What is not to like about a new approach to organizational strategy developed at MIT, that cites ancient myth and Mary Douglas, emphasises the primacy of human sense-making in organizational behavior, and is named Cynefin,
a Welsh word whose literal translation into English as habitat or place fails to do it justice. It is more properly understood as the place of our multiple affiliations, the sense that we all, individually and collectively, have many roots, cultural, religious, geographic, tribal, and so forth. We can never be fully aware of the nature of those affiliations, but they profoundly influence what we are. The name seeks to remind us that all human interactions are strongly influenced and frequently determined by the patterns of our multiple experiences, both through the direct influence of personal experience and through collective experience expressed as stories.
The abstract reads as follows,
In this paper, 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 Cynefin framework is derived from several years of action research into the use of narrative and complexity theory in organizational knowledge exchange, decision-making, strategy, and policy-making. The framework is explained, its conceptual underpinnings are outlined, and its use in group sense-making and discourse is described. Finally, the consequences of relaxing the three basic assumptions, using the Cynefin framework as a mechanism, are considered.
The full paper can be found in PDF format and downloaded here.