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School Leadership, Leadership, in General, Tools and Resources, Advice and humor
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Cynefin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cynefin /ˈkʌnɨvɪn/ is a Welsh word, which is commonly translated into English as 'habitat' or 'place', although this fails to convey its full meaning. The term was chosen by the Welsh scholar Dave Snowden to describe a perspective on the evolutionary nature of complex systems, including their inherent uncertainty ("The Cynefin framework"). The name serves as a reminder that all human interactions are strongly influenced and frequently determined by our experiences, both through the direct influence of personal experience, as well as through collective experience, such as stories or music.

The framework provides a typology of contexts that guides what sort of explanations or solutions might apply. It draws on research into complex adaptive systems theory, cognitive science, anthropology, and narrative patterns, as well as evolutionary psychology, to describe problems, situations, and systems. It "explores the relationship between man, experience, and context"[1] and proposes new approaches to communication, decision-making, policy-making, and knowledge management in complex social environments.

A more complete translation of 'cynefin' would convey the sense that we all have multiple pasts of which we can only be partly aware: cultural, religious, geographic, tribal etc. The word is sometimes used to describe an environment where a person feels they belong[2][3] or knowledge and sense of place that is passed down the generations.[4] It can also refer to fleeting moments in time: "a place or the time when we instinctively belong or feel most connected. In those moments what lies beneath mundane existence is unveiled and the joy of being alive can overwhelm us."[5]

Sharrock's insight:

This is how I understand complexity--many things happening at different times (sometimes in concert) to produce some kind of outcome. Those dynamic interactions are influenced by some kind of stimuli "outside" of the system. Those stimuli might be lost in the noise of the environment or we may only observe and measure a few of those stimuli. Since we can't account for all of those stimuli, we call a system complex when we don't understand the reason it is behaving the way it does. Within the system, we can do the same kind of thing: we may miss some of the interactions but observe and measure some of those interactions. This limits our abilities to explain the cause/effect relationships that led the behavior, resulting again in our categorizing the system as complex. Ultimately, the system is not understood. For me, the understanding is demonstrated in the ability to establish validity of the model: experimentation, study, simulations, other kinds of testing. If no one can prove a proposed model is valid, then to state a system is simple (understood) should be evaluated as an untrue/unsupported statement. So, true understanding breaks down the confusion of the complex system into the linear interactions of those related parts and simple activities. The issue of understanding adds to the definition of complexity, but doesn't change the fact that the system exists and does what it does, producing the outcomes it does, understood or not. It depends on who is observing the system, because their education and experience and their abilities to use the appropriate tools to explore the system impacts whether a system is complex or merely complicated or any of the other domains. 

So,  we know some things about a system that produces certain outcomes. But we don't adequately understand how all of those things, all of those parts and the characteristics of their interactions, in order to produce the observed outcomes or how to produce specific, desired outcomes. We don't see the whole picture. But we know what we want, what we like, and what we don't want and like. So, we, in effect, jiggle some parts, and watch what happens as a result. What were the outcomes and were they desirable? 

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Avoiding Death by a Thousand Cuts

Sharrock's insight:

"Systems thinking requires us to focus on understanding and influencing the relationships among the organization’s constituent parts rather than addressing the needs of each part separately. That interrelationship is, by its nature, complex and political."

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The infrastructure of longevity — a systems-level perspective of living to 100

The infrastructure of longevity — a systems-level perspective of living to 100 | School Leadership, Leadership, in General, Tools and Resources, Advice and humor | Scoop.it
I really enjoyed reading a recent story in The New York Times Magazine about attempts to understand extreme longevity — the weird tendency for certain populations to have larger-than-average numbers of people who live well into their 90s, if not...
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MyOpinion: Why System Dynamics?

MyOpinion: Why System Dynamics? | School Leadership, Leadership, in General, Tools and Resources, Advice and humor | Scoop.it
Sharrock's insight:

A blogged exploration into why educators need to learn system dynamics. I would like to know how system dynamics is different from system thinking.

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AASA :: Systems Thinking

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