FLD On Navigating Complexity in Education: A Conversation with Dave Snowden | Tim Logan

Dave Snowden is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge. His work is in the area of naturalising sense-making, seeking to base social science research and practice in the natural sciences. He is generally considered to be a pioneer in the application of complex adaptive systems theory to a range of social issues, and in the development of narrative as a research method. His work extends across government and industry in a variety of fields including knowledge management, strategic planning, conflict resolution, counter terrorism, decision support and organisational development. 

Snowden, then of IBM Global Services, began work on a Cynefin framework in 1999 to help manage intellectual capital within the company. He continued developing it as European director of IBM’s Institute of Knowledge Management, and later as founder and director of the IBM Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity, established in 2002. Cynthia Kurtz and Snowden described the framework in detail the following year in a paper, The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world, published in IBM Systems Journal.

Snowden holds a variety of academic positions. He is a visiting professor at the University of CanberraHong Kong Polytechnic University and University of Pretoria and is a visiting fellow at Warwick UniversityNanyang University, the Universita’ Cattolica in Italy and the Singapore Management College. He was Director of the EPSRC (UK) research programme on emergence in 2006 and was appointed to the NSF (US) review panel on complexity science research in 2007. He is also on the editorial boards of several knowledge management journals and is an Editor in Chief for Emergence: Complexity and Organisation. His HBR cover article with Mary Boone A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making was selected as the 2007 Best Practitioner-Oriented Paper in Organizational Behavior by the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management.

Earlier this year, Dave Snowden (and Friends) published the book Cynefin®: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world (2021: Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd).

Dave lives in the UK where he pursues his passions of Welsh Rugby, Wagnerian Opera and walking.

Social Links

LinkedIn: @dave-snowden

Twitter: @snowded

Tim Logan

Tim Logan is an experienced school leader and curriculum designer, with a passion for connecting and facilitating global networks of innovative educators. As well as being a member of the BU Agile Innovation Lab, Tim works with the world’s top international schools, as part of Notosh strategic design consultancy, and produces the “ground-breaking” podcast, Future Learning Design.

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