A cognitive system performs the cognitive work of knowing, understanding, planning, deciding, problem solving, analyzing, synthesizing, assessing, and judging as they are fully integrated with perceiving and acting. It is a distributed system in which people with diverse roles and capabilities, and with the assistance of technological capabilities, collaborate in the planning and performance of cognitive work.

The design of a cognitive system requires a special set of analysis and design tools. I rely on the framework of Cognitive Work Analysis and the strategy of Functional (Ecological) Workspace Design. The papers, books and tutorials available on this site offer a guide.


Cognitive Systems Design

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Cognitive Principles, Cognitive Power

Over and over, I see evidence that judicious application of cognitive design principles and cognitive training principles can have enormous impact on our performance.

In 1854, Dr John Snow used a simple cognitive principle to investigate a cholera epidemic.  He visually mapped locations of pumps that supplied London residents with drinking water against locations of cholera deaths. Read More

And then there is chicken sexing and landmine detection. What cognitive principles could they possibly illustrate? Read More

Is team performance important for you? How might you dramatically improve the performance of an overworked team without the additional expense of more staff or new technology? Read More

I could go on. Each case requires specific knowledge of the particulars but the cognitive principles are generalizable.

It is not that cognitive principles are particularly new or complicated or otherwise obscure. Many were employed to good effect during the Second World War. Somehow, we have drifted away from appreciating the power of cognition.

In my workshops, I demonstrate how we can identify the cognitive performance barriers we encounter and how we can develop effective, efficient and economical design interventions or training experiences to overcome them. I use exercises to help workshop delegates develop a foundational level of skill with the essential tools.

If you are intrigued by the potential to achieve transformational change through leveraging your cognitive power or the cognitive power of your organization, contact me to discuss a workshop.


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If you have registered, Log In with your email address. If you have not registered, please do so to gain complimentary access to all site resources. You will have full access to both books on Cognitive Work Analysis and to a selection of my published papers on cognitive systems & training systems as well as unpublished tutorials on analysis & design of cognitive systems and unpublished notes on various topics related to cognitive design. You will also find descriptions of some of the workshops I offer.

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