Cynefin principles

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As the Cynefin® Framework has evolved, lists of organizing principles or heuristics have also changed. In 2003, thirteen heuristics were roughly grouped into four broad themes. In Cynefin® - Weaving Sense-Making into the Fabric of Our World, Sonja Blignaut reports on a new listing which frames assorted precepts in relation to three over-arching principles.

See the Cynefin® Framework page for background and context.

Embrace messy coherence

Constraints or boundaries create coherence. A sentence makes sense when it exhibits the structure of a particular language (i.e., I am able to determine if it is English or Russian) and roughly follows grammatical rules. However, when these constraints are lacking, it becomes noise, a jumble of words or sounds that make no sense.

— Sonja Blignaut, Cynefin® - Weaving Sense-Making into the Fabric of Our World, Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd.


Playing in tension

Coherent heterogeneity gets at the way Cynefin® values both coherence and difference.

Heuristics not rules

Bounded applicability

Descriptive self-awareness & self-discovery

We create a context where voices are heard, and hold up a mirror so that the ‘system can see itself’ in different and potentially possibly transformative ways.

— Sonja Blignaut, Cynefin® - Weaving Sense-Making into the Fabric of Our World, Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd.


Beware of unintended consequences

Be a mirror not an expert

Timing and Flow

Time and cadence

Flow and patterns

Liminality