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From induction to abduction, a new approach to research and productive inquiry

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Sense Maker Promotional Video David Snowden

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From Induction to Abduction: a new approach to research and productive enquiry 

Dave Snowden, Founder & Chief Scientific Officer Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd




This seminar will provide a summary of both the theory and practice of a new approach to research based on the large scale capture of self-interpreted micro-narrative.  The approach has been described as the first technique for distributed ethnography and has been developed over the past decade with project based funding from the US, UK and Singapore Governments in the context of risk assessment, horizon scanning, cultural mapping and weak signal detection.  It allows the linkage of research with knowledge management and impact based measurement.  Current projects involve measuring the impact of development projects in Africa, narrative based knowledge management for the US Army in Afghanistan and cultural mapping of various inner city communities within the UK.


The theoretical origins lie in the application of complex adaptive systems theory to social systems together with new understanding about the nature of human decision making from the cognitive sciences. The seminar will summarise the theory, but will also use a series of projects to combine theory with practice.  One of the goals is to create learning systems that work on continuous capture of material in the field as it happens linked with a capacity for feedback loops and sophisticated representations that allow people to learn by doing, building on the micro-narratives of day to day experience.  Narrative forms of knowledge lie between the experiential and the symbolic, allowing complex interactions and interventions in multiple social situations.




Introducing Dave Snowden

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One of Dave's stories - 'How to organise a children's party'

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The clearest explanation of change I have ever come across 

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Comments (2)

Bill_P said

at 10:48 pm on Feb 26, 2010

Technical issue: From Induction to Abduction: a new approach to research and productive enquiry - First slide and second slide were good until about minute 8 in the 2nd slide the sound became unintelligible. Same for all of the other slides and also for trying to go back and listen to the first slide again. Same if I went to YouTube. Will try later.

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