Cynefin -  A Framework for Leaders  in an Ever-Changing World
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Cynefin - A Framework for Leaders in an Ever-Changing World

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Cynefin is a sense-making framework developed by David Snowden and others, which is currently maintained by Cognitive Edge (http://cognitive-edge.com/). I believe the framework can be extremely ...

Cynefin is a sense-making framework developed by David Snowden and others, which is currently maintained by Cognitive Edge (http://cognitive-edge.com/). I believe the framework can be extremely helpful to leaders cope with ever changing dynamics in their organization, as their default leadership style will not work best in all situations.

This presentation is one I use to explain Cynefin to others, but it is largely based on the work of others.

I leverage the following resources:
Snowden, David J. and Mary E. Boone, A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making, Harvard Business Review, November 2007
Snowden, David Introduction to the Cynefin Framwork (:08 video) Cognitive Edge Website, Oct 29, 2011
Snowden, David It's Not Good Enough to be Right (1:02 video) LKCE12
Snowden, David Keynote of XP 2012 (Part 1 (:38), Part 2 (:40)) May 2012
Snowden, David Practice without sound theory will not scale (1:08 video presentation)
Kurtz, C.F., and D. J. Snowden, The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-Making in a Complex and Complicated World, IBM Systems Journal, Vol 42, No 3., 2003
Cognitive Edge Blog on Cynefin

Ballestrin, Kim. Applying Cynefin and Agile LAST Conference, July 27, 2012 (Deck and Video)
Haight, Cameron. Leverage the Cynefin Framework to Improve IT Operations and Decision Making, Gartner: 2012
Perline, Joseph. On Understanding Software Agility— A Social Complexity Point Of View, E:CO Issue Vol. 13 Nos. 1-2 2011
Neis, Pierre How Cynefin Model Improves Lean Implementation, Slideshare Oct 21, 2012

