Sensemaking Series – Part one: Foundations for Complexity

This programme has now closed, if you would like to hear about any future programmes, please complete the expression of interest form.

We are excited to re-launch the SenseMaking Series, now made up of three integrated parts. At this stage, we are only inviting applications for Part one: Foundations for Complexity, with Part Two: Complexity in Practice to be launched later this year.

We have revised the structure in response to feedback in order to introduce an immersive, progressive and applied pathway, with a revised expectation on time required. This experiential programme reflects and considers the emergent needs of leadership in our contemporary environment and has been designed to integrate with our wider portfolio of leadership development programmes in the coming months.

Part One: Foundations for Complexity  

This is a programme for leaders and practitioners who are interested in a guided exploration of approaches to the principles of complex adaptive systems.

NHS South West Leadership Academy welcomes Nora Bateson and Dave Snowden – two of the most celebrated practitioners in the field – who will share their different and unique relational practices around Warm Data and naturalising sense-making, plus an introduction to underpinning theory.

The experiential programme is perfect for those interested in learning together and strengthening their abilities to navigate complexity and developing their individual and collective capacity to perceive, understand and work across inter-related issues.

Dave Snowden is the creator of the Cynefin Framework, and also originated the design of SenseMaker® the world’s first distributed ethnography tool. He is the lead author of Managing complexity (and chaos) in times of crisis: A field guide for decision makers, a shared effort between the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, and the Cynefin Centre. He divides his time between two roles: founder Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and Director of the Cynefin Centre.


Nora Bateson is an international lecturer, educator, filmmaker and writer, and the President of the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden. Her work asks the question “How we can improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?”. An international community of Warm Data practitioners has grown from her enquiry. Practitioners of Warm Data and People Need People online currently practice within the UNDP, activist communities in the US, parliaments around the EU, and Islamic women’s groups, as well as by multiple municipalities in Australia, UK and organisations worldwide. Nora wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, a portrait of her father, Gregory Bateson, and has a new paper on systemic transformation coming out in September 2021.

Target Audience

We hope to be able to welcome a diverse range of NHS and healthcare colleagues from across the South West region to the programme, but it might be particularly suitable for colleagues:

  • Exploring place-based systems of collaboration and design
  • Committed to extending inter- and trans-disciplinary practice
  • Responding to urgent and emergency care issues, or as part of multi-disciplinary pathways
  • Seeking to elevate relational practice

Participants who have signed up to ‘Discover Interdisciplinary Thinking’ and upcoming programmes including ‘Adaptive Health Systems’, ‘Coaching Culture’ and some of our custom Integrated Care System offers will find this a complementary part of our broader body of work.

We also encourage registrations from colleagues who are under-represented in our programmes, including: transgender colleagues, colleagues under the age of 25 and above the age of 55, ethnic minorities (including non-British colleagues) and colleagues currently on parental leave.

Dates for Foundations for Complexity  

Cynefin workshops:

  • Tuesday 26 October, 9.30 – 12.00
  • Wednesday 27 October, 9.30 – 12.00
  • Thursday 28 October, 9.30 – 12.00

Warm Data theory and People Need People workshops:

  • Monday 29 November, 14.00 – 16.30
  • Tuesday 30 November, 14.00 – 16.30
  • Wednesday 1 December, 14.00 – 16.30

Composting event:

  • Friday 10 December, 15.00 – 16.30

The Programme is unique in facilitating time online with Nora Bateson and Dave Snowden and introducing Warm Data/People Need People practice and Cynefin/SenseMaker® practice. The final part of the Programme brings Nora and Dave together in a shared learning event to creatively explore how these different practices speak with each other.

Further support available

As part of the Foundations for Complexity, we are pleased to offer you optional sessions to support your learning. You will have the opportunity to attend the following:

  • Optional group coaching session on 10 November, 09.30 – 1200
  • Optional conversation around Warm Data practice and care with Warm Data practitioners – Wednesday 24 November 9.30 – 12.00

Attendance and recordings

Attendance will be virtual and via Zoom. Participants will be required to attend all the Cynefin, Warm Data theory and People Need People workshops and the Composting event listed above. The group coaching and conversation around Warm Data will be optional.

Please note, we will not be recording the sessions, we aim to create a safe, confidential and exploratory space for our participants. As we will also be using breakout rooms, there will be significant sections of the session missing from a recording, minimising the overall impact.

Applying for Part one: Foundations for Complexity

To apply for a place on Part one: Foundations for Complexity, you will need to be available for the programme dates listed above (excluding further support sessions). Attendance is required throughout the programme, we are asking that you have a conversation with your Line Manager before applying to ensure you are supported in attending this programme and embedding the learning.

Please follow the link below and fully complete the online registration form.

Apply for Part one: Foundations for Complexity – this has now closed 

Part two: Complexity in Practice

Part two of the Sensemaking Series will delve deeper into the thinking behind Warm Data and Cynefin’s SenseMaker® whilst offering further Coaching and live sessions to support participants understand and practice Dave Snowden and Nora Bateson in system work.

If you would like to be notified when we recruit for part two, please submit an expression of interest.

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