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The Complexity Toolkit: Techniques for Navigating Uncertainty

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Presentation given at Aginext.io conference, London, March 2019 by Simon Lawrence and Marcus Williams.
When we find ourselves in complex situations it's common to fall back on the tried and trusted, however this may not always deliver the greatest value. During this session, we'll use Cynefin as a lens to discuss how techniques including Hypothesis-Driven Development and The Mikado Method can help teams navigate the domain of complexity.

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The Complexity Toolkit: Techniques for Navigating Uncertainty

  1. 1. The Complexity Toolkit
  2. 2. S c r u m M a s t e r a t @ s i m o l a w C o - fo u n d e r o f @ C a m _ A g i l e _ xc h g S c r u m M a s t e r a t @ s p r k y C o - fo u n d e r o f @ C a m _ A g i l e _ xc h g S i m o n L a w re n c e M a rc u s W i l l i a m s
  3. 3. LIBERATING STRUCTURES SCAMPER RITUAL DISSENT HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT MIKADO METHOD UBIQUITOUS LANGUAGE MENTAL MODELS METAPHOR SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS FOUR POINTS EXERCISE MAPS POSITIONING LANGUAGE & COMPLEXITY EXPLORATION IDEA GENERATION CYNEFIN SHIFT DRIFT @simolaw/@sprky
  4. 4. Cynefin
  5. 5. Complicated sense-analyse-respond Governing constraints Good Practice Obvious sense-categorise-respond Fixed constraints Best Practice Complex probe-sense-respond Enabling constraints Emergent Practice Chaotic act-sense-respond no effective constraint Novel Practice The Cognitive Edge method is ©2012 Cognitive Edge (USA) Inc., used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. @simolaw/@sprky
  6. 6. The Cognitive Edge method is ©2012 Cognitive Edge (USA) Inc., used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. Cynefin for Everyone! By Liz Keogh (lizkeogh.com) licenced under CC 3.0 by-sa Complicated Obvious Complex Chaotic 5. No one has done this before 4. Maybe someone outside our organisation has done this before 3. Someone inside our organisation has done this before 2. Lots of people have done this before, including someone in our team 1. Just about everyone in the world has done this @simolaw/@sprky
  7. 7. Is my feature…? CHARACTERISTICS RESPONSE DANGER SIGNS COMPLICATED? Responds to analysis Multiple possible solutions are evident Known unknowns Sense – Analyse – Respond Use established processes - good practice - governing constraints Apply an analytical approach Add subject matter experts Exploitation vs exploration Perpetual divergence, lack of convergence COMPLEX? Partial and changing requirements - unstable Many competing ideas Unknown solutions Unknown unknowns Probe – Sense – Respond Frequent, small, safe experiments Process flex Increase communication & collaboration Increase dissent and diversity Exploration vs exploitation Tendency for command and control or arbitrary methods of control Accelerated resolution or decision making Enticed by the phantom of stability @simolaw/@sprky
  8. 8. Positioning Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
  9. 9. Shift the conversation 1:1 Team Organisation Customer @simolaw/@sprky
  10. 10. The Cognitive Edge method is ©2012 Cognitive Edge (USA) Inc., used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. Cynefin for Everyone! By Liz Keogh (lizkeogh.com) licenced under CC 3.0 by-sa Complicated Obvious Complex Chaotic 5. No one has done this before 4. Maybe someone outside our organisation has done this before 3. Someone inside our organisation has done this before 2. Lots of people have done this before, including someone in our team 1. Just about everyone in the world has done this
  11. 11. Finding your position The Four Points Exercise (Cognitive Edge, Agendashift) • Brainstorm ideas/problems @simolaw/@sprky
  12. 12. Finding your position The Four Points Exercise (Cognitive Edge, Agendashift) • Brainstorm ideas/problems • Place extremes at corners @simolaw/@sprky
  13. 13. Finding your position The Four Points Exercise (Cognitive Edge, Agendashift) • Brainstorm ideas/problems • Place extremes at corners • Relatively place all others @simolaw/@sprky
  14. 14. Finding your position The Four Points Exercise (Cognitive Edge, Agendashift) • Brainstorm ideas/problems • Place extremes at corners • Relatively place all others • Name the areas Complex Obvious Complicated Chaotic @simolaw/@sprky
  15. 15. Finding your position The Four Points Exercise (Cognitive Edge, Agendashift) • Brainstorm ideas/problems • Place extremes at corners • Relatively place all others • Name the areas • Breakdown those in disorder
  16. 16. User Story Mapping An example of using the 4 point exercise in our day to day tools @simolaw/@sprky
  17. 17. User Story Mapping Use the 4 point exercise to guide your viable release slices and delivery strategy @simolaw/@sprky
  18. 18. Shift the conversation Find your position What is that telling us? Use the information to inform your decisions @simolaw/@sprky
  19. 19. Language & Complexity Image by carlos hevia on Unsplash
  20. 20. Linguistic Divide @simolaw/@sprky
  21. 21. Metaphors metaphor /ˈmɛtəfə,ˈmɛtəfɔː/ noun a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. @simolaw/@sprky
  22. 22. Visual Metaphors @simolaw/@sprky
  23. 23. Exploring Diverse Mental Models Tom Wujec www.drawtoast.com @simolaw/@sprky
  24. 24. Shared Understanding Through shared language @simolaw/@sprky
