Cynefin practices applied to TIMN

Dave Snowden's Cynefin model was developed for enhancing knowledge management practices. It has since found more widespread applications referenced in the Wikipedia page for Cynefin. Here's how I'm seeing those four quadrants apply to the TIMN framework.

CHAOTIC situations breed a TRIBAL order where NOVEL practices handle the challenges. In chaotic situations, all bets are off about "best practices". Any correspondence courses on tribal leadership, administration and decision making would find no buyers. The situations are too extreme, unstable and unpredictable for knowledge to become routine, verified or documented. Chaotic situations call for continual exploration, experimentation and variation. Action comes first to get a better sense of the situation which suggests how to respond (Act -Sense - Respond). What worked before may not work again or maintain any hypothesized causal relationships. Policy manuals would become obsolete before the ink dried on the pages. Job Descriptions would be inadequate and misleading. Tribal forms of oral culture and storytelling handle the challenges far better than the other forms.

SIMPLE situations breed an INSTITUTIONAL order where BEST practices handle the challenges. In simple situations, the stability, continuity and longevity enable best practices to get established. Institutional documentation remains valid, useful and practical for years. The variations in the world can be handled with cookie cutter, rubber stamp and carbon copy solutions. Institutional functionaries need only know how to execute the plan that's guaranteed to work, not troubleshoot, second guess or critique the plan. All that's required is to sense which situation this is, categorize it accurately and respond with a best practice (Sense - Categorize - Respond). Institutional order handles these challenges the best.

COMPLICATED situations breed a MARKET order where GOOD practices handle the challenges. Rival firms position themselves with varied product/service mixes. Customers are constantly changing their needs, desires, preferences and perceptions. Technology, regulatory legislation and media coverage alters the commercial landscape. The complications defy categorization or the application of best practices. A big investment needs to be made in analyzing what is sensed about this panorama of complications prior to responding with good practices (Sense - Analyze - Respond). Market dynamics handle these challenges the best.

COMPLEX situations breed a NETWORK order where EMERGENT practices handle the challenges. Feedback loops, vicious & virtuous cycles, self-referential messages, layered problems, and self-organizing dynamics all defeat the deliberate formulation of practices. Too many facets have taken on a life of their own with highly interdependent, evolving dimensions. It's better to let effective practices arise from immersion in the complexity. Probing the immediate situation without prior conditioning, preconceptions or assumptions will yield a clear sense of how to respond in the moment (Probe - Sense - Respond). Network dynamics handle these challenges the best.

Having said all this, yet another use of the Cynefin framework applies to these four kinds of situations and what order they breed. Taken as a whole, the combination of the four alternatives will be complex in itself when sensing any situation that could be any combination of the four. The order that handles the options well will emerge, rather than become formulaic or analytical.

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