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  • Problems can arise in simple contexts. Issues can be incorrectly classified within this domain because they have been oversimplified.Leaders are susceptible to entrained thinking, a conditioned response that occurs when people are blinded to new ways of thinking they acquired through past experience, training, and success.Success Breeds Complancency.
  • PronunciationLiteral translation is ‘habitat’ or ‘place’.
  • The Cynefin framework is based on 3 types of systems that occur in nature. Ordered Systems are ones where cause-and-effect relationships are perceptible. The right answers can be determined based on facts.Complex and Chaotic contexts are un-ordered—There is no immediately apparent relationship between cause and effect. The ordered world is one of fact-based management.The unordered worked, pattern based management.
  • “Ordered systems” are ones where cause and effect relationships exisit, are predictable, and are repeatable.
  • - Relationship between cause and effect is understood by any reasonable person.- Explain Image
  • - Domains of Known-Knows. - Exhaustive communication among managers / employees is not usually required because the disagreement about what needs to be done is rare.- Simple contexts, properly assessed, require straightforward management & monitoring.- Leaders can Sense, Categorize, Respond- SOPs and Best Practices are applicable here.- Command and control management style works well and Waterfall project management works well here.One example of technology effort could be Loan Payment processing. In a heavy process oriented system like this, an employee can usually identify the problem (say a borrower pays less than required), categorize it (review terms on the loan and see how to deal with partial payments), and then respond appropriately based on that information. - Potential Pitfalls: Best Practice, by definition, is past practice.Everything needs to follow SOP. - Command and Control Style leaders might not be open to different approach in other contexts.
  • Within Complicated Domain, the cause and effect relationships exist but are not self-evident, and therefore require expertise.A Ferrari is a complicated machine. It requires expertise to fix. As a lay person, I might know there is something wrong with this car if I heard a clucking in the engine, but I wouldn’t know how to fix it. I’d need to find an expert, someone beyond a basic mechanic to help me analyze and address the problem.
  • Domain of “Known Unknowns”Complicated contexts, unlike simple ones, may contain multiple right answer, and although there is a clear relationship between cause and effect, not everyone can see it.Experts feel that given enough time, they be able to figure a solution out. In this domain, it is best to sense, analyze and then respond. An example of work in this domain could be the determining where is the best place to drill for oil or natural gas. The effort usually requires a team of experts. More than one place will potentially produce result, and the location of the right spots for drilling involves complicated analysis and understanding of the analysis at multiple levels. A more IT oriented example is slow downs in server virtualization or shared services environments can occur for many reasons. IT Teams leverage analytical tools to help established ordered probability of some relationship causing the resource contention. Moving a virtual server to another server, increasing the server resources, or upgrading the physical infrastructure. Because the complicated context calls for investigating several options, many which may be excellent, good practice, as opposed to best practices, is more appropriate.Some pitfalls for you to look out for if you find yourself in this domain is: Analysis Paralysis - where a group of experts hits a stalemate, unable to agree on any answers because of each individual’s entrained thnking or ego.Innovative suggestions by non-experts may be over looked or dismissed, resulting in lost opportunities.
  • Emergence and Co-evolution.The rainforest on the other hand, is in constant flux (species may become exctinct, a weather patter may change, water source diverted). In the complex domain the whole is far more than the sum of its parts.
  • Consider the difference between a Ferrari and a Brazilian Rain Forrest. Ferraris are complicated machines, but an expert mechanic can take one apart and reassemble it without changing a thing. The car is static, and the whole is the sum of it’s parts.
  • Most situations and decisions in organizations are complex because some major change-a bad quarter, a shift in management, a merger or acquisition introduces unpredictability and flux.In this domain, we can understand why things happen only in retrospect. Instructive patterns, however, can emerge if a leader conducts experiments that are safe to fail. This is why, instead of attempting to impose a course of action, leaders must patiently allow the path forward to reveal itself. They need to probe first, sense, and then respond. In a complicated context, at least one answer exists. In a complex context, right answers can’t be ferreted out.
  • Open up the discussion: Complex contexts require more interactive communication than any other domains. Initializing interactive, discussions sessions, with many engaged people in different roles can help generate innovative ideas that help leaders with development and execution of complex discussion sessions.Set Barriers: Barriers limit or delineate behavior. Once the barriers are set, the system can self-regulate within those boundaries.Stimulate Attractors: Attractors are phenomena that arise when small stimuli and probes resonate with people. As attractors gain momentum, they provide structure and coherence.Encourage dissent and diversity: Dissent and formal debate are valuable communication assets in complex contexts because they encourage the emergence of well-forged patterns and ideas.Manage starting conditions and monitor for emergence: Because outcomes are unpredictable in a complex contexts, leaders need to focus on creating an environment from which good things can emerge, rather than trying to bring about predetermined results and possibility missing opportunities that arise unexpectedly.
  • Chaotic Contexts is the realm of unknowables. The relationships between cause and effect or are impossible to determine because things are constantly changing. Consider a crisis situation like the events of September 11, 2001. After the towers fell, Rapid Response was required. A leader in these circumstances must first act to establish order, then sense where stability is present and from where it is absent, and then respond by working to transform the situation from chaos to complexity, where the identification of emerging patterns can both help prevent future crises and discern new opportunities.Rudy Giuliani did a exceptional job under chaotic conditions by issuing directives and taking action to reestablish order.
  • Transitory StateAny constraints
  • Argument against “universal solutions” in favor of “contextual solutions”Disorder: Either Transitory between domains, or inauthentic, imposing preferencesCollapse from Complacency: The sudden and unanticipated plunge into chaos from apparent security
  • In the The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-Making in a Complex and Complicated World it describes the transitions between the different domains.(1) Collapse: Organizations fail to recognize the dynamics of the environment until it is too late.(2) Imposition: Draconian sense of order (usually people accept what would have been previously unacceptable as the price of order).(3) Cyclical flow of knowledge by choice, usually technological growth(4) Exploration is movement to the complex selectively as exploration, instead of exploitation(5) JIT: Lean
  • The Scrum Team (developers & Testers) is the car itself, ready to speed along in whatever direction it is pointed.The Product Owner is the driver, making sure that the car is always going in the right direction.The Scrum Master enables the team to race with high-quality speed, removing obstacles and ensuring smooth execution of the agile process.Image source: http://fonday.ru/images/tmp/8/9/image/8935
  • Recipe Cooks vs. Chef - Recipe cooks can cook a good meal if they have the right ingredients (conditions)- Chefs can cook a great meal with what you have because they understand the theoryExtend the metaphor to agile roll outs, a “recipe cook” will try to force fit the organization into  change.
  • Too much constraints choke innovation (overly stable).
  • Complex: Safe to Fail Experiments. vs. Complicated: Fail Safe Experiments