  25. 25. Exploration Image by carlos hevia on Unsplash
  26. 26. Hypothesis Driven Development Photo by Laurenz Blickwedel on Unsplash
  27. 27. Hypothesis Driven Development Focus on the development of new ideas Short, safe experiments to determine an expected outcome Mindset change from proposed solution to hypothesis The outcome is measurable evidence & learning @simolaw/@sprky
  28. 28. Formulate a hypothesis Make observations State the indicators to evaluate if the experiment has succeeded Design an experiment to test the hypothesis Evaluate the results of the experiment Conduct the experiment Make and test a new hypothesis (if needed) Accept or reject the hypothesis @simolaw/@sprky
  29. 29. Form groups Generate ideas (lots) Domain vs cross-functional groups? Diversity between vs diversity across Formulate a hypothesis Make observations @simolaw/@sprky
  30. 30. New topic Decision The Facilitator’s Guide To Parcipatory Decision-Making, Kaner ,Toldi, Fisk, Berger, Jossey Bass, 2007 L I N E A R @simolaw/@sprky
  31. 31. New topic Decision New topic The Facilitator’s Guide To Parcipatory Decision-Making, Kaner ,Toldi, Fisk, Berger, Jossey Bass, 2007 New topic D I V E R G E N T L I N E A R @simolaw/@sprky
  32. 32. Form groups Generate ideas (lots) Formulate a hypothesis Make observations • Gather ideas • Identify a representative of the idea • Gather a (diverse) audience • Challenge • Reflect • Refine Ritual Dissent/Assent https://cognitive-edge.com/library/methods/ritual-dissent/ @simolaw/@sprky
  33. 33. As a <user type> I want <desired feature> So that <value> Accept or reject the hypothesis Evaluate the results of the experiment Conduct the experiment State the indicators to evaluate if the experiment has succeeded Design an experiment to test the hypothesis @simolaw/@sprky
  34. 34. As a <user type> I want <desired feature> So that <value> Accept or reject the hypothesis Evaluate the results of the experiment Conduct the experiment State the indicators to evaluate if the experiment has succeeded Design an experiment to test the hypothesis @simolaw/@sprky
  35. 35. As a <user type> I want <desired feature> So that <value> We believe that <this capability> Will result in <this outcome> As measured by <measurement> Accept or reject the hypothesis Evaluate the results of the experiment Conduct the experiment State the indicators to evaluate if the experiment has succeeded Design an experiment to test the hypothesis @simolaw/@sprky
  36. 36. The Facebook Example We believe that Adding a ‘dislike’ button Will result in Increased engagement from our users As measured by An increase in the number of likes, dislikes, comments, posts and increased user time Example taken from ‘Agendashift’ by Mike Burrows As a <user type> I want <desired feature> So that <value> Accept or reject the hypothesis Evaluate the results of the experiment Conduct the experiment State the indicators to evaluate if the experiment has succeeded Design an experiment to test the hypothesis @simolaw/@sprky
  37. 37. We believe that <this capability> Will result in <this outcome> As measured by <measurement> Some hacks We believe that <this outcome> Will be achieved by <this capability> As measured by <measurement> Coherence Success/ Failure indicators Amplification/ Dampening Is it safe? • Are there risks to: • Human life? • Finances? • Reputation? • Is failure accepted? • Is there plausibility/coherence? • Is there an escape hatch (Dampening)?@simolaw/@sprky
  38. 38. Mikado Method Photo by Katherine Chase on Unsplash
  39. 39. Teams meet complexity in other places HTTPS://XKCD.COM/1667/ Image from XKCD by Randal Monroe, used under creative commons attribution-non-commercial license @simolaw/@sprky
  40. 40. The Mikado Method Set a goal Experiment Visualise UNDO @simolaw/@sprky
  41. 41. Visualise: The Mikado Graph • Your guide in a complex space • Starts with a goal • Breaks down into sub- goals, dependencies & decisions • These drive the next experiment @simolaw/@sprky
  42. 42. LIBERATING STRUCTURES SCAMPER RITUAL DISSENT HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT MIKADO METHOD UBIQUITOUS LANGUAGE MENTAL MODELS METAPHOR SHIFTING CONVERSATIONS FOUR POINTS EXERCISE MAPS POSITIONING LANGUAGE & COMPLEXITY EXPLORATION IDEA GENERATION CYNEFIN SHIFT DRIFT @simolaw/@sprky
  43. 43. Resources Cynefin • Dave Snowden’s intro video • http://cognitive-edge.com/videos/cynefin-framework-introduction/ • https://hbr.org/2007/11/a-leaders-framework-for-decision-making • Agile by Example keynote • Cynefin and the Occupy movement • https://lizkeogh.com/cynefin-for-everyone/ Hypothesis-Driven Development • https://barryoreilly.com/2013/10/21/how-to-implement-hypothesis-driven-development/ • https://cognitive-edge.com/library/methods/ritual-dissent/ • Agendashift by Mike Burrows, New Generation Pub, 2018 • The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner, Jossey-Bass, 2007 SCAMPER • https://www.designorate.com/a-guide-to-the-scamper-technique-for-creative-thinking/ Liberating Structures • http://www.liberatingstructures.com/ Mikado Method • http://mikadomethod.info/ 4 points exercise • https://www.adventureswithagile.com/2016/04/11/cynefin-review-part-7-finding-your-place-on- the-framework/ Draw Toast • http://drawtoast.com User Story Mapping • https://www.jpattonassociates.com/user-story-mapping/ Metaphor • http://sachachua.com/blog/2012/04/visual-metaphors-change/ @simolaw/@sprky

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