Getting to Agendashift’s “Why”

[Updated 2017-11-04 following feedback]


Because when you have agreement on outcomes, the rest is “just” the how…

I’d be the first to admit it: clearly articulating Agendashift’s “Why” has taken more time and more iterations than perhaps it should. Or maybe that’s just how it goes – all part of the struggle!

Some of my past attempts at mission statements, taglines, and so on:

  • The new platform for positive change
    – I’m not that this early effort even made it to production but it’s there in my git logs
  • Leading change with less prescription, better conversations, lasting outcomes
     I was still searching for a tagline for the book at this stage
  • Transforming Lean-Agile transformation
    – I must admit that I still quite like this one, but how many people care about this goal?
  • Clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation
    – borrowed from the book, but the book is only part of the product
  • Models, tools, & materials for enablers of outcome-oriented change
    – getting there (for reasons that I hope will become apparent in a bit), but this works only if you identify with the phrase “enablers of outcome-oriented change”

Early on, I described Agendashift as “values-based” but I’m not sure that anyone found that particularly helpful. The phrase lingers on in the name of the Agendashift values-based delivery assessment (whose six categories are indeed values – Transparency, Balance, Collaboration, Customer Focus, Flow, and Leadership) but even there the clock is surely ticking. Would “Agendashift delivery assessment” suffice? Probably.

Another description that I still apply to Agendashift is “non-prescriptive”. This resonates  with people who recognise that it’s a big issue for our industry that we rely far too heavily on lazy prescription in the absence of awareness of context or appreciation for how change works. On the flip side, it annoys those who want me to state clearly what Agendashift is, not what it is not. And they’re right of course.

Hence “outcome-oriented”. A useful alternative to non-prescriptive, but for the purposes of a tagline or mission statement it is both clunky and jargony. But ask the question “Why outcome-oriented?” and you’ll get an interesting answer:

Because when you have agreement on outcomes, the rest is “just” the how…

So there you have it: Agendashift’s “Why”, our proposition in a nutshell. It’s all you need to understand the intent and thrust of Agendashift’s tools and materials. For example:

  • The assessments help to identify possible areas of agreement for further work (eg with 15-minute FOTO)
  • The activity flow of Discovery, Exploration, Mapping, Elaboration, and Operation pivots around the central activity of Mapping (see slide below) . Mapping organises outcomes generated and agreed upon in the first two activities. Later, outcomes are reframed as actions in Elaboration; Operation treats change as “real work”.
  • Similarly, the principles:
    1. Start with needs
    2. Agree on outcomes
    3. Keep the agenda for change visible
    4. Manage options, testing assumptions
    5. Organise for speed, clarity, and mutual accountability

Screenshot 2017-11-04 14.12.45

The rest is “just” the how…

This isn’t meant to sound glib. I put the “just” in quotes because of course change is rarely easy. But to treat transformation as something to deploy over the resistance of others is to make it very much harder than it needs to be, and hardly congruent with Lean and Agile values either!

While we’re here

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