…every social and climate crisis related issue I’ve worked on! Cynefin framework helped me understand why social innovation, poverty reduction, and food systems often work fails. It starts with an understanding that to work on complex problems like food system change, we need processes that are designed to work in complexity and with emergence because things are always emerging and changing. We need holistic solutions which means we need a diversity of lived experience, testing, knowledge etc. I’m so grateful that I was introduced to this framework by Chris Corrigan and Noulab at the Art of Hosting: Working Across Divides Training.
More specifically, I’ve found the Cynefin model helpful to understand that different kinds of group processes are required for different problems. When I’ve done work within food systems issues, I was working in complexity, but was often encouraged and funded to implement complicated solutions and ask experts for the answer. In some cases processes designed for complicated problems work in small ways, but they don’t have the same depth and breadth of impact as a process designed for complexity and emergence. In systems projects I’m working on now, the process is different. We test things, we invite diverse groups to work together on these problems, we bring difference into the room, we and as much as possible we share back what we learn. The processes involve understanding complex issues through story, empathy interviews, play, nature, music, and with diverse groups of people in every part of the system. This way of working requires experiential activities that help us see challenges differently. I won’t go into this now because I just wanted to share the cynefin framework with you.
For the more visual learners, here’s a fun graphic of the Cynefin Model by Edwin Snoop:
What comes to mind when you see this model? Please comment below.