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The Library

David Williams United Kingdom
The Cognitive Edge Network has proven itself invaluable for bouncing around ideas, finding encouragement and sharing experiences for common benefit.

I first encountered Dave Snowden a decade ago when he was a visiting lecturer at Warwick University’s MBA programme. After that Damascian encounter I have used the techniques learnt throughout my career, “in-house” for Marconi and Coventry Cathedral, as an associate and employee of Narrate, and as a self-employed consultant too. This journey has included multiple projects and a great many experiences. The Cognitive Edge Network has proven itself invaluable as a group for bouncing around ideas, finding encouragement in times of adversity, and in the way in which everyone seems willing to share their particular expertise or experience for common benefit.

My first encounter with Dave Snowden was in 2001 when he was a visiting lecturer on the MBA programme at Warwick University. I sat and listened as he told us about the use of stories, and it was a Damascian moment for me – I knew that whatever else I learned on the programme, these new methods were to be an important part of my future.

My dissertation was on the use of archetypes, values and themes extracted from an organisation’s stories to represent corporate culture. The project cost a fraction of the all employee surveys then used at Marconi and yet gave employees and managers a better opportunity to grapple with the issues raised through the cartoon characters, sounds and feelings that were part of the output.

I have used the techniques throughout my career, “in-house” for Marconi and Coventry Cathedral, as an associate and employee of Narrate, and as a self-employed consultant too.

The Cognitive Edge Network has proven itself invaluable as a group for bouncing around ideas, finding encouragement in times of adversity, and in the way in which everyone seems willing to share their particular expertise or experience for common benefit.

The most recent project I’ve run was looking at Community Cohesion and Interfaith issues in Coventry for The Reconciliation Ministry Team at Coventry Cathedral working with the Coventry Local Strategic Partnership (which brings together senior representatives from the community, private, public, and voluntary sectors).

Community Cohesion is notoriously difficult to measure – surveys using National Indicators required people to answer questions like “How well do you get on with people from different backgrounds in your area?” This gave purely quantitative measures, providing little basis for informed interventions. Instead, we used picture prompts, in narrative circles and individually on-line, and asked people about their best and worst experiences of living in Coventry.

We collected a very rich data set of over 40,000 words of narrative and used SenseMaker® to help with the analysis. This has been an excellent source of material which has been used to prompt and inform conversations on strategy. As a result I have also called in to work on a project looking at future narratives for Coventry.