Dave Snowden

Disabling disorder

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Back in January I started to share some of my thinking about the next evolutionary phase of Cynefin.   While the basic framework is stable (although I still think from time to time of returning to the planar form), there is a growing need to do more work on each of the domains.  I'm going to update the January post tomorrow, but today I want to start sharing thoughts on the most neglected of all Cynefin domains namely disorder.  Now this is normally explained as the space of not knowing which domain you are in.  But its also seen as a transitionary domain in Cynefin dynamics.

To be honest most of the time its missed.  People expect a two by two so they only see the two by two and use it as a classification model.  That is a pity as a lot of the value of Cynefin comes in the recognition of disorder, especially if the four points method is used for construction.   Equally to shift expert entrainment a shift, necessarily through disorder, to chaotic before shifting to complex is a standard teaching dynamic. 

However the name is not good, and we have a confusion of two states:

  • Inauthenticity, a state of not knowing where you are either accidentally or through wilful blindness.
  • Transition, moving through to another domain to achieve change by a shift of context

Now I think the way to handle this is to create a three dimensional version in which inauthenticity is a hollow, a gravity well into which you fall, but the boundary zones are transitionary an different in nature according to their proximate domains.

That is as far as I have got for the moment.  All ideas appreciated.