Cynefin is a Welsh word meaning “habitat” used by the Welsh Scholar Dave Snowden while working with knowledge management projects at IBM. He offered this framework as a way of seeing how complex systems evolve.
I use this model often, first with a bit of description, then with some embodied experiential exercises, and then with an invitation for people to map their work onto this model. There are typically many “ahas” when making distinctions between the mentality and practice needed in each quadrant. People start to see themselves, their preferred styles. How they interact with colleagues and where some of that is stuck. Blind spots become just a bit more visible. Teams get frustrated with each other, particularly in today’s all to common pressure to do more, faster, with less people, and with less resources. This is a framework that seems to help people reorient themselves and their frustration in the reality of today’s complexity. Particularly around the assumption of complex work that is masked as simple and some of the frustration that shows up interpersonally with it.