In an age of information overloading, strategic thinking and network leadership, augmented by technological improvement, District of Lake Country staff are finding new solution seeking tools to address the complex situation the community is facing these days.
Four of Lake Country managers became Cognitive Edge accredited practitioners (see www.cognitive-edge.com) to facilitate solutions for complex issues through what is called the Cynefin framework, which is a model used to describe problems, situations and systems. The model provides a typology of contexts that guides what sort of explanations and/or solutions may apply. Cynefin is a Welsh word, which, in a broad sense, conveys the meaning that we all have multiple pasts of which we can only be partly aware: cultural, religious, geographic, tribal etc. The term was chosen by the Welsh scholar Dave Snowden to illustrate the evolutionary nature of complex systems, including their inherent uncertainty. The name is a reminder that all human interactions are strongly influenced and frequently determined by our experiences, both through the direct influence of personal experience, and through collective experience, such as stories.
“We came across the Cynefin framework through one of our councillors, who, in turn, had been made aware by a ph.D. candidate at UBCO” said Chief Administrative Officer Alberto De Feo, “The most interesting part of the framework is the ability to use the information and define it without prejudging the source or the outcome. It is “making sense” of stories that collectively describe issues while at the same time revealing possible solutions and ways forward.”
The framework is the foundation to many Cognitive Edge methods that assist in gathering and interpreting narrative data in the context of social systems in such a way that they are situated in one of five domains: simple, complicated, complex, chaotic, or disorder. Once data and perspectives are understood at a deeper systemic and phenomenological level , the ‘pieces’ of the issues and the solutions can be identified and tackled according to whether they belong to one of those five realms.
“Now that we have a number of managers accredited to use these tools, we have created a working team that will facilitate the discussion and solution-seeking for major complex issues we are facing.” De Feo said “In particular, we are going to target aging infrastructure problems, major development application that seem to be controversial, and other community complex issues that need more participation from different and diverse stakeholders from the community.”