Cynefin: More on Complex and Complicated.

Some weeks ago I mentioned the two types of systems –  complex and complicated – a topic stimulated due to a client ask. In the meantime several colleagues pointed to the Cynefin framework by Dave Snowden who is cited as the creator of this idea.

Cynefin is a welsh word meaning habitat and the framework has five zones or domains. The two we already know are Complicated and Complex but the others are: simple (obvious)  , Chaotic and the fifth in the middle Disorder. The latter is a state of not knowing where you are at all whilst the other four are states to identify where you are and once identified give guidance to how to respond.

The framework is a sense making tool and as such does not have defining axes , as confirmed by Dave Snowdon in a response to a tweet on the topic last week. It is all about identifying your system state and how to respond – useful thinking.

Where do operating models sit?

Well certainly in the  obvious(simple zone) and probably in the complicated zone, but probably not in the complex zone and most definitely not in the chaotic area.

One final point to add is an organisation may well have several parts operating in several zones at the same time – life is often not simple!

If you search Cynefin there are some nice short explanatory videos  on YouTube, one by Dave Snowden himself. see Video Dave Snowden.There is a nice artistic graphic on creative commons licence by Sketching Maniacs see Edwin Stoop Cynefin illustration graphic.

Thanks to Owen LeFave of Publicis Sapient for introducing me to Cynefin.

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