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Tackling the wicked problem of ERM: using the Cynefin framework as a lens

Sue Childs (Northumbria University, iSchool, Department of Mathematics and Information Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Julie McLeod (Northumbria University, iSchool, Department of Mathematics and Information Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 25 November 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to complement a previous article on using the Cynefin framework to make sense of the electronic records management challenge. Its focus is on how to use Cynefin, and the ERM framework developed using it, as an approach to addressing this wicked problem. The aim is to provide examples of how they could be used in practice in different organisational contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

Four examples are provided. Empirical research data are used to underpin three of the examples and a thought experiment using published literature informs the fourth.

Findings

The examples illustrate the potential value and power of the Cynefin framework as both a practical and conceptual tool in the ERM context. It can be used to address the ERM challenge in different ways: as a strategic approach taking a holistic view and/or as a tactical approach at a more specific granular level. It can be used to inform practice by helping practitioners choose the most appropriate approach dependent on the level of complexity of the issue they are addressing, whether that is for a specific issue, a project or initiative, for planning or for exploratory, sense-making purposes.

Research limitations/implications

The examples draw on one qualitative, empirical set of research data and one published use. Further experimentation and practical use are required; others are encouraged to use Cynefin to test the propositions and provide further examples.

Practical implications

The examples provided can be adopted and/or adapted by records professionals, both practitioners and/or academics, at strategic and tactical levels in different records contexts.

Originality/value

This paper provides examples of adopting a different approach to tackling the wicked problem of managing electronic records using the Cynefin framework as a new lens.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC www.ahrc.ac.uk) for the research grant (ref. AH/D001935/1) which funded the AC+erm project (www.northumbria.ac.uk/acerm) Also to David Snowden for permission to reproduce his diagrams.

Citation

Childs, S. and McLeod, J. (2013), "Tackling the wicked problem of ERM: using the Cynefin framework as a lens", Records Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 191-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-07-2013-0016

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited