Ep. 21: Jabe Bloom and Marc Burgauer – Designing Systems

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Last week, beginning of December 2018, I happened to be guest of the DevOps Conferencein Munich. The nice people from the organising companygave me the chance to actually make it a family meeting with my pals J Paul Reed (a giant in the field of DevOps), Marc Burgauer (from Scotland, doing Agile consulting in Banking) and Jabe Bloom (co-founder and chief scientist of Praxisflow).

It was 3 really busy days, the bunch of us were continuously mingling in giving talks, workshops, being active in a panel and all kinds of fun. Finally on the last day, we all gave a huge workshop together, using all kinds of techniques and tools from all of our fields and it felt like really great collaboration – throwing together all our expertise from all the fields we’ve been busy in and merging the approaches. Collaboration without vanity and really sharing. It rarely feels this good!!!

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On the evening before the workshop, Marc, Jabe and me sat down in my hotel room and recorded roughly two hours of ramblings on designing systems. When Jabe is with you, it’s always on the highest level and really abstract design theory. But Jabe has this tough in which he can really go sky high, risking to be Icarus. But just before his abstract knowledge makes gets him too close to the sun, he defends to us other mortal souls and he connects back to earth and leaves us all with a “ahhhh, I see what you mean!!!” The background is that Jabe is currently working on his PhD in Design at the Carnegie Mellon University and as such he is a monster in reading about all of the most abstract literature in design theory – specialising in change in human systems in extreme time spans (like hundreds of years). Of course, there are huge connections between these theories and what we are doing.

Having Marc in this round is a totally different perspective yet and I love how the three of us managed to blast through all kinds of topics. Honestly, this one is one for the lodert and possibly for a niche. But I guess the niche will love it.

I’ll make it short this time and leave it with the character of the recording: Raw, uncut and a little meandering but always true to the topic and lots of lots of depth. I love this and it feels authentic to how my life and job is.

Thanks guys in being my guests and inspiration in this episode.

This is part 1 of 2 parts. The next part will make up the next episode and will follow in a week or so. This just had to be out there.

Some notes and hints:

How different timeframes and different temporality change our thinking and how we have to take care about this. We mention Bungay, User Stories, Epics, Strategy …

The focus of Agile is compression of timeframes. It can be a problem once we loose the language for longer timeframes.

„Employee goes „I can’t think of a way to come up with a chain of two week events that would add up to your one year story. I can’t do it. It doesn’t make any sense.“

The role of middle management in story telling and expertise.

A Peter Principle of temporality, explaining micro management.

OKRs and stories

Humanist culture is about “What am I doing?“ not „How do I measure what I am doing?“ but “What am I doing?“‚

Determinism vs. “The Quality within”, love vs. Process

The more efficient you get, the more exploration you can do.

Science doe not have time as a component. The scientific method is always in retrospective. It always thinks about the past and it never thinks about the future. The predictions it does on the future are based on a determined future. There is no Open in science.

The thing about the Jony Yveish people out there is that they are able to imagine things that don’t exist and can’t be measured. You can’t use determinism to get there. You can’t use quantification to get there. You can only use story telling and narrative.

How can Roger Martin’s Knowledge funnel be used in a way that it brings mystery? It needs to be used non-linearly. You throw a thing in the middle, it pops up to the top and a mystery is born. That’d be a different way to innovate rather than simply finding “valuable problems” to solve.

Doing Hackathons more right and more wrong.

Apollo 13 mission story: Time constraints, a known set of components and isolation (so the team has to be put away from everybody)

“If we had this, then we could make that!”

Three temporalities to making sense:

  • How do I make sense of what’s going on?
  • Retrospective coherence:How can I later explain why I did this in the future. (constraining)
  • Prospective coherence. If I put this thing that doesn’t exist into the world, how does it change the stories that I’m in?


I guess this is really abstract stuff. I just love it and I assure that if you are a regular listener, there is a lot in it for you!

Eine Antwort zu Ep. 21: Jabe Bloom and Marc Burgauer – Designing Systems

  1. Jörg sagt:

    If your visualization tells different stories, it’s maybe not a good visualization! Check http://www.ibcs.com for some examples.

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