EP 184 Dave Snowden on Managing Complexity in Times of Crisis

Jim talks with Dave Snowden about the document he co-authored, “Managing Complexity (And Chaos) In Times of Crisis.” They discuss the Cynefin framework, its development into a complexity-informed framework, distinguishing complex from complicated, emergence, enabling constraints vs governing constraints, openness in complex systems, short-term teleology vs top-down causality, lines of flight, six sigma, Taylorism, distributed decision-making, the meaning of crisis, preparing for unknowable unknowns, plagues & heat deaths, false learnings of Covid, the order of origin of language & semiotics, building informal networks, exaptation, the right level of granularity, setting Draconian constraints, preserving optionality, anticipatory thinking, comprehensive journaling, LLMs & the recent open letter, the need for ethical awareness, scales of group decision-making, documenters & doers, the aporetic, Covid as a boon to complexity work, cadence vs velocity, ritual in American football, designing strategic interventions with stories, vector theory of change, constructor theory, making the cost of virtue less than the cost of sin, dispositional management, an upcoming book, and much more.

Dave Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and Director of the Centre for Applied Complexity at the University of Wales. His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy, organisational decision making and decision making. He has pioneered a science based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory. He is a popular and passionate keynote speaker on a range of subjects, and is well known for his pragmatic cynicism and iconoclastic style.