Complexity and Systems Thinking

These are the confirmed speakers on the Complexity and Systems Thinking track.

Jurgen Appelo: Complexity Thinking or Systems
Thinking++ ?

People have been using the term Systems Thinking for a few decades. But nowadays we sometimes hear the term Complexity Thinking. Some claim that comparing complexity thinking to systems thinking is like comparing Einsteinian physics to Newtonian physics. Others claim that complexity thinking is nothing more than systems thinking in fashionable jacket. What are the differences? Are there any? And what does this all have to do with Lean and Agile software development? Do such theoretical debates on terminology really help us to better manage our business?

About:  Jurgen Appelo is a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, developer, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, and… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, which deals with development management, software engineering, business improvement, personal development, and complexity theory. He is the author of the book Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. He is also a speaker, being regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world.


Ola Ellnestam: Real Options Applied

Keeping your options open is often desired, especially under circumstances where you don’t know what’s around the corner. How do you do it then? How do you make sure the last responsible moment doesn’t turn into an irresponsible approach where you let the circumstances decide for you? In this talk Ola tells stories and gives examples from software projects, business and everyday events how real options can be applied. Furthermore he describes how you can systematize option creation and exploration in almost any context. This talk is intended for people who makes decisions on software projects or would like to help others through option creation and exploration.

About:  Ola likes to combine people, technology and business which is best done with simple means and flexible processes. More than that he likes to share his knowledge and experiences because that’s how new insights are created according to him.


Carl Savage: Overcoming Education Inertia

Health care has discovered that lean can be applied to the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients. This has led to a flurry of activity as lean coaches guide improvement teams through the challenges of largely project-based improvement efforts. Based on a realist review of these efforts, we have engaged undergraduate public health students to introduce the lean coaches to the principles of agile project management. In the process, the students learn about the challenges of becoming lean and agile as well as come to the realization that they, despite their subordinate position in the hierarchy, can contribute to the improvement of health care.

About:  Carl Savage, PhD, is a researcher and teacher at the Medical Management Centre at Karolinska Institutet. Recepient of the 2011 Franke-stipendium for contributions to higher education in Sweden, he is interested in how universities can help tap the potential of their students and help them learn about their future roles by contributing to improvements today.


Karl Scotland: The Science of Kanban

Science is the building and organising of knowledge into testable explanations and predictions about the world. Kanban is an approach which leverages many scientific discoveries to enable improved flow, value and capability. This session will explore some of science behind kanban, focussing on mathematics and brain science in particular, in order to explain the benefits of studying a system, visualising and limiting it, sensing its performance and learning in order to improve it. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of why and how kanban systems work so that they can apply the thinking with their own teams and organisations.

About:  Karl Scotland is a versatile software practitioner with over 15 years of experience covering development, project management, team leadership, coaching and training.  For the last 10 years he has been successfully applying Agile methods, and most recently has been a pioneer and advocate of using Kanban Systems for software development.

Currently an Agile Coach with Rally Software in the UK, Karl is a founding member of the Lean Software and Systems Consortium and the Limited WIP Society, and has previously championed Agile and Lean Thinking with the BBC, Yahoo! and EMC Consulting. Karl writes about his latest ideas on his blog at


Ari-Pekka Skarp: Coaching in Complex Environments

Coaching is an effective practice, which can be used to influence many things in the modern organizations – ranging from individual’s performance to the functioning of teams and larger parts of the organizations. However, the concept of coaching itself is quite abstract and can include wide range of approaches. The way the social organizations are seen has many implications of how to think about the practice of organizational development and coaching. In this session, the different teleological assumptions, G.H.Mead’s philosophy and the modern approach of social constructionism to process consultation are used as sense-makers to build understanding of how coaches, process consultants and organizational developers could approach the complex organizations. Theoretical background of the presentation is based on the work of authors such as G.H.Mead, Norbert Elias, Ralph C. Stacey, Douglas Griffin, Patricia Shaw, Tom Andersen and John Shotter. The presentation seeks to form a dialogue between the different viewpoints that are used to make sense of the complex organizations by utilizing practical experiences coming from large-scale organizational transformation projects. Session is intended to all the people interested in complexity & coaching – especially for coaches, process consultants and people responsible for the organizational development activities.

About:  Ari-Pekka Skarp has been working in the SW development business since 1999 in many different roles from SW developer to variety of management positions. Currently he works for a Nokia as a coach and organizational developer. He also runs a small one-man-business providing process consultation and work supervision to professionals in different fields of practice.