Chapter Communications Blog

Event report. Understand complexity, playing the Cynefin Playing Cards

Carlos Martinez Arteaga 100x100

Author: Carlos Martinez, PMP

Event Report –Understand complexity and how to navigate it: playing the Cynefin playing cards 

 

On the 24th of August, Bernhard Sterchi presented at the Stücki Hotel in Basel “Understand Complexity. Playing the Cynefin Playing Cards”.

Bernhard is a Management and Leadership expert at Palladio.net. As trainer, consultant and coach he has been working with family businesses, corporations and government organizations. For over 13 years he has been accompanying leaders from middle managers to CEOs and owners in essential transformations of their personal and institutional maturity.

To start, he put the example of avocados and how this fruit (yes, avocados are classified as a fruit) came from being an unknown to the world, to becoming and highly desired fruit, with a sudden increase demand that affected the supply chain in ways never seen before, along with environmental issues such as the amount of water required to grow this fruit. The complexity related to this “discovery” could have been approached using the Cynefin framework.

Cynefin enables managers to identify how they perceive situations, and to make sense of their own and other people's behaviour.

We as humans can solve very complex situations, but to become more effective in dealing with these we have to learn how to manage them, Cynefin, pronounced kun-EV-in, is a methodology developed by Dave Snowden in 1999, when he worked at IBM, that enables managers to identify how they perceive situations, and to make sense of their own and other people's behaviour.

Cynefin offers five contexts or "domains" of decision-making: complex, complicated, chaotic, obvious and disorder (the center).

 

The obvious domain represents the "known knowns". With tight constraints, no degree of freedom whatsoever and solved with best practices. Obvious problems are first sensed, the categorized and finally responded. You typically do that when you apply a standard solution to a standard problem.

The complicated domain consists of the "known unknowns". With governing constraints tightly coupled, and with good practice. Complicated subjects are first sensed, then analyzed and finally responded. This is typically done when a project includes analysis, concept, and implementation.

The complex domain represents the "unknown unknowns". With enabling constraints loosely coupled and with an emergent practice. In complex situations you have to start by probing, or experimenting, then sensing what works and what doesn’t and finally responded to by amplifying what works, and dampening what doesn’t, until you meet the next shift of pattern.

In the chaotic domain, cause and effect are unclear, here the events are too confusing to wait for a knowledge based response. These lack any constraint, are de-coupled and require a novel practice. In chaotic situations you are forced to act immediately, then you may sense how successful you are, and hopefully respond by improving your action.

The dark disorder domain in the center represents situations where there is no clarity about which of the other domains apply.

The presentation was set up as a workshop, to get the full flavor of what Cynefin really was all about.

The attendants were grouped in tables, with a set of cards and a dashboard to work with, the dashboard is called “Complexity Manager’s Compass”

As it is usual in the PMI events, the pace was fast, very fast, as the groups rallied to the set of cards, discussing within the groups the answers to later write down in the compass the agreed answer/s.

The cards took the attendants through questions about common and day to day situations.

The cards were grouped into chapters, starting very simple, and becoming more complex over time.

The first chapter was about exploring the difference between complex and ordered environments.

Then we moved to understanding the need to keep order within an industrial production context, and different ways to bridge the gap towards the customer’s expectations, which are most often complex.

From there, we started exploring different concepts with which to describe complex systems, some of which were little familiar to most of us. But since we did so discussing a situation which each of us could imagine, we were able to apply the concepts quickly.

Next, we explored the use of the Cynefin framework, and its application, in this case, to shopping experiences.

To conclude our learning journey, we explored several principles of how to behave in complex environments, and applied them to all the situations we had discussed in the previous chapters.

The key take ways from the workshop were:

-We cannot control everything and should focus on what is really important to solve.

-When dealing with complexity we should try to see the complete picture

-Solutions should be thought through

-Understand and verify pre-assumptions

I must say I really enjoyed the event, and I think most of the attendants did. I found it very eye opening, and would strongly recommend others to try it and to dig deeper into the application of this framework in solving complex situations.

 

Regards,

 

Carlos Martinez

 


 

 

 

Message from the Board. September 2017

Irina Petkova

Author: Irina Petkova

Dear Members and Newsletter Subscribers,

 

I have once again the privilege to share with you my thoughts and I will continue with the theme on volunteering.

At the beginning of the year I was confessing to you my personal experience and why I was volunteering for PMI-CH Chapter. This time I will go broader and will try to urge you to truly see the reason why we as human beings should consider really seriously “giving back” to the society we live, in any forms we find it relevant to us.

You may ask why I am using the PMI-CH Message from the Board platform to talk about this and the answer is very simple. Before being members to anything we are individuals on this earth who now unfortunately observe every single day tragedies conducted by other individuals happening just next to us. The main objective of any organization is to stay relevant and to try to contribute positively to the surrounding environment. As you know we are volunteers driven association and as I firmly believe that serving to others voluntary makes us better people that can strive to make the world a greater place, I feel I have the responsibility and should use this opportunity to persuade you even more in the volunteering challenge.

I am sure many can find excuses of too much work or other duties whenever someone asks them would you be interested in volunteering. Or those that agree are triggered mainly by personal aspirations for growth, which was my initial reason as well by the way.

But my message to you today is do not look for excuses or self-driven ambitions, just think that we are all here for limited amount of time and how our lives and those of our children will be depend mainly on our joint efforts to serve compassionately and passionately to each other. So whether you decide to volunteer to our Chapter that will help our Project Managers community to flourish and like that be beneficial to all of us, or to volunteer in a completely different area where you feel you can contribute and make a difference for good, be sure that all matter and every single simple effort brings us closer to the world we want to live in.

