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Cynefin Framework Template

Navigate different types of problems and guide your decision-making.

About the Cynefin Framework template

What does “Cynefin” mean?

“Cynefin” is the Welsh word for “habitat.”

What is the Cynefin Framework?

The Cynefin Framework allows you to think through a situation and understand the appropriate response to it. It outlines five domains, Obvious, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic, and Disorder. The Obvious domain encompasses situations you’ve seen before, and for which you have best practices. The Complicated domain applies to situations in which you don’t know what’s happening, but you possess the skills necessary to analyze the situation and figure out what must be done. In Chaotic situations, the environment is unstable and you must act quickly. The Disorder domain describes any situation in which you are unable to determine the nature of the environment. The framework provides a model for a leader’s behavior in each domain. 

How is the Cynefin Framework set up?

There are five domains in the Cynefin Framework: obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic, and disorder. Obvious problems are well understood and their solutions are evident, so they can be solved by applying a well-known, potentially scripted solution. With complicated problems, you generally have a sense of your questions that need to be answered. To solve these types of problems, you can apply expert knowledge and decide what to do next. With complex problems, there’s a lot you don’t know—you aren’t even sure which questions to ask. To solve complex problems, you’ll need to experiment, evaluate, and gather more knowledge. With chaotic problems, your immediate priority is to contain them and then find a long-term solution. Disorder refers to the space in the middle of the framework. If you don’t know where you are in the framework, you’re currently in Disorder, and your priority is to move to one of the other domains.   

When would you use the Cynefin Framework?

The Cynefin Framework is a powerful, flexible model of behavior. You can use the template any time you need to categorize a problem or decision and figure out the appropriate response. Many organizations use the framework to aid in product development, marketing plans, and organizational strategy.

The framework is also useful in responding to a crisis or any unforeseen event. Use the template to train new hires on how to react to such an event or to run through worst-case scenarios.

Cynefin Framework Template

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