Saturday, December 10, 2005

XPDAY5 - Knowing your Customer

One of the sessions at XPDay that I attended was about knowing your customer. Steve Freeman and Andy Pols introduced use to the Cynefin sense making Framework. This framework challenges three of the basic assumptions we generally make when trying to understand our customers and their organisations. The three assumptions are:

  • The assumption of rational choice - People will do what is rational.
  • The assumption of intent - Everything that happens is done intentionally.
  • The assumption of order - Organisations are well ordered, rule based entities.
It turns out that if you remove these assumptions, then most organisations turn out to be highly complex and chaotic (sounds familiar?). The framework goes on to suggest two approaches to effecting change in such organisations:
  • probe-sense-respond - for complex organisations and,
  • act-sense-respond - for chaotic ones.

    This is very different to the sense-categorize-respond approach that has been traditionally taken (for example Business Process Engineering). They point out that the traditional approach is best suited to ordered organisations.

    Here is a link to their paper:

    A bit of a heavy read. Thankfully the approach they recommend for complex/chaotic organisations, namely probe/act-sense-respond is already widely known as suck-it-and-see :^).

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