Business Intelligence / Analytics

Decision Making Framework (Cynefin) Business Intelligence

In this article, we will explore the very effective Cynefin Decision Making Framework and the role data and Business Intelligence can play in Decision Making.

Do organisations make bad decisions? I’m sure we’ve all made bad calls and seen some bad decisions coming from people; people, who deserved power and the title.

However, witnessing some epic failures during a decade long career, this question makes me a little twitchy.

Bad Decision-Making:

Bad decisions, most of the time, are not deliberate. They are the best way out at that time. But what makes them Decision Makingthe only way out? Most managers are indeed ill-equipped with the data that could have been useful, some have hoards of data that is not understood. Hence alternatives are never considered, and gut feelings step in. Outcomes become unpredictable contributing to failures.

Sometimes these bad calls are group decisions with horrendous consequences. We have examples of companies and countless product failures resulting from these hasty and uninformed decisions. I, along with (I’m sure) many others ponder over the whys, the whats, and the hows; why they did what they did? How can it be, or what were they thinking? Maybe back then, it was the best decision? Were there any alternatives? If so, did anyone raised himself and said let’s look into it again, or I don’t like it? , and were managers equipped with all and the relevant information? And so on.

Cynefin Decision Making Framework:

Cynefin Decision making frameworkSome two years back, I read about this weirdly pronounced decision making framework called Cynefin (Kin-ev-in) model for decision-making. The model talks about five decision-making domains or situations. Simple, complicated, chaotic, complex, and disorder. In brief, when faced with simple situation managers need to sense, categorise, and adopt the best practice since cause equals effect and precedents are available. A complicated situation requires careful analysis before a response. These are ordered scenarios like steps for processing a loan application or making an investment. Unordered scenarios have chaotic and complex domains. You act first in chaotic situations like reporting an incident.

On the other hand, complex domain is dynamic, with large numbers having many interacting elements, and minor alterations can result in unpredictable changes. The cause is not equal to effect. In the center of it all is disorder. Where a situation remains till classified as one of the four. However, complacency can move a simple scenario into complex, chaotic, or complex situations and vice versa.

How can Business Intelligence Help?

But enough about the cynefin, I want to talk about data and how intelligent summarisation, access, presentation, and analysis of data can reveal patterns that sometimes go unnoticed. What is complicated or complex for you, Business Intelligence & Business Analyticswithout no data or hoards of unorganised data, you would be as clueless as a vegetable. On the other hand, having the right data gives you power, the power to make the right decision, or in some cases, an excuse for why things didn’t happen the way you planned them. Look at the cynefin figure again. It is all about data, especially in complicated and complex situations (yes, I went back to cynefin).

Imagine if your complex or complicated scenario can be tamed down. Business intelligence tools give you the power to do just that. They extract and presenting the relevant information (single version of truth) from your data warehouse, helping in the formation of those little decision making splinters on the top floor.

A Decision Making Scenario (What will you do?)

Imagine a sub-ordinate who gives you a weekly sales report; you ask him why the sales are down by say X amount of dollars from last week. You get a reply that it was a freezing week and most customers remained in-doors.

Would you stop at that? If yes, then you don’t need business intelligence and fare-thee-well to your business, but if no, you’d want to know 1) what were the numbers for the same week sales last year? 2) what was the average weekly or daily temperature last year? 3) What is the relationship between the two elements? 4) Do sales go down when the temperature goes down? 5) Can you have an alternate means to increase your sales in winter? 6) Maybe a winter sale or its time to go online? 7) what are your competitors doing in winter? These are just few questions before the eventual decision making. Imagine the power when you’ll have complete drill-downs and ‘as summarised as it gets’ dashboards.

People who make the right decisions equip themselves with the latest tools that can help them analyse data, get the right information, latest statistics, business insights, and trends that can predict the future for them. Isn’t this what leadership is about ‘seeing what others can’t see A.K.A. a dynamic vision. Stop the guy who makes worksheets for you. It’s about time you give intelligence to your data.

Actionable Insights, Think Analytics, Make informed decisions!!

About The Author

Syed Umer Jamal
Founder / CEO

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