Notes from Cynefin article: focus on how to act on different contexts


Here follow my notes and excerpts from the article:
- A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making by David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone. HBR, Nov. 2007
I advise to look also at the article's section: Decisions in Multiple Contexts: A Leader’s Guide.

And here there is an extrimely short and simplified version from Alistar Cockburn: http://alistair.cockburn.us/Simplifying+Cynefin






Obvious
Sense-Categorise-Respond
Sense =  assess the facts of the situation.
Categorise = categorise 😃 It's easily discernible by everyone. Often, the right answer is self-evident and undisputed.
Respond = base their response on established practice.

Example
Event: loan payment processing, are often simple contexts. If some- thing goes awry...
Sense = an employee can usually identify the problem when, say, a borrower pays less than is required.
Categorise = review the loan documents to see how partial payments must be processed.
Respond = either not accept the payment or apply the funds according to the terms of the note.

Extra notes: Exhaustive communication among managers and employees is not usually re- quired because disagreement about what needs to be done is rare.



Complicated
Sense-Analyse-Respond
Analyse =  Expert diagnosis required. Often requires expertise, investigating several options.

Examples
- A motorist may know that something is wrong with his car because the engine is knocking, but he has to take it to a mechanic to diagnose the problem.
- The search for oil or mineral deposits. The effort usually requires a team of experts, more than one place will potentially produce results, and the location of the right spots for drilling or mining involves complicated analysis and understanding of consequences at multiple levels.
- Engineering a new cell phone might emphasize feature A over feature B, but an alternative plan—emphasizing feature C—might be equally valuable.

Extra notes: innovative suggestions and controversial ideas by nonexperts may be overlooked or dismissed.
Another potential obstacle is “analysis paralysis,” where a group of experts hits a stalemate, unable to agree on any answers because of each individual’s entrained thinking—or ego.



Complex
Probe-Sense-Respond
Probe =  Leaders conduct experiments that are safe to fail. Leaders must patiently allow the path forward to reveal itself: set the stage, step back a bit, allow patterns to emerge.
Sense = Determine which patterns are desirable

Examples
- Some major change—a bad quarter, a shift in management, a merger or acquisition—introduces unpredictability and flux.
- The Brazilian rainforest, is in constant flux—a species becomes extinct, weather patterns change, an agricultural project reroutes a water source—and the whole is far more than the sum of its parts.

Extra notes: Of primary concern is the temptation to fall back into traditional command-and-control management styles—to demand fail-safe business plans with defined outcomes.
May also find it difficult to tolerate failure, which is an essential aspect of experimental understanding. Trying to overcontrol the organisation will preempt the opportunity for informative patterns to emerge. 



Chaos
Act-Sense-Respond
Act = Stanch the bleeding. Establish order. Communication of the most direct top-down or broadcast kind is imperative; there’s simply no time to ask for input.
Sense = Sense where stability is present and from where it is absent.
Respond = Working to transform the situation from chaos to complexity.

Examples
- The events of September 11, 2001.

Extra notes: A specific danger for leaders following a crisis is that some of them become less successful when the context shifts because they are not able to switch styles to match it.

Print | posted @ Wednesday, March 2, 2016 12:27 AM

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