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100% predictability equals 0% innovation
Henrik Kniberg
Enabling constraints guide what could be. Governing constraints direct what should not be.


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See Wikipedia » Cynefin.

Goal: To find out which projects can and cannot be picked up with agile/lean.

  1. Ask participants to generate an exhaustive list of all current and upcoming projects; one project per note.
  2. Draw four quadrants and explain the basic categorization (only explain first terms in list below):
    1. lower right—Percievable, Predictable, Repeatable; Known; Lay people with instructions and procedures. Sense Categorize Respond; Best Practices
    2. upper right—Separated in time and space; Potentially knowable; Domain Expert or Subject Matter Expert, Craftspeople; Sense Analyze Respond; Good Practices
    3. upper left—Not repeatable, unique; Retrospectively coherent; Adventurers, Entrepreneurs; Experiment; Probe Sense Respond; Emergent Practices: Ever Evolving Pearl Language
    4. lower left—Not perceivable; Incoherent; Discovery; Act Sense Respond; Novel, Innovative Practices
    5. middle—Disorder
  3. Ask everyone to stick their projects in the most appropriate quadrant.
  4. Explain more detail about the quadrants: Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic, Unordered.
    1. Simple—suited for straightforward project planning.
    2. Complicated—thorough analysis, planning, and moderate agile and lean approach; use good practices and pearl languages.
    3. Complex—suited for experiments with double- and triple-loop learning; read: agile, lean, cooking with principles, play with recipes; use pearl language when appropriate;
    4. Chaotic—suited for a flurry of short, intense experiments, followed by observation and educated guesses for new experiments.
    5. Unordered—leave alone; skip; drop.


  • Shift from fail safe env to safe to fail experiments; you can't explore what's possible in a complex system until you act in it.
  • Parallelism and contradiction are key.
  • Human systems are complex adaptive. we co-evolve with the patterns formed so recognize them early.
  • Manage the evolutionary capability of the present (complex adaptive) rather than working idealistic future states (systems thinking).
  • All symbiosis starts as a parasitic relationship.