Thinking about a name change or two

October 16, 2008

I’ve been working on chapter two of the book (yes I know, its been a long time but it is coming) and also doing a whole bunch of reading around complexity to tie in the various references etc. not to mention several really interesting conversations with people I respect in the field. As a result of all that I am thinking of changing some of the domain labels on the Cynefin framework. In part this is because there is considerable confusion in the literature between complexity and chaos, and strictly understood chaos probably never happens in a human system (from the perspective of a scientist). It won’t be the first time; the 2002 article confused ontology with epistemology and to resolve that known and knowable became simple and complicated. So my current thoughts are running along the current lines – and all comments are welcome:

  • Ordered, as current with simple and complicated domains
  • Un-ordered, to replace complex (its still the CAS space, but un-order implies the possibility of an order we do not fully understand
  • Disorder, to replace chaotic, as that is a better description of how it is used in the model, in effect it lacks coherence
  • Inauthentic (or alienation or similar) for the central domain previously called disorder.

I’ll expand more on the why of this later, but for the moment I am probing for reactions. Either comment here (you all did a good job of collective editing of my elevator pitch )after all! Or email me directly if that is easier.

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About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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