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Cynefin Framework Template

The Cynefin Framework can help you to see different types of problems from different viewpoints and make conceptual decisions.

About the Cynefin Framework Template

The Cynefin Framework is a tool that can help you make decisions when you are facing complex problems. It was developed by Dave Snowden at IBM in 1999, and it has been used by managers and executives in many different industries to create effective strategies. You can use this Decision-Making Template to address all types of challenges, especially situations where you need to act quickly.

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What is the Cynefin Framework?

The Cynefin Framework provides a way to analyze a situation and determine the best response. It identifies five different types of situations — Obvious, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic, and Disorder.

  • The Obvious domain includes familiar situations and for which you have established protocols.
  • The Complicated domain is when you don't know what's going on but have the ability to analyze the situation and figure out what to do.
  • In Chaotic situations, you must act quickly because the environment is unstable.
  • The Disorder domain is a model for a leader's behavior in any situation where the nature of the environment is unknown.

How is the Cynefin Framework set up?

There are five domains in the Cynefin Framework: obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic, and disorder. Problems that are classified as obvious are well understood, and their solutions are evident. This means that such problems can be solved by applying a well-known, potentially scripted solution.

When you are faced with a complicated problem, you usually have a good idea of the questions that need to be answered. To solve these types of problems, you can use your expert knowledge and decide what the next step should be.

There are many complex problems in the world that do not have easy answers. In order to find solutions to these types of problems, it is often necessary to experiment and gather new information.

You should first focus on containing any chaotic problems and then work on finding a more permanent solution.

If you are not sure which category something falls into within the framework, it is considered to be in Disorder. The priority is to then figure out which category it does fall into.

When would you use the Cynefin Framework?

The Cynefin Framework is a powerful and flexible model that can be used to categorize problems and figure out the appropriate response. Many organizations use the framework to aid in product development, marketing plans, and organizational strategy.

The template can be used to train new hires on how to react to a crisis or unforeseen event, or to run through worst-case scenarios.

What are the benefits of using the Cynefin Framework?

The Cynefin Framework has become popular for a number of reasons. It can help you make sense of complex situations, identify the most appropriate course of action, and improve your decision-making.

  • The Cynefin Framework is an excellent training tool for virtually all industries. It develops critical-thinking skills in future leaders or otherwise hones the thought processes of existing leaders. Working with the Framework ultimately creates leaders that are comfortable when faced with expected and unexpected challenges.
  • The Cynefin Framework helps leaders to think creatively and avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach to problem-solving. It encourages fresh thinking and dynamic approaches.
  • The Cynefin Framework is a great way to get a group thinking in the right way. It can be used as a starting point for bigger projects, so that everything can be done quickly and efficiently.
  • If you find yourself in the midst of a chaotic situation, the Framework can help you regain control. Going through the steps will help you stay calm and avoid panicking.
  • When leaders and staff have a proper understanding of any given situation, communication between them is improved. This also applies when a team is working together on a project, and they use the Cynefin Framework to figure out the best approach.
  • The method looks at the past behavior of the leader and staff and the organization’s history of dealing with challenges to find solutions for the new set of circumstances.
  • The Framework is flexible and can be easily adapted as a challenge continues to evolve. Tweaking the approach is as simple as adjusting applicable factors on the fly.

How to use the Cynefin Framework Template

The FigJam Cynefin Framework Template is designed to help you understand and work within different types of systems. It is divided into four sections, each corresponding to a different domain: Complex, Complicated, Chaotic, and Obvious. If you're not sure where to start, the initial section is Disorder. From there, you can take steps to move into another, more defined section.

The first step is to identify which category the challenge falls into. If it's an Obvious challenge, then the solution is already known and can be easily applied. Write down the challenge on a digital sticky note and add it to the Obvious quadrant. You can also add additional information like previously used solutions.

If the problem is complicated, it may be because there are unanswered questions. In the complicated section of the template, you can use expert knowledge to determine the appropriate course of action. With more information, the complicated challenge may become more approachable, and a solution can be found.

If a challenge is complex, experimentation, analysis, and evaluation are necessary in order to move the problem into the Complicated domain. If a problem is chaotic, the initial challenge is to control the problem. The priority is to take swift action to contain the issue and find a rapid solution that is 'good enough.'

Use case of the Cynefin Framework

The world has faced numerous challenges and changes in the past few years, requiring business leaders to make decisions quickly in an emergency. The Cynefin Framework can help leaders in these situations.

The Cynefin Framework can help you make decisions during an emergency by helping you make sense of the situation and outlining the way forward. When an emergency arises, it usually falls into the Chaotic section of the framework, and the Act - Sense - Respond format is followed. There is no relationship between cause and effect in a chaotic situation, so the primary goal is to create order and stability.

When the pandemic arrived, businesses had to make decisions quickly. For example, they decided to close up shop or switch to remote work almost immediately to address the most pressing issue — creating social distance.

After putting these safety measures in place, it was important to assess the situation and figure out how to proceed. For some businesses, this meant reopening key areas with workers wearing PPE or taking measures to avoid contact with others. For employees working remotely, this meant making sure they had access to the internet, the software they need to do their work, and other necessary tools.

In some cases, operational issues needed experts to make sense of them and find and create solutions. This fulfilled the response criteria, as an adequate response to current issues was formulated and executed.

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