. But Prof Pomeroy commented that after such enactments the response was likely to be complacency or over-confidence in the team's ability to manage such situations. (I paraphrase poorly - I've waited too long to write this blog.)
Exercises - whether simulated crises as many organisations run (including the hostile media interviews I remember setting up in the past for senior colleagues) or military war-room exercises (and the in-field versions as well) - tend to make sure that they only exercise participants to the point of success, never failure.
Far healthier to push people past that to realise that full solutions are not always possible and partial failure may be inevitable. Failure - as Cognitive Edge have worked on with Singapore senior civil servants - is a better route to increase the likelihood of detecting problems early and adapting to recover.
(This whole subject also needs to include a resilience vs robustness debate, but there's only so much I'm prepared to throw into a single blog post...)
And for those who understand the "red-shirt" reference I made in the presentation slides, we are, of course, talking about the Kobayashi Maru or the Bridge Officer's Test.
For those at the event in Southampton - the following might also be of interest: a more academic paper on the narrative research approach I was describing.
It's hard to believe it's already been three weeks, but 19th-21st May, I was part of a conference in Mexico on Soft Power and Public Diplomacy with Wilton Park, a UK government-related agency that organises thought-provoking and timely conferences around international topics. The conference itself was excellent - a tribute to the organisers who managed to carry the informal, fierce-minded culture of their English home to the warm mountain environment of the Hacienda Cantalagua in Michoacán.
As is often the case at such conferences, I can't attribute comments - it operates under the Wilton Park Protocol (a notable variation of the Chatham House Rule). One participant who excused himself from that rule - indeed encouraged attribution of his comments - was the always-dependable, ever-youthful Simon Anholt. His upcoming TED talk in Berlin will be interesting to watch - the latest evolution of his evidence-based approach to international relations leading to the Good Country Index. (He is still best known for Nation Branding, but that severely undersells his work.)
It's the first time I've been back in Mexico City since a project a few years ago that we carried out looking at the culture of Monterrey for a commercial client looking to improve its Corporate Social Responsibility activities - there was a very paternalistic attitude to caring for employees and their families. As it turned out, a brief stopover in Mexico City prior to travel to the Hacienda was highly illuminating - and relevant to the conference.
When it comes to perceptions of nations - the often-discussed "grand narrative" - most people's perceptions are based on the accumulation of lots of smaller micro-narratives. The stories they've read in the papers, the portrayals they've seen in films or mass media, the anecdotes that friends have told on returning from holidays - these are the things from which emerges a perception of the country.
Where Mexico is concerned, much of my perception was determined by my experience on the last project. At the time, the client and project partners were concerned with my welfare - as is often the case when you're travelling. So they were protective to the point of paranoia - large, heavy cars to collect at the airport, blanket bans on leaving the hotel, being chaperoned at every opportunity and constant scare stories of what violence was happening around us. In fairness, this was at the time when things were difficult in Monterrey.
That perception carried over when I visited Mexico City on that project - by then, I'd heard so many stories of problems and risk that the narrative applied to that city as well. I spent a few days in Mexico City, working with the team and with the client, never leaving the hotel unless I was in a large black car. Ridiculous in retrospect - but utterly coherent with the stories I'd been told and the specific stream of data I'd been fed up to that point. (I also had a newsfeed running - any notable news story in Mexico was emailed within 30 minutes to my inbox. They were rarely positive.)
On this more recent trip, however, I had no such scare stories ahead of the visit. Instead my Mexico City hotel were extremely relaxed when I asked if it was a safe environment to go for an early morning run. (No, it doesn't happen often, but I managed it on this occasion.)
My experience this time, coupled with the conversations at the conference, made it very clear to me that Mexico is no more dangerous than most other cities around the world. Like London, like Glasgow, like New York and like Hong Kong, there are parts of the city that are gloriously wonderfully safe for anyone with a lick of common sense, while there are also parts to be avoided or at least careful.
So what do we learn from this? That if you want people to see you in a positive light, don't tell them stories that will scare them. That if you continuously talk about difficulties and problems, then listeners will accumulate a narrative that is strongly negative.
And that grand narrative strategies and branding/advertising campaigns will not shift that, but lots of small interactions and examples will.
I'm now much more attuned to Mexico - watching for stories and examples that contradict my earlier impression. So I was more than a little disappointed to hear a UK radio review programme talking about a new film from Mexico that's being released in the UK: Heli. Described as "account of life in Mexico, which earned instant notoriety for its deadpan depiction of torture, kidnapping and hellish corruption" it taps straight back into the old patterns, reinforcing the negatives.
Here's hoping that next year's Year of Mexico in the UK focuses on lots of small, positive examples that might generate enough personal interaction to start to shift that narrative - Mexico is, in my experience, a great place. I'm looking forward to finding more excuses to go back there - the possibility of some narrative work emerged at the conference and I'm optimistic and eager!
