Have you ever wondered why some Agile or Lean concepts work well in one context and not so well in other contexts? With so many techniques, methods, and practices available… how do you decide which ones fit with the situation at hand? Agile and Lean techniques, methods, and practices are successful primarily because they are effective heuristics. Heuristics are anything that provide a plausible aid or direction in the solution of a problem. All heuristics work by exploiting the structure of an environment, so heuristics work well in some environments and less well (or not at all) in others. We need to understand why and where our methods and practices work – and where they don’t – in order to adopt, tailor, use, and improve them. Cynefin is a sense-making framework that helps people understand their context or situation in order to take appropriate action. The Cynefin framework can be used to select heuristics appropriate for the environment (e.g. use Scrum here, and Kanban there) rather than defaulting to a single, recipe-based approach for all situations. Understanding Agile and Lean methods in context increases the chances for successful adoptions and highlights areas where new methods need to be developed or re-purposed from other disciplines.