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Understanding The Fundamental Approach: Insights for Agile Practice

Insight 1:
All real systems are open systems because they exchange information with their environment. There can never be an absolutely closed system. Therefore, a real system cannot exist as a “thing-in-itself” – an “objective absolute reality” – without interacting with the environment.

A forest ecosystem, constantly exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen with atmosphere and nutrients with the soil, exemplifies a real system that cannot be isolated from its environment.

A city’s public transportation system depends on traffic flow, electricity distribution, and also factors like weather conditions, urban planning and infrastructure, passenger demand, governmental policies and funding, technological advancements, and communication networks.

Insight 2:
In complex systems, there is no single root cause for any problem. Similarly, in complex systems, a problem does not have just one cause. Therefore, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution for solving a problem.

In a business, declining sales might not be solely due to product quality but could also result from poor customer service, ineffective marketing, and changing market trends.

Environmental pollution in a river could be caused by industrial discharge, agricultural runoff, urban wastewater, and illegal dumping, rather than a single source.

Insight 3:
Every system is complex because it either interacts with other systems or is a component of a larger system. There is no such thing as truly simple or ordered systems.

Starbucks Coffee Making Team: At first glance, the coffee-making process at Starbucks might seem straightforward and ordered, as the team follows specific steps to make coffee. However, it’s actually part of a broader system that includes inventory management, employee scheduling, customer service, and adherence to health and safety standards, all of which influence and make complex the coffee-making process.

Home Gardening: One might think of gardening at home as a simple system of planting and watering. Yet, it is influenced by a wider system of weather patterns, soil chemistry, pest ecosystems, and even local regulations on water use, making it more complex than it initially appears.

Key Takeaways
Acknowledge complexity by recognizing that every system, including teams and organizations, is interconnected with other systems and is part of a broader ecosystem. Organizational elements require flexibility and adaptability beyond simple frameworks or standard implementations by the book.

Understand that challenges within agile practices often have multiple causes, necessitating a holistic perspective rather than seeking single-solution fixes. Always consider the teams, group of teams and/or organizations as part of a larger ecosystem, where understanding and adapting to external and internal interactions are crucial for true agility.

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