15-minute FOTO, version 12

The facilitation deck for our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO is now at version 12. Just one change: for the Lite format of the game, what previously were announced under a heading of “Tips:” are now announced as follows:

Help your colleagues enjoy a productive time:

  • Start small: 5% and 15% outcomes, bullet point answers
  • Be generous in the outcomes you accept (and write down)
  • If a minute passes without an outcome being captured, something is wrong

A renamed heading might seem a trivial change, but in the debrief after the game we will introduce (retrospectively) the three roles of Client, Coach, and Host, which in the Lite format any player can adopt at any time. Client and Coach correspond very obviously to the tasks of answering and asking the questions from the cue card, but until this version, it didn’t seem that we had done enough to set up the Host role.

Bonus

Emphasising the “leading” in “Leading with Outcomes” (our core curriculum), this discussion question comes from the Agendashift Academy version of the 15-minute FOTO debrief:

Reflecting some more on the Client, Coach, and Host roles, which one is the leader?

There it’s pre-recorded; I have tested it “live” also.

For some background on prior changes that led up to this one:

As ever go to agendashift.com/15-minute-foto for tips, download instructions, and an ancient but still fun video.


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Big changes for the Agendashift Academy

As predicted, Friday 29th is pivot day! As of today:

  • Agendashift Academy (academy.agendashift.com) has moved to a subscription model
  • Choose between Agendashift for Business and Agendashift for Individuals – subscription packages for businesses and individuals, each with yearly and monthly options

And we’re picking up the pace – new content goes live today and we’re committed to releasing new content at least twice a month:

  • Leading with Outcomes: Foundation is already live and very well received – this self-paced module is the one to take first (if you have this already, we’ve given you all the benefits of a yearly individual subscription for the next 6 months)
  • Starting today, we’re releasing Inside-out strategy: Fit for maximum impact at the rate of a chapter a week:
    1. Everybody on the same page with purpose (today, Friday, April 29th)
    2. Getting to the issues that matter (Friday, May 6th)
    3. Organising strategy visually (Friday, May 13th)
    4. From outcome to action (Friday, May 20th)
    5. Designing your inside-out strategy sprint (Friday, May 27th)
  • Outside-in strategy: Positioned for success is in production and will come onstream from June
  • Adaptive Organisation: Business Agility at every scale will come onstream from September
  • Also beginning this summer, we are putting together two long series of short “bite-size” videos that will take us well into next year

On our student community platform (based on Circle), each new module gets its own discussion space. We’re already holding regular AMA sessions (“Ask Mike Anything” – sorry, couldn’t resist), and there will be other subscriber-only events, webinars for example.

Workshop-wise, in the short term we have made the decision to concentrate first on business subscribers, with public workshops to follow. Individual subscribers are not forgotten however! In due course, we’ll announce changes to our existing partner programme and a new programme for trainers wishing to teach from our material.

If you are a leader in a transforming organisation or aspire to be one, then we’re here for you! To find out more – our vision, features, subscription plans, FAQs etc – head over to academy.agendashift.com now.


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Agendashift roundup, April 2022

In this earlier-than-usual edition (you’ll see why): Friday is pivot day; Interviewed by Mike Leber; Agendashift as framework, 2022 edition; German translations; Upcoming; Top posts

Friday is pivot day

Friday would have been roundup day, but we’re saving that for the next big announcement from the Agendashift Academy. Yes, there’s new content, the expected next module in the Leading with Outcomes curriculum, but the real news is more significant than that, a lot of hard work (and not just by me) coming together in a really exciting way.

If you’re not already on the mailing list, now would be a good time to subscribe.

Interviewed by Mike Leber

I was interviewed recently by Mike Leber – see below for the recording, and see also What I really think about Kanban, highlighting what was just one part of what was a wide-ranging conversation.

Hot on the heels of that one, Friday or soon after I’ll be making an appearance on the Lean On Agile (& Elevate Change) Show, interviewed by Shahin Sheidaei. I’ve had the chance to listen to the podcast already and look forward to sharing that one too.

Agendashift as framework, 2022 edition

As announced earlier in the month I’ve updated agendashift.com/framework to lead with the three strategies:

If you have access to Agendashift’s Commons or more specifically to Agendashift assets, there’s a new framework overview deck, Agendashift framework overview 16x10 2022-04 v3.pptx. Best viewed full screen and with the Source Sans Pro font installed. If you don’t have it, you can request access via the framework page.

