Can the Cynefin model help in matters of the heart?
Quite a while
ago, the so-called Cynefin model (from the Welsh word meaning “habitat”)
achieved quite a bit of notoriety. It is a typology of a system or project that
provides a clue as to what kind of explanations and/or solutions apply or might
be helpful in uncertain contexts.
The model is
divided into four categories or contexts: simple, chaotic, complex and
Now from time
to time I too use one of those platforms where you can tell other people
something (about yourself). On this particular platform I was told someone I
knew had updated his or her relationship status to “complicated”.
It would be easy to fill our blog with just a list of events and topics that depress you. Here’s just a sample: Climate change, populism, the refugee problem and our response, political “leaders”, fake news, hate speech, consumer waste, knife crime, endangered species, insect decimation, locusts in Africa, child abuse, hunger, sex discrimination, obesity, Brexit, plastic in whales’ stomachs, Trump’s inability to put a sentence together without the words “wonderful” or “beautiful”, floods, fires and now a deadly virus. It’s enough to make you want to emigrate – but where to???
If you want a breath of fresh air and the chance to say to yourself, “Pull yourself together!”, then this is the book you need. Hans Rosling (1948-2017), Swedish head of the Division of International Health at Karolinska Institutet and advisor to the WHO and UNESCO, co-founder of Médecins sans Frontières, combines his experience and knowledge of world health with statistics. Sounds dry and boring, doesn’t it!
I told you about the “eco etiquette” and my attempt to reduce my own
ecological footprint. In the meantime I have changed a number of processes and
products in my everyday life and I am still in the process of finding out how
big its effect might be. It is a complex undertaking… For some issues it is
made easy for me: there is a credible book, an expert or a reputable website
that can help. In other areas it is more complicated.
of this is the matter of how you would like to organize your parting from the
Earth. Is there an “green” burial? You start at the end, so to speak,
but everyone has to consider it eventually, so why not now? In addition to the
relevant literature, I discovered a fascinating source of information on this
subject: the local crematorium organised an open day.
The two-part article “Too much bloody choice!” (published on 21st and 28th February 2020) ignited an impassioned discussion in the Harlequin team. We wondered whether it was an issue that affects all sections of the population or just the 50+ generation. Therefore, we were curious to hear the younger generation’s view. We are very happy to post a guest contribution by Ricarda Fillhardt, who looks at the “agony of choice” from a different perspective. Ricarda is a student and currently lives in Edinburgh.
I certainly doubt an excess of choice makes us happy. Just last week I spent so much time trying to decide what to watch on Netflix that it was too late once I had (semi-content) settled on a film and went to bed instead. I also recently decided to treat myself to a wellness day on my birthday and must have spent hours on tripadvisor trying to find the best option in the vast amount of saunas and wellness centres my home town had to offer. However, this rarely occurs to me as a problem. I grew up with choice.
After spending months digitising my CD’s I decided to go for streaming as Tidal offered lossless sound quality and almost infinite choice of rock, jazz, blues and classical music. They even have stuff I recorded off Radio Luxembourg on AM with the signal fading regularly on a tape recorder! At first it was paradise – listen to virtually anything you want, when you want without the risk of buying a CD (or an LP) for a fair bit of money and discovering you don’t really like it. But after a while I got the “Ben and Jerry’s” again: instead of examining my limited number of discs and deciding on the strength of the cover or the memory of the disc’s contents as I’d played it so often, I was again stumped by the infiniteness of it all.
When I was a kid if you had any choice at all it was “Take it or leave it”. As time progressed, we actually got BBC Home Service (for topical events, Women’s Hour, the original soap “The Archers” and half-hour comedies), the Third Programme (heavy culture) and the Light Programme (for music Dads and Grandads appreciated) on what we called the wireless.
I can first remember being utterly flummoxed by the range of choice when visiting Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory in Vermont years ago. After an entertaining tour including us having answer questions with “moo” instead of “yes” we queued up to get ice cream. From a distance we could make out the numerous varieties, most of which were new to us then, so we pondered which to choose.
Clarification: Since we are now trying to better understand companies and organizations as living organisms, what appealed to me about this posting was turning the highly topical and much sought-after characteristic of agility into a person – Agililly. With the constant indispensable companion and pioneer Scrummy in the role of Scrum Master – a mostly overworked and often ignored evangelist for the necessary principles and practices. The fact that the scene takes place in a hospital should not really come as a surprise.
This is a new text from our “guest writer” Christoph Henties.
A chorus on strategy
is not recognized.
is not formulated.
is not proclaimed.
is not understood.
is not agreed.
is not felt.
Felt is not…!”
are a jazz or classical music fan, love pulsating swing or soulful ballads,
everyone can musically intonate the above chorus, the “strategy song”,
in their own way. And as a rule, harmonies and songs, especially if you like
them, become a catchy tune in your memory – they play themselves, so to speak,
almost involuntarily recurring in your “spiritual ear”. How nice it
would be if this metaphor also applied to companies‘ extensively elaborated
Are the common approaches to risk management in projects still up to date?
I think not.
In a world
in which more change takes place every day than in the whole of 1880, the
almost exclusive focus on what is known and experienced is de facto pure
arrogance paired with ignorance (and this also applies to Central Switzerland).
iterative approaches such as Scrum, which are rightly said to be better suited
to rapid change and high complexity, provide only partial concrete answers.
Shorter sprints and transparency about the state of the delivery outcomes are
very helpful, but do not turn a turkey into a visionary yet.
But how can
we position ourselves in projects in such a way that we are better prepared for
unknown unknowns, or perhaps even draw something positive from them?
Now, for a
change, a topic in which satirical exaggeration is not so easy for me.
be the reason? Maybe the topic is simply too close to my heart, too important
to me. Also, I have not yet completely penetrated it myself, thought it through
to the end, internalized it. At least that’s what my gut tells me.
question the title again. Shouldn’t it actually be “I” instead of
“you” (or at least “we”)? But it’s OK. After all, I already
have a certain advantage, because I have already dealt with it. That’s enough of
doubt. What is it about? It’s about risk management.