Managing in and through a crisis – Part 1

This five minute video is the first in a series of four around managing in and though a crisis presented by Aimee Robson.

In this video, Aimee starts the series off by sharing a brief definition of a crisis and introduces the four concepts that will be covered during this series. She then covers the first of these concepts which is ‘making sense of what is going on around you’ using the Cynefin framework and the work of Dave Snowden.

Having now watched the video, please take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

Q: What key piece of learning will you take from this video?

Q: How will you put your learning back into your professional practice?

Hi everyone, my name is Amy Robson. I’m here to deliver a series of short videos around managing in and through a crisis.

There are many ways to approach this, and I’m sharing with you some evidence based concepts that help unpack this further. ‘What is a crisis’ seems a sensible place to start. A working definition of a crisis is a time of intense difficulty or danger, or a time where a difficult or important decision has to be made. It is important to note that behavioural science evidence tells us that the average person makes around 35,000 decisions each day. When working in a crisis with difficult decisions to make, the energy we spend on these decisions is not necessarily weighted equally and as humans we make decisions with our head, with our heart, and with our gut. These different factors can add to the complexity of chaos that we feel inside us when dealing with a crisis.

We will cover four main areas or concepts around this, including: 1. Making sense of what is going on using the Cyenfin framework of system complexity and the work of Dave Snowden. 2. Understanding that not all chaos is bad. Using the concept of flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 3. Understanding what is in and out of our control using Stephen Covey’s model of circle of influence and 4. Understanding ourselves using Ikigai.

These concepts will help us when working in more stressful or crisis situations and equip us as managers and leaders with skills and knowledge, not only to navigate this well, but also to thrive.

One conceptual framework that I found helpful to manage in a crisis and make sense of what’s going on around me is the concept of Cynefin. Cynefin is a Welsh word that means multiple or entwined factors in our environment. Dave Snowden is the thought leader who crafted Cynefin into this conceptual framework, and it is renowned for its power as a sense making framework, making sense of the environment around us. Being leaders and managers in health and care comes with varied levels of uncertainty or complexity, and we make decisions a lot. So ultimately, if we build our knowledge, skills and confidence to make these decisions, this improves our leadership effectiveness. Cynefin outlines five domains, including simple, complicated, complex, chaos and disorder.

These domains offer a manager or leader perspective of what is going on around them. So in each domain there are more stereotypical responses as a leader or manager that we can make that help make us make decisions more effectively.

Let’s look at each of these in turn. Simple. In this domain, the relationship between cause and effect is well known. Therefore, the response of a leader or manager should be to sense, categorise and respond. Complicated. In this domain there are many known unknowns and therefore requires a different behavioural response from a leader in this environment. Between cause and effect requires expertise and therefore the recommended response is sense, analyse and respond. Complex. As it sounds, this domain is complex and filled with many unknown unknowns. The relationship between cause and effect may not be possible to determine. It is a very emergent context and requires a probe, sense, respond type of approach. Chaos. In this domain, the relationship between cause and effect is highly unclear and therefore unorderly. The leaders response should be act, sense and respond. Act to establish order, sense to see where stability lies and respond to help move from chaos to complex. Disorder. The middle of this conceptual framework represents scenarios where there’s no clear place or environment or leadership response. This might be due to context or understanding. It is recommended here to break down parts of the issues and respond to the elements of that complexity.

So we can start to see as a manager and leader how this Cynefin framework helps us sense make, develop skills in decision making and respond with effectiveness in any landscape. But at first it takes recognising this as a sense making tool, next, developing the skills as a leader and manager and together this helps us to manage in and through a crisis.

Join me next time when I’ll be exploring how not all chaos we experience is bad when dealing with a crisis by looking at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow.

Thank you for watching and feel free to leave a comment on this video to promote Project M’s approach to shared learning.



1 reply on “Managing in and through a crisis – Part 1”

Leave a Comment