Thanks to everyone who came out last night despite the hockey game in Toronto to sit in a warm room for the Toronto KM group session.
Great questions and interrogation last night as we talked about the various projects and learnings from the past few years of SenseMaker® work in a wide variety of countries.
As promised, here are the slides I used - and as usual, they're fairly visual, so may not make sense without my talking over the top of them...
If you've always wondered what it was like to contribute to a SenseMaker® project - this could be your lucky week! Links are at the bottom of the page to two SenseMaker® surveys that will close later today.
Two big events are happening in which we're looking for input from anyone and everyone. Later this week, we'll be launching a SenseMaker® site for the upcoming New York meeting with United Nations Development Programme - we're looking for people's ideas for improving matters in a chosen hotspot at the moment...
But today, we've got something even more immediate. Dave Snowden is presenting a workshop in Tampa, Florida today - and at 1600 EST goes on stage to present some results on a couple of SenseMaker® research pieces that are only going live now.
One element is comparing the responses of people in the conference with people from around the world - we'll have about 60-90 minutes for analysis before Dave gets up on stage. Real-time response within one conference day on a hot topic!
So - your responses are required NOW. There are two sites to visit - go to both and give us your input...
Go to it!
A lightning visit today to Ankara, for a presentation this morning on narrative to the expected intelligent comments and questions at the Partnership for Peace course which has been running all week.
Last Friday was the 2014 Design of Understanding day - a packed room at St Brides Library off Fleet Street, organised by the redoubtable Max Gadney of After the flood. He and I had come across each other in a hotel bar in Kigali, Rwanda when we were both working the GirlHub Rwanda office - me on narrative research, he on visualising geographically-based data from various data sources (and various quality standards...)
I managed to stay for the morning, before some bug that had been stewing since my return the previous week finally got the better of me and I made a dash for home and slept the rest of the day. (I was particularly disappointed to miss the afternoon talks - the standard set by speakers in the morning had been high.)
Thanks to all - and to all the interesting conversations in the margin before natural forces took hold. And a particular thank you to Max for organising what was a great event.
On my dash home, I was disappointed to note that the old pen shop that had been for years in a dingy little arcade at the southern entrance to Bush House has now disappeared as scaffolding and redevelopment envelopes the building. I'd bought pens there for years - and my mother, as a nurse in the 60s, had done too. A minor ending, but a sad one.
I've just been reminded of the great visuals from my recent talks at the Girl Learning Summit in Rwanda. A fabulous event, run by the Girl Effect University team from the Nike Foundation.
I was lucky to be talking and introducing the Girl Research Unit - six young Rwandan women who are researchers trained in various techniques, including narrative research and SenseMaker, who have been gathering stories using the SenseMaker app across Rwanda.
Our first day session went like this:
By Juliet Hutchings at The Flying Deskset
With a different trio from the GRU, the second day session went like this:
By Nitya Wakhlu who had also spent a few days ahead of the Summit training up local facilitators in how to create these fantastic visualisations.
Firstly - thank you to Harold and apologies to others: the link to the slides that I posted on Friday didn't work. It's fixed now, so they're accessible from Capturing an organisation's narrative.pdf (3573.9K).
There's an excellent new video up at Cognitive Edge's website and on their YouTube channel:
Today Cognitive Edge is happy to present a short video introducing the importance of organisations making strategic moves from systems built around principles of robustness, to systems that are built on the principle of resilience.
Traditional management has tended to focus on developing robust systems which try to prevent failure. However, in light of increasing interconnectedness of events and the complexity this introduces, the ability for systems to plan for the avoidance of all foreseeable incidents has become limited.
In this video from Cognitive Edge, called Risk and Resilience, Dave Snowden highlights the strategic importance for organisations to refocus on the creation of resilient systems. Whereas robust systems try to avoid failure, and become crippled in the event of it, resilient systems accept that failure is inevitable and move from focusing on prevention to focusing on early detection of events and fast recovery from them.
This video can be found in our Videos section. You may also follow this link to all the Cognitive Edge videos on YouTube, for our previously released videos on Introducing SenseMaker®, How to Organise a Children's Party, and the Cynefin Framework, amongst others.
Details of Dave's regular one-day seminars entitled "Leading Through Complexity" can be found here.
Resilience is a topic I've been thinking on recently - and there's a blogpost due on exactly that shortly. (But there are a couple of projects that need attention first...)
Yesterday afternoon was another interesting presentation - this time to the CASE group of internal communicators from Higher Education. Smart people, fun afternoon and just to add to the mix, I got to speak with Ghassan Kharian of Kharian and Box, who I haven't seen in a while. Following his presentation was a challenge...
