Initial thoughts on Cynefin & LEAN

April 10, 2015

I’m still getting used to Blogo as a tool and the new web site conitnues to have some teething troubles so Culture Scan is going to have to wait until Monday. The teething troubles including getting the template right for the Blogo feed so I have no idea what this will look like. Also as of now I don’t know how to load new presentations to the site but I should have that under control by later next week. Thanks for the reception to the new look and feel of the web site by the way; todate one person doesn’t like it.

So given that delay I thought I would reflect on the keynote I gave this morning in a Black Sea resort to a large group of Russian companies. It was subject to translation, but not simultaneous, so I had to speak a sentence then wait, speak then wait. Fortunately I had a good translator and we had spent two meals and several conversations together getting the concepts accross so she could translate the idea rather than the words. It was the first time I have been explicit about LEAN in this context although it comes up a lot. I’ve also got some more thinking, speaking and writing. However in summary I said:

  1. One of the critical aspects of LEAN is that it seeks to create space for people to come up with their own solutions to problems within boundaries.   That makes Cynefin a powerful ajunct to LEAN as it defines what kinds of freedom within what kinds of boundaries depending on domain.
  2. Focus on visualisation within LEAN is both theoretically and practically harmonious with the fitness landscapes used within SenseMaker® and I showed some of those to make the point.   Showing people a pattern with a potential area of movement is more important than numbers or technical reports.
  3. That also allowed me to make the point that despite LEAN making it clear that Product Development is not the same thing as Production Management you still get the ideas of the latter intruding on the former.
  4. This is particularly true in software development, where its not just about designing to a specification it is (or rather should be) a co-evolutionary process of creation and need fulfilment.
  5. Techniques like Six Sigma if applied beyond a highly constrained system are anathema to LEAN as they create the type of waste that LEAN is meant to eliminate.

Now I could have said a lot more and I am further developing the ideas next week in the context of Design Thinking and also at a new course with David Anderson in the context of Kanban although that will range more widely. I’m looking at a SenseMaker® approach to representation in the complex domain. That is at the end of the month in London. So more on this whole topic over the next few months.

2 responses to “Initial thoughts on Cynefin & LEAN”

  1. Abid Quereshi says:

    Dave, thanks for this. Can you give me an example of the type of waste that Six Sigma creates when applied beyond a highly constrained system?

    Abid Quereshi (London – UK)

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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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