Tools #3: What the Hell is Going On!

Continuing the thread of re-coaching myself to think –

Today’s Lesson – How to look at a problem through a set of lenses (hats in this case) one at a time and focus.

The tool of the week is – Cynefin Framework developed by Dave Snowden in 1999

The goal is to help make sense of a situation to help guide a response.

First: Which domain are you in (see diagram below), then the action based on the characteristics

Clear – typically process-oriented situations and problems. Domain of “known knowns”. Approach: sense–categorize–respond. Understand the situation (sense), categorize it, then respond by applying a best-practice solution.

Complicated – typically has multiple right answers. Domain of “known unknowns”. Approach: sense-analyze-respond. Because analysis is needed they require expert knowledge. Experts should assess the situation, investigate possible options and choose a course of action.

Complex – domain of “unknown unknowns”. Approach: probe-sense-respond. we don’t yet know enough about it. It’s not clear what needs to be answered in the first place. Experiment first, learn about the problem. Then sense what you’re dealing with and respond appropriately. The goal should be to understand enough so that the problem or situation moves to the complicated domain where it’s easier to deal with.

Chaotic – just out of control. Approach: act-sense-respond. “First act to establish some stability, to contain the situation. Only then assess the situation and work on bringing enough order to it to move it into the complex domain.” One benefit is that you can try weird and wild stuff because the pain of the chaos creates the chance to solve it in any way possible.

Don’t know which one? You’re in “Disorder” – The best place to start is to break-up into small parts and try to then put them into each bucket above.

Questions to help determine the domain you’re in:

  • Do you know what causes the situation?
  • Is the situation under control?
  • How much do you know about it?
  • Does solving it require expert knowledge?

All credit for the above belongs to