[Last amended: 8 Jan 18]
For those of you who have been with me from the start this page is intended to outline how my thinking has developed. So, what remains the same and what has changed?
What remain the same?
The key think that remains the same is that notion that how academic can best assist practitioners is to help then ask good questions that help them to make sense of the world around them.
The key to this work is my multiple levels of analysis approach. This is because I believe that we can only really understand a single event by seeing it in terms of its place within a multi-layered system operating over time. It is only within this context that the debate over centralisation or decentralisation makes sense. However as we decentralise we produce input not controlled by the higher levels of the organisation. It is the unknown of what these inputs might be and how they might affect the system overall that make them potential agents of chaos. The discussion therefore is seen to come down to where initiative is required, where it becomes disruptive and how this dichotomy can be managed; this debate, in the jargon, is often referred to as "tight and loose" issues. I will look to tie theses issue, and more, into a single model. This idea maps across to Chaos theory very easily. In general I use a basic four layer model that I label micro, mezzo, macro and mega. If these levels are combined the multiple dimension that make up any problem then we have a "cube". I refer to these structures as a Catalytic Cube (see Catalytic Cube for more detail).
The second area of consistency is the primary role that coordination plays with complex systems. In this context the term coordination also covers all the related ideas of alignment, communications, coherence and whether less are "tight or loose". In essence this debate seems to be refining towards discussions over how to make to elements combine to be a force-multiplier or, at the other end of the scale, at least do not work against each together. For more detail see Coordination Model.
The third area of consistency is the perceived need for flexibility and the ability to adapt taking precedence over any established or formal plan. The way I think about flexibility cab be at Operational Flexibility. In encompasses all the ideas of resilience, redundancy, robustness and other such ideas. Within the idea of flexibility is also the way an organisation stretches and twists to cope with their dynamic environment; In this context we should think of organisational elasticity (see page for details) rather than risk management.
The final main area of consistent thought is the idea of a control continuum. The question concerns how much control we actually have and how this may vary depending on the circumstances. This issue for normal chaos is to be able to identify where and why a seemingly stable control arrangements may vary in its effectiveness.
What has changed?
While the core idea associate with Normal Chaos remain constant, the way we organise them has changed. The initial indictive research isolated six ideas that help to focus our work. These were:
Principle Based Decision Making.
While these ideas in themselves are still thought to be valid however, as a group, they lack coherence. In order to establish the required coherence, I went back to chaos and complicity theory. Through an inductive review of this literature, I was able to develop a framework that was able to not only encompass the six ideas already in place but also used ideas from chaos theory to act as a much more provocative catalyst. I believe that this approach has enhanced the coherence to the Normal Chaos idea.
From this work the purpose of our research has also become clearer. The focus of Normal Chaos is to assist the sense-making process through stimulating debate. This process is designed to develop a richer mental mode of an issue and it context. This is seen to be a preliminary step before organisation move on to using computer modelling aides. Where this now leads is described in Strand Two.