When transforming an organization, we deal with complex systems which comprise many agents (ability to learn from experience) that dynamically create and recreate a spider web of connections and interactions. Everything is connected to everything.

Hence, we must consider the emotional side and the systemic side when dealing with change. The emotional side is a powerful self-defensive mechanism. We hate uncertainty. That’s all. We have been programmed to avoid it. When we are uncertain about something, we create our own reasons to reduce the stress and remove the uncertainty. Furthermore, there’s a systemic reason to avoid change; the own structure of the system. Complex adaptive systems tend to be stable. It means that the more direct and indirect interactions with other agents within the system, the harder to change the system itself. When an agent changes, the system gets forced to change how to interact with and loop starts again. Change is movement.

I have been more and more interested in learning how to teach the foundations of complex adaptive systems and this game invented by @jurgenappelo might be a valuable tool.

Meddlers is a tool focused on the systemic side aimed to create a view of your organization and to identify the direct and indirect interactions between agents within the system. Even though this game was presented in 2014 I recently took part of a workshop again I’d like to share my learnings and ideas for futures opportunities.


  1. Make visible the organizational structure of your organization.
  2. Make your mental models about roles, responsibilities and team structures explicit.
  3. A quick game for simulating how to grow your organization through what-if
  4. Involving people with different roles and perspectives in discussions to solve complex problems[1].
  5. Assess your model through a Resilience Card: Rating your organizational structure from different perspectives.
    1. Motivation, team work and healthiness.
    2. Shared goal, evolution and maturity.
    3. Quality, engineering and release process.
    4. Customer satisfaction and involvement.


  1. In case your scenarios are too vague, teams will not be able to create consistent organizational structures.
  2. It’s sometimes lead to long discussions.


  1. Split the audience in groups no bigger than 4-6 people to facilitate conversations.
  2. Allow other teams to assess other team’s models using the resilience cards after they have listened to the arguments of their organizational’ structure.
  3. Pay special attention to your scenarios. Give them enough information about roles required for each product or service you deliver.
  4. Create plausible scenarios considering the main factors of the resilience card to invite people to reflect and to adapt their organizational structure.
  5. Sharing the model between teams to provide different perspectives and refine your view of the system.
  6. Adding the possibility to add new roles not considered in the original game.

[1] Generative, dynamic and social complexity. Solving tough problems.


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