Why is this important? Well, one important source of struggle for organisations and their leaders is that those 1990’s models of change (models still accepted as “doing it properly”) don’t work for most interesting kinds of business challenges, certainly not the kinds of challenges associated with transformation. As my friend Patrick Hoverstadt puts it:

If the model doesn’t work more than half the time, the model is wrong – so wrong indeed that it can’t be said to be useful.1

What if we stopped leading with solutions – solutions that are not only likely to be a poor fit to their intended context, are hard to implement, and meanwhile deny everyone the opportunity to do something better – and started leading with outcomes instead? What if we could hold the right conversations – strategy conversations – at the right time, agreeing on outcomes, organising around outcomes, and steering by them? And not just “rinse and repeat” (glibly assuming that this happens for free) but seeking opportunities to do this at every scale?

Only after the Why and the What if comes the How – Agendashift’s patterns and tools. I’m learning not to get to those quite so quickly as I used to, and the strategies bridge the What if and the How really nicely 🙂

1 See Patrick’s new book The Grammar of Systems: From Order to Chaos and Back. From memory, so I’m paraphrasing. Highly recommended.

German translations

A quick reminder that all of my books are now available in German:

I still have a few review copies of the recent Agendashift translation left. If you feel a review coming on, please get in touch!

Over the coming weeks, some of our translated resources will receive updates.​​

Upcoming

Top posts

  1. What I really think about Kanban (April)
  2. Updated: Agendashift as framework, 2022 edition (April)
  3. What I really think about Scrum (August 2020)
  4. Video: Leading and Transforming with Outcomes (March)
  5. What I really think about SAFe (October 2019)

What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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What I really think about Kanban

Previously on this blog:

My first book, Kanban from the Inside (2014), remains a top book for Kanban so I really ought to complete that list.

Earlier this week I was interviewed by Michael Leber. The hour (livestreamed) flew by very quickly and I’m very pleased with how it came out, so thank you very much Mike! If you’re on LinkedIn, this is the better link to the recording:

Otherwise this one:

It was a wide-ranging talk but we started with Kanban (the method as well as the tool) and I said a few things about it I haven’t really said before. A couple of key quotes:

I don’t find that [evolutionary change] principle exciting. I don’t get excited about evolutionary change – it’s like the wrong metaphor for a great tool.

If you’re serious about it, it has got to be with some intent. If you’re just fixing problems just because you see them, it doesn’t actually meet needs, it doesn’t get you to where you want to get to. And if you’re going to get to where you want to get to, you’ve got to have a conversation about where that is, what that looks like, what direction it’s in. … If you’re serious about the outcomes and their obstacles, serious about where you’re going to focus your efforts, serious about understanding the relationships between outcomes, you’re actually doing strategy.

To be fair to Kanban (the method), it tries harder than most Agile frameworks to get to that, but it doesn’t really get there, and nor will it so long as a tool (the kanban system and its supporting structure) is the predetermined answer. That’s why I am where I am now, non-aligned framework-wise, developing Agendashift as a way to help organisations and their leaders approach change and transformation strategically. If you want change, learn to have the strategy conversations around it. Don’t start with a solution (an Agile framework, say); start with agreement on outcomes. Done authentically – the right people in the room, the results of the conversation not prejudged – the rest follows so much more easily.

Finally, some of the links mentioned:

And my books (all of them now available also in German):

  • Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2nd edition 2021)
  • Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019, audiobook 2020)
  • Kanban from the Inside (2014)

What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Updated: Agendashift as framework, 2022 edition

I’ve updated agendashift.com/framework to lead with the three strategies:

Update 2022-04-07: If you have access to Agendashift’s Commons or more specifically to Agendashift assets, there’s a new framework overview deck, Agendashift framework overview 16x10 2022-04 v3.pptx. Best viewed full screen and with the Source Sans Pro font installed. If you don’t have it, you can request access via the framework page.

Enjoy!


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Agendashift roundup, March 2022

In this edition: Serving the transforming organisation / Three meta strategies; Agendashift 2nd edition in German; Academy update; Upcoming events; Top posts

Serving the transforming organisation / Three meta strategies

New strapline, new pitch! Agendashift’s “Serving the transforming organisation” complements the Academy’s “Leadership and strategy in the transforming organisation” and expands on the latter’s audience of “leaders in transforming organisations”.

