Meeting with Dave Snowden

Today, Friday the 10th of June, I met Dave Snowden in Copenhagen. Dave is one of the main characters behind the Cynefin framework, which especially teaches us how to act in situations belonging to the complex domain. Dave and I discussed the connection between theories, particularly between his theories of the complex domain and those of Scrum and other Agile methods of project management. Dave said that the founders behind Scrum had discovered many of the principles that work in a practical setting, but they lacked the theoretical foundation for why it worked. This foundation can be found in the theory of “complex adaptive systems” according to Mr. Snowden. This is a new and unfamiliar world to get acquainted with. I am starting to think, he is right. It just is not that easy to pinpoint exactly when a situation is complex. However, a good hint is: “If it has to do with people, it’s probably complex”. Many thinkers working with complexity theory are coming to the conclusion that people are so different from other things and creatures in nature, that the same methods simply do not apply with people; when it comes to people there are no simple rules. A team has to work on a problem or task, but one of the members has a bad day, so the task he was supposed to take, is taken over by a colleague. This colleague then finds a different solution to the task than the one the first guy would have. An irreversible shift in perception has taken place. Dave is an exiting person, who, as so many English men – no definitely not, he is Welsh – is very articulate with a vocabulary the size of Churchill’s.  Added to it he has a touch of madness, as you would expect from someone from the Monty Python generation. It will not be the last I see of him.

kbn