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Chapter 12. Wrangling complexity

Agility means that you are faster than your competition. Agile time frames are measured in weeks and months, not years.

Michael Center for Systems Innovation Hugos

The good news is that many of the problems of addressing complexity and change have already been solved by the very people who started the complexity problems in the first place: technologists. They solved these problems because they had to.

The Complexity Issue

Technologists started wrestling with complexity before anyone else. The wave of complexity, change, and coevolution that is now cresting across the business world first appeared in the technology domain, as computer scientists tackled software design problems and struggled to interweave multiple systems into large-scale “systems of systems.”

Since the 1950s, technologists have adopted new approaches that allow them to better address complexity and ongoing change. One, called agile development, is a different way of doing work. The other, called service orientation, is more focused on how bits of work are connected to other bits. Both of these approaches emphasize continuous learning, adaptation, and distributed control—rather than planning, prediction, and central control. They are specifically designed for managing work in fast-changing, uncertain environments.

These approaches function like complex adaptive systems, where the parts of the system can learn, adapt, and coevolve like a biological community.

Agile Development

As early as ...

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