Writing

Anticipatory Awareness and the Election

Anticipatory Awareness and the Election

The anxiety I feel about the actions of the Trump administration over the last few years reaches a new crescendo as Nov 3rd, 2020 rolls around. Instead of cycling endlessly through various "what-ifs," I am going to make use of a technique I teach others, useful for...

Ten Heuristics for Bad Times

Ten Heuristics for Bad Times

A heuristic is a cognitive shortcut for decision-making. It is not guaranteed to be rational or even correct. It serves only to help you get to “good enough” in the short term. Here are ten to try in bad times…

Language Is Key, but Context Is King (Dean DiStasio)

Language Is Key, but Context Is King (Dean DiStasio)

Ben is joined by artist Dean Distasio to explore what it takes to create transformative conversations through complexity-informed artistic works. Dean shares his process and offers unique perspective on networks, narrative, and the importance of language and context.

Organizational Resilience (Matt Stratton)

Organizational Resilience (Matt Stratton)

Legendary DevOps friend Matt Stratton joins Ben for a discussion on the very near and dear topic of organizational trauma. Matt shares important lessons from his experiences, as well as a few secrets to building organizational resilience through incident response. (Content warning: General discussion of trauma.)

Building Bridges (Colleen Esposito)

Building Bridges (Colleen Esposito)

Ben is joined by Colleen Esposito, an agile coach and self-described bridge-builder with an incredible set of unique experiences spanning finance, software development, project management, and even home renovation. She and Ben explore the complexity of engaging with...

How are you doing as a human? (Toby Sola)

How are you doing as a human? (Toby Sola)

This episode features a thoughtful discussion with Toby Sola, Co-Founder & CPO of Brightmind, a meditation app for managing stress and anxiety. Ben and Toby explore the intersection of meditation and technology, as well as how to start inviting contemplative...

“Help” Is a Four-Letter Word

“Help” Is a Four-Letter Word

There is helpful help, and then there is unhelpful "help." Far too much help seems to fall into the latter category, and when someone “helps” — when it’s not asked for, when it presupposes too many incorrect assumptions, and when the relationship is not fair and...

The Conditions for Community

The Conditions for Community

The Conditions for Community There’s an old joke that says you only need two tools in life: Duct tape, for things that move but shouldn’t, andWD-40, for things that don’t move but should. I have both in my toolbox at home, along with a number of other, more...

Wardley Mapping on Kumu.io

Wardley Mapping on Kumu.io

I’ve noticed that quite a few people have been writing purpose-built software for Wardley Mapping, and lately I’ve been feeling inspired to join them! I had some extra time last Saturday, so I sat down at my laptop in the hopes of hacking together a fancy D3.js...

The Wardley Mapping Canvas

The Wardley Mapping Canvas provides just the right amount of visual structure to help mapping practitioners make quick progress and have a better learning experience while building their first maps. The canvas has been added to the official RealtimeBoard template...

So you want to build a website

So you want to build a website

Every once in a while, I plan to share something I call a solution blueprint — a way to fulfill a particular business need that I think is universal enough to be offered as general advice for the current moment in time. Something to consider as a safe default. That...

Intro to Wardley Mapping

Intro to Wardley Mapping

A hard truth of decision-making is that complete information will never be available. We use tools, techniques, shorthands, and experience-laden aphorisms to fill in the gaps, but they remain inadequate in addressing uncertainty. Our individual coping mechanisms are...

Deconstructing Ideas

Everything I’m Hoping Is in Your Elevator Pitch When I attend a pitch event, I sit with a notebook in my lap and sketch out a quick value chain of each product or solution while it is being described. At the end of each pitch, I write where I would focus first, were I...

Wardley Mapping Tools and Techniques

Wardley Mapping Tools and Techniques

A current list of tools for Wardley Mapping is maintained over at LearnWardleyMapping.com. This post has two main sections: A semi-serious reflection on the problem space of tools for mapping, and then a fun overview of all sorts of mapping tools and techniques,...

On Strategy

“Strategy” is an interesting word in that its absence of useful meaning is directly correlated with its frequency of use, as Dave Aron describes in his book, The Essence of Strategy: People put the word strategy next to other words in order to make them sound...

Batches and Iterations

The following is a rather unpolished glimpse into how we think about batch sizes and iterations. First, we expect our system to have a goal. For a software-building system made of people like ourselves, the goal is to deliver value in the form of working software. We...

Buffer Management for Meal Prepping

This post describes an attempt to apply theory practically (praxis) to solve a silly little problem. My wife and I are getting serious about cutting our restaurant spending, so we have been cooking large batches of food to store and eat throughout the week. Cooking in...

On Diversity

Just a few years ago, I would not have been able to articulate why organizational diversity matters. (I know that for a fact, because I once offered a barely adequate, fumbling answer during an interview. Despite somehow getting the job, I remained largely clueless...

Hidden Complexities

Originally published September 24, 2016 I consider sense-making to be a component of Landscape and Doctrine (from Sun Tzu’s Five Factors), and so I am incorporating a short overview of Cynefin into an upcoming talk on strategy. While outlining, I toyed with a few...

Wardley Mapping, A PowerPoint Template

UPDATE: A new template is available at LearnWardleyMapping.com. Check it out here. Originally published June 25, 2016 One particularly coherent approach to “strategy” involves using a map to pursue increased situational awareness from which to execute various forms of...

Cynefin, Culture Change as Complex

Originally published February 27, 2016 The Cynefin framework (created by Dave Snowden) reveals that Complicated or Simple approaches break down and can only succeed by complete accident in the Complex domain, because causality is only clear in retrospect. From this...

Motivation Cycles

Originally published February 24, 2016 You could find the Abstract listening to hip hop My pops used to say, it reminded him of Bebop I said, well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles Way that Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael — Excursions (A Tribe...

Visual WIP

Originally published February 21, 2016 I have been searching for a temporary work visualization method to adequately convey both how a given process works and the WIP (Work In Progress) within it at any given moment. With eventual improvement set as a goal for the...

The Four Questions

Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, in his lecture titled Beyond the Goal: Theory of Constraints, describes the necessity of answering the following questions when adopting a technology: What is the power of the technology? What limitation does it diminish? What rules helped us...