Friday Five – Week 80

Here’s what we’re looking at this week…

John Hall

Combining Cynefin with Swarming for better Incident Management

Cynefin is an intriguing framework. With its basis in complexity theory, it is built on the principle that different situations require significantly different kinds of response. Its creator, Dave Snowden, succinctly describes it as “making sense of complexity in order to act”.

In recent years, Cynefin has been gaining significant attention in the DevOps community. It’s also gaining traction with ITSM professionals, particularly those considering the future evolution (or replacement) of established practice frameworks such as ITIL.

This cross-community interest in Cynefin is reminiscent of an similarly shared interest in Swarming, a philosophy which rejects established siloed or multi-tier team hierarchies, in favour of flexible, adapting workgroups.

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Dave Snowden


“What we actually saw with systems thinking is an attempt to reduce human judgement to rigid processes. I’ve just been to a think-tank in
California… when the main existential threats to the planet is not global warming to something that’s ourselves that self-regulated. It’s things like AI and things like gene splicing. AI is significantly dangerous. There is an old joke do you think artificial intelligence would exceed human intelligence in the next 20 years and the answer is yes because at the moment we’re planning to meet them halfway. We reduce in the way we manage organizations to highly structured linear processes which actually replicate the way that computers work rather than human systems have evolved.”
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What's your story?

Story and narrative

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Steve Holt

Introductions are in order: Cynefin and Theory of Constraints

From our archives.

Now, if we were to look at this through a Cynefin lens we’d say that Alex’s company started out in the Simple Domain, not because it was appropriate, but because they had been over constrained by mandated policies, goals, objectives, budgets and schedules. This drove them into Chaos, where they are when the book starts, facing constant expediting, late deliveries and unhappy customers….and bosses.

The story, then, is a journey from Simple to Chaos to Complex to Complicated and the characters learn how to make increasing sense of their world and get better and better at acting appropriately in it.


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