Why this blog post on the Cynefin framework?
The Cynefin framework is included in the PRINCE2 Agile Guide
What does the word ”Cynefin” mean?
The word “Cynefin”, pronounced ki-neh-vin, is a Welsh word meaning something like ‘habitat’ or ‘place’. The term was chosen by the Dave Snowdon to describe a perspective on the evolutionary nature of complex systems, including their inherent uncertainty
Origins of Cynefin
Cynefin was first developed by Dave Snowden in 1999 in the context of knowledge management and organisational strategy.
What is Cynefin?
Cynefin is a decision framework that recognises the causal differences that exist between different types of systems, proposing new approaches to decision making in complex social environments. Cynefin is also a sense-making model, not a categorisation model.
In a categorisation model, the framework precedes the data. This is good for exploitation but not exploration. In a sense-making model the data precedes the framework, making it good for exploration
The Cynefin framework has five domains. The first four domains are:
1) Simple, in which the relationship between cause and effect is obvious to all, the approach is to Sense – Categorise – Respond and we can apply best practice.
2) Complicated, in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or some other form of investigation and/or the application of expert knowledge, the approach is to Sense – Analyze – Respond and we can apply good practice.
3) Complex, in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance, the approach is to Probe – Sense – Respond and we can sense emergent
4) Chaotic, in which there is no relationship between cause and effect at systems level, the approach is to Act – Sense – Respond and we can discover novel practice.
The fifth domain is Disorder, which is the state of not knowing what type of causality exists, in which state people will revert to their own comfort zone in making a decision. In full use, the Cynefin framework has sub-domains, and the boundary between simple and chaotic is seen as a catastrophic one: complacency leads to failure.