Cynefin -  A Framework for Leaders  in an Ever-Changing World Cynefin - A Framework for Leaders in an Ever-Changing World Presentation Transcript

  • Cynefin: A Framework for Leaders in an Ever-Changing World Ilio krumins-Beens www.iliokb.com @Ilio_kb
  • Overview •Why Cynefin? •What is it? •How it could be applied?
  • Why Cynefin? “Good leadership is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.” Source: Snowden, David J., and Mary E. Boon, A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making, Harvard Business Review, November 2007
  • What is Cynefin? “Cynefin (pronounced ku-nev-in) is a Welsh word that signifies the multiple factors in our environment and our experiences that influence us in ways that we can never understand.” Source: Snowden, David J., and Mary E. Boon, A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making, Harvard Business Review, November 2007
  • “Cynefin is a sense-making approach designed to improve situation awareness and decision making.” – Gartner Source: Leverage the Cynefin Framework to Improve IT Operations Decision Making, Garner, Oct 24, 2012
  • 3 Basic Systems Source: Introduction to the Cynefin Framework
  • Cynefin
  • What is Cynefin Framework is NOT? V a ri a b l e 2 High Low Low High Variable 1 In Cynefin, data precedes the model. Image Source: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/26740628/The-Power-of-the-2x2-Matrix---Chapter-1
  • Simple Domain Photographer: Marina Noordegraaf
  • Cynefin
  • Complicated Domain Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enzo_Ferrari_(automobile)
  • Cynefin
  • Complex Domain Photographer: Peter Halasz
  • Complex vs. Complicated Domain Photographer: Peter Halasz Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enzo_Ferrari_(automobile)
  • Cynefin
  • Tools for Managing in Complex Context • Open up the discussion. • Set barriers. • Stimulate attractors. • Encourage dissent and diversity. • Manage starting conditions and monitor for emergence. Source: Snowden, David J., and Mary E. Boon, A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making, Harvard Business Review, November 2007
  • Chaotic Domain Photographer: Preston Keres
  • Cynefin
  • Cynefin
  • Source: Snowden, David It's Not Good Enough to be Right (1:02 video) LKCE12
  • Cynefin Dynamics Source: Kurtz, C.F., and D. J. Snowden, The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-Making in a Complex and Complicated World, (Fig. 4) IBM Systems Journal, Vol 42, No 3., 2003
  • Take-Aways
  • Source: Neis, Pierre How Cynefin Model Improves Lean Implementation, Slideshare Oct 21, 2012
  • Define future state and close the gap vs. Understand current state and respond quickly
  • Recipe Cooking vs. Chef Agile Transition Photographer: Neil Crosby Artist: William Orpen
  • Without constraints, nothing evolves. Image By: Tkgd2007
  • Source: Ballestrin, Kim. Applying Cynefin and Agile LAST Conference, July 27, 2012
  • “Fail-Safe” OR “Safe to Fail” Experiments Photographer: National Institutes of Health
  • Resources • Snowden, David J. and Mary E. Boone, A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making, Harvard Business Review, November 2007 • Snowden, David Introduction to the Cynefin Framwork (:08 video) Cognitive Edge Website, Oct 29, 2011 • Snowden, David It's Not Good Enough to be Right (1:02 video) LKCE12 • Snowden, David Keynote of XP 2012 (Part 1 (:38), Part 2 (:40)) May 2012 • Snowden, David Practice without sound theory will not scale (1:08 video presentation) • Kurtz, C.F., and D. J. Snowden, The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-Making in a Complex and Complicated World, IBM Systems Journal, Vol 42, No 3., 2003 • Cognitive Edge Blog on Cynefin • Ballestrin, Kim. Applying Cynefin and Agile LAST Conference, July 27, 2012 (Deck and Video) • Haight, Cameron. Leverage the Cynefin Framework to Improve IT Operations and Decision Making, Gartner: 2012 • Perline, Joseph. On Understanding Software Agility— A Social Complexity Point Of View, E:CO Issue Vol. 13 Nos. 1-2 2011 • Neis, Pierre How Cynefin Model Improves Lean Implementation, Slideshare Oct 21, 2012
  • Questions / Feedback
  • Cynefin : A Framework for Leaders in an Ever-Changing World Ilio krumins-Beens www.iliokb.com @Ilio_kb