A poem

June 4, 2010

In this blog I am going to try to make sense of Cynefin and I use verse to do it.

Making Sense of Cynefin

Cynefin – a quaint term and partly explains why it isn’t easy to remember that name,
its meaning being so peculiar that it’s impossible to translate anywhere the same.
Only a Welshman could concoct such an elaborate form of theoretical re-frame,
and I am a simple Aussie who struggles with any elaborate new language game.

So here is my spin on what it all means and please don’t think me a complete flake,
but Simple in Cynefin nearly always signals the easiest path to take.
It is the one we choose when we think we know there can be no mistake,
though many cling to the simple as a mantra well nigh impossible to shake.

If only things could stay in the simple but they never do for too long,
because the Complicated rules in the domain where expertise is so strong.
We need to acknowledge that the knowable is limited and that’s not wrong,
but searching for truths and laws here will no doubt be your final swan song.

Now as we enter the Complex things get so fluid and hard to stabilize,
everything makes more sense backwards and this is so weird to internalize.
Imagine patterns emerging and never being sure of what will materialize,
but believe it or not, this is where creativity and innovation are their own prize.

However, entering Chaos deprives you of the causal or predictable relation,
as things go topsy-turvy, speed and haste are called for and not procrastination.
Juggling the known and knowable will cause immense challenges and frustration,
as it becomes clear that this is not a forgiving space for any hint of hesitation.

Finally there is the realm of Disorder where things get messy and really political,
for here the struggles are against old habits and many things seem hypocritical.
Nowhere are the stakes so high and the temptation to become overly cynical,
because decision making here often seems particularly shallow and whimsical.

But here is the real thing about Cynefin, it’s all about the context,
and not forgetting this using some superficial or convenient pretext.
The framework is nothing short of situating any form of text,
under each quadrant and then seeing what turns up next.

I think I have it all worked out now or am I confused and not very bright,
trying to make sense of Cynefin is like looking into a flashing light.
Oh well, if I’ve got it wrong then I will have to think how to put it right,
though the blogging ends soon and I will be mercifully out of sight.

Liz Fulop

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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