- Old School: 6 Types of System scaffolding
- Notes on Scaffolding and Constraints in Complexity
- Power and Ecosystems of Change
- Learnings from Whistler: Scaffolding emergence
- Design Unbound
Whenever we work to change a system, we use some method of scaffolding as part of our strategic thinking, even if it is only our personal and implicit assumptions about how the problems we are trying to change actually exist in the real world.
If we carefully examine our thinking about scaffolding as a heuristic, we find that we can make better, deeper choices about how we affect change. Because there are many kinds of scaffolding (not just the ones we see on the streets), there has been increased work to parse out these types and evaluate their different impacts on change.
Dave Snowden and his colleagues have used ideas from others and their work on Cynefin to build a typology of scaffolding. I will offer a basic definition of each type, but you really need to dig into the resources above to internalize the usefulness of the concept in your advocacy.:
- Old School Steel Scaffolding-the kind we see in building construction zones: This kind of scaffolding is designed to be reused, and consequently is lacking in broad flexibility. It is the materials equivalent of universal procedures for problem-solving or strategic planning or other “silver bullet” solutions.
- Bamboo scaffolding, which is less rigid and more easily changed if circumstances dictate the need for a change during ongoing construction.
- The idea of a Nutrient Lattice, supporting healing with, say, a piece of cartilage that allows burned skin to absorb what healing needs, and is then removed.
- Lattices that leave something behind, like a heart patch that leaves active and new electrical tissue as it dissolves
- The more sophisticated scaffolding/infrastructure needed to support extreme sports, like wild river kayaking. This scaffolding is itself a complex adaptive system. The possibility space includes personal skills development, equipment development, infrastructure development, and the creation and support of a social system of practitioners and allies to make the accomplishments of these sports real.