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The Library

Ron Donaldson United Kingdom
I started using Cognitive Edge Methods in 1998. Since the Network formed several years ago I've grown to really appreciate my membership and value the interaction very highly.

I’ve been what I term a Knowledge Ecologist for more than a decade, after I met Dave Snowden in 1998. In one form or another I’ve been a member of the Cognitive Edge Network since then. Ecology is essentially the study of communities and I value my membership and interaction with the network, and the support it gives, very highly. I started as an in-house narrative consultant working primarily in Government Nature Conservation, and more recently an independent with a diverse range of clients. Over the years membership in the Network has opened my eyes to the various aspects of participatory narrative inquiry, numerous paradigm-shifting concepts and unbeatable facilitated Methods, especially Anecdote Circles and The Future, Backwards which alongside the SenseMaker® software have created for me the starting conditions for a fulfilling, engaging and immensely satisfying career.

As early as 1998, when I was a systems analyst, trained in process modelling and business re-engineering, I met Dave Snowden and, from that moment, began a slow but irreversible reconfiguring of my brain. I was working at English Nature, and Dave was piloting his radically new approach. I was instantly intrigued.

I became an in-house (narrative based) consultant which lasted for ten years until 2008 when I left to become independent. I developed a growing interest in anthropology, ethnography and oral history, and spent many enjoyable days videoing and audio recording stories from local people about their association with Nature Reserves across England.

My primary industry was Government Nature Conservation working loosely around all things Knowledge Management. I termed my role as 'knowledge ecologist' which has turned out to be much more resilient than I thought.

Subsequently working with a number of consultancies I have used CE methods in Defence, Health and Pharmaceuticals to teach innovation, make sense of cultures and inform communication plans. Membership in the Cognitive Edge Network has allowed me to both connect with peers and also help others along “the path”.

I still find Anecdote Circles and Future Backwards to be head and shoulders above any other method due to their intricate combination of communication, collaboration, and self-realisation packaged up in the most natural narrative form of encounter.

Over the years the Network has opened my eyes to so many aspects of participatory narrative inquiry, but eclipsing that has been a slow, growing understanding of complexity theory in particular the aspects of emergence, attractors and the domains of the Cynefin Framework.

I have been involved in several highly innovative and successful SenseMaker® projects, gaining expertise across the design, testing, collection and analysis stages. The most enjoyable of which was when we found ourselves with a coach full of school children heading for the Slavery Museum in Liverpool, and we had to improvise an entire methodology directed only by whispers of approval or disapproval, from Dave.

I have facilitated conferences and gatherings of up to 150 individuals, in school halls, conference facilities, farmhouses and pubs. Working through sequences of CE methods where, without exception, the enthusiasm, energy and sense of revealing something important has been so gratifying.