A Guide to problem levels and how we should handle it like a Pro

Understanding the problem level before actually tackling the problem

Anthony Cheung


Photo by Simone Secci on Unsplash

When we deal with problems, we can sort them into levels/degrees of difficulties for us to be more concise about how to deal with them.

Recently, I picked up a theory of the “Cynefin Framework” that helps to digest problems and difficulties into levels. For that, we can be more prepared to deal with problems and situations in terms of a theoretical level.

The Cynefin Framework consists of essentially 4 levels of them,

  • Novel — this is new to us, it’s not well understood by anyone in the team.
  • Emerging — we are trying this out, it’s something we can begin to explain to each other
  • Good — we are getting to grips with this, we know there is room for improvement and can improve it in our context
  • Best — we’ve nailed it. It’s a practice we’ve established in the team and might not even mention in a retrospective

And the last step is when we know the degree of problems, so what about it? Let’s take a closer look!

The Degree of Problems’ Difficulties

In Cynefin Framework, its categories of problems are mapped with 4 levels (And 1 extra level as not knowing the problems belong to which level)

Cynefin Framework

With the ease of accessing information, we are able to easily tackle the “Obvious” and some “Complicated” questions.

Thus, there are all kinds of “Best Practices” and “Good Practices” presented.

Obvious Question — Best Practice

Best Practice offers a direct answer to the problem. It is obvious to handle it and conclusively, there is a “Best” practice for the problem.

For instance, what are the steps for brushing teeth? There is a best practice guide that shows the steps for doing so.

Complicated Question — Good Practice



Anthony Cheung

I write about personal experiences, rides and bumps throughout my career life. — while inspiring others of empathy and work ethics