Cynefin Two-Pager

Cynefin Domains

A little two-pager to explain the basics of the Cynefin framework. Liminality is mostly left out.

I’m using it in workshops. Licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

[Updated 2021-01-30 – Changed to “confused” domain and “exaptive” practice.]

Download the PDF file here.

Everyday Solution Focus

We’re investing time into preparing meetings and other kinds of hosted events. We want them to be productive and positive.

What about the other 80% of our work time?

Here’s a list of ten simple solution-focused things we can say, at almost no cost, whenever we’re talking with people about things that matter.

Wish you lots of success and fun while tryingย  – and please let me know in the comments what worked for you, what similar things you’ve succeeded with in the past, and how these can be made to work even better.

A. Connect respectfully

  • Could you help me out with something, please?
  • Do you have a minute for me?
  • I’d like to discuss an idea with you – can we talk about it, this afternoon?

B. Ask for visions

  • If that change happened, what improvements may become possible?
  • Specifically what would make you aware that things have changed for the better?
  • How would others notice that things have changed for the better?

C. Ask for what we’d like to see or have, instead

  • Where were you heading, when that problem stopped you?
  • What would we like to see more of?
  • What would you love to do, instead?

D. Foster positive feelings of anticipation

  • What would that mean to your motivation?
  • How would you feel like, if that happened?
  • How would this inspire you?

E. Ask what’s in it, for everybody

  • How would this fulfill the purpose?
  • What would you need to make you feel like getting involved?
  • What would be the benefits for you and your team?

F. Ask what’s already working

  • Where or when is this already working?
  • What’s different, there or then?
  • How could we create more of these “different” places or moments?

G. Include people, right from the start

  • How does this situation look like, to you?
  • Can we figure out together where we want to go?
  • What’s the first step we should take towards our goal?

H. Focus on resources and successes

  • How did we make it to here?
  • What might be our next step forward?
  • Which baby steps would yield the most noticeable wins?

I. Ask what our confidence needs

  • What would really boost our confidence that we’ll achieve this goal?
  • What would raise your confidence to the next level?
  • What will be first small signs of success?

J. Make agreements express and friendly

  • Can we agree on that?
  • Can we do this experiment?
  • I’d like to get this done. Will you help me?

Bonus item

Try “What for…” whenever you want to say “Why…” – and feel the difference it makes!

Pragmatic Teams

What kind of people would you like to have on your team?

What’s the hallmark of a great team?

It is pragmatic. It sticks with a few, timeless principles:

If it works, it’s right

Something is relevant only if it makes a difference. And it’s right if it works today, all things considered. Realize when something is good enough, and let go. What matters is the net result for the team, not your individual advantage or result.

Always in medias res

Don’t aim the duck to death. It’s not enough to think about your first step, you need to make it. Make sure you can confidently change your direction, at all times. Get open, honest feedback from people, and from machines alike. Save yourself unnecessary drama and sloppiness that requires heroism to clean up – there are enough genuine opportunities for you and your team to prove your talents.

You’re never alone

Respect each member of your team and respect the team as a whole. Teams aren’t anonymous, and neither are you. Customers are part of the team, even though their expectations are ranked higher than yours.

Only a team that’s intact can give you energy. It’s only the net result for the team that matters, and you’re responsible for it. Everything around you that breaks, is broken or stays broken will sooner or later become your individual problem.

Love and learn your profession

Enjoy being an apprentice, a journey-level person,ย  and a master, all at the same time. It’s not a matter of age or of status, but of curiosity, of practice, and of experience. The person who determines your worth is essentially you.

As an apprentice, practice the basics thoroughly, learn how to use the tools of the trade and follow the rules. Choose your masters wisely. As a journey-level person, keep looking for solutions and alternatives. Never forget that you’ll always stay an apprentice, as well. As a master, become a source of inspiration. Never forget that you’ll always stay an apprentice, and a journey-level person as well. Choose your limits wisely.