The Cynefin Framework

 

cynefin frmeworkThe Cynefin Framework is a useful model for describing complex systems and is particularly helpful when grappling with the complexity and ambiguity that often surrounds innovation. To do it justice requires many thousands of words but I have tried to provide a flavour so that readers can investigate further for themselves.

First of all it is a sense-making not a categorisation model i.e. our data already exists and our model is applied to make sense of the patterns that occur within it.

The model describes 3 types of systems – ordered (subdivided into simple and complicated), complex and chaotic. For simple systems the relationship between cause and effect exists and is predictable. The decision making model is thus Sense, Categorize, Respond and we tend to apply best practice.

In complicated systems the relationship between cause and effect exists but is not self evident. Our decision making model is thus Sense, Analyze, Respond and we apply Good Practice. This is because we might need to employ expert advice and there may be several possibilities open to us not a single correct course of action. The big danger is to blindly employ Best Practice here.

In complex systems the relationship between cause and effect is only obvious with hindsight. The way forward is to conduct a series of experiments, to probe our system. Depending on their success or failure we will probe further and we will then develop emergent practice. We are effectively learning!

Chaotic systems are usually where we wish to be when we are innovating. There is no relationship between cause and effect. We are normally in control of these systems but such a system can be entered accidentally and we need to know how to tackle such an issue. Because we must act quickly in this unstable state our decision making model is Act, Sense, Respond.

So how do we use this? Well depending on which type of system we are in we should think and make decisions in different ways. One size does not fit all and it should be obvious that such an approach is disastrous. Often we start off in the central ‘disorder’ region i.e. not actually knowing which state we are in. This often means we do not conduct any form of analysis and will act according to personal experience and preference.

The framework also suggests that we can move around between states.  This is true as boundaries are mostly smooth transitions except for the Simple/Chaos boundary. People working in simple (often bureaucratic) systems can become complacent and when their world becomes chaotic they suffer a rough ride as they change states. This transition has been likened to falling off a cliff!

Further reading is suggested for those serious about complexity and change, however it is a very useful tool for working out how you should be behaving as an organisation, and when it is safe to adopt best practice.

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Challenging Boundaries The Banksy Way

 

Banksy challenging boundariesStreet artist Banksy is well known for challenging the establishment. Below is his take on PR and advertising. Whether you agree or not it should make you think.

People are taking the p**s out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

F*** that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs. – Banksy

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Something in the Air – Holistic Innovation and Creativity

Holistic innovation and creativity – read my exclusive interview with Peter Cook of Human Dynamic which was originally posted on the Innovation Excellence forum. You can now read it by clicking on this link.

Peter asks questions such as ‘what innovation demons do you want to purge?’ and ‘what is the future of creative thinking?’. Peter’s love of rock n roll also mean that there is a musical reference. In this case you can listen to Something In The Air by ThunderClap Newman.

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The brilliance of creative chaos

Are we able to think clearly when surrounded by mess because chaos is inherent in all our minds, even those of the great writers and thinkers, asks Clive James. Is this creative chaos?

The great thing about this slot is that I can pontificate. But a wise pontificator should always remember that he won’t solve a global problem in 10 minutes, or even do much more than usefully touch on it in 10 hours. There are two main reasons for that. One reason is that the global problems are, by their nature, devilishly complicated. But everyone knows, or should know, that.

The other reason is less obvious, because it lies within the nature of the pontificator. He, or she – in my case he – speaks with a special pontificating voice: integrated, judicious even in its doubts, purporting to contain the distilled wisdom of a lifetime’s experience. Almost always, I suspect, this voice is at odds with the personality from which it emerges, and in my case the discrepancy is so glaring that even I can spot it. Read the full article here.

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