Knowledge Management Cynefin to Understand Term Paper

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In their analysis they used the Cynefin framework for sense-making. This started with disputing the universality of three basic assumptions that control practices and to a lesser extent theories of decision-making and policy formulation in organizations. (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world)

The earlier theories have certain basic assumptions. The first among these are the assumption of order. This assumes that there are underlying relations between cause and effect in all human communications and markets, all of which are capable of being found and separately verified. As a result of these assumptions, it was possible to lay down prescriptive and predictive models and design methods to permit us to attain goals. This implied that if one understood or determined any causal links in past behavior, then it would permit the person to define "best practice" for future behavior. This clearly implied that there is always a right or ideal way of doing things. The second theory was the assumption of rational choice. This means that when faced with a choice between one or more alternatives, humans have to make a "rational" decision on the basis of only their understanding of the choices to minimize pain or maximize pleasure.

When this concept is extended to groups, individual and collective behavior can be managed through the manipulation of pain or pleasure outcomes and through information that will make those consequences evident. The third basic assumption was one of intentional capability. What this means is that when there is an acquisition of capability it is also points to an intention to use that capability. After this, the actions from competitors, populations, nation states, communities, or any other groups that are under consideration are due to the original intentional behavior. In effect, the assumption is that every "blink" of eyes that we see are "winks" and we should act accordingly. For our own actions we are willing to understand that that we do things by accident, but assume that others do things deliberately. (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world)

All organizations also must know what they have to do when changes will come. The training in this aspect is most important for the deciding group. Often it is sufficient to take only the leadership of the organization into a chaotic environment. It is important for them to know that the environment is chaotic for humans manage boundary transitions through rituals that make them aware of the transition, and will become equally aware of their new roles, responsibility and social mores associated with the new space that they will meet. (Complex Acts of Knowing: Paradox and Descriptive Self-Awareness)

Chaos is not unusual. In Enuma Elish, which is the Babylonian epic of creation, the world began under the reign of Tiamat, or the mother of all things. In Tiamat's world, at that time, "none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained." Then there were a few generations, and Tiamat's god-children appointed a champion in order to seize control of the world. The god-child of Tiamat, Marduk not only defeated the ancestor, but "split her up like a flat fish into two halves" and those halves became heaven and earth. This may be viewed as a fight between order and disorder and thus it is clear that the forces of order and chaos existed with each other throughout ancient times. All these attitudes changed when the concept of ordered science came and caused a massive growth in human knowledge. (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world)

The effects were spread over many disciplines. As an example, sociology grew out of philosophy and this was an attempt to create a "science of society" that could duplicate the advances being made in physics and biology through a process of systematic observation and causal explanation. It was argued by many philosophers of that time that it was theoretically possible to discover laws similar to those of physics that would provide the explanation of the behavior of people in societies. The growth of technology and the dominance of engineering-based approaches started from the need for automation. For the implementation of processes of automation and increases in scalability there was the requirement for order. In popular literature, the belief that all things can be known was the general feeling and this feeling continued well into the twentieth century.

In the meantime there was the development of management science, and that started from stopwatch-carrying Taylor to business process reengineering. This also carried a firm belief that systems were ordered and it would take just some time and resources before the relationships between cause and effect could be discovered. This can be seen in the case study approach of many M.B.A. programs and the demand for precise recommendations from policy teams and external consultants. These also reflect the underlying concept of universal order. This leads to good leadership being linked to certain competences that can be noted and identified, and then replicated in other situations. The desire for order even leads people to work in totally abhorrent working conditions and under the control of political structures simply to avoid "chaos" coming into the society. This was the reason that helped dictators from Pisistratus to Hitler. (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world)

All of these approaches and perceptions do not take into account of situations in which the lack of order is not due to poor investigation, less of resources, or lack of understanding, but is the system within the case and this is not necessarily harmful. On the other hand a different type of order has been found in many natural phenomena. An example is that bird-flocking behavior can be simulated on a computer by means of three simple rules. Another is that termites produce elegant nests by means of the operation of simple behaviors which are caused by chemical traces and even that every snowflake has a unique pattern arising from the interactions of water particles during freezing. This changes some of our earlier concepts through establishing that patterns for forms are not controlled by a directing intelligence, but form on their own. This is a new science - a science of complexity that comes from these findings. These observations are interdisciplinary and touch fields from mathematics to evolution to economics to meteorology to telecommunications. (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world)

Today the sheer number of informal and semi-formal communities in an organization is very large so as to allow formal management of all the different communities. Apart from this, the informal, complex space also contains a lot of knowledge that is not required to be an organizational asset. The biggest difficulty is that even if we knew what we should know, we cannot find out in advance what we have to know from within the organization, and what is even more important when we need to know it. At the same time, development of this knowledge is important for this may help us on certain occasions. (Complex Acts of Knowing: Paradox and Descriptive Self-Awareness)

It is difficult to create a situation of true free will and complex intentionality as is seen in "retrospective elaboration, duplicity, groupthink, rumor, self-deception, manipulation, surprise, confusion, internal conflict, stress, changes in the meanings of previously unambiguous messages, the deliberate creation of ambiguity, inadvertent disclosure, charisma, cults, and pathologies." (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world) It is more difficult within a rule-based society. Social simulations have earlier addressed issues like reputation, cooperation, lying, gossip and trust. But the issues are always within an artificial framework and that allows only limited numbers of options and considers limited numbers of phenomena operating at once. On the other hand, in real life, all decision makers know that however much they might like things to be ordered, there are also circumstances in which "cultural factors," "inspired leadership," "gut feel," and other complex factors are dominant factors in decision making. All of these are methods of decision making which arise through the interaction of various factors present in space and time. (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world)

When the views are taken without the viewing glasses of order, such patterns can be seen, and new ways of thinking can come out. In fact, learning to recognize and appreciate the lack of order frees our thinking because we can stop applying methods designed for order and instead focus on legitimate methods that work well in situations which do not correspond to our concept of order. There is the case of a group of marines taken to the New York Mercantile Exchange in 1995 to be taught and then play with simulators of the trading environment. Naturally the traders won every game. The…[continue]

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