I often get asked about the two transitionary domains in Cynefin and its not in frequent for people to assume they are the same sort of domain. Now I can see how this happens but its not the case and the reasons why are important. At its most basic chaos is a legitimate state, engendered with control it has considerable utility as its the basis for distributed cognition, or Wisdom of the Crowds to use the more popular term. If you can create unconstrained agents (remember I use the constraint based definition) then you have the pre-conditions to use those agents to help provide evidence under conditions of uncertainty. Remember in Wisdom of Crowds all the agents need to guess the answer (or form a judgement) independently of each other, they must have tacit knowledge of the field and no significant personal stake in the outcome. Chaos is also useful if entered with purpose as an innovation space, but entered accidentally it is a crisis, constraints and connectivity vanish there are no patterns. I discussed this at some length with the chaos domain model some time ago and its a model I will be refining soon.
So Chaos fits with the the ideal of multi-ontology sense-making. Its a useful domain and we now how to behave through constraint management. Disorder is very different. The whole point of disorder is that we don’t know which domain we are in. The situation could be complex, simple, complicated or chaotic. So we don’t know what type of action we should take and fall back to that with which we feel most comfortable. Over the years I have thought about renaming it. Two options are still attractive:
That said I am still not sure its right and maybe confusion and transition would be the way forward. Maybe draw the boundaries there in a different way; that has potential but I need to think about it a bit. There is an older word for confusion that escapes me for the moment that might work better.
All ideas, questions and comments welcome