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A personal journey towards Cynefin

January 2020, our new Agile Coach arrives and says the words “enabling constraints”. I write them down in my notebook, and type them into Google that evening.

And so I find Liz Keogh’s tweet:

Examples of enabling constraints: Haiku’s small format. Apollo 13 and “Failure is not an option”. A metronome. A safety harness. Blinkers on a race horse. Choice of tech stack. Ubiquitous domain language. A Code of Conduct. Scrum’s timeboxed sprints. Twitter’s character limit.

Liz Keogh, @lunivore

From which I find her blog, and read Cynefin for everyone and Cynefin for developers. In February I faciliate a version of her Avoiding Disorder exercise for the team I work with. It helps.

Not long after, I find Dave Snowden’s comments on Liz Keogh’s blog … and then I forget exactly how but I start watching conference keynotes on Youtube. Anyhow, it is thusly that I come to know of the work of Dave Snowden and of Cognitive Edge, and therefore of Cynefin.

Things I have been thinking about for a long time start making sense.

[There would follow here a long story about not recognising chaos and as a result being in Australia and not the UK as WHO declared the global pandemic due to COVID-19, but now is not the time.]

And then in May, I type Cynefin into and find the merry band of agilists known as Agile Reading, whose meetups I very much enjoy attending and to whom I have now promised a talk in January 2021 entitled Untranslatables – a journey in three words to reflect on culture*.

Said talk will focus on three words that are often said to be untranslatable into English:

Sisu – Finnish, “grit, stoicism”

Lagrom – Swedish, “just enough”

Cynefin – Welsh, “habitat, belonging”

And so begins a short series on this blog that will form the basis of my talk.

Ann 🦉

* Or some re-arrangement thereof, I’m still working on the title: tweet me if you have a better suggestion.

Published inAgileCynefin