Ron Donaldson

Ron spent his childhood beachcombing, playing in rock pools and dodging the waves of a stormy North Sea as it crashed against the coast in Sunderland, North East England. A combined degree in Geology and Ecology from Sunderland Polytechnic followed but the opportunities for an environmental generalist were few and far between. Attracted purely by money he joined Customs and Excise and was drawn into the dark side of mainframe computers, process models and data flow diagrams as a systems analyst.


In 1987 he joined the Nature Conservancy Council in Peterborough where he analysed, built databases and trained users in how to standardise their working practices, and summarise their hugely complex site management, condition monitoring and customer relationship building into simple targets and measurements. For all of this he is eternally sorry and feels constant regret for all the pain he may have caused.

In 1989 working for English Nature (NCC split into its three constituent country agencies) he first met Dave Snowden (now of cognitive edge) who transformed his thinking with a consultancy approach based on anthropology, complexity theory and the cognitive sciences. This was a major turning point revealing the importance of storytelling and communities in a world of uncertainties.

Calling himself a Knowledge Ecologist, trained and accredited by Dave Snowden and the then IBM cynefin team Ron took these methods and ideas and added stories from nature that illustrated key principles and complex thoughts to great effect and became a success on the Knowledge Management conference circuit. Ron has since facilitated hundreds of story based workshops to develop a service culture, review lessons learned on projects, launch new teams, campaigns and strategies and build a shared understanding of climate change for a major European conference.

In August 2008 Ron is leaving Government Conservation to become self employed. His plans are to mix and match paid consultancy, voluntary conservation projects, university lecturing, conference speaking, run training courses and perhaps even writing up some of the wonderful stories and experiences collected along the way.

He can be found blogging at http://rondon.wordpress.com connected to via LinkedIn and Facebook and would love to collaborate, facilitate or add a storytelling/community aspect to your projects/events.

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