I promised to post a number of things here:
My presentation slides: Capturing an organisation's narrative.pdf (3573.9K)
For people starting to explore using story in communications, this post might be a good place to start.
Friday was an odd start - I'm used to catching the 0430 train to St Pancras for an early Eurostar. I'm also used to clubbers getting off the train on their wasted way home as I get on on my equally wobbly way to work. What I'm not used to was whole families getting on trains that early in the morning with camping chairs, picnics, etc. It was, of course, the Royal Wedding that day and they were off to find their spot from which to view all the ceremonials...
I, however, left the country.
I was running a workshop in Brussels for European Commission colleagues on Innovative Internal Communications. And I promised, as always, to put up various things afterwards here.
The slides are here: Download 002 Internal comms masterclass - initial slides.pdf (4519.5K)
The basketball video can be reached via here: basketball video
The promised reading list is here: Download 006 Narrate recommended reading list.pdf (84.9K)
There were a handful of other publications I took that aren't on the standard list: John Kotter's Our Iceberg is Melting; Steve Farber's The Radical Leap; Robert Bolton's People Skills; Chip and Dan Heath's Made To Stick and a couple of back copies of ECO.
For everyone at yesterday's HEERA conference session, here are the main slides and some of the resources I mentioned:
As the year winds down, I've decided that I won't be doing any more speaker slots between now and the end of January - I'll be doing keynotes on communications for a few public sector/higher education professionals, but focusing my time otherwise on projects. And I'll be limiting sessions next year - as SenseMaker and narrative takes off, I want to make sure that I'm involved to guide projects. Speaking slots will therefore be in short supply - contact Anne to book them.
2012 will be back up to speed again - and hopefully talking about some of the current crop of projects.
Thanks for understanding.
Thanks to all at last night's Medical Suppliers forum - despite the late hour and the dreary weather, they offered bright and challenging questions and sparkling conversation after I'd presented. I promised the slides:
I'm currently busy putting together a new talk for tomorrow night's Henley Business School Alumni Medical Suppliers Forum, editing an article and writing two others - one for Melcrum on how negativity and dissent make an organisation more healthy and another for the Medinge Journal on Branding and Complexity.
And I want to put up some reflections from last week's excellent The Big Push Back event at the Institute of Development Studies and the new paper from a group I hadn't come across before - the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
But none of that is likely to happen today or tomorrow, I'm afraid. I will put up my slides after tomorrow night's presentation, however.
And to give you a head's up on future posts. I am putting together a series of reflections and observations on using Cognitive Edge's SenseMaker software suite - some practical thoughts on process and use, others on potential uses in areas like impact measurement, innovation, employee engagement, knowledge etc. In particular, I'll talk about how I see multiple uses of a single system getting in the way of its deployment - it's not uncommon for everyone to see use in it, but then being unable to decide who "owns" it.
There's also going to be a series of posts interspersed over the next few months, picking up on some of the material I talked about to the LGComms conference earlier. I focussed on one application of narrative, mentioning in passing how important it is in Strategy, Branding, Content, Vision, Knowledge and Leadership. Everyone attending had plenty of experience, but I've had one or two requests for more detail for each one - so that's going to be in the mix too in the coming months.
For now, though, I'm heading back to Keynote...
Spent today at the Informatology conference at Russell Square today - some great conversations and presentations.
As part of the Leadership session, I spoke briefly, then we ran a 45 minute anecdote circle - some great stories coming out of it. Thanks to all who joined in!
I promised I'd put my slides ( Download 001 Narrative in leadership) on "Leading with Stories"; the ebook on Mythology, Leaders and Leadership ( Download Mythology, leaders and leadership - Narrate on leadership). I didn't mention it, but for Leadership, I'd also recommend the HBR article that Dave Snowden and Mary E Boone did: "Leader's Framework for Decision Making", available here. It's a fabulous and straightforward introduction to important concepts about complexity in organisations.
Thanks to everyone at the Leeds Castle leadership event today - an whistle-stop challenge on communications, with an abbreviated Anecdote Circle thrown in. At the break a few of us were talking about The Future, Backwards and, naturally, I recommended Gary Klein's Sources of Power.
The slides are Download 001 Putting public in the picture.
The next masterclass on storytelling that we're doing with Melcrum is fast approaching on 17th November 2009 in Central London. Details and registration are here.
I'm also speaking next week at the Leeds Castle Leadership programme for local government. These will be the last two public speaking engagements this year. I've got a couple of planned sessions in January and will post details of those shortly, but I'm not now taking any more until February.
For those interested, I've got the slides and MP3s for the talk at KCUK 2009 earlier this year, where I talked about "Retaining business capital" - a long-winded and jargon-laden way of talking about sharing experiences and knowledge.
(Thanks for the recording go to Kathryn Chin - the excellent now-freelance conference organiser. Tweet/thank her at kat_mandu_)