Preparing to Explore

Understanding Systems and Solutions

In the second segment, we’ll set the stage for our exploration by considering an important idea about systems and solutions. If you work in a complex system, you need to appreciate that solutions are both temporary and vulnerable.

NOTE: During this audio program, you’ll be asked to stop and watch a 10-minute video on the Cynefin Framework. That link is provided below. You can listen to the audio below. There is also a transcript if you would like to refer back to this segment

Your mission is too important and your resources too precious.

Work with ingenuity!



Click Here to watch Dave Snowden’s video on the Cynefin Framework. 

NOTE: After watching the Dave Snowden video, move on to segment three. 


Transcript Below: The transcript below is not meant to replace listening to the audio, but serves as a reference for post-listening learning. Please forgive any errors due to the skill level of the A.I. robot that created this transcript. 


My heart was pounding. As my friend put all the gear on me, that would stay on my body for the entire day. I had told one of my friends, Tim, that I wanted to take more physical risks in my life. I was probably in my late 30s at the time. And Tim happened to be an outdoor adventure guide, who also took groups through high ropes, course, experiences. And he said, Oh, you want to take more physical risks? Hmm, I can help you with that. And so on a cold Pittsburgh morning, we arrived at the high ropes course at Geneva College.

Tim was about to take me on a five hour journey through the high ropes course. He was about to put me in physical risk. Granted, I had gear that would catch me if I fell, protect me if I hit part of my body on a tree or some part of the apparatus. But to me, this was big time risk. And as I stood on the ground, ready to go, Tim said, there are a few things we need to go over. Before we start. Have you ever noticed this, that just before the main event just before something that you’re going to explore or do there’s always stuff you need to go over first, I really tried to stay present to Tim as he explained different elements of the gear I was wearing, how to stay protected during the day, why I was going to have a series of commands that he and I would say to each other.

And those commands, really put our lives at risk if we didn’t do them, right. If we didn’t say them if we didn’t honor them, and on we went with all this preparatory information, while my heart pounded through my chest. Well, before we take the adventure into ingenuity, there are a couple things we need to talk about first. In fact, what we’re going to talk about first sets the table for the success of ingenuity, it sets the table for the mindset that’s critical for ingenuity to thrive in your own life and with your teams. So, before we climb, before we move deeper into understanding what ingenuity is, we have to talk about a related buddy sent essential idea. And here it is.

If you work in a complex, and adaptive system, all solutions are vulnerable, and temporary. If you work in a complex that is many moving parts, where you cannot quickly or or predictably, find the cause and effect of different variables. And those are always adapting. Your solutions that you create with your ingenuity are always vulnerable and temporary, to the next change in inner and external forces. So when we talk about ingenuity, we’re talking about solutions that will always run out of steam. There is no solution in a complex system that remains forever. Our ingenuity is meant to help us build the next iteration and the next creative solution and the next one, and each one runs out or becomes vulnerable to the system becomes vulnerable to the pressures that we cannot predict nor control.


To really understand this concept. I want to introduce you to the genius of Dave Snowden. Dave Snowden has spent his life practicing and researching what it means to work well in complex systems. But beyond that, he has created an incredibly powerful articulate it and simple to understand framework to help us appreciate the types of systems that we all work in every day. Before we can talk about ingenuity, we need to understand the systems we work in. And specifically, we need to understand the complex adaptive system, and why this system. And the solutions we create in a complex adaptive system are always subject to vulnerability and a temporariness.

That needs to frame how we even think about the creation of the solution. Because in a complex system, as you’ll see, you don’t create for finality, you create to advance knowing that that advancement, and that solution is going to wear out, become vulnerable and is temporary. And you’ll need to ingeniously create the next and the next and the next. Now, as part of this audio program, we’ve provided a link to about a 10 minute YouTube video where Dave Snowden explains the Canarian framework for systems and how they work and how we work in them every day. Stop here, take a look at that video, and then come back and we’ll continue on to the next segment.