Complexity, cane toads and how you can experiment to solve complex problems at work
Most of us deal with a great about of complexity everyday. What is complexity? One popular way to identify and understand complexity is via the Cynefin model. According to this, complexity is where cause and effect are difficult to establish, and even when established, are difficult to replicate. The model helps us understand how to identify complexity, and how to deal with it.
What do cane toads have anything to do with any of this, I hear you say? This talk illustrates complexity via a real life problem with regards to the introduction of cane toads to Australia and takes you through the impact of not adequately identifying and dealing with a complex situation.
So, how DOES one deal with a complex situation? The Cynefin framework says safe to fail experiments are the way. Here, you devise small experiments or probes that are safe to fail, meaning there are no adverse effects, to establish the best way forward. Safe to fail experiments are a great tool to deal with situations where many variables are at play, and where the outcome is uncertain. Also, it is a great way to engage your team to come together to find a productive and effective way forward.
Outline/structure of the Session
Introduction to the Cynefin framework (10 minutes)
- The complex domain (5 minutes)
- The case study: Cane toads and a complex eco system: what not to do (10 minutes)
- Workshop intro: safe to fail experiments: intro (10 minutes)
- Example of an experiment (5 minutes)
- Generate ideas (10 minutes)
- Draft your own experiment (30 minutes)
- what is the cynefin framework?
- What is complexity?
- how to identify if if I'm working in a complex domain
- what's the big deal with cane toads, anyway? Example of complexity gone very wrong in real life
- How do I generate new ideas? (Just sitting and think about being innovative isn't working for me)
- What are safe to fail experiments?
- How can I devise and run safe to fail experiments?
Product people, BAs, IM/Scrummasters, Developers