Fresh from Cognitive Edge accreditation workshops Nancy White and me did an Open Space session to share with the participants of KM4Dev workshop some of the things we had learned about the Cynefin framework.
The Cynefin(pronounced /?k?n?v?n/) framework is a model used to describe problems, situations and systems. The model provides a taxonomy that guides what sort of explanations and/or solutions may apply. It was developed by David Snowden and his collaborators. Cynefin is a Welsh word, which is commonly translated into English as ‘habitat’ or ‘place’, although this fails to convey its full meaning.
We didn’t have that much time for the session, so we started from introducing complex systems, the Cynefin framework, safe-fail probes as an approach to deal with complex domains, and then did an exercise, mapping the issues that come from the evaluation of KM4Dev workshop to the framework.
While I really like Dave Snowden‘s style of introducing the concepts, there is something in it that makes it more difficult to explain them in my own way. Probably the engagement of the stories that turns them into a memorable experience difficult to override… I still have to invent my own examples to talk about complex systems, so I took the birthday party story that Dave tells and turned it into a three-years old birthday party story, thinking of Alexander’s last birthday as I talked 🙂
If you want to dive deeper into what have been discussed you might want to check:
- Wikipedia on Cynefin framework
- Video A simple explanation of the Cynefin Framework by Shawn Callahan
- Publications (those two I find particularly useful, but they are not free; for more options see list of articles by Dave Snowden)
- Snowden, D.J. & Boone, M. (2007). A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making. Harvard Business Review, November 2007, pp. 69-76. [free .pdf that is probably not supposed to be there]
- Kurtz, C. F. & Snowden, D. J. (2003). The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world, IBM Systems Journal, 42 (3), p. 462.
If you are thinking about using the Cynefin framework in a group process it might be useful to start from reading descriptions of two methods – Butterfly Stamping and Cynefin contextualisation: Four tables. The last one also provides a list of forms that help to think of actions to address items in four domains: