Pragmatic change in the Now

December 15, 2013

The final day of the Supporting Agile Adoption event in Portland made for an interesting morning followed by a three hour drive to the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia (strongly recommended by the way) to get me close enough to Seattle for the 0715 flight tomorrow to London by way of a six hour layover in JFK.  By mutual consent we moved away from the open space format for a few hours to discuss a range of deeply pragmatic initiatives.  In part that was to prevent Agile being seen as co-terminus with Scrum, something that has concerned me for some time and that concern was shared.   We talked about some interesting ideas of pre-Scrum processes, based on complexity thinking, which I now have to write up on the plane tomorrow. 

One of the other ideas I brought into play which got traction was to change or direct the narrative around IT in general and Agile in particular.  The idea there is to shift away from idealistic statements about how things should be in the best of all possible worlds and move more to what can be done in the present.  That includes creating a more fragmented approach to that narrative which is more adaptive, includes heuristics and paradoxical stories that make people thing differently.  I contrasted such stories with the more comfortable platitudes that normally accompany change initiatives.

We all ended up with work to do, and commitments to make progress in weeks rather than months. I for one left feeling very positive about the event and the possibilities for real action.  These small events (it was invitation only) with mature people, able to handle disagreement are a real delight and it was an honour to be invited to be a part of it.

The Planglossian references are used with 'malicious intent' by the way, Voltaire's famous satire applies to those who live over optimistically in the future as well as in the present.

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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.

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