Management of risk: insights based on our ‘Collective Stories’
SenseMaker® Use Case
Use Case Description
Use Case Details

During November 2019, some of South Africa’s top leaders (governing body members, executives, risk leaders) of listed and unlisted private entities as well as public sector organisations, were asked to share their experiences of how risks and opportunities are managed by them and/or others. The results from the 81 leaders that participated provide an eye-opening glimpse into the intuitive working of risk management.

The enquiry was to understand how people perceived the management of risk in the real world, based on actual their experiences inside and outside the boardroom. To explore this, the project looked at actual stories – retellings of experiences – with positive or negative outcomes. Stories can be considered as “warm data” (Nora Bateson); they encapsulate our emotional and embodied response to what happened. Given that our perceptions and decision-making make use of embodied, emotional, and rational processes, stories provide a better insight into the environment we operate in than does a traditional survey.

“By responding to these stories with the insights in this year’s IRMSA report we can influence that landscape and the stories that will be told in the future.” – Sonja Blignaut & Robert Koch

Client: IRMSA

Location: South Africa


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.


Social Links: The Cynefin Company
Social Links: The Cynefin Centre
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