Settling down nicely after several iterations is Agendashift’s new elevator pitch. Check out:

  1. The Agendashift home page, the top section in particular
  2. The meetup video published earlier this month, Leading and transforming with outcomes

Showing some of my working (accidentally published as two separate posts, also a little out of date now):

  1. Updated: Agendashift’s three meta strategies (March)
  2. Agendashift’s three meta strategies (February)

What you’ll see as it continues to develop – and I with it – is more time developing the highs and lows of the pitch. With the help of Academy co-founder Kjell Tore Guttormsen I’m learning to resist the urge to get to the detail of how Agendashift works, instead telling a story that is easily relatable. That urge in me is so strong, so be patient with me…

Agendashift 2nd edition in German

I’m thrilled to announce that the German translation of the Agendashift 2nd edition is out, translated by Björn Jensen and Jennifer Pfahl and published by dpunkt.verlag. That completes the set! Most recent first:

  1. Agendashift™: Ergebnisorientierter Wandel und kontinuierliche Transformation in agilen Organisationen (original: Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation)
  2. Right to Left: Der Leitfaden zu Lean und Agile für Digital Leader (original: Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile)
  3. Kanban: Verstehen, einführen und anwenden (original: Kanban from the Inside)

A sincere thank you to Björn and Jennifer, also to Christa Preisendanz and her team at dpunkt.verlag.

Academy update

Big announcement next month. More than that I can’t say right now, but don’t worry, it’s going well 🙂

Upcoming events

Top posts

  1. Video: Leading and Transforming with Outcomes (March)
  2. No longer doing business in Russia (March)
  3. The 1967 Manifesto for The Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (October)
  4. Updated: Agendashift’s three meta strategies (March)
  5. Out of beta, Leading with Outcomes: Foundation goes fully live today (February)

What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Updated: Agendashift’s three meta strategies

[Updated March 10th: tweaked the headings, replaced the image]

Or if you prefer:

  • After Rumelt, three guiding policies – thank you Oren Golan for the reminder
  • Less grandly, three things to keep working at if you’re doing anything strategy-related (which, if you think about it, should be a lot of the time)

For now at least (this is a work in progress) I’ll go with meta strategies. They’re strategies for getting better at strategy, in particular the kinds of strategy that tends to motivate transformation. And forgive me if I drop the meta once in a while.

Meta strategy 1. Keep asking the “agreement on outcomes” question

Which is to say, keep asking this question and learn to really mean it:

What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

Authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes. “Authentic agreement” meaning the right people in the room, agreeing on things that matter, expressed in their own words. “Meaningful outcomes” meaning not just numbers, not just targets, but needs met, happy endings to stories, the world changed for people in meaningful ways.

Solutions second, outcomes leading the way – literally “leading with outcomes” [1] – solutions emerging from the people closest to the problem [2], people already motivated to find them.

All of that is a 180 degree turnaround from those 1990’s models of managed change, a different paradigm entirely. Instead of using outcomes to sell solutions (and very often solutions of the wrong kid of scale), we use outcomes to find solutions. Not just game-changing for engagement, a completely different game.

Meta strategy 2. Change the game’s objectives to keep outcomes in the foreground

The trick here is to change the meaning of ‘done’:

  • You’re ‘done’ only when needs have been met
  • You’re ‘really done’ only when you have fully accounted for all the learning

Outcomes don’t go away once we start thinking about solutions – quite the opposite. Outcomes change what ‘done’ and ‘really done’ mean. When we account properly for learning, it creates certain expections, helping to keep ‘done’, ‘really done’, and all the outcomes they represent in the foreground. Solutions are kept in their proper place, just a means to an end, held much more lightly.

We’re done when “someone’s need was met” [3], the outcome demonstrably achieved. This implies that we know whose need we’re trying to meet, what need, and how we’d know that we have indeed met it.

We’re really done when we’ve fully accounted for all the learning that goes with achieving the outcome. To be sure of not missing any, work is framed in the right way (as hypotheses and experiments, whenever that’s appropriate), the right things are monitored, and regular reviews are in place. The regular rhythm of review and the shared understanding of what each review entails creates containers for learning. If you know that the learning will need to be accounted for, it really changes how you work.

Meta strategy 3. Keep developing your understanding of where all this happens

Where rather than how, because the third meta strategy of the three is not about practice or process, but organisation [4]. It’s about working to eliminate a common organisational dysfunction, also working to develop a kind of organsational agility that’s about so much more than mere speed.

If instead of keeping outcomes in the foreground you allow yourself to be distracted by solutions and how you’re rolling them out, you are managing for progress (or worse, activity), not impact. Compounding the error, one group manages things that people closer to the work could easily be managing for themselves. And it works in the opposite direction too: one group second-guessing the needs, priorities, and strategies of another. In short: the wrong people managing for the wrong things. Totally dysfunctional, so common, and don’t be so sure that your branded process framework or your PMO will fix it for you either!

