In the Cynefin Framework section, the act of moving around the domains is introduced. Agile project teams will recognize the horizontal loop between Complicated and Complex as the agile interactive compared to a Waterfall linear process flow.

The Waterfall planning method works well if the project is able to remain entirely in the stable Order system. That means a project where all stakeholders are totally aligned with the ideal future state and committed to following the linear roadmap. Using a railroad metaphor, the Change Manager’s primary task is to drive everyone to the fixed destination. If something falls off the rails, manage the deviation and get back on track.

The metaphor for Agile planning is a ship navigating on a sea of complexity and chaos. It’s a bumpier route as the Change Leader is constantly bobbing and tacking with unpredictable winds, currents, and perhaps a monster arising from the deep blue sea. The direction is consciously set towards a fuzzy port, not a sharp, well-defined fixed destination. Fuzziness allows other ports that appear out of no where over the horizon to be considered. These are the serendipitous opportunities emerging from complexity. In the Waterfall project management approach, the Change Manager will treat these as distractions, potentially derailing, and causing focus to be lost on initially agreed-to goals and targets.

Both planning methods are useful and practical. The trick is knowing the difference and having the mindfulness to know where you are in the Present.