Blog Post

Explore the range of possibilities then experimentally evolve

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 19 September 2012



Explore the range of possibilities then experimentally evolve
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 147
Posted DateWednesday 19 September 2012 10:02 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
CategoriesKnowledge Management; Organizational Complexity
PeopleDave Snowden

Dave Snowden
I love the work of Dave Snowden as he questions so many things we take for granted.

One such thing he questions, is the idealistic approach we take to achieving things in this world.

I think these two quotes of Dave's sum up his view quite nicely.

In the idealistic approach, the leaders of an organization set out an ideal future state that they wish to achieve, identify the gap between the ideal and their perception of the present, and seek to close it.

This is common not only to process-based theory but also to practice that follows the general heading of the "learning organization".

Naturalistic approaches, by contrast, seek to understand a sufficiency of the present in order to act to stimulate evolution of the system.

Once such stimulation is made, monitoring of emergent patterns becomes a critical activity so that desired patterns can be supported and undesired patterns disrupted.

The organization thus evolves to a future that was unknowable in advance, but is more contextually appropriate when discovered.

Credit: Dave Snowden

Knowledge Management should be focused on real, tangible intractable problems not aspirational goals.

It should deal pragmatically with the evolutionary possibilities of the present rather then seeking idealistic solutions.

Credit: Dave Snowden
He explores his ideas further in this more recent blog post on Sidecasting entitled Casting around.

Paraphrasing his post a little:
Don't define the future and close the gap

but obtain a general sense of where you would like to be.

Then explore the range of possibilities and experimentally evolve.

Credit: Dave Snowden

This of course would not be the right approach in the "simple domain" or "complicated domain" of his Cynefyn Framework such as putting a rover on the surface of Mars but would be a more realistic and innovative approach in the "complex domain" for the real challenging complex problems we face in the world such as hunger, poverty, terrorism, global warming, environmental destruction and more.

Dave has posted several other blog entries on Sidecasting if you are interested further.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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