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 its practical applications in the context of software and digital products development. 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 practices in this book constitute a practical introduction to Complexity thinking and are a stepping stone to Complexity theory. For those already familiar with it, the practices in this book suggest ways to put Complexity theory in action and to live Complexity.

The practices in Part 1 explore ways to orient self-organisation toward positive outcomes. The practices in Part 2 explore ways to sense and assess the degree of complexity and ways to adapt accordingly. All the remaining practices in Part 3, and they focus on co-creation and collaboration among larger groups, up to the whole organisation.

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 Sunil Mundra, Brett Ansley, Ilias Bartolini, Maurizio Pedriale, Peter Fessel, Bülent Duagi, Tom Northwood, Michael Park, Vicenç García Altés, Greg Franklin, Antonia Greensides, Corrado De Sanctis, Katya Kolmogorova.

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Rate and review the book here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53843886-living-complexity.

Note to this 9th bis major incremental version of the ebook, published in middle November 2020.

This is the first content-complete version of the book!

This version of the book includes more improvements inspired by the feedback received that should improve the clarity of the text. It also includes improved formatting for ebook readers.

Any feedback is welcome.

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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 SmHarter.com, a company that helps organisations turn their way of working into their competitive advantage.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lukadotnet

Linked-In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucaminudel/

Blog: https://www.smharter.com/blog/

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.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
    • Why I curated this catalogue
    • Who is this catalogue for
  • Introduction
  • Overview of the key concepts
  • Part 1: Managing self-organisation and teams
    • The Basic model (by Joseph Pelrine, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • The Heat model (by Joseph Pelrine, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • The Flow model (by Joseph Pelrine, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • The ABIDE model (by Dave Snowden, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • C2 Approach space (by David Alberts, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • Cynefin as a framework for decision making (by Dave Snowden, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • Conclusions
  • Part 2: Assessing and adapting to Complexity
    • Sensing Complexity with the Stacey Diagram (by Luca Minudel)
    • Estimating Complexity (by Liz Keogh)
    • RUDE estimation (by Dean Latchana)
    • Complexity Estimation for a delivery initiative (by Luca Minudel)
    • Four points method to make sense of the complexity of requirements (by Dave Snowden, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • Estimates Accuracy with the Cone of uncertainty (by Luca Minudel)
    • Conclusions
  • Part 3: Collaborating in Complexity
    • Red Team technique (by Dean Latchana)
    • Culture affinity assessment (by Luca Minudel)
    • Lean Inception (by ThoughtWorks, documented by Luca Minudel)
    • Conclusions
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix
    • Introduction to Complexity, resources
    • 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
  • About the Author

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