I was reading the story behind Dave Snowden’s naming of his Cynefin model http://www.cognitive-edge.com, and it struck a chord. He wrote:

“For those who don’t know the origin of my use of the word, it can be traced back to the year 2000 when I was scheduled to debate with Nonaka at the University of Aston (it didn’t happen but I prepared for it). I had been uncomfortable with the SECI model for some time. In my more polemical moods I call it The model that launched a thousand failed knowledge management initiatives and I still hold to that opinion. The model became “BA” in a later article and I decided that if Japanese authors could use Japanese words with semi-mystical significance then there was no reason why a welsh author could not to the same.”

http://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/2006/12/search_for_cynefin_equivalents.php

For me this is very much the same as my experience in working in the creative fields of strategy and design and noticing that Buddhist thinking is seen as a credible adjunct in the conversations of business. For example, William Duggan’s work on Strategic Intuitionhttp://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Intuition-Creative-Spark-Achievement/dp/0231142684 goes from a discussion of Napoleon’s coup d’oleil, and General Patten’s patterns of warfare, to recommending the 8-fold way as a path for the cultivation of such intuitions. That’s fine. There is a great deal of knowledge about mindfulness embedded in Buddhist practice. They have use it in pursuit of detachment for centuries – a dose of it in modern business to enable people to step back and be personally engaged in their strategising is a Good Thing. The problem is that any parallel usages of ideas from the (older) judeo-christian traditions is generally not OK. And that’s not OK.

It gets more extreme than that of course – see for example Strategic Intuition for the 21st Century: Tarot for Business http://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Intuition-21st-Century-Business/dp/0609803220, which I’ve not read, but backs up both Dave Snowden’s stance and mine! But I’m interested in the debate at the centre, not the fringe. The core issue is that as we claw our way back out of the captivity to technical rationalism, what resources will we draw on. We need rich and fitting traditions of thought, robust histories and big stories. I’ll keep saying that the judeo-christian legacy has a lot to offer.

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