Dave Snowden

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David J. Snowden
Dave Snowden, November 2016 (3) cropped.jpg
Dave Snowden, 2016
Born David John Snowden
April 1954
Nationality Welsh
Education BA (philosophy), University of Lancaster, 1975
MBA, Middlesex Polytechnic, 1985
Occupation Management consultant
Employer Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd, Singapore
Known for Cynefin framework

David John Snowden (born April 1954)[1] is a Welsh management consultant and researcher in the field of knowledge management. Known for the development of the Cynefin framework,[2] Snowden is the founder and chief scientific officer of Cognitive Edge, a Singapore-based management-consulting firm specializing in complexity and sensemaking.[3]


Snowden graduated in 1975 with a BA (Hons) in philosophy from County College, University of Lancaster,[4] and obtained an MBA in 1985 from Middlesex Polytechnic.[5]


Snowden worked for Data Sciences Ltd from 1984 until January 1997.[5] The company was acquired by IBM in 1996,[6] and the following year he joined IBM Global Services' Knowledge and Differentiation Programme.[7] In 2000 he became European director of the company's Institute for Knowledge Management.[5]

In 2002 Snowden founded the IBM Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity.[8] While at IBM, he led a team that developed the Cynefin framework, a decision-making tool.[9][10][11] He left IBM in 2004 and a year later founded Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd, a management-consulting firm based in Singapore.[12]

Snowden has been an adjunct professor or visiting scholar at several universities, including the University of Pretoria, University of Canberra and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.[3] In 2006 he was a director of funding allocation for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK on the subject of emergence.[3] In 2015 he was awarded an honorary professorship in the School of Psychology at Bangor University.[13]


Snowden is the author of several articles and book chapters on the Cynefin framework, the development of narrative as a research method, and the role of complexity in sensemaking.[3] In 2008 he and co-author Mary E. Boone won an "Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication in OB" award from the Academy of Management's Organizational Behavior division for a Harvard Business Review article on Cynefin.[14][15] In 2008–2009 he wrote a column on trends in technology, "Everything is fragmented", for KMWorld.[16] He is an editor-in-chief of the journal Emergence: Complexity and Organization.[3]


  1. ^ "David John Snowden", Companies House.
  2. ^ Bob Williams, Richard Hummelbrunner, Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioner's Toolkit, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010, 163–164.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Biography of David Snowden" (PDF). cognitive-edge.com, courtesy of Athabasca University. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Dave Snowden", Lancaster University Enterprise Centre, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Dave Snowden", LinkedIn. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  6. ^ "IBM to acquire Data Sciences", New Straits Times, 7 March 1996.
  7. ^ "Knowledge Management workshop", Athens Laboratory of Business Administration, 2000, 5.
  8. ^ "The Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity", IBM Global Services, archived 14 June 2002.
  9. ^ David Snowden, "Complex Acts of Knowing: Paradox and Descriptive Self Awareness", Journal of Knowledge Management, 6(2), May 2002, 100–111. doi:10.1108/13673270210424639
  10. ^ Cynthia F. Kurtz, David J. Snowden, "The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world", IBM Systems Journal, 42(3), 2003, 462–483. doi:10.1147/sj.423.0462
  11. ^ Thomas Quiggin, "Interview with Mr. Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge", Seeing the Invisible: National Security Intelligence in an Uncertain Age. World Scientific, 2007, 212.
  12. ^ "Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd", Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Meet the team", Bangor University.
  14. ^ "Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication in OB", obweb.org.
  15. ^ David J. Snowden, Mary E. Boone, "A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making of the circumstances they face", Harvard Business Review, November 2007.
  16. ^ Dave Snowden (2009). "Everything is fragmented". KMWorld. 

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