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Cynefin Lego Game

A game to let you explore four of the five domains of Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework.

Using Lego, you go through four exercises where the problem to solve and the context you work in is designed to mirror a simple, complicated, complex and chaotic system. While it does not introduce you to the full potential of the sense-making framework, it is well suited to get a first impression and raise interest in learning more about it! Although Cynefin is at the heart of this excercise, the debriefing focuses on outcomes that are not necessarily part of the model.

Why you'd use it

When leading or managing agile transitions, it is important to know what type of system you are dealing with. Playing this game shows you how to decode what is happening in terms of organisational structures and communication in that specific system. Once you are able to do this, you can appreciate the consistency of your communication style with the related system, as well as choose more appropriate tools to set direction and coach.


Submitted by

Session Leader Name(s): Dave Sharrock

Stage: Accepted

Feedback Score

14 votes

Idea Details

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Similar Ideas [ 3 ]


  1. Status Changed from Active to Accepted
  2. The idea was posted


  1. Comment

    This looks intriguing. The part about lego's makes it sound especially fun. Can you talk more about how the games will look? I am not quite picturing it (yet)


    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Dave ( Idea Submitter )

      Hi Margaret

      Thanks for the question - to help you picture what happens, let me describe the flow. The Cynefin Lego Game is a part of our agile leadership workshops. Our purpose is to help managers, scrum masters and problem solves in general understand the different approaches required to solve different challenges. We start with forming teams, and keeping a few people outside the teams as observers - observing the differences in how the teams tackle problems is half the fun.

      Then we baseline the teams by providing them a simple problem to solve - sort the bricks! This is a simple problem, and we discuss and debrief on how the teams worked together, how they communicated, how they broke out tasks and so on. Then the problems get progressively more challenging and we use this baseline to observe where things break down (diving straight in may not be the best solution when a little planning is required, and so on). The fun in the game is really learning by doing - experiencing the fact that the strategy the team deployed in one exercise may not be the best for another, different type of exercise, rather than just hearing the theory, perhaps buying into it, but missing the tactile experience of struggling to build something quite simple.

      You can also see an earlier version of the exercise described on our blog (http://agile42.ca/en-ca/blog/2011/12/25/cynefin-lego-game/).



  2. Comment
    Ted M. Young

    How much time would you need for this session to be effective? How much time would you set aside for debriefing?

  3. Comment

    Count me in- looks like a great learning experience. Thank you for the blog link, that made it all very clear.


  4. Comment

    Sounds great Dave - got my vote! I would like to learn more about the Cynefin model and more importantly tools to help my clients. This servers both. I'm in!

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