Order & Chaos

Order and Chaos

What is the Order & Chaos story tactic?

Show how your project can impose order on a chaotic mess--or disrupt a system that's too rigid.

Every story contains three elements: The Known, The Unknown and The Hero.

The Known world is orderly, safe but restricted.
The Unknown world is chaotic, risky but full of potential.
The Hero (that's you!) must explore both worlds and find the right balance between chaos and order.

Tip: try this tactic from your user's point of view as well, making them the Hero.

How to use the Order & Chaos story tactic


  1. Order: describe the Known world: e.g.; the client you're working with, their existing products and users.

    • What's positive about this world? (utility, predictability, safety)

    • What is negative? (boring, incomplete, imperfect)

  2. Chaos: describe the Unknown world; e.g.; competitors, changing technologies, changing user behaviours, Acts of God.

    • What is negative about chaos? ( threats and unpredictability)

    • What is positive? (potential for renewal and opportunity)

  3. How does Chaos disrupt Order?

    • How does the Unknown world create sudden change in the Known world? (for example; a natural disaster)

    • What new info becomes available? (anomalies, new patterns)

  4. You are the Hero. How do you respond?

    • Are you helping your client impose order onto a situation that is too chaotic and threatening?

    • Are you injecting some much needed new life into a situation that is too stale and rigid?

Turn this insight into a conversational story using Five Ts or presentation using a Story Arc like Man in a Hole.

Credit: J.Peterson, Maps of Meaning.

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Order & Chaos is one of 54 storytelling recipe cards inside the Storyteller Tactics card deck.

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