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It’s Complicated

Set of icons vector development, simple and complex way of development, optimization of the process, complex and simple

Most of us, I think, would agree that the current situation can best be defined as a "hot mess".

But what KIND of a hot mess? Are we living in complete chaos?

It certainly feels that way at times...yet as our discussions at the weekly Learn and Get Smarter community meetings show, many of us are starting to find our way out of the initial chaos the pandemic has caused literally every single person on the face of the earth.

We've been sharing coping strategies, serendipitous discoveries, and powerful pivots that have forced us all to engage in learning opportunities we never would have otherwise considered.

(Yours truly, for example, is learning how to unclog  a sink drain. Which for anyone who has ever known me, is truly mind-boggling).

Learning is the process of adapting to one's environment in ways that promote survival, and the Covid19 pandemic is probably the most challenging learning situation our planet has faced, ever.

Coping effectively is literally a matter of life and death on every level, from the physical to the financial to the societal. 

But what, exactly, are we coping with? Is it in fact chaos?

At last Saturday's community meeting Janice Fingler ​ treated us to a  presentation on the Cynefin framework, originated by Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge.

Janice shared her in-depth expertise on dealing with extreme uncertainty in high-stakes situations. 

To learn more about Janice's fascinating work, visit her website at https://jfingler.com/.  Although initially targeted towards project managers in the mining industry, Janice is now opening up her services to help experts in other fields grow their readiness to respond to changing risk.

She does that by deploying the strategies and approaches used by gold explorers...these strategies help anyone living "in the wilds" (as we all are, these days)  make more confident decisions.

 She has graciously allowed me to share the following example illustration of some aspects of the Cynefin framework, that she created for the meeting, with all of us:

A diagram of the Cynefin Framework

Janice explained that conditions of chaos tend to be unstable and don't last long, modulating into systems that are either complex, complicated, or clear and obvious.  

In the wake of the initial chaos caused by the pandemic, many things that once seemed clear and obvious no longer do. 

It seemed like we had stability in clear and obvious routines, supply chains, systems, and ways of doing things. But we’re finding that many no longer work, no longer serve us, or no longer even exist following the blast of chaos the pandemic produced.

As we emerge from chaos, many of us are now experiencing the world around us as complex. We are working hard on finding ways to create new levels of order that include the types of complicated structures needed to facilitate problem solving under conditions of uncertainty and risk.

The journey towards order, that we crave as humans, isn’t so simple and direct now. The challenge of Covid19 has actually given us a gift, of teaching us that we need to embrace the disordered, non-linear and unpredictable world we actually live in and will continue to live in – rather than the more simplistic and straightforward "reality" we thought we lived in.   

We then talked about family-level solutions we are exploring in our own lives, whether for taking care of the very young, the very old, or finding new ways to work while also restructuring family interactions.

Some questions we asked include:

  • How can we take care of our own needs while also taking care of others?
  • How can we  start implementing systems that deal with the new demands, and also protect our work space and time?
  • Is there any way we can outsource some of the work?
  • Are there ways in which this new reality is GOOD for our business?
  • If so what are those ways and how can we optimize them?

We'll explore that last question in depth at next week's community meeting.

Come share YOUR insights and expertise as we continue to reflect on cognitive strategies we can apply to help us learn and get smarter in the face of uncertainty and risk.

The Cynefin framework is certainly a powerful  tool for doing that, and Janice's presentation deepened our ability to think outside the box in these uncertain times, helping us move closer to turning challenges into opportunities.

Join us on Saturday, May 16th, 2020


9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern


Join us at next week's community meeting to continue the conversation!

many people online in a conference call