11 - 13 May 2016

thestudio, Manchester, UK

Agile engineering over 'over engineering'

Alistair Stead Inviqa

Session type: Case Study
Session duration: 45 minutes

About this Case Study

Building agile engineering teams that make mature, smart decisions for complex problems is a fairly common goal. If it were easy, Amazon would be selling far fewer books on the subject.

When people approach problems they bring with them certain biases to how they view that problem domain. Engineers tend to see every problem as complex. After all complex problems are what we're specially skilled to solve. However, is every element in an engineering project complex?

How can a framework from cognitive science (Cynefin) help teams mature in their thinking and approach to problem solving? Identifying strategies or options to break down complex problems and produce clean, simple solutions can make agile teams much more effective.

Although it may sound like common sense, using an explicit process can help expose this bias and identify the path to a solution.

You will leave this session able to apply the Cynefin framework to technical analysis and have a set of questions you can pose to teams in order for them to build mature options when approaching problems and avoid committing too early to the wrong path.

About the Speaker

Alistair Stead is CTO at Inviqa and Session Digital. He has been crafting software in multiple stacks for nearly 2 decades and has been a technical advisor to organisations like Virgin and the United Nations' World Food Programme to deliver software that matters.

Alistair has a keen interest in development culture, practices and tooling and has great respect for engineers who commit to challenging their understanding of problem domains and constantly striving for improvement.

Like many engineers, Alistair is a tinkerer. He likes to tease things apart to understand the core of a problem; putting them back in exactly the same order to serve the same purpose is optional.


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Session Types

Need help planning which sessions to attend? We've provided a breakdown of our various session types below.

Case Study/Experience Report

A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of Agile and Lean practices. Case studies and experience reports include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is.


Participants learn a new approach, tool or technology through using it to solve one or more practical exercises. Any software/hardware requirements are disclosed in the session description.


A session focused around some specific tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, tutorials usually include some elements of interactivity or individual / group exercise.


An in-depth working session on a specific topic. May include paper presentations.