Cynefin Reference Table

CoherenceCause-Effect RelationshipsApproachDraw uponResponseConstraintsPracticesNature Prepare“Control”Approach to Exceptions
ClearKnownPerceivable, predictable and repeatable; obvious to allstandard operating proceduresCommon sense; no guides or instructions necessarysense-categorize-respondFixed/RigidBestknown knownsWatch for outliersHard KPIsExceptional exceptions
ComplicatedPotentially knowableSeparated in time and space; requires analysis/expertiseexpert judgment, systems thinking, scenario planningExpertise, Playbooks, Bodies of Knowledge, Step-by-step/how-to guidessense-analyze-respondGoverningGoodknown unknownsRight people and process, right timeCommon objectives and standardsTransparent exceptions
ComplexRetrospectively coherentPerceived only in hindsight; not repeatablepattern management, multi-experimentationWisdom, experiments, thinking modelsprobe-sense-respondEnablingEmergent/Exaptiveunknown unknownsCreate time and space for reflectionVector targetsException = Opportunity
ChaoticIncoherentNot perceivable, even in hindsightstability-focused interventions and crisis managementInstinct; no time for instruction manuals, even if they could helpact-sense-respondNo effective or apparentNovelunknowable or unimagined unknownsEstablish heuristics and parablesSurvivalExtemporized exceptions