Using Cynefin

July 18, 2010

I was on YouTube earlier today checking out on our new video on the Cynefin framework which is doing well in terms of hits although its not anywhere near the Childrens’ Party story yet! I hadn’t realised that there is other material up there, Three new ones (well to me) caught my eye and I share them here. One thing I have realised is that I need to post about the chaotic domain sometime soon, so I will work on that.

This from Rocketman81601 is rather nice apart from the mis pronunciation of the name! It was prepared for a class and sees Cynefin as a way to address things that happen in an irrational world. It has a nice opening description of the value of the framework which has become something of a cottage industry in the US; I rather like that idea! Although it focuses on the four main domains and describes then as categories, but it acknowledges the presence of disorder. Ends with a good summary on the application to leadership behaviour. I would have liked to see the student comments and questions that came after the lecture.

Mark Schenk of Anecdote uses a Pecha Kucha format (20 seconds per slide 20 slides which is cute) and has a really nice back of a table napkin visualisation. this one doesn’t just explain the model, it is contextualised to Mark’s experience in the air force and has some great secondary images. In discussing complexity he makes the important point that numbers are not enough, and references patterns in play (including a narrative reference or two). The power of little things is both well described and well illustrated and I love the hit on Descartes and Newton at the end!

After those I came across a review of anti-doping from Alanah Kazlauskas and Helen Hasen presented at the Sport and Society conference in Vancouver earlier this year. Again I didn’t know about this but its really good to see the framework being used for sense-making, by seeing things differently. Interesting creates visibility with order, so we get Simple≣Visible ordered≣Sanctions & prosecutions; Complicated≣Invisible ordered≣closing a regulatory loophole; Complex≣Invisible unordered≣understanding new types of evidence; Chaos≣Visible≣Scandals unordered. It contains both a clockwise and and anti-clockwise version of the social learning cycle which is interesting. I particularly lie the way it picks up on disorder, defined as destructively not knowing how to proceed. Its a lot richer than my summary and packs a lot into nine minutes and I hope there is a paper to back it up. There is one other paper by the same authors which uses Cynefin to make sense of Information Systems.

And of course you can always visit the Cynefin Sensory Labyrinth Theatre which is nothing to do with me, but has some great images and text.

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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.

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


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