BCS Conference

March 17, 2013

I started yesterday with a keynote address to the BCS Agile group.  I'd accepted the booking some time ago on condition that I was on first so that I could get to Cardiff in time for certain important events but it made for a packed morning.  I only got back from Amsterdam late on Friday night and had to start a two week trip to Hong Kong and Singapore on Sunday so time was packed.   I made my train from Swindon by the skin of my teeth (and I am praying the speed camera in Wroughton was not active!  I had also only realised the night before that the event was on Lean and Kanban, not Agile per se so I needed to create a new presentation on the train.  Through the presentation I also had a sense of a deadline in that I had to make a specific train back, and I was thinking of the match itself.

All of that adrenaline had the required event though, plus a responsive audience which is what speakers like me really need to feed off.   It was one of the best I have given on complexity and software development and I think I managed to situate it within the wider context of LEAN, but I have more work to do there.  I had three main points I wanted to make:

  • That most techniques like SCRUM and the like are really operating on the complex-complicated border and rightly so.  But there is a need to deal with the truly complex in a different way and that means rethinking a lot of current AGILE practice to make it better fit LEAN philosophy which is well aligned with complexity – something I am writing a book chapter on for LSS at the moment,
  • That running one approach through multiple cycles until its right is great, but its an ordered technique.  For true complexity you need multiple parallel and often contradictory approaches.  I provided some basic rules for those including obliquity and naiveté.
  • A co-evolutionary approach is needed to deal with unarticulated user needs and unknown technology capabilities in addition to more traditional means.  Aside from user satisfaction this also links to exaptation, allowing a new system not only to meet needs, but to create innovative new capability.   I managed to articulate how SenseMaker® can do this well (I think), certainly better than in Göteburg.

The podcast and slides are now available so enjoy!  To all those at the event, or who read this blog, I'm also linking to the upcoming Cynefin and Sense-making training in London, which is the best way of learning more. That is also on in San Francisco and Melbourne so plenty of opportunity.

Agile coaches should also look at attending the development session Joseph and I are running shortly in Helsinki.  This will develop an Agile-Cynefin programme which we plan to franchise so this is a chance to get in on the ground floor.

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About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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