Complexity Principles Patterns and Predictability

April 11, 2018 — Posted by Al Shalloway

We can't make accurate predictions as to what'll happen in our change efforts in complex systems. But principles (such as managing WIP) reasonably apply throughout the system.

There are patterns associated with attending (or not) to principle (eg, not attending to WIP creates inefficiency). This means that principles provide a degree of predictability. But there is something more important. In Timeless Way of Building (one of the books that inspired patterns in the Agile community) Chris Alexander states-"at this final stage, the patterns are no longer important: the patterns have taught you to be receptive to what is real."  What he is suggesting is to attend to the forces that the patterns are resolving.

Patterns are an easy start, but they are not what is really important-the forces in the patterns are. In Agile methods these forces include distance between team members (time and physical) and the amount and size of the WIP. It is important to realize the roles, artifacts, events and rules of a method/framework are merely patterns of use and should adjust to the context as needed-"patterns are solutions to recurring problems in a context."

These forces reflect laws of behavior and can provide additional predictability if we attend to them..

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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