Often this dysfunction happens between levels of organisation (up and/or down), but the trick is to think less in terms of hierarchy or process and more in terms of identity and purpose. For an outcome, what’s the group of people most closely identified with it or that you would want to see organising around it? Conversely, for any group of people with an identity of its own and the apparent will to develop itself – team, team of teams, something bigger, something cross-cutting, whatever – what are the outcomes that it is pursuing? What, in other words, is its strategy, and has it been afforded the opportunity to develop it for itself and in its own words?

That way of looking at organisation has a dynamism that’s simply not there in the org chart or the process diagram. People participating in multiple circles, circles that overlap and rapidly share learning, insights, and intelligence because they also share people. For as long as they’re needed, circles that have lives of their own. Structures that by themselves and in their relationships support both the development of people and the development of the organisation. Structures rich and dynamic enough to meet the ever-changing complexities of the business environment.

With this third meta strategy, the preceding two don’t just have a home, they have many homes. Strategy becomes something fractal and emergent, living in the conversations not just within circles, but between them.

3 meta strategies

[1] This section drawn from the first video in Leading with Outcomes: Foundation (academy.agendashift.com)
[2] Thank you Karl Scotland for that wording
[3] See Done (agendashift.com/done)
[4] See the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (deliberately-adaptive.org)

For further reading, my two most recent books:

  1. Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2nd ed 2021)
  2. Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019, audiobook 2020)

What if we put authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes ahead of solutions?

Welcome to Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model

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No longer doing business in Russia

Praying – and not without hope – for a swift, just, and lasting resolution to Putin’s war of devastation in Ukraine, I stand with Ukraine’s people and its elected government.

No longer doing business in Russia means no new partners there, no renewals, no partner listings. Relative to the abomination that is Putin’s invasion this is a tiny thing, but it’s done.

For the record, I fully support the sanctions regime. As a past visitor to Russia, I take no pleasure whatsoever in the impact it will have on its citizens, but by its immoral actions, Putin’s government lost the right to participate in the global financial infrastructure. Denied the means to sustain the war and perhaps to repeat its pattern of behaviour elsewhere, I hope that it comes to its senses soon. Enough is enough.

Mike
agendashift.com/mike

Video: Leading and Transforming with Outcomes

Recorded yesterday at Agile Hartford, thank you Larry Bock for hosting!

Our media page has several meetup talks with this same title, but as I mention in near the beginning, I spent the day yesterday doing a complete rewrite. The recent blog post that sowed the seeds for that rewrite is this one: Agendashift’s three meta strategies and I’m very pleased with how it came out.

Most of the links mentioned in the video you’ll find at the bottom of this (and every) blog post. Apart from this one:

Enjoy!


What if we put authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes ahead of solutions?

Welcome to Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model

Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
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Agendashift roundup, February 2022

In this edition: Leading with Outcomes: Foundation is live!; Agendashift’s three meta strategies; Upcoming events; Top posts

Leading with Outcomes: Foundation is live!

As announced earlier this month:

The short version: The “old” Leading with Outcomes (online self-paced training from the Agendashift Academy) is replaced with a foundation module, the beginnings of a new three-track curriculum. We’re very excited about it! Two and a half hours of video in tasty bitesized chunks taking you through 18 practical exercises. If by any definition you could describe yourself as being (or aspiring to being) a leader in a transforming organisation, then it’s for you – and for many of your colleagues also.

Sign up here:

Very happy with feedback so far. Happy also to report meanwhile that recording of Inside-out Strategy: Fit for maximum impact is going well. And to complement it in the Inside-out Strategy track we’ll be announcing an interactive workshop soon.

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Agendashift’s three meta strategies

Or less grandly, three things to keep doing if you’re doing anything strategy-related.

It’s early days, but it seems likely to me that these will supersede the principles that in the Agendashift 2nd edition were already de-emphasised:

Upcoming events

As mentioned, we’ll start scheduling workshops again as the new Leading with Outcomes curriculum gets up and running.

Several private speaking engagements happening – can’t talk about those of course but one public one is imminent:

Top posts

This month’s top five most-read posts are the three already mentioned plus a couple of old favourites:

  1. Out of beta, Leading with Outcomes: Foundation goes fully live today
  2. Agendashift’s three meta strategies
  3. Agendashift Academy has a community on Circle
  4. The 1967 Manifesto for The Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (October 2021)
  5. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)

What if we put authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes ahead of solutions?

Welcome to Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model

Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
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