Without understanding the Cynefin model it will be difficult to comprehend Bridging Lanka’s way of thinking and operating. The model outlines two domains on the unpredictable ‘dark side’, aptly termed ‘chaos’ and ‘complex’, and two domains on the more certain ‘light’ side – ‘knowable’ and ‘known’. Bridging Lanka’s niche is on the dark side. In the midst of ‘wicked problems’ thousands of hours must go into understanding at some depth the many chaotic events that present themselves – wars, communal conflict, disasters. Most agencies cannot invest the time and resource in ‘going to ground’ over the long-term to gain the deep insight needed to develop effective responses to ‘wicked problems’. This makes us fluid, agile and experimental in nature.
The Cynefin framework has five domains. The first four domains are:
- Chaotic: in which there is no relationship between cause and effect at systems level, the approach is to Act – Sense – Respond and we can discover novel practice.
- Complex: in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance, the approach is to Probe – Sense – Respond and we can sense emergent practice.
- Knowable: in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or some other form of investigation and/or the application of expert knowledge, the approach is to Sense – Analyze – Respond and we can apply good practice.
- Known: in which the relationship between cause and effect is obvious to all, the approach is to Sense – Categorise – Respond and we can apply best practice.
The fifth domain is Disorder, which is the state of not knowing what type of causality exists, in which state people will revert to their own comfort zone in making a decision. In full use, the Cynefin framework has sub-domains, and the boundary between simple and chaotic is seen as a catastrophic one: complacency and superficial response lead to failure.