This is the fifth of nine articles in a series exploring the matrix below (introduced here):
We’re working through the middle column from bottom to top, previously covering hypothesis-driven change and now reaching the central cell “Agenda, capability”.
There is a little ambiguity here. By capability, do I refer to the existence of ability or to the level of performance? Both! In both senses of the word, do we have the capability to achieve the outcomes of the Delivery column and the fitness of the Leadership column?
When the capability question is answered in the negative, there must be some serious work to be done. The “how” might not be well defined from the outset, but the motivation and success criteria certainly should be.
By agenda, I mean some appropriate combination of motivation for change, success criteria and narrative, perhaps unified by a pithy word or phrase (“sustainability” or “digital”, for example). An agenda might serve as the “epic” for a bunch of hypotheses, express a leadership theme, or summarise the most urgent findings of a values-based delivery assessment.
Alignment on agenda implies agreement on what needs to be changed. Over time, alignment is maintained by feedback loops (review meetings, etc) that help to keep us on track.
Alignment on capability is a reminder that customer outcomes and organisational fitness are at stake. Change that is disconnected from these probably ought not to be done!