The Cynefin Framework Kick Your Decision Making Ability

Have you ever been in a situation where you have to make a decision, but you feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do? That’s where the Cynefin Framework comes in. It’s a decision-making model that helps you understand the complexity of the situation and guides you towards making the best possible decision. 

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In this blog post, I’ll dive deeper into the Cynefin Framework and how it can kick your decision-making ability up a notch. 

So, if you’re ready to improve your decision-making skills, read on! 

What is Cynefin Framework actually is?

Think of it like a map. If you’re trying to find your way to a new place, you need to know where you are on the map first. Then, depending on whether you’re in a city or a forest or a desert, you might use different strategies to get to your destination.

The Cynefin Framework is like that. It helps you figure out where you are on the “map” of decision making. If you’re in a simple situation where the answer is obvious, you can use a straightforward approach. But if you’re in a complicated or complex situation where the answer is not clear, you might need a different strategy.

Suppose, you’re trying to decide what to wear to a party. If you’re going to a fancy dinner party, you might wear a suit or a fancy dress. That’s a simple decision with an obvious answer. But if you’re going to a casual party with people you don’t know well, you might need to use a different strategy to decide what to wear. You might look at pictures from past parties, ask a friend for advice, or try on a few different outfits before making a decision.

So, the Cynefin Framework helps you think about decision making in a similar way, based on the situation you’re in.

The 5 Domains of Cynefin Framework

five domains of the cynefin framework
Image from zenexmachina

The Cynefin Framework has 5 domains: Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic, and Disorder

  1. Simple is when the solution is clear and obvious, like following a recipe. An example, a checklist for a task, like cleaning your room.
  2. Complicated is when the solution requires expertise, like fixing a car. Like hiring a plumber to fix a leaky faucet.
  3. Complex is when there are many factors and unknowns, like dealing with a pandemic. For instance, developing a vaccine for a new virus.
  4. Chaotic is when there is no clear cause-and-effect, like during a natural disaster. Like responding to a sudden earthquake.
  5. Disorder is when it’s unclear which domain the problem falls into.

Recognizing which domain a problem falls into is important because it helps determine the appropriate approach and decision-making process. It also helps avoid inappropriate actions that may make the problem worse. By understanding the Cynefin Framework, you can effectively navigate complex challenges and make better decisions.

I’ll discuss these five domains in brief in my next blogs so stay updated and bookmark my blog.

Two steps to use the cynefin framework

1.Categorize the problem

Start by categorizing the problem you’re facing as simple, complicated, complex, or chaotic.

2. Determine the appropriate approach

Once you’ve categorized the problem, use the framework to determine the appropriate approach. For example, if the problem is simple, you may use a best practice or standard operating procedure. If the problem is complex, you may need to use an iterative approach that involves experimentation and learning.

Few tips to keep in mind when using the framework:

Don’t be afraid to change your approach: It is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s okay to change your approach based on the complexity of the problem you’re facing.

Use the framework in collaboration with others: This framework is most effective when used in collaboration with others. Involve your team or stakeholders in the decision-making process.

Continuously evaluate your approach: Continuously evaluate your approach and be willing to make adjustments as needed. This tool helps you make better decisions, but it’s not a guarantee of success.

Benefits of using this framework

Making decisions involves choosing between different options, each of which may have varying degrees of uncertainty and risk associated with them. 

Uncertainty refers to the lack of knowledge or information about a situation or outcome, while risk refers to the potential negative consequences of a decision. It’s important to understand the level of uncertainty and risk associated with a decision before making a choice, as this can help reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes

The Cynefin Framework can help reduce uncertainty and risk in decision-making. By categorizing a problem as simple, complicated, complex, or chaotic, You can better understand the level of uncertainty associated with the problem. This can help reduce the risk of making decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

At the end, you need to act

It’s important to acknowledge that the Cynefin Framework is not a silver bullet for decision-making. While it can provide a useful framework for understanding complex problems, it is just one tool among many that can be used to make better decisions. It’s important to approach each decision with an open mind and consider a range of perspectives and approaches.

It is not really that complex to make decisions.

You never make good or bad decisions, you just make a decision.


Cynefin Framework is a powerful tool for making better decisions. It allows us to recognize the complexity of our problems and approach them with the appropriate strategy. 

By understanding the different domains of the framework and putting it to work, we can navigate through uncertainty and achieve better outcomes. 

After all, you have to decide one thing, that’s what a decision requires. As I quoted, you never make good or bad decisions, you just make a decision. You can choose one of many things, without knowing the consequences in most of them. So why even overthink at first place?

Don’t overthink, try the Cynefin framework.

Good day💫🏃‍♂️

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