Complexity, cane toads and how to 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 situations? The Cynefin framework says safe to fail experiments are the way, where you devise small experiments that have little adverse impact if they fail. And while you're doing this, you can generate new and seemingly impossible ideas to experiment with.

So come along and explore how you can generate ideas (other than just sitting down to think of new stuff), and run safe to fail experiments at work. They 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 Workshop

- 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)

Learning Outcome

- 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?

Target Audience

Product people, BAs, IM/Scrummasters, Developers

Prerequisites for Attendees

An an open mind and curiosity :)

schedule Submitted 3 years ago