March 2018 Seminar: Working in Complexity – SenseMaker, Decisions and Cynefin


At this meeting attendees were given the opportunity to take part in experimenting with a number of tools and analytical approaches that have been used to good effect in dealing with intractable, complex problems.  It was a lively action-packed meeting with useful learning for Monday morning, and plenty of opportunity for networking and exchanging ideas and experience across organisations.


Tony Quinlan is an independent consultant and a member of the Cognitive Edge network of practitioners founded by Dave Snowden in 2004.  As a co-trainer with Dave, Tony has worked internationally, teaching techniques for addressing complexity to a variety of organisations.
Tony has used SenseMaker® in over 50 projects in the past decade, including in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. He has helped organisations such as the European Commission, United Nations Development Programme and various UK government departments work with the Cynefin framework since 2005. This mix gives him a unique combination of theoretical foundations and practical field experience.
Tony blogs at

Time and Location

2pm on 7th March 2018, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

In complex, uncertain and dynamically changing situations, there is a need for good, context-heavy and up-to-date information which decision-makers can access fast. The traditional approaches – such as questionnaires, citizen polling, employment engagement surveys and patient focus groups – have all had limited success in meeting that need, and they are failing to support decision- makers with appropriate strategies to deal with the inherent uncertainty of complexity.

This NetIKX seminar session will give attendees the opportunity take part in experimenting with a number of tools and analytical approaches that have been used to good effect in dealing with intractable, complex problems. In particular we will look at:

  • SenseMaker® narrative research methods, and the software tools that support them;
  • the Cynefin framework for analysing complexity;
  • ways of co-creating projects to address these

The afternoon will be interactive from the beginning – including an ‘acoustic SenseMaker®’ exercise, along with examples from various organisations; an explanation of the underlying principles; and how to make best use of these methods to intervene in evolving situations and to obtain desirable outcomes.

Time allowing, the afternoon will also include discussion and exercises around how this approach can be combined with the Cynefin framework to improve organisational resilience and decision-making. A pdf giving detail of the meeting is available at Working in Complexity


No slides available for this presentation




See our blog report: Working in Complexity.

Study resources

Tony Quinlan suggests this website: