How SenseMaker® works

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SenseMaker® is a web-based software ecology derived from the renowned Cynefin Framework, the science of anthro-complexity and other methods and tools developed by The Cynefin Company, to help leaders understand challenges, make sense of their environments and make decisions in context. 

The SenseMaker® platform consists of Frameworks (a project designed to collate, interpret and report on data with a specific purpose) and Engagements (a “questionnaire” or set of questionnaires designed to collect the required data for a specific Framework).

Respondents contribute to Frameworks by completing an Engagement on a web or App-based Collector.

The Engagements are managed from a Dashboard environment from where Frameworks, Engagements and Collectors are designed and Reports and Visualisations are generated.Frameworks and Engagements can be self-developed by users, with or without guidance and input from SenseMaker® Consultants or pre-designed frameworks can be purchased from The Cynefin Company for specific purposes.


This graph represents the quantitative results of a research project.

The red dots and contours represent the patterns of real reponses (how the system is currently disposed). The teal dot represents the desired direction.  It is clear that the results show two distinct groupings / peaks in the top left and bottom right of the landscape.

The grey arrows indicate the direction towards “adjacent possibles” - small groupings of stories or observations that are already present in the system and therefore can be amplified in order to evolve the system in a beneficial direction, much like “crossing a river with stepping stones” rather than attempting to cross in one big leap. 

SenseMaker® allows access to the stories that form these adjacent possibles and thereby enables the deployment of small contextual nudges to create the required shifts. 


Although you certainly do not need a background in statistics to explore and make sense of patterns in data, setting up Frameworks and Engagements in SenseMaker® requires more knowledge and involvement than you would typically need from off-the-shelf data collection and survey software.Apart from many tried and tested Frameworks and Engagements available from The Cynefin Company, we’ve seen that the best way to learn SenseMaker® is to apply it in context on a real Engagement.  To this end we offer two learning-while-doing products:

SenseMaker® QuickStart


SenseMaker® FastLaunch

contact  us  here

About the Cynefin Company

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.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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