Dave Snowden On Agile Methodology

The problem with most agile methodologies in the modern environment is ensuring they are applied in the correct context. Too many people stare so close to these practices that the means start to overshadow the ends.

Dave Snowden reminds us of the importance of cognitive neuroscience, anthropology and theory informed practice in modern software development:

And that is why The Pentagon listens to him.

Maybe you should too.

Cynefin And Complexity Theory

Introduction To Complex Systems Theory

As an outspoken character, Dave Snowden usually provokes an opinion from most people with whom he comes into contact. Best known for his creation of the ‘known knowns’ to ‘unknown unknowns’ concept, fewer people have studied the official body of work from which this is derived – Cynefin.

However his theories on complex systems theory are undoubtedly provocative and noteworthy.

I’ve found his theories on complex adaptive systems to be of particular relevance to cloud computing, micro-service oriented, adaptive software development.

Below is a pithy but insightful summation of his opinion of traditional management/development practices.


For more, see his full talk on Agile development practices:

Synthesising A Service

Synthesising a service can help identify the essential building blocks of a service and what effect each of these has on the interested parties, or stakeholders.

Stages of Synthesis

1. Create an initial list of the components of the service

a) People

b) Vehicles etc.

c) Buildings with functions

d) Final delivery locations / collection locations

e) Tools necessary (bags, boxes etc.)

f) Management and admin staff

2. Gather information about these components

The list of components provide a useful framework for gathering information on the service.

– use objective sources where possible (gov / council sources).

– take photos where possible.

– talk to the people who are part of the service

– research deep web and reliable sources.

3. Map The Service and Components

a) Create a custom Google map and draw the routes

b) Add info about each site and route

This mapping helps to communicate a service to others. It has also assisted the process of collecting and organising the information. This has helped us gain an understanding of a service system.