Friday 5 – Week 86

Here’s what we’re looking at this week…

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To understand the concept of adaptive space, it is helpful to refer to the continuous learning dynamic (blue arrow) and liminal domain between complicated and complex in Cynefin. This dynamic represents a continuous flow between complexity where we can explore, experiment and discover emergent novelty and complicated where we can operationalise and exploit what we’ve discovered. The key to growth and sustainability is to keep this dynamic going so that the organisation doesn’t become inflexible or complacent.

 

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Gerd Kempermann, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Dresden, Dresden, Germany

Cynefin as Reference Framework to Facilitate Insight and Decision-Making in Complex Contexts of Biomedical Research

Despite the fact that life itself, and especially the brain and its diseases, are complex to the extent that complexity could be considered their cardinal feature, complex problems in biomedicine are often treated as if they were actually not more than the complicated sum of solvable sub-problems. Because of the emergent properties of complex contexts this is not correct. With a set of clear criteria Cynefin helps to set apart complex problems from “simple/obvious,” “complicated,” “chaotic,” and “disordered” contexts in order to avoid misinterpreting the relevant causality structures. The distinction comes with the insight, which specific kind of knowledge is possible in each of these categories and what are the consequences for resulting decisions and actions. From student’s theses over the publication and grant writing process to research politics, misinterpretation of complexity can have problematic or even dangerous consequences, especially in clinical contexts. Conceptualization of problems within a straightforward reference language like Cynefin improves clarity and stringency within projects and facilitates communication and decision-making about them.

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