Cover image for DEV3L on Complex Adaptive Systems by Dave Snowden

DEV3L on Complex Adaptive Systems by Dave Snowden

dev3l profile image Justin Beall ・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

- 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


Editor guide