Cynefin, Agile & Lean Mashups

IMG_05742012 certainly started with a bang for me (lets hope it doesn’t end with a bang!). After a relaxing Christmas and New Year, I was up at 6am on January 2nd to head for Almens in the Swiss Alps, and an intense few days with Simon Bennett, Steve Freeman, Joseph Pelrine and Dave Snowden. We gathered at Joseph’s house to discuss a common interest, namely how do we apply complexity science, and in particular the Cynefin framework, to Agile and Lean development.

Early on, Simon suggested the name CALM, and it stuck almost immediately. I like it for a couple of reasons. Mashups invokes the idea of “a creative combination or mixing of content from different sources”. That’s exactly what we want to do, and its the creative aspect that particularly appeals to me. A Cynefin, Agile and Lean Mashup will inevitably be created contextually. CALM also subtly counterbalances the XP extreme notion. While that’s not an intentional focus, I find it a mildly amusing reference.

My interest in Cynefin began back in around 2004 when Dave first spoke at XPDays London, and while back then I wasn’t smart enough to realise the full implications, fortunately others like Steve and Joseph were. I met Dave again at ScanAgile in 2009 and last year at the LeanSSC and ALE conferences. Simon also gave a great talk linking Scrum and Complexity more concretely at Agile2011, and I that’s when I finally figured out how Cynefin could match my interest in exploring the underlying theories behind Agile and Lean, and more specifically Kanban Thinking.

My personal goal for being involved in the meeting was to move Cynefin, and complexity science, from being something which is used as a justification, to something which provides meaningful explanation, and ultimately to new application. To keep the industry advancing, and to be able to apply Agile and Lean principles in increasingly challenging organisations, we need theory informed practices, as well as learning from our current success by evolving practice informed theory. In other words we need to take a scientific approach, which ties in nicely with my recent presentations on the Science of Kanban, which should make it to a blog post soon.

The primary outcome of the CALM meeting was the creation of CALMalpha. This is a two day residential conference to be held on the 16th and 17th of February 2012 at Wokefield Park in the United Kingdom. The alpha represents the notion that this is an initial safe-to-fail experiment where we hope to explore the subject in more detail, as we seek to find coherence, coalescence and convergence around what we do in the future.

More detail, including prices and booking information, can be found on the eventbrite page. I hope to see you there!

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