Living Complexity
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Living Complexity

A catalogue of practices for everyday software and digital products development

About the Book

Complexity Science, together with Lean and Agile Software Development are the three pillars of modern ways of working.

Complexity is considered by many to be the single most important scientific development since general relativity. Complexity Science study systems like weather systems, cities, organisations, and teams. With users, customers and competitors that are hyperconnected, and with the rate of change of the markets and the technology that is constantly accelerating, understanding Complexity Science today is more useful than ever.

While Complexity science literature is very theoretic, this book explores the practices to manage Complexity in the context of software and digital products development. It shifts up-side-down the centre of gravity of the conversation around Complexity and makes the practical applications of Complexity theory prominent.

It talks about and discusses Complexity from a practical point of view to engage hands-on practitioners, problem solvers and tinkerers.

This book also focuses on the human element in Complexity that is essential when looking at teams and the organisation.

These practices give you the means to navigate everyday Complexity and to dance with complex systems. This book is for everyone working in software and digital products development, and more specifically for leaders, managers, facilitators (e.g. Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches), and team members.

The book also describes a way to gradually introduce our co-workers, our teams and our organisation to Complexity. They exemplify a new approach that consists of acting our way into the new Complexity thinking.

It introduces a landscape of Complexity-inspired practices organised in three regions. All the practices from the first region are about human self-organisation. The practices from the second region are about assessing and adapting to the degree of complexity of the work at hand. And the practices from the third region are about collaborating in the presence of Complexity.

The practices in this book are inspired by the work of Joseph Pelrine, David S. Alberts, Ralph Stacey, and Dave Snowden. This book also contains original contributions from Dean Latchana, Liz Keogh, and the author himself, Luca Minudel. This book also aspires to be an example that inspires other Complexity practitioners to share other practices that could potentially be added to this book.

This book has been improved thanks to the precious feedback from Joseph Pelrine, Sunil Mundra, Dave Snowden, Brett Ansley, Ilias Bartolini, Carlo Beschi, Maurizio Pedriale, Peter Fessel, Bülent Duagi, Tom Northwood, Antonia Greensides, David Legge, Katya Kolmogorova, Greg Franklin, Corrado De Sanctis, Michael Park, Vicenç García Altés, Simon Reindl, Carlo Volpi.

Note to this second version of the book: This is the first major reversion of this book after the first official publication. Errata corrige or minor fixes may follow. Check here for any updates

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About the Author

Luca Minudel
Luca Minudel

Luca Minudel is a Lean-Agile Coach & Trainer, and a Transformation lead, with over 20 years of experience in professional software delivery and digital product development, most of them with Lean and Agile.

He is passionate about agility, lean, complexity science, and co-creation.

He contributed to the adoption of lean and agile practices by Ferrari's F1 racing team. For ThoughtWorks he delivered training, coaching, assessments and organisational transformations in top-tier organisations in Europe and the United States. He worked as Head of Agility, Agile Transformation Lead, Lean/Agile Practice Lead, and as Lean/Agile Coach in companies such as HSBC, Lloyds, LexisNexis.

Luca is the founder and CEO at, a company that helps organisations turn their way of working into their competitive advantage.




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Reader Testimonials

Maurizio Pedriale
Maurizio Pedriale

This book is a methodical work, that fills a gap in the extensive - and sometimes difficult to navigate - body of work around complexity, and how different approaches and ideas blend and interact with the world of Agile. I believe its conciseness and structure make it a good companion for Agile coaches, and can be read both cover to cover, as well as by referring to specific parts.

Greg Franklin
Greg Franklin

This book can help leaders and managers through organisational change. It supplies the tools they may need to make sense of a complex environment and provides a vocabulary to communicate it. It is a very useful book which leaders will want to reach for as a reference to better understand the theory and then put it into practice.

Antonia Greensides
Antonia Greensides

This catalogue of practices presents and interprets the work of several thought leaders, past and present, in an accessible and concise style whilst demonstrating practical applications of complexity sciences. There is much here to excite agile practitioners, there being an assumption of experience and skill in group practice. I will refer back to this book multiple times and recommend it enthusiastically to those working in the agile sphere.

Katya Kolmogorova
Katya Kolmogorova

I went through the first version of the book and really loved those ideas. It was the first time I saw a merger of complex systems and agile teams and it was eye-opening. I loved how it catalogued individual concepts and their applicability. Plus, a great read for nerds in leadership positions.

Bülent Duagi
Bülent Duagi

Good curation of some models and techniques to help Product teams deal better with the complexity in their work.

Simon Reindl
Simon Reindl

This is a great book to read and reference time and again. In a clearly structured way, it explores some models around managing complexity and self-organisation in teams and then explores practices to understand your situation and context. It is clearly written, and well-indexed to help you quickly find that nugget that you want to use. It is a great foundation of Complexity and provides a practical approach that is framework agnostic - which makes it even more useful on your reference shelf.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
    • Why I curated this catalogue
    • Who is this catalogue for
  • Introduction
  • Two new radical ideas
    • The practical applications of Complexity
    • The human element in Complexity
  • The landscape
  • The key concepts
  • Region 1
    • Self-organisation
    • The Basic model (by Joseph Pelrine)
    • The Heat model (by Joseph Pelrine)
    • The Flow model (by Joseph Pelrine)
    • The ABIDE model (by Dave Snowden)
    • Conclusions
  • Region 2
    • Assessing the degree of Complexity
    • Sensing Complexity (by Luca Minudel)
    • Estimating Complexity (by Liz Keogh, documented by Liz Keogh)
    • Delivery initiative Complexity estimation (by Luca Minudel)
    • Four points method (by Dave Snowden)
    • Adapting to the degree of Complexity
    • RUDE estimation (by Dean Latchana, documented by Dean Latchana)
    • Cynefin for decision making (by Dave Snowden)
    • C2 Approach Space (by David Alberts)
    • Cone of Complexity (by Luca Minudel)
    • Conclusions
  • Region 3
    • Co-cretion, collaborating in Complexity
    • Red Team technique (by Dean Latchana, documented by Dean Latchana)
    • Culture affinity assessment (by Luca Minudel)
    • Lean Inception (by ThoughtWorks)
    • Conclusions
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix
    • Appendix A: Introduction to Complexity, resources
    • Appendix B: Who is who
      • Dean Latchana (Co-author)
      • Liz Keogh (Co-author)
      • Dave Snowden
      • David Alberts
      • Joseph Pelrine
      • Ralph Douglas Stacey
      • Others mentioned in the book
    • Appendix C: Mapping the Fearless Change patterns to ABIDE, exercise
  • About the Author
  • Notes

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