And last but not least it is good to remind ourselves that  “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson. J

 

I wish you all the best and good luck in your journeys!

 

Irina Petkova

VP Professional Development

 

 

Editorial. September 2017

Carlos Martinez Arteaga 100x100

Author: Carlos Martinez, PMP

Dear Members and Newsletter Subscribers,

In this month's editorial I would like ot talk about professional development.

"You have to leave the comfort zone" to progress in work and to be closer to satisfying professional ambitions and most probably also personal.

Many of us have heard this before, a phrase that invites us to abandon a hypothetical comfort and routine in which we are submerged, and which prevents us from posing truly motivating goals with a true impact.

I have read, that psychologically, the comfort zone is a state of mind where the person remains passive before their life experiences, and finds relief in a smooth routine, it has been described as "the board of our circumstances, of the reasonable, of what we are expected to do. Everything that makes us feel comfortable and well. "

It is therefore welfare something that plays against professional progress? It seems that being in a hypothetical area of ​​comfort is not something negative, but limiting. It distances us from another area where there may be learning, growth or development and whose exploration is fundamental to acquire new knowledge.

We may have also heard that the term comfort has come to be identified as indolence or inertia, and to be used as a "throwing weapon against workers".

Others like to explain it by giving a positive turn to the definition or perception of comfort zone, and defining it as the area where one is motivated, the place where one has reasons to do what he/she wants to do and they feel good, not accommodated or demoralized.

In this regards it is the task of a manager to define contexts and objectives where people are satisfied, and a balance between three elements: a fair level of anxiety, an optimal activation and an efficient and profitable performance for the business. Because an excess of stress, caused by the uncertainty that generates a radical change, will play against the worker.

Each worker has their own aspirations, their personal contexts and their respective obligations. Therefore, each one has its priorities and its particular zone of comfort, there is no magic recipe that can be given without taking into account the individual character of each case.This may vary according to each indivudual's reality, values, goals, there are a number of variables that influence its definition. There may be motives that make sense for us to stay in it at any given time, because what we can gain can be more or less than what we already have.
 
At the end, it is up to us to decide what we want and want we want to do about it, this may require a little push, therefore I recommend to share this with someone we know will listen to us and will provide good feedback.

I leave it there...

Keep enjoying the weather and of course the newsletter.


Regards,


Carlos

Copy Editor

Managing Newsletter content during Summer period

 

Daniel Rodellar

Managing Newsletter content during Summer period

Author: Daniel Rodellar, PMP 

 

Summer period is a challenging period for the Newsletter team because PMI events are paused during summer, so it means less articles are available, and the team takes some days off, which decreases availability. We are missing content and resources, so it creates a very complicated situation to publish, on the usual first Monday of the month.

This is what happened to our August newsletter, and it is like what happens in almost all organizations during summer period. In our case, we are not obliged to deliver on a specific date, so we could just delay it to get enough content and the right people on board. We have this flexibility and that has saved us.

 

Summer is a less stressful period, if it is well planned. Everybody knows that during this period most of us are scheduling holidays, so it would not be realistic to think we can things done like when everyone is available. So, everything slows down. It may be a good period to get things done, these tasks that are only depending on us can be done now more efficiently and get less interruptions.

I have personally also that there is also a good opportunity to review the different newsletters that I received. I usually filter newsletters on a special folder. When I have some free time or while commuting I try to read them, to be updated on the products, shops and services I like. During summer period is a great opportunity to read them all, in a fast reading spirit, and if something catches my eyes, I'll search or click forward. Recently I have subscribed to a Beta Tester trial because I learnt it via the product newsletter. I will be happy to help customize the future products based on my feedback and usage.

Probably you have some other habits during summer (apart from relaxing and enjoying vacations!) and I would be curious to know what else do you do specially during summer period? (this article is also going to be posted on Linkedin PMI Switzerland page, so that we can get your feedback).

Best regards, and enjoy the summer!

Daniel Rodellar
PMI Switzerland Publications Director

Message from the Board. August 2017

Serge biz

Author: Serge Garazzi

Dear Project Managers,

Hope that you are enjoying your holiday and, should you not be in the position at this time, that you are ... getting ready to grab one in September!

A short note from the Department Operations, the Department that I am heading at PMI Switzerland.

Shortly before the holiday, we migrated email hosting to Gmail. Some of you may say "so, what?". Our Volunteers will value this migration, as we now have a state-of-the-art hosting, which ensures reliable email delivery. Which was unfortunately not the case with the previous hosting provider.

The migration went well, thanks to the Technology Team at PMI Switzerland!

Another innovation which will concern all, Volunteers or not: Email push lists. We will shortly turn on the possibility to receive notifications of upcoming events when they are published. Like this, you can be proactively informed and can secure your seat early. An email list for job opportunities will also be provided, for Chapter Members only, though. A(nother) good reason to join the Chapter, if you haven't yet done so.

The PMI Switzerland bylaws have been ported to the new format and have been approved by the Members. Thanks to Martin Vesely and Sumon Vangchuay for making it happen and to all of you who voted.

Last point: have you already attended a PM Lunch or PM Afterwork drinks event? If not, why not give it a try during the Summer? Please check the Events calendar for the next occurrence in your location!

Enjoy Summer and see you at an event soon!

Kind regards,

Serge Garazi

VP Operations