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Masterclass on the Cynefin® framework, strategy & narrative

We’ve been monitoring the situation related the Coronavirus and the potential impact on our scheduled events closely. In lieu of the current impact and escalation of the Coronavirus in the Seattle region, we decided that the responsible decision is to postpone the Masterclass scheduled for March 30 – April 1. We don’ t want to risk it to have to cancel with too short notice.


Whither Cynefin? Find out from the author of the framework and become part of its further growth in this unique opportunity, as Dave Snowden presents and develops the new ideas that will extend and enhance the Cynefin framework.

You are invited to join a deep dive into the Cynefin® Framework, strategy & narrative in complex systems using Cynefin. In this Masterclass you’ll have the opportunity to explore the latest liminal version of the Cynefin Framework, and the domain dynamics. We will learn what kind of tools it has the power to support, and how you can take action when the world is constantly changing around you. 

The masterclasses are intended for participants who already know the Cynefin framework. This should not be your first go at these topics. At the very least, participants must have attended a basic two-day Cynefin training such as the Cynefin® Practitioner Foundations. Find a classroom course near you.  Anyone who has attended other Cognitive Edge three- and two-day courses over the last few years is also qualified to attend, as well as academics who have published using the Cynefin framework or applied it.

Would you like to join us?

For a breakdown of the ticket options take a look at the bottom of the page. 

Contact us at training@cognitive-edge.com if you have any questions, or would like to check if you qualify to attend


Day 1: Masterclass on the Cynefin® Framework – Advanced Material

Do you feel that you know Cynefin? Is the distinction between Complex and Complicated old news to you? Have you moved from Disorder to Sense-making? Then take the next step.


  • This advanced Cynefin class introduces the full version of the latest, liminal version of the Cynefin® Framework. This incorporates movement into the familiar form of Cynefin and turns ongoing change into transitional spaces with unique properties.
  • The various domains of Cynefin are the subject of domain frameworks in their own right. These have been reworked to accommodate the liminal turn in Cynefin, as have the various Cynefin dynamics.
  • Learn how to apply Cynefin in practice through vivid stories and real-life examples, from scaling and exploiting new patterns, to distinguishing among the subtle variations of a context and reading their tendencies, to communicating between levels and contexts.
  • We will cover how to use Cynefin as a fractal sense-making framework in your organisation; creating a common operational and strategic language.
  • The advanced typology of constraints will be taught, linking to the domain definitions within Cynefin.
  • Manage for the unforeseen and unforeseeable by accessing the resources you already have through novel use and harnessing serendipity, not as blind luck, but through consciously creating the conditions for new discovery.

Day 2: Masterclass on Strategy in Complex systems using Cynefin®

What is strategy? Can you read the first stirrings of change? When new opportunities arise, do you know how to grab them? What does strategy mean in the context of leadership? This Masterclass combines Dave Snowden’s latest thinking on Cynefin with multiple strategy frameworks and military strategy, to give you something completely different.  


  • Understand the value of strategic agility including whole of workforce engagement in real-time resolution of wicked problems combing engagement with insight
  • Learn about the ecosystem of the markets and your place in it, how to identify needs according to context and how to spot and respond to signs of coming change, using them to your advantage.
  • Gain deep insight to Apex Predator theory in life cycle management and understand the various aspects of the ecological metaphor which is starting to replace the engineering ones which have dominated the last few decades
  • Gear your strategy towards working with cognitive biases, recognising their reality, to ensure that you do not miss opportunities that are right in front of you.
  • Manage a diverse portfolio representing apparently conflicting needs under complex conditions without relying on any single framework or dogma, but through responding to real contextual needs.
  • Managing risk and opportunity within Cynefin will also feature in this masterclass, along with organisational design issues relating to balancing resilience and robustness, when to let go and when to consolidate
  • Designing a resilient organisation and new forms of organisation based on complexity theory
  • Strategy at every level. Use the wisdom of military strategy for your civilian needs and learn the difference between tactics, strategy and grand strategy in order to avoid fragile hierarchical command and instead create a resilient and adaptive distributed strategy.

Day 3: Experimental Masterclass on non-SenseMaker® narrative use

What are the stories people tell? What do they mean, and how do we move beyond them? Narratives are a powerful way of communicating strategy, heuristics and culture. Unravel the plot and characters of your own narratives to use a time-tested method of managing and using knowledge. This day looks at the wider contact of narrative, beyond, before, and around the use of SenseMaker®.


  • Approach the complexity of narrative by understanding its power as the most ancient form of effective communication, as knowledge creation and storage, and as narrative research. Understand the balance between narrative as a form of knowledge storage, a research tool, and the more conventional use for communication.
  • Discover tools you can immediately put to practice for communication, such as metaphor, parable, and heuristics.
  • The use of archetypes, a long-standing Cynefin method, has been updated and extended. Here you will get a chance to learn and practice them in a multi-medial environment that goes beyond words and traditional learning.
  • Understand what an organisational application of narrative can do and how to use true-to-life learning stories as a way to talk about your values without resorting to prescriptive and cliched mission statements. Use the multiplicity of story to discover new things or points of view.
  • Develop a perspective on leadership that encourages action that creates new and different stories instead of the telling of empty tales.  Learn about narrative templates that allow for more effective communication, as well as discovering what is possible in terms of change – shifting from platitudes and idealism to reality.

Dave Snowden divides his time between two roles: founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge and the founder and head of the Cynefin Centre. His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy, organisational decision making and decision making. He has pioneered a science-based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory. His paper with Boone on Leadership was the cover article for the Harvard Business Review in November 2007 and also won the Academy of Management award for the best practitioner paper in the same year. He has previously won a special award from the Academy for originality in his work on knowledge management. During his tenure at IBM, he was selected as one of the six on-demand thinkers for w worldwide advertising campaign His company Cognitive Edge exists to integrate academic thinking with practice in organisations throughout the world and operates on a network model working with Academics, Government, Commercial Organisations, NGOs and Independent Consultants. He is also the main designer of the SenseMaker® software suite, originally developed in the field of counter-terrorism and now being actively deployed in both Government and Industry to handle issues of impact measurement, customer/ employee insight, narrative-based knowledge management, strategic foresight and risk management.


Cognitive Edge reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule the offered session. In the event of cancellation or rescheduling, a full refund of course fees will be processed within 10 business days of cancellation or rescheduling notice. Cancellations by registrants are only permitted with a minimum of 3 weeks notice ahead of course delivery date with refunds provided less a 10% processing fee. Substitutions are permitted at any time as well as rescheduling attendance to an alternate session within a 12 month period.

Explanation of ticket discount options below. PLEASE NOTE the discount changes from 2019 bolded in (2).

  1. If you are part of a group of FOUR (4) or more people, then please email training@cognitive-edge.com for a group discount
  2. Premium Members get 5% discount on Cynefin Retreats, Explorations/Masterclasses and 15% for Online courses and CE managed Foundations courses (Discounts apply only to Standard priced tickets). Sign up for the Network here: Cognitive Edge network registration for a Basic membership. When you’ve done that you’ll be directed to the Network Dashboard page, click on the upgrade option to pay to become a Premium member and then use the provided discount code.
  3. Discounts cannot be used cumulatively with Network Membership discounts.


March 30


8:30 am – 5:00 pm


From: USD 2600


United States