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CYNEFIN Framework by Dave Snowden
CYNEFIN Framework by Dave Snowden

If you ask for BestPractice in a VUCA context > likely to FAIL

Best Practice is perfect to learn from each other, no doubt. The reason I use this drastic title, because of the experience that even in complex culture, transformation or market situations, we seem to „only“ want this one perfect solution, we can role out in a standardized way – one size fits all – top down… hoping „Best Practice“ means it will drive „best“ results anywhere.

Whenever we feel uncertain, we ask for simple answers. We are conditioned, to reduce complicated things to simple ones. OnePager, Elevator Pitch, KPI (Key Performance Indicators), ROI (Return On Investment), Traffic Light reporting… Nothing wrong, if we are in a simple and maybe in a complicated environment. As the CYNEFIN Framework shows, if you have more than one effects/solutions to one problem or cause (in complicated systems) – it already „depends“ which practice fits.

If you are in a volatile, dynamic, uncertain, ambigue system – there is no best practice – can’t be – as such environments are constantly changing and depending on many frame conditions.


Dave Snowden perfectly describes it:

  1. Best Practice = Past Practice (dangerous in Volatile environment)
  2. Best Practice = successful in simple but fails in Complex context
  3. Best Practice = cause/effect is clear – VUCA lacks that Clarity
  4. Best Practice = collective understanding; Ambiguity = opposite
  5. Best Practice = denies Diversity, time, changing frame conditions


It is never too late, to read and understand the CYNEFIN framework 😉

CYNEFIN Framework by Dave Snowden
CYNEFIN Framework by Dave Snowden

Here the original article from 2007, when CYNEFIN was first introduced:

Solution approach

The best way to solve complext tasks – is by experimenting together: (probe > sense > respond)

learn from and with each other – is by transparent experimenting, establishing a sharing culture based on an Enterprise Social Network (open channels, where networks can grow and resonate)

Still not with the aim to find „the one best solution“, but finding OPTIONS, relevant solutions, local fits or suitable variants – evolving with the environment or stakeholders.

Decentralization and Empowerment is key.

The message no longer is „reduce“ to create a simple „one size fits all“ solution to be „roled out“, but learning how to cope with complexity, options, transparency, sharing, networking…and to leverage the richness and power of diversity what a great opportunity to learn!