Why Complexity Needs the Opposite of Normal
‘Normality’ and complexity are so un-alike that we need to use opposite approaches to navigate them effectively. When we enthusiastically explain the latest way to improve our ways of working, we can avoid getting our colleagues offside by bearing in mind that what we are explaining is counter-intuitive.
This session will use examples to demonstrate the subtle differences between our traditional ways of working and lean/agile approaches and how to present them in ways that make it easier for others to accept those ways can work.
Outline/Structure of the Talk
We can argue that complexity is the new normal – although, for those of us familiar and comfortable with the Cynefin Framework, we understand that real life contains a blend of the obvious, complicated, complex and chaotic. There are things that have a high level of certainty and predictability and things that have a low level of certainty and predictability.
The aim of this session is to present the experiences of a person (me) who has progressed from delivering large programs of work using tailored waterfall delivery methods to being very comfortable with ambiguity and the broader lean/agile principles.
It struck me, from my first introduction to agile, how ‘opposite’ some of these ideas appeared and it wasn’t until I came across the Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden, that I started to understand why that was OK.
- 5 mins
- Introduction and background – the feeling of opposite in agile and how the Cynefin framework explains it (high level)
- The first opposite thing – preparing for meetings versus creating outputs during meetings and workshops
- 5 mins
- Documentation versus visualisation on a wall – for early planning. How documentation is great for the detailed level for high-certainty work and how visualisation on a wall is much more effective for finding dependencies and risks very early in the process for low certainty work.
- 5 mins
- Getting our colleagues on board – if it felt opposite and counter-intuitive to me, it probably feels the same for them as well. The old ways still work for some things – we need to acknowledge that they were done that way for a reason and address the concerns as they come up
- The ‘old and cumbersome’ business case process that wasn’t really so. How we can still use the intention of these stage-gated funding processes to support a Lean Startup in the enterprise approach and effectively explore complexity
- 5 mins
- Admission – I’ve been a bit evangelical in the past about lean/agile (and Cynefin in particular). How I learnt to use the new ideas without having to explain them in detail up front (and gain better buy-in from colleagues and stakeholders)
- 5 mins
- Summary and wrap up – with some time for Q&A
Attendees will learn the following
- Why traditional business case processes are still effective for highly predictable projects and Lean startup/Design thinking and other exploratory approaches are better where there is a low level of certainty
- The importance of acknowledging that ‘We’ve always done it this way’ can still be relevant in certain contexts
- How to move the conversation about new ideas from confrontational to collaborative and context-sensitive to gain better buy-in from our colleagues
- Using the Cynefin Framework to explain the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
This session is aimed at people who are introducing lean/agile concepts to the workplace or adding to the continuous improvement efforts with new ideas from conferences such as LAST.
Prerequisites for Attendees
There are no prerequisites for this session