A quick definition, without the narrative
Symmathecist: (sim-MATH-uh-sist) an active participant in a symmathesy.
A symmathesy (sim-MATH-uh-see, coined by Nora Bateson) is a learning system made of learning parts. Software teams are each a symmathesy, composed of the people on the team, the running software, and all their tools.
The people on the team learn from each other and from the running software (exceptions it throws, data it saves). The software learns from us, because we change it. Our tools learn from us as we implement them or build in them (queries, dashboards, scripts, automations).
This flow of mutual learning means the system is never the same. It is always changing, and its participants are always changing.
An aggregate is the sum of its parts.
A system is also a product of its relationships.
A symmathesy is also powered by every past interaction.
I aim to be conscious of these interactions. I work to maximize the flow of learning within the system, and between the system and its environment (the rest of the organization, and the people or systems who benefit from our software). Software is not the point: it is a means, a material that I manipulate for the betterment of the world and for the future of my team.
I am a symmathecist, in the medium of software.
- my “Collective Problem Solving” (aka “Origins of Opera”) keynote (video or summary) introduces this term
- Nora Bateson (article, book) defines symmathesy
- the STELLA report describes the sociotechnical system of a software team
- Support me on Patreon and I’ll send you a Symmathecist sticker 🙂