Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Brief History of Methods

In this blog posting, I am going to apply a knowledge management framework called Cynefin to a series of Business/IT challenges: software development, systems development and service development.


The Cynefin Centre spun off from IBM in July 2004 and describes itself as a network focusing on the application of complexity science to management and organisational practice. "At the heart of the Cynefin Centre is a distinction between ordered and unordered systems, and the consequent recognition that systems with fundamentally different qualities require the application of contextually differentiated methods for both diagnosis and intervention."

The Cynefin Sensemaking Framework has five domains, four of which are named, and a fifth central area, which is the domain of disorder. The right-hand domains are those of order, and the left-hand domains those of un-order.

Cynefin Sensemaking Framework

For a full description of the framework, see paper by Cynthia Kurtz and Dave Snowden: The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world. IBM Systems Journal Vol 42 No 3, 2003 (html) (pdf). See also weblog by Willem van den Ende (Dec 6, 2004) (Jan 17 2005).

Development of Methods

Uncoordinated building work
No method
Design of a single software system
Methods include RUP and XP.
Design of a software-intensive solution, as a system of systems (e.g. RUP/SE)
Twin-track/ multi-track development (e.g. Select Perspective)
Assumption of overall design authority - directed composition.
Design of a software-intensive experience, within a service-based ecosystem - true SOA. Complex systems engineering calling for collaborative composition.
Methods could include XB.

RUP is the flagship method for IBM Rational. There is a plug-in for systems engineering called RUP/SE, which goes some way towards the demands of SOA. See separate blog posting.

There is a difference of opinion as to where extreme Programming (XP) belongs. If it is merely a software engineering method focused on the efficient production of small-scale software, then it belongs in the domain of the known. If it moves beyond software productivity into business agility, then it transforms into extreme Business (XB) and belongs in the domain of the complex.