Making sense of a complex and complicated world

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

2 thoughts on “Making sense of a complex and complicated world

  1. Broadband and Me


    The Ourhouse Weblog: Making sense of a complex and complicated world John blogs Lilia Efimova who recently had the opportunity to listen to David Snowden. I’ve seen David speak on many occasions, always enthralling, often amusing and its always fun…

  2. Ton's Interdependent Thoughts

    Keynote Dave Snowden

    At the KM in Europe conference I went to Dave Snowdens keynote presentation. The presentation sadly is not available for download from the KM in Europe website, this paper on Sense Making in a Complex and Complicated World (pdf format),…


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