Thursday, January 19, 2012

A First Encounter with Dave Snowden

by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via flickr
Dave Snowden is a heavyweight and I mean that in the gravitational sense of influencing the trajectories of those he encounters.  After  listening to the recording the of the #change11 session he conducted for this week with no more preparation than a cursory glance at the wikipedia page about him I find myself reeling from the cognitive onslaught.

While effective synthesis of the ideas he presented will require some mental digesting on my part, there were several gems that I thought would be worthwhile sharing right away so here are a some excerpts from my notes that are loosely quoted from his session:

Failure is better than success in learning, it’s easier to remember
There’s too much focus on specialization and a loss of generalists needed for synthesizing diverse knowledge bases in a complex world with high levels of uncertainty.
The problem with the education system is that we’re training recipe book users when we need chefs.
When asked what to do about this practically when the current education system inherently requires pre-defined outcomes thereby eliminating originality, he said: 
“deception is the heart of innovation in any system.”
The human brain is a pattern processing intelligence... it has evolved from messy coherence not structured order.
Starvation, pressure, and .perspective shift produce innovation which then produces creativity
If it’s a complex problem, then bring in multiply diverse teams with ritual dissent to produce multiply parallel safe-to-fail experiments.  Managers fail if half of the experiments aren’t failing.
“cynical stories around the water coolers produce the most learning in organizations”

His final words for the session were “don’t give up on formal education but for gods sake interact with the real world and read outside your subject.”


  1. Thanks so much for this quick review Ben, I missed the session too as it was 5-6am in Australia (!). You've inspired me to hurry up and download the session already... and I envision it'll also take me a while to digest!