Mike Sivertsen

Cognitive Kanban: Improving Decisions in a Complex World

Complexity is ever-present and increasing in systems engineering and software development. However, most systems engineering standards, computer models and associated approaches are best suited to environments in which requirements are known or knowable, and cause and effect are closely linked.

The Cynefin (ku-NEV-in) framework (developed by David Snowden) provides for improved decision making in both typical and more challenging situations. Simple, complicated, complex and chaotic domains require different approaches in order to best meet project goals. Through techniques derived from social computing and a kanban-like “pull” approach, people’s fragmented knowledge and understanding (“cognition”) can be combined to build better decisions than the sum of the parts. This speeds and strengthens individual and organizational responses to competitive threats. Examples drawn from business, science and technology will illustrate lessons to be learned and useful practices across a continuum from strategic to tactical.


Mike Siversten For 30 years Michael (Mike) Sivertsen has applied a wide range of technical skills and “Learning Faster” business solutions to increase organizational and individual performance. These solutions have individually returned cost-savings up to $1 million. His industry background in energy, IT, and aerospace has spanned positions such as Health Physicist, Nuclear Engineer Instructional Designer, Business Systems Analyst, Information Architect, Consultant–Organization and Leadership Development, and Systems Engineer.

In 2004, he received Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ highest award, the Aero Star, for developing a unique tool for improving program management leadership. From 2004 to 2006, Mike pioneered advances in information and knowledge management to enable capturing the “lessons learned” of work groups and individuals on the largest aerospace program in U.S. history, the F-35 aircraft. Mike is currently a leader in a knowledge continuity program at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (LM Aero) in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mike earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Minnesota in 1979 and a Master of Knowledge Management from California State University, Northridge, in 2009. He currently holds a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) designation from the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).