Shawn Callahan of Anecdote has made a short explanation of the Cynefin Framework, which I hope you find useful.
Like him, I’ve been using the Cynefin framework ever since Dave Snowden introduced me to it at KM Europe in 2003, making a lasting impression.

Over the years I’ve seen the number of issues companies and professionals are dealing with shift more and more to the complex realm. Because our internet and mobile communications connected world as a whole has shifted towards this complex domain more by increasing the connections between us and as a result the speed of change, the dynamics around us and the amount of information. A quantitative shift with massive qualitative impact. Complexity is where predictability is absent, and only in hindsight cause and effect are clear. It’s the messy bits, as Shawn says, where human interaction, culture, innovation, trust are at play. And it’s those same messy bits where increasingly organizations are able to distinguish themselves from others, or not.
It’s the realm where you try to create top-down the circumstances that stimulate bottom-up, emergent effects. The place where control and giving space aren’t opposites but mutually strengthening. Where boundaries, barriers and attractors are your means for intervention, and where you run multiple experiments right in the real world (not the lab) to see what moves you into the right direction. It’s also the place where abstract theory and action are joined at the hip with no intermediate stage in between. Where what we actually know about ourselves and our behaviour as human beings is leading, not what we hope we are or think we are.
It’s the place where most of my current work is. In creating informal learning settings with communities of practice, in building the patchwork of social media tools that help you create your personal networked learning environment (connectivism, as per George Siemens), in increasing your ability to act (which is my working definition of knowledge) whether it’s by providing better means to create what you need (like in my work for the world wide FabLab community), or by providing more information for us all to make better decisions (like in my work to open up government data for free reuse by the public). All geared to help us make more sense of the world around us.
It’s also the place where I think we will find the best opportunities to get us out of the economic, environmental and energy mess we currently find ourselves in. A mess we got ourselves into I think by not recognizing where the limits of usefulness are of our lineair ways of working and planning. It’s in the realm of complexity we’ll have to find the resilience we need.
By the way, as a disclaimer, like Shawn I am part of the Cognitive Edge network of practicioners, started by Dave Snowden to put the Cynefin framework and related methods into action.

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