Project Mapping

I’ve recently been introducing colleagues to the Cynefin framework as a tool to help select the appropriate approach to a piece of work. In order to do this I’ve been running a workshop that I’ve been called project mapping and it is based upon an idea I got from Liz Keogh a few years back. The session works like this:

The Cynefin Framework

Prior to the session I have prepared the following:

  1. 5 index cards each with the name of 1 of the Cynefin domains(Disorder, Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaos).
  2. 4 index cards each with the behaviors for 1 of the domains. (e.g. Sense, Categorise, Respond for the Simple domain)
  3. 4 index cards each with the practices for 1 of the domains. (e.g. Best Practice for the Simple domain)
  4. Index cards containing tools, techniques and ways of working(e.g. Scrum, Waterfall, Six Sigma, Kanban, Spikes, Lean Startup…)
  5. Pieces of string to mark out the 5 domains.
  6. A number of index cards containing the names of pieces or work that your organisation have tackled in the past, are currently engaged with or are planning in the future.

I begin the session by constructing the Cynefin framework on a table top. Starting with Disorder I run through the domains Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaos. I explain each domain and lay down the appropriate behavior, practice, and ways of working cards for future reference. As I move through I use the string to divide off each domain.

Project Mapping

Having introduced Cynefin I then present the group with the cards containing pieces of work and ask them to place them into the Cynefin framework. We have found this has highlighted times when we have taken the wrong (or at least we could have taken a better) approach to work in the past. It also presents us with a way of making better decisions on how to approach work in the future.