So Stephen Shimshock (whom I am cross-mentoring -- he's teaching me a lot about photography -- and who is using narrative in his work at Casey Family Programs) was telling somebody in the hallway about the confluence framework, and the guy said, "Sounds like the circumplex model."
So Stephen told me about it, and here it is. Its full name is "The Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems" and it comes from the field of family therapy. It was created by David H. Olson and Dean M. Gorall. I have shamelessly taken screen shots of two of the images in this PDF to show you. This one is striking to begin with:
It's flipped around, but the two axes are flexibility (from rigid to chaotic) -- my hierarchy or "degree of imposed order" -- and cohesion (from disengaged to enmeshed) -- my meshwork or "degree of self-organization." Note the amazing similarity in even the word "mesh" carrying through both frameworks.
More amazement awaits. Look at this image:
Does that not look just like one of my story-event drawings? Or one of the Cynefin "dynamics" diagrams? And the circumplex model was first published in 1989.
It truly amazes me that so many people could have come up with so many very similar concepts, across time and space and background and purpose and personality. And that I have been so long in finding these connections. There is quite a blossoming of wonder for me in this. I feel privileged to play a small part, a microscopic part if you think of it, in this whole big thing.
We are now up to six sure connections and two possibilities. The medicine wheel I have to see as a grandmother because she is so ancient and wise, and she deserves the respect due to an elder among us. But the five young siblings are:
- Strum and Latour's social-link model
- the circumplex model
- Manuel de Landa's concepts of hierarchy and meshwork and their intermingling
- the Cynefin framework
- the confluence framework
The reason I call these younger models and frameworks "siblings" is that in no way do I think they are identical. All of the siblings (and their grandmother) show strong signs of the history, background, learning style, goals and unique point of view of their creators. And, like real family members, none are any better or worse than any other, any more right or wrong, except possibly in specific contexts. And like real family members, they should all respect both family solidarity and individual gifts.
The exciting thing about being able to line all these frameworks and tools up next to each other is that this sensemaking family can create for us a sort of menu of approaches so that we can all find what we need, whenever we need it, whoever we are, however we think best, wherever we are coming from and wherever we want to go. It is of course, as I've said elsewhere, the most sophisticated use of such frameworks to be able to use all of them as our needs require it, to be comfortable with the whole family. A true master of sensemaking (if there could be such a person) would be able to visit with these and any other yet-to-be-discovered family members and learn something from each of them, and teach them each something as well.
[Edit: I realized after reflecting on this for a few days that I may have said something I didn't intend. By saying "we are now up to six connections" I may have seemed to imply that I was somehow in charge of how many things are connected. That is not my place, if indeed it is anyone's place. What I meant was that I'm collecting frameworks to describe in the sensemaking chapter of my book. That's all I meant. I am not the arbiter of all things. If fact my belief is that ideas and understandings about the world that go as deep as these frameworks are too big to be owned or controlled or corralled or even befriended by any one person. They tend to seek out many friends. I see them, like I see narrative methods, as like giant whales that let us swim alongside -- if we behave ourselves, that is.]