I'm at Hackle Brooke Estate having just munched a really good breakfast, listening to Aiden Choles telling me about the Narrative Lab, the niche consultancy he recently started with Raymond Salzwedel and Sonja Blignaut. I thought I'd update you on what they have to say...
Aiden Choles - "Complexity is the new simplicity"
What is complexity? What do we mean by it? Let's differentiate chaotic from complex problems.
We're all familiar with complex systems - nature being the classic example. Nature holds many other examples - consider beehives. Seemingly chaotic but essentially complex. Complexity is something we deal with every day in different ways. In complete perceived disorder, patterns appear. Context is key though.
When dealing with complexity, context is the key.
In business we often assume order, but there are also areas of 'un-order'. Humans are complex and unpredictable entities - the more people we deal with the greater the complexity. Strategy is a compass, NOT A MAP. Cause and effect is there, but we seldom see patterns until we look back - retrospectively.
In the complex domain you need to probe, sense and respond. One of the ways to probe a human problem is with narrative.
Dave Snowden - via pre-recorded message (will post MP3 here later)
Overview of some of the principles behind the Cynefin (or cognitive edge) framework.
The nature of systems. One of order and one of chaos.
Zeus and the Titans
- Order, reduction and rules, deterministic, observer independent, system constrains agents
- Chaos, independent agents operating without constrain studied through statistics and probability
Complex adaptive systems
- System constrains agents, but the agents also constrain...
- Operate in far from equilibrium situations
- Principle of 'locality' and constant adaptation
- Highly sensitive to starting conditions
- System level effect are emergent and non-aggregative
- Distributed cognition and the management of patterns
Sonja Blignaut - tying it all together
Adopting a pre-hypothesis (narrative) approach as opposed to a hypothesized (survey) approach - drawing archetypes or personalities from the stories as patterns form. Cartooning can be an outstanding way to show these archetypes.
Making sense of YOUR problems - what the Narrative Lab does:
- 1 day workshops exploring complexity, problems (e.g. skills transfer, wisdom continuity, experiential knowledge, culture change, collaboration, talent, innovation, mergers and acquisitions, new markets, product development, customer experience, harnessing diversity), narrative, etc.
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