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Cover image for DEV3L on Complex Adaptive Systems by Dave Snowden

DEV3L on Complex Adaptive Systems by Dave Snowden

Justin Beall
Software engineer (Python/Node/Java), craftsperson, XP advocate, agile technical coach, product discovery/delivery/management/owner curious, data miner, believer in growth mindset, multiplier, servant
・2 min read

Dave tries to help his audience understand how to operate with a new perspective when interacting with systems that are not ordered, cannot be ordered. Software development is an example of a Complex Adaptive System. Elegant metaphors help us understand the common misunderstanding of the word complex (cynefin) in reference to a system.

He provides some thoughts on how to navigate to more desirable outcomes: Enabling new perspectives and thinking, first mover exaptation, shifting to adjacent possibilities, ubiquitous language, design for failure + serendipity + unarticulated needs, an appreciation for chef, procrastination, and luck.


Active Listening Notes

Complex Adaptive Systems 

New Ways of Thinking
- Thoughts on language

Methods elevated to the religion
- There are no recipes

Recipe book user versus Chef
- more chefs

We do not see, what we do not intend to see
Survivor of the luckiest - not fittest
Exaptation moments of radical repurposing
- first mover advantage by repurposing existing technology for novel purpose

Design for serendipity
Design for unarticulated needs

The nature of a complex system is that it always fails
- design for early failure
- only through early failure can you discover what is possible

Complexity - most misused word

Ordered / Chaotic / Complex
- ordered, not natural (linear causality)
- chaotic, without constraint
- complex, enabling constraints (no causality)

Dispositionality - science of inherent uncertainty
- try to project manage a children's party

Change ritual to engage in different cognitive activation pattern
= Radiologist missing Harambe (gorilla) in lung scans

No timesheet at IBM for 7 years : wow
Alcohol coffee cycle critical for software development
Socratic method, leads to hemlock

Small safe to fail experiments on coherent arguments/ideas
Analyze a complex system by interacting with it, not through modeling or analysis

Cynefin
- obvious
- complicated
- chaos
 - *starvation, pressure perspective* -- **innovation**
- complex

People respond to novelty
Last responsible moment


Art is critical to human invention
We learned to paint, before we learned to speak (as a species)
Art comes before language in human evolution

Distribute cognitive functions in complex systems
Shifting to an adjacent possible

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