CDE Model

The CDE Model explains the three system conditions that influence the speed, path, and direction of self-organizing systems. The conditions shape the patterns that make up the reality of your world.


Using the CDE Model you can look deep into the dynamics of patterns around you. When you use the CDE Model to explore the patterns in your life and work, you identify conditions that give rise to those patterns, and can speculate on how changing conditions can shift the patterns.

So What?

The patterns that shape our livesthe success, the joys, the challenges, the opportunities, and just the patterns of everyday life and workemerge as we move through the complex human systems where we live, work and play. These patterns are shaped by the interdependent influences of three conditions in those systems. The emergence of patterns is governed by the interplay among the conditions:

  • Container: Similarities that contain the system while patterns emerge (C);
  • Differences: The significant distinctions that hold tension and have greatest influence on decision and action (D); and
  • Exchanges: Connections in the system that ensure the movement of information, energy, and other resources (E).

When you can explain the dynamics of your human systems at this level, you increase the options to take wise action to influence those patterns toward greater coherence and resilience.

Now What?

Use the CDE Model in your next sticky issue to:

  • Understand the dynamics of the patterns that shape the problem.
  • Identify options for action to influence those patterns.
  • Take action to change the conditions and bring about change, and then see whats next.

Related Resources

Your most challenging and interesting problems have never been solved before. They are “wicked” problems because they cannot be solved at all. These problems are the special territory of human systems dynamics. Our models and methods work well on tame issues, but they also help with the most wicked ones. HSD was created to help you see, understand, and influence problems that are impossible to solve. Magic 21 holds the key to seeing, understanding, and influencing intractable issues.
This extract from Eoyang's dissertation gives the foundation for the CDE Model of Conditions for Self-Organizing in Human Systems.
In an interview with Gouran Dhawan Lal, Glenda Eoyang describes conditions for success in a complex environment.
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