Cynefin 2.0

When we're migrating from procedures to processes, we're becoming grounded. We're leaving those experiences of being on shaky ground where we will unsure of ourselves, our beliefs and our reputations among others. We're getting a sense of what we stand for and where to take a stand on solid ground. We're getting the confidence to stand up for our values, moral code and priorities. We're exuding self confidence and self-respect which earns the respect of others.

When I overlay this phase of "becoming grounded" on top of the Cynefin diagram, I discovered the problems I have with the Cynefin model disappear. It was then easy to build a layer of four circles which overlay the entire Cynefin diagram. Here's a brief look at the entire upgrade model.

Looking at the original Cynefin diagram, there's a big temptation to categorize situations with the framework of four quadrants. We can then know how to respond appropriately depending on whether the situation is Simple, Complicated, Complex or Chaotic.  We've put the world in a box, unlike Dave Snowden's original intentions to NOT categorize or compartmentalize the complexity of multifaceted situations.

Looking through my added layer, we can shift our attention from the four quadrants to the boundaries between the quadrants. We're always straddling two of the four places. We exploring the line that's been drawn between the two rather than one of the other side. This helps explain why so many are stuck in keeping things extremely Simple or merely Complicated when they are really Complex or Chaotic. It also gives us a sense of how Chaos can be a good thing when we're not trying to being in control. It adds another dimension of how we feel about ourselves and how that changes our ability to perceive differences.

  1. Bottomless - When we straddle Simple and Chaotic, we're getting flooded with urges, emotions and delusions. We're facing situations that are equally tormenting and out of control. We're striving to become objective, face the facts and deal with what is. We need to be told what to think and given tons of structure. Getting bombarded with facts and figures provides a welcomed alternative to our bottomless appetites, insatiable urges and aching emotional emptiness.
  2. Shaky Ground - When we straddle Simple and Complicated, we're getting trained in following procedures, executing methods and complying with sequential models. We're facing situations that are equally linear and straightforward. We're striving to handle persistent objects in ways that take control, make things happen and get the required results. Getting required to execute drills and complete tasks  provides a welcomed alternative to becoming a walking encyclopedia full of useless facts and figures. 
  3. Grounding - When we straddle Complicated and Complex, we're getting experienced at recognizing patterns, making process observations and walking the elusive fine line. We're facing situations which appear to be evolving, in process and uncontrollably interdependent. We're striving to let go, trust the process and set up emergent outcomes. Getting challenged to see functionality differently and become more creative provides a welcomed alternative to using the same tool regardless of the complexities of the situation. 
  4. Solid Ground - When we straddle Complex and Chaotic, we're immersed in the game of synchronous innovations for transforming situations. We're facing situations which defy logical reasoning while inviting our playful participation. We're striving to see everything as in process, to entertain evidence as mysteries and to approach the familiar with eyes of wonder, innocence and inquiry. Getting immersed in the fascinating moment provides a welcomed alternative to intense periods of reflective practice and after action reviews. 

Each of these ways to straddle two quadrants of the Cynefin diagram are self-reinforcing. They produce self confirming evidence which perpetuates taking that approach rather than taking a different stance over two other quadrants. They give us the feeling that we can always regress but cannot move beyond the striving set up by the condition of the ground of our experience. To move from one place to another on my overlay of the Cynefin diagram is as revolutionary as going from being an significant nobody to a notable somebody or a chronic loser to a significant winner. It amounts to a change in identity, self concept or the ground we're standing on.

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