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Sense making: From Induction to Abduction

Research Cluster

Speaker:Dave Snowden, Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd
Date: Monday 22 March 2010
Time: 1600 hrs
Location: Lecture Theatre C, Streatham Court

Further details

This seminar will examine new methods and tools for both academic research and for gaining a better understanding of customers and employees. Based on the mass capture of self-interpreted micro-narratives the approach offers the opportunity for research subjects to be empowered to not only tell their own story, but also to be responsible for its meaning. Based on a series of government and private sector examples the seminar will demonstrate the way in which leadership can be reconnected directly with the day to day narrative of their customers and employees, removing the mediating layers of interpretation and the consequent delays in moving to action.

Based on the award winning HBR article A Leaders Guide to Decision Making the seminar will explore a natural science approach to management, in particular the use of complex adaptive systems theory and cognitive science.


Dave Snowden has pioneered a science based approach to individual and collective decision making in organisations. His article A Leaders Guide to Decision Making was the HBR cover article in November 2007 and won an Academy of Management award as the best practitioner paper in the Organisational Development Division of the Academy of Management that same year. He is widely regarded as the first person to create a scientific approach to the use of narrative in knowledge management. In this respect he is currently involved in a project for operational capture and distribution of narrative based knowledge for the US Army and, in contrast, education development for gifted pupils from poor families in South Africa.

He was lead consultant on the design of the Risk Assessment and Horizon for the Singapore Government and is currently working on a range of Government and Industry projects in mass citizen, employee and customer engagement using social computing ecologies. He regularly works at board level on the design of decision support systems with an emphasis on distributed control. He writes a regular column on social computing for KM World Magazine.

He holds visiting chairs at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Pretoria, and is a visiting fellow at the University of Warwick and Nanyang Univeristy in Singapore. As Senior Research Fellow at the Civil Service College in Singapore he is responsible for the introduction of complexity theory and sense-making to new civil servants. He also teaches on management programmes at universities in France and Italy, Australia, Canada and the US Navy Post-Graduate School in Monterey. He has an MBA from Middlesex University and a BA in Philosophy from Lancaster University.