This weekend, we unveiled the first Cynefin book formally published by Cognitive Edge. It is a beautiful publication that chronicles the origin story and historical evolution of the framework, personal vignettes where network members share how it has impacted their lives, and reflections by practitioners on how they have applied it across many diverse contexts. More than anything though, it is a testament to the passion and goodwill that exists in the global Cynefin network.
The journey started in June 2020 when we realised that Cynefin would be coming of age in October. Sonja came up with this hare-brained scheme, and pinged Zhen on a Zoom call. Let’s crowdsource a book as a surprise for Dave. We immediately became partners in crime. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into! Over the next four months, we were humbled by the generosity of the people in our network. With one or two exceptions, all the people we invited to be part of this adventure agreed. Marion Kiely whose tenacity and “friendly Irish firmness” helped everyone to stick to some very tight deadlines. Boudewijn Bertch and Riva Greenberg agreed to edit the book for us, over 300 pages of it. Working with 46 authors is not an easy task, yet they did it with such grace that everyone later said that working with them was a joy (even when their feedback led to inevitable rework :)). Sue Borchardt agreed to illustrate the book for us (we later learned this is not something she has ever done before). I think it is safe to say that this book would not be nearly as beautiful and accessible if not for her incredible talent. All of them volunteered their time, as did every author. This book is a labour of love. The story of the book, where a global village of complexity practitioners came together to pull off a seemingly impossible task, each contributing diverse but coherent perspectives, is also such a poetic parallel to the way Cynefin grew up.
Of course, we could not have a book on Cynefin without including Dave, and in the end he worked with us to produce a wonderful narrative retelling of the origin story of Cynefin without fully knowing what he was ultimately contributing to. On Saturday the 24th of October, all the authors gathered on Zoom to hand over the very first (and currently only) printed copy of the book to Dave. Conspiring with his daughter Ellie, we managed to keep it a surprise. I think it is safe to say it was an event that many experienced as quite emotional. Dave’s feedback that “it is perfect” just made the whole event more memorable. Several of the authors have journeyed with Dave and Cynefin for more than a decade, some for two. To finally have an artefact that chronicles that journey is extremely rewarding.