With the permission of its participants, this post is a quick tour through yesterday’s public Agendashift workshop in Cape Town, seen through the key artifacts produced by our two table groups. Sessions 1-5 are covered in detail in chapters 1-5 of the Agendashift book (all five chapters); see also the poster and about pages for a quick overview.
Picked up from the local printers the day before: cue cards for the 15-minute FOTO game (A6 & A5 sizes – the larger A5 size being the more popular); ‘original’ & ‘pathway’ survey reports, A3s. See resources.
Session 1: Discovery
Two exercises here. The first is a getting-to-know-you “Celebration” exercise, ostensibly about a company celebration that is to take place some time in the future (it’s one of those time travel games), but in practice a nice way to make sure the workshop is grounded in organisational context and needs. To structure the output, we use the classic journalistic 5W questions: Who, What, When, Where, and Why, with the How coming later:
The second Discovery exercise involves:
- Reflecting on our True North statement as an approach to the challenges of the first exercise, thinking about what that’s like, what’s different, and what obstacles stand in our way
- Using our recently-open sourced coaching game 15-minute FOTO to turn that list of obstacles into outcomes
- Organising the resulting outcomes to produce the outputs shown below
Session 2: Exploration
A few days prior to the workshop, the participants each completed an Agendashift values-based delivery assessment. The Exploration session starts with a survey debrief, the structure of which is now so well practised that the unbenchmarking report leads us through it step by step.
Then – guess what! – we generate outcomes:
- Prioritise the survey prompts
- Identify their respective obstacles
- Generate outcomes using the 15-minute FOTO coaching game again (a lot easier second time round – one conversation stood out as one I’d wished I’d recorded!)
We finish the session with the exercise whose first rule is not to mention its name (see the first part of this writeup which breaks this rule, or chapter 2 of the book). The joint output of both table groups:
Moments after this picture was taken we destroyed it (reusing the stickies) but not before identifying stickies setting towards the top left corner as being likely candidates for some hypothesis-driven change (session 4). Look out for stickies marked with asterisks in the next pic (session 3).
Session 3: Mapping
Next, the transformation map, like a user story map but where the items are outcomes rather than user stories:
After some discussion, we concluded that the first column (Refine existing systems) was empty because the many small improvements that might have gone there were deemed insufficiently interesting on the day. Fair enough! Column 5, Address sources of dissatisfaction (etc) seems rather full; a review of the stickies shows significant scope for consolidation however.
The two stickies “above the line” were the subject of some debate. Are “Increased stability” and “Increased quality” to be treated as long-term objectives to which other yet-to-be-identified work aligns, or are they to be tackled head on? No right answers here, so long as we’re honest. Either way, I stressed that consider them to be actionable (“unactionable” and “aspirational” being trigger words of mine).
For reasons of time, we didn’t bother to prioritise within columns. There was plenty of past experience of that process in the room already.
Session 4: Elaboration
For a selected outcome per table, another generative process, that of creating options. Then:
- Prioritisation, selected the option considered most capable of significant (“fantastic”) outperformance
- A hypothesis, Lean Startup style
- Further development, using our open sourced A3 template (a 20th century tool with a 21st century flavour)
It is not a mistake that both A3s have their Insights section filled in. No, we haven’t run these experiments yet, but imagining the learning we hope to capture allows us then to review our experiment design. Both tables identified gaps in their plans as a result of this tip. Result!
Session 5: Operation
As a practitioner workshop rather than a client workshop (same materials for both but different goals), we deliberately sacrificed much of this session in return for more time for reflection and discussion in sessions 1 & 2. Consequently there are no outputs to show here. With more time available, we would have added more outcomes to the transformation map, driven by an adaptability review. This process both recaps our outcome-oriented process and gets us thinking about how the decisions of the workshop will be carried forward. Our mantra here: “Treat change as real work”.
To wrap up, the Full Circle exercise, capturing outcomes using the house style of the assessment prompts – inclusive, present tense, non-prescriptive:
The top one could almost be an advert for Agendashift (it’s not mine, honest):
We treat change as a type of work – owned, driven, and co-created by the team/s impacted
You, the outcome-oriented facilitator
If you could use some Agendashift-style outcome orientation in your coaching or consulting work, check out our partner programme. And there’s another opportunity very soon to try it all out, this time in London:
Finally, a massive thank you to all of yesterday’s participants, and also to the organisers of the Regional Scrum Gathering in South Africa who kindly invited me over for this morning’s opening keynote. Opportunities permitting, I hope to return to South Africa again soon – 6 years is too long!
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