It's complicated: the Cynefin framework and UX design

A session at UX Cambridge 2015

Thursday 10th September, 2015

3:30pm to 4:30pm (GMT)

As UX designers we tackle a range of problems, some more complex than others. The Cynefin framework provides a map that helps us recognise different types of complexity and adopt appropriate approaches. It gives us a fresh way to understand why we do the things we do in UX; the role of expertise in solving different kinds of problems; and why we sometimes seem at cross purposes with our stakeholders.

This tutorial will introduce the features of the Cynefin framework and invite you to explore and reflect on how you can apply insight into complexity to your own work. It will also consider the connections between design thinking, lean UX practices and the Cynefin framework.

NOTES: The Cynefin framework describes qualitatively different types of complexity, including:

simple/obvious (where applying best practice and rules is appropriate)
complicated (where problems can be solved with expert judgement, heuristics and good practice)
complex (where patterns only emerge through observing responses to our actions)
UX practice falls into these different areas in different ways - from applying best practice standards; heuristic evaluations and expertise; and learning from hypothesis testing. Understanding how these are different gives a great deal of insight into the nature of design work and how we approach it, and also how we become more adept in areas of greater complexity as our experience grows.

The features of the 'complex' environments explain why practices such as user-centred design, agile, lean, systems thinking and OODA are grounded in iterative test-and-learn cycles. Awareness of this framework also helps us spot when stakeholders are, for example, applying the thinking appropriate for 'complicated' problems to one that is actually 'complex'. For these problems, expertise alone cannot produce effective solutions, whatever the expectations - this is where we must recognise the need for collaboration, abductive reasoning, hypothesis generation and testing.

About the speaker

This person is speaking at this event.
Rod Humby

Problem solver, through the medium of UX design; gamestorming enthusiast; wonderer.

1 attendee

  • Rod Humby

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UX Cambridge 2015

England England, Cambridge

9th11th September 2015

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Time 3:30pm4:30pm GMT

Date Thu 10th September 2015

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