CALMalpha was meant to be a mash-up between the Lean, Agile and Cynefin / Complexity Theory practitioners.
The outcome of the unconference wasn’t really stated. When you understand that a complex domain is one in which the cause of an outcome can’t be perceived except in retrospect, this might make more sense. The only thing we were trying to do was see if there was a way of using complexity theory to help inform our practices, and if there were some practices from Agile and Lean that complexity theorists might find interesting – a mash-up!
There’s one problem with this.
Currently, the best-known leadership of Complexity Theory revolves around the company Cognitive Edge. These guys have some amazing methods for making sense of domains, spotting complex problems and providing data which calls out “weak signals” that might otherwise be lost. I paid good money and took time off work for the course last year, and it was worth every penny. For the non-initiated and tl;dr, imagine five new types of retrospective, a method for reducing planning meetings to five minutes, and six different ways of making the output from them heard, and you’ll get a vague idea of the impact and scope. Oh, and they’ve got software for running the retro across countries.
I can’t currently use the methods they taught me, not as a professional coach. The methods are open-sourced, but released under a non-commercial, non-derivative Creative Commons license.
Cognitive Edge, your Wiki says (emphasis mine):
The Cognitive Edge wiki exists to provide a collaborative space for accredited members of the Cognitive Edge Network. All accredited practitioners should feel welcome to contribute to the ideas and concepts in these pages.
The licence prevents me from using your methods as a professional coach:
The licence also prevents non-accredited people, which is most of our communities and a lot of CALMalpha attendees, from creating their own ideas:
While I might be able to build on your work, I’m unwilling to do so as long as my efforts fall under this licence. I also can’t pass on anything to the people I work with for their contribution.
Can you see how this doesn’t mesh with the idea of a “mash-up”, and goes completely against your ideas around multiplying perspectives?
So here’s my request.
Cognitive Edge, please, please open your licence up for commercial and derivative work.
The stuff you do is amazing. If you were working solely for the money, you wouldn’t have come up with these ideas. I can only assume that you, like us, are trying to make the world a better place. We will continue to attribute the methods to you and talk about how amazing they are. Those of us who’ve seen it will continue to point people towards your SenseMaker software (which is ground-breaking, world-changing, worth paying for the 1-day demo, and deserves the more rigorous patent applied to it – I look forward to the day when it’s a bit cheaper!)
As it stands, we can’t do anything useful with your methods. Worse, because you’re working in a space full of narratives and I’m working in a space full of very similar examples, I have to be very careful that my work – released on my blog under CC, non-commercial, non-derivative – is actually based on other sources (mostly Dan North and Chris Matts) and not on yours.
Please. Be generous. Reach out to your contributors, ask them, and release what you can.
Sometimes it’s worth doing something you can’t go back from.