Our Approach

Our clients work in complex environments, ones where their old ways of doing business or providing service no longer seem to apply. They can usually answer an emphatic “Yes!” to one or more of the following questions:

• Seeing a changing and confusing landscape?
• Hoping for underlying patterns in the current mess?
• Looking for a bigger picture that makes sense of it all?
• Seeking help in identifying next steps?

If these issues sound familiar, we may be able to assist you in decision making. Our perspective and approach encompass complexity, narrative, and sensemaking. At the core, we utilize the SenseMaker® software and methodology offered by Singapore-based Cognitive Edge (CE).


The foundation for this approach is the Cynefin Framework (see above). The Framework has a rich intellectual history that can be traced, at least with the benefit of retrospective linearity, from classical control theory, through such management models as John Boyd’s OODA loop and Stephan Haeckel’s Sense and Respond, to Max Boisot’s I-Space.

Dave Snowden, the founder of CE, made the fundamental advance of merging elements of those older strategic and conceptual models with constraints from complex adaptive systems. If this is all new to you, please begin by watching Dave’s video (below) on ‘How to organize a children’s party’ (3:25). It will give you a new appreciation for the distinctions among chaotic, ordered, and complex systems.

The Cynefin Framework was further refined with the collaboration of Cynthia Kurtz while she and Dave were both at IBM and then subsequently at Cognitive Edge. Dave has continued to iterate and fine tune the Framework, most recently bringing it to the attention of the Agile software development community.

Cynefin Framework

This picture provides an excellent way to grasp the nature of an organization’s problems as well as clarify potential solutions. We can guide you through the Framework to understand your environment — obvious (simple), complicated, complex, or chaotic — and help you see which test-and-respond actions are most appropriate for you in the near- and long-term.

We have used this approach over the past decade, both as a CE-Accredited Practitioner with our own clients and as a contractor to Cognitive Edge, working with its clients and its Practitioner Network. We continue to be available both independently and through CE, as this list of selected recent projects and clients shows.

Narrative and Sensemaking

There are two important aspects of understanding what we could do for you — colloquially, the “why-do” and “how-to” of sensemaking:
  • Perspective — the why of sensemaking; and
  • Services — the how of sensemaking.