Software is Complicated, Given Enough Time

this is complicated at some level, but I don't want to look at it that closely

I often say that software these days is complex. But is it? In Cynefin terms, it’s more like an airplane than a family: it’s complicated. Given enough expertise, all the code, lots of data, and enough time, we could analyze the causal structure of any particular system behavior. We can reason about complicated systems. When … Read moreSoftware is Complicated, Given Enough Time

Working Skillfully in Complexity (for VDDD)

For: [Virtual open Space] Systems Thinking and Skillful Interaction 20 September, 2023 Keynote by Jessica Kerr, These are my notes, publishing for people who were there (or anyone who wants to read them) Working Skillfully in Complexity Plan: about half on the technical side of sociotechnical systems, half on social. I can’t define what … Read moreWorking Skillfully in Complexity (for VDDD)

Participation without complicity

“I participate in this system, so I’m complicit in it.” All the cruelty, the racism, the poverty, the abuse of power in US capitalist patriarchy–this is my fault too? The guilt can crush us. TL;DR: no, it isn’t our fault. It is ours to do something about, while participating. Participate in the system to fill … Read moreParticipation without complicity

Accountability for Effective Teams

Accountability is about performance and behavior. Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage Accountability for measurable outcomes is “not the most important kind.” It’s the easy kind. The kind [of accountability] that is more fundamental, important, and difficult is about behavior. Lencioni, The Advantage It’s fundamental because behavior is what we can legitimately ask someone to change. Business … Read moreAccountability for Effective Teams

Alignment gets expensive. Don’t skimp on it.

Honeycomb has doubled in size since I joined less than 2 years ago. More people means we can do more things at the same time. Both “more people” and “more things at the same time” lead to increased overhead. There’s coordination overhead to get timings right on work that’s independent. Like, to release a feature … Read moreAlignment gets expensive. Don’t skimp on it.

The Viable Systems Model, and where my team fits

A viable system continues to function in a changing environment. We want our companies—and some teams—to be sustainable this way. How does your team contribute? Does your team have all the components of a viable system… and should it? Stafford Beer (1926-2002) coined the Viable Systems Model to describe what it takes. A Viable System … Read moreThe Viable Systems Model, and where my team fits