Complexity and Engagement At The BT Tower


David Gurteen organised a Knowledge Cafe with BT recently, held in the impressive BT Tower. The theme was “How can we best keep employees engaged in their work, in the current economic climate?”. This seemed to me quite a challenging theme, as in my experience, developing co-ordinated employee engagement is hard enough in even quite benign times!

There is a good write-up of the event on David’s blog (article dated Thursday 26 February) which also includes slides of the three talks as well as speaker profiles.

The main speaker was Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge, whose name I’d often heard mentioned in glowing terms (in a knowledge management context) but had never previously seen speak. Luckily he spoke for about an hour and gave a compelling survey of his way of thinking about things, based on applying ideas from complexity theory to business settings. This was especially interesting as earlier in my career I’d actually carried out research in this area (including the visualisation of nonlinear systems)!

There’s a good independent exposition of his talk here which is well worth a careful read. The relevance of the picture above will be clear if you take a look at the presentation slides!

Overall a really good day out, including a very illuminating chat in a nearby pub at the end. Many thanks here to Ron Donaldson for providing some additional comments and insights that were helpful in beginning to understand this rather different and exciting take on things.

As I live outside London, it’s not always possible to get to all of the Knowledge Cafe’s that are organised. From the ones I have been too I was impressed by the wide variety of venues (very interesting in their own right) and the fact that there seems to be a continuous influx of new faces (this is important as it keeps things fresh). The atmosphere is also very friendly and there does seem to be ‘a true sense of enquiry’. Anyway, well worth going along to in case you’re in two minds!

If you prefer more science-based conversations you can try the Cafe Scientifique.

Picture credit here.


One Response to Complexity and Engagement At The BT Tower

  1. […] I’m familiar with the use of chaos and complexity theory in the physical sciences but less familiar with their use as a fresh way of thinking about the social sciences (eg see here). […]

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