I spent part of yesterday online learning how the Cynefin model has been talked about and utilized since the Cynefin Centre separated from IBM in July 2004. It's been widely used to analyze and categorize situations, as if the Cynefin model is a "good practice" that applies in complicated situations. In simple situations where consultants have formulated some proprietary "best practice" model of their own, the Cynefin framework gets a bad rap for imposes unnecessary complications, impossible requirements or excessive analysis. The Cynefin model has also been used as a map to keep track of potential movements from one quadrant to another, resolving conflicts between positional stances, and for experimenting with different practices that attempt to resolve a situation. These approaches set up an "emergent practice" in response to complex situations.
I reflected further on David Ronfeldt's use of the Cynefin framework to see Tribes as relatively simple, Institutions as complicated, Markets as Complex and Networks as chaotic. I realized that the inner workings of a tribe are complex. The inter-relationships between tribes are complex. The context which supports the tribes continuing without disbanding or dying off is also complex. The only dimensions that are simple about tribes are the form they take and the challenges they face. Tribes within nations do not have airport runways to keep open, filters to change in water treatment plants, or public services to fund with tax collections. Tribes in the form of college fraternities simply share none of the complicated concerns of the administration, legislature or accreditation boards. The complexities about tribes are subtle, intangible and easily ignored by studying the objective evidence of tribal forms and challenges.
The predominance of complexity is also true for the internal workings, inter-relationships and contexts of Institutions, Markets and Networks. This suggests that every practice characterized by the Cynefin model is an emergent practice. Best practices emerge from the complexity when some simple parameters feature prominently. Good practices emerge from the complexity when there are conceptual frameworks that apply. Novel practices emerge from the complexity when the complexity appears chaotic and defiant of orderly dynamics.
This "complexity based" outlook on the Cynefin model suggested a change in the four quadrants. If every quadrant yields an emergent practice from ubiquitous complexity, it's redundant to have a quadrant for "complexity" and "emergent practices". I've pondered the possibility of moving disorder from the no-man's land between the quadrants to the fourth quadrant. As you can see, I'm conceiving of a quadrant labeled "disorder" with "no conceivable orderly practice". This breach of Cynefin doctrine is itself a case of my "disorderly conduct" :-)