Quick keys for understanding complexity

Dave Snowden’s most recent video provides a quick brief in understanding the Cynefin framework he developed.

Some key points to note:

  • Cynefin framework – data proceeds the framework rather than the other way around
  • The framework helps one identify different systems – ideally you use the appropriate method to deal with different situations
  • Complexity domain involves: probe, sense, respond.  This results in emergent practice rather than something predefined.
  • Ideally, most situations are dealt within complex or complicated methods.  This means lots of people, lots of diversity and is noted as a pretty good strategy.

Snowden remarks that bureaucrats tend to work in the simple box, academics/researchers work in the complicated and politicians generally in complexity.  This is instructive to keep in mind when working with groups of people that come from these different sectors.  From my own work, I know its not easy convincing people to work within the complex domain.  Often this requires more facilitation, monitoring and adaptive capacity than the other domains.

I recommend this as a good introduction to Snowden’s Cynefin Framework for those starting down the complex path.

1 Comment

Filed under knowledge management, Uncategorized

One response to “Quick keys for understanding complexity

  1. Hi Laurie,

    Just a quick clarification on your first point:

    – when doing sense-making, data precedes a framework rather than the other way around. However when a model or framework emerges from a data set the resultant model can be used for categorisation so long as the context remains stable enough for the model to remain valid.

    Some subtleties here but important distinctions.

    Your so right when you say convincing people to work in the complex domain is difficult. It indicates how entrained we are with the way we have done things in the past… what does not help is that a complex domain appears ordered in retrospect!


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