In this paper, we challenge the universality of three basic assumptions prevalent in organizational decision support and strategy: assumptions of order, of rational choice, and of intent. We describe the Cynefin framework, a sense-making device we have developed to help people make sense of the complexities made visible by the relaxation of these assumptions. The Cynefin framework is derived from several years of action research into the use of narrative and complexity theory in organizational knowledge exchange, decision-making, strategy, and policy-making. The framework is explained, its conceptual underpinnings are outlined, and its use in group sense-making and discourse is described. Finally, the consequences of relaxing the three basic assumptions, using the Cynefin framework as a mechanism, are considered.
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