Following up on the Cynefin and Sense-Making course…

Published by Tony Quinlan on

Last week saw the last Cynefin and Sense-Making (CSM) courses of the year, Dave and I sharing the presenting/facilitating duties.  A full room of different backgrounds and nationalities, which kept everything interesting – lessons and applications getting swapped across sectors and countries.

Following up is always a challenge – so much intense material often needs some time to settle.  And I’m a big believer in putting some of the exercises to use to discover how best to use them – as I said last week, I can give some examples and indications but there are always more…

For practitioners and facilitators, the advice is simple enough:

  • Run the exercise the first time with a “tame” audience – one that isn’t going to give you a hard time if it doesn’t magically transform the world or if there are problems.  For some of my first experiences, I used my own team (Ritual Dissent), the local school governors (Future Backwards), a local voluntary organisation (Anecdote Circles).
  • Use the method papers and follow the instructions carefully the first few times.  There’s no harm in adapting/exapting later, but only after you’ve discovered the critical elements and can recover from problems. (For instance, I’ve learned that in Future Backwards one instruction at a time is critical – as I’ve blogged about before.)
  • It’s more effective to run it yourself and then ask questions rather than observe someone else’s practice – the old apprentice model comes into play.  Make the mistakes and ask for advice is better than copying someone else’s practice when it may not be apparent why they’re doing something…

And as I promised last week on the course – this Friday there are a bunch of 30-minute slots available to talk on Skype.  That’s something I plan to do more of in 2015.  (If you want one of the remaining slots, email Dawn Lincoln at )


And for those who didn’t make it to the courses this time around, the schedule for the first half of 2015 will be announced this week – watch the Cognitive Edge website for details.