Making sense of a complex and complicated world

A quick review of Dave Snowden's fascinating paper on making sense of a complex and complicated world.
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Lilia Efimova blogs Dave Snowden’s keynote speech at the Knowledge Management Europe event in Amsterdam. She links to his rich and fascinating (and densely written) paper on Sense Making in a Complex and Complicated World (pdf file).

we challenge the universality of three basic assumptions prevalent in organizational decision support and strategy: assumptions of order of rational choice and of intent. We describe the Cynefin framework a sense-making device we have developed to help people make sense of the complexities made visible by the relaxation of these assumptions.

The paper distinguishes between situations where order prevails, and mechanistic management can be effective; and those of “un-order” where such approaches are likely to fail or make things worse.

Among nuggets of wisdom in this is this good statement about building awareness rather than just handing out answers, which I think is a vital principle for facilitation:

the group should accomplish Descriptive Self Awareness, or a greater understanding of their own biases and potentials. This is also our goal in helping people go through the process, because it is our place to enable clients to achieve self-awareness ratherthan to provide

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