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The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world

In this paper, we challenge the universality of three basic assumptions prevalent in organizational decision support and strategy: assumptions of order, of rational choice, and of intent. We describe the Cynefin Framework, a sense-making device we have developed to help people make sense of the complexities made visible by the relaxation of these assumptions. The Cynefin Framework is derived from several years of action research into the use of narrative and complexity theory in organizational knowledge exchange, decision-making, strategy, and policy-making. The framework is explained, its conceptual underpinnings are outlined, and its use in group sense-making and discourse is described. Finally, the consequences of relaxing the three basic assumptions, using the Cynefin Framework as a mechanism, are considered.

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Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd. (t/a The Cynefin Company) are making this material available as part of celebrating and narrating the development and influence of the Cynefin® framework and SenseMaker  in various contexts.

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

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