Difference Matrix


The Difference Matrix uncovers the dynamics inside a human system and helps you understand the kinds of changes that are most likely to unfold. Within any container, it reveals and opens options for action to influence the speed and path of change in a self-organizing system.


The Difference Matrix represents the interactions of two conditions for self-organizing: Difference (D) and Exchange (E). Either of these conditions can high or low, and in combination, they define four different change dynamics: Emerging, Spinning, Holding Tension, and Resting.

So What?

When you become aware of the patterns of change dynamics, you are able to make choices in the moment to reinforce what is or to shift conditions to influence what will be. Each of the four quadrants of the Difference Matrix has benefits and risks, represented in the model diagram. Sometimes a particular dynamic is quite useful. At other times it might be unproductive or dangerous. You can use the Difference Matrix to diagnose current dynamics, consider alternatives, and take action to set conditions for patterns that are most fit for function in a particular place and time.

Now What?

Use the Difference Matrix in your next sticky issue to:

  • See what is happening in the moment.
  • Make sense of risks and benefits of what is and what might be.
  • Take intentional action to shift from on quadrant of the Matrix to another.
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