Dave Snowden

Rethinking the complex domain of Cynefin

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Yesterday I took up again the exploration of Cynefin that I started back in January.  In that post (please read before continuing along with yesterday's post on disorder) I took the complex domain and looked at movements within that, drawing to a degree on the Ashby Law concept of balance.

I'll pick up on Ashby again tomorrow, but for the moment the idea is that there is a optimal position that balances diversity of response with diversity of stimulus.  I've used the same idea here but with a balance between coherence (the degree to which a course of action or decision makes sense given the available facts) and convergence (the degree to which those who influence what happens agree)

It was useful, I presented it a few times, discussed it frequently, thought about it more.   

In the end I was not happy and for several reasons:

  • It didn't really augment Cynefin, it might even be seen as replacing it with something less complete
  • The vertical dimension really did not work as a label although I am still in two minds about that
  • The subdomains nearing chaos were incoherent (sic)

So I wasn't happy but I wasn't sure where to go.  Then at the Amsterdam Advanced Course, in front of a bright and questioning audience things started to clear in my mind.   For starters the vertical label changed to consensus.   I drew some dynamics on the model and it started to make sense.  I realised that I needed to sort out disorder first.  As I posted yesterday that involved realising that disorder had two aspects, namely the inauthentic (you really shouldn't be here) and the transitionary (this is cool, we are getting somewhere).

So now it became easier to deal with.  The 45º line now becomes double headed (its OK to go both ways to a degree) and the bottom corner of low coherence and zero consensus in effect is a transition into, or a starting position within the old disorder now called the inauthentic.  At the top end, the high coherence and high consensus allows a transition to be made into order, but that may or may not be a good thing to do.

The green zone remains as a zone of legitimate activity and the sub-domains now become clearer, and generally end up as dynamics.  More on that tomorrow.

The Advanced course is running in Australia & New Zealand shortly by the way, then Canada and London.  Book now as those may represent the last opportunity to have me teach it as next year it will be handed over)

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