Cynefin workshop

The Cynefin framework

Cynefin is a sense-making framework created by Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge. The framework allows people to make sense of a situation, to understand its context, and determine the appropriate course of action.

Its application is vast and profound. It offers teams, leaders and policy-makers a tool to determine the nature of a situation with guiding decision-making models.

The Cynefin A&E game

To help teams understand the Cynefin framework and consider how it can relate to their environment, Dean Latchana has created the Cynefin A&E game workshop.

The workshop’s game is based on a fictitious Accident & Emergency ward (aka Medical Emergency Room). The players are presented with different scenarios where patients arrive in different medical conditions.

The players use the Cynefin framework to decide how best to manage each situation; this is challenging because of the limited time and resources. Complexity emerges from their decisions and from an interaction of events. Therefore players need to use the dynamics of the Cynefin framework to handle emerging scenarios.

Learning outcomes

Players work together and use the Cynefin framework to manage various scenarios in an unpredictable environment. The game is designed to show how the framework can help teams understand the nature of complexity so they can better handle known or unknown situations.

The game scenarios are designed to relate to situations common to the players’ reality. The workshop introduces complexity theory, practice and application to help individuals gain better situational awareness and make more prudent decisions.

Some practical applications

  • Competitive awareness and response
  • Appropriate leadership & management styles
  • Understand the nature of today‚Äôs management challenges
  • Governance, policy and practice creation
  • Planning, risk management & product development
  • When to, and when not to, provide estimates
  • Refining the backlog and testing assumptions
  • Avoiding groupthink
  • Incident response

How to run the workshop

The workshop material is available in the Creative Commons, so you can run the workshop yourself. I’d ask that you acknowledge Dave Snowden, who developed the Cynefin framework, and give recognition to me (Dean Latchana) who created the workshop.

It’s advisable that you contact me to talk you through the workshop and material, and consider whether you’d like me to facilitate the workshop and teach the theory. Here are the slides from a workshop run in 2019 for a top-tier consultancy.

Importantly to run the workshop for commercial purposes, you need to become a premium member of Cognitive Edge, the consultancy which owns the rights. I am a premium member of Cognitive Edge, so I have the rights to use their tools commercially.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Cynefin A&E game workshop by Dean Latchana is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photos from previous workshops

A thank you gift for running the workshop at King’s College Business School