CALM Beta Boulder

Keep Calm And Carry On

CALM Beta is the follow up to CALM Alpha, held near Reading, UK in February of this year. It will be held August 1-2 in Boulder, Colerado.

CALM (Cynefin, Agile and Lean Mashups) was conceived by myself, Simon Bennett, David Snowden, Steve Freeman and Joseph Pelrine, who all had the vision of exploring ways of growing the application of cognitive and complexity science to meet the challenges facing modern organisations, and in particular, those adopting Agile and Lean ways of working. The goal of CALM is to grow a community of thinkers, practitioners, and researchers who further the application of these sciences in Software Development as well as in the larger organisation. We want to use the experience of the real-world application of principles, based on validated theory, to help both theory and practice co-evolve.

CALM Beta will be the next iteration of an event to further this goal. The hope is to make the event participatory, with as much attendee contribution as learning. Building on the experience gained at CALM Alpha, the intent is to amplify the positive patterns and dampen the negative patterns. We will add more structure, encourage narratives and focus on creating deliverables.


Day One: Come prepared to share your war stories.  We will work as a group to gather data on our successes and failures and then use Cyenfin tools to make sense of when our methods support and fail us.

Day Two: Building on what we discovered on Day One, on Day Two we will break into two streams – one (tutorial) focussed on learning more about Cynefin, Agile and Lean with respect to gaining insights into the methods we currently use, and the other (developmental/exploratory) stream for those interested in using this data to develop and extend Lean and Agile methods.

At the end of the event we will come together to share our discoveries.

Additional Detail

CALM Beta is being run as a not-for-profit venture. Registration includes the 2 days, with lunch provided. If funds allow, breakfast and/or some evening refreshments will be also provided. Numbers will be capped at 50 to keep the event personal.

Accommodation will need to be booked separately. We are currently trying to secure a block booking at a discounted rate to ensure we can keep the conversations going on into the night!

As a part of registration we’re asking you to also complete the following questions. Shared here to help you start thinking…

  • Why do you want to attend CALM Beta?
  • What experiences will you bring to CALM Beta?
  • What new insights do you hope to gain at CALM Beta?

Register Here

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!