Dave Snowden

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David J. Snowden
Dave Snowden, 2016
David John Snowden

EducationBA (philosophy), University of Lancaster, 1975
MBA, Middlesex Polytechnic, 1985
OccupationManagement consultant
Employer(s)The Cynefin Company, Singapore
Known forCynefin framework

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


Snowden graduated in 1975 with a BA (Hons) in philosophy from the University of Lancaster, where he was a member of County College.[3] He obtained an MBA in 1985 from Middlesex Polytechnic.[4]


Snowden worked for Data Sciences Ltd from 1984 until January 1997.[4] The company was acquired by IBM in 1996.[5] The following year Snowden set up IBM Global Services's Knowledge and Differentiation Programme.[6]

While at IBM Snowden researched the importance of storytelling within organizations, particularly in relation to expressing tacit knowledge.[7][8][9] In 2000 he became European director of the company's Institute for Knowledge Management,[4] and in 2002 he founded the IBM Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity.[10] During this period he led a team that developed the Cynefin framework, a decision-making tool.[11][12][13]

Snowden left IBM in 2004 and a year later founded Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd, a management-consulting firm based in Singapore, now trading as The Cynefin Company.[14]


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.[2] 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.[15][16] In 2008–2009 he wrote a column for KMWorld on trends in technology, "Everything is fragmented".[17] He is an editor-in-chief of the journal Emergence: Complexity and Organization.[18]


  1. ^ Bob Williams, Richard Hummelbrunner, Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioner's Toolkit, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010, 163–164.
  2. ^ a b "Biography of David Snowden" (PDF). cognitive-edge.com, courtesy of Athabasca University. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  3. ^ "Interview with Dave Snowden" Archived 8 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Lancaster University Enterprise Centre, 2016
  4. ^ a b c "Dave Snowden", LinkedIn. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  5. ^ "IBM to acquire Data Sciences", New Straits Times, 7 March 1996.
  6. ^ "Knowledge Management: Managing a New Age of Uncertainty" (PDF). Alba Executive Education Programs. 2000. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2016.
  7. ^ Patti Anklam, Net Work, Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007, 182.
  8. ^ Alicia Juarrero, "Cauality and Explanation", in Peter Allen, Steve Maguire, Bill McKelvey (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Complexity and Management, London: SAGE Publishing, 2011, 161–162.
  9. ^ Dave Snowden, "Storytelling and Other Organic Tools for Chief Knowledge Officers and Chief Learning Officers", in Dede Bonner (ed.), Leading Knowledge Management and Learning, Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development, 2000, 237–252.
  10. ^ "The Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity", IBM Global Services, archived 14 June 2002.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Thomas Quiggin, "Interview with Mr. Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge", Seeing the Invisible: National Security Intelligence in an Uncertain Age, Singapore: World Scientific, 2007, 212.
  14. ^ "Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd", Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication in OB", obweb.org.
  16. ^ David J. Snowden, Mary E. Boone, "A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making", Harvard Business Review, November 2007.
  17. ^ Dave Snowden (2009). "Everything is fragmented". KMWorld.
  18. ^ "Review Board", Emergence: Complexity and Organization.

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