Centered and T-shaped (sub)communities

On the evening of my arrival at Raleigh, NC from across the pond, I gave a new talk on my first book Kanban from the Inside. Here’s a slide I used to explain the philosophy behind Part II, Models, addressing in particular the question of how multiple (and some would say competing) models can be used together:

Screenshot 2018-04-04 15.28.37

I’m not going to expand on bullet 1 other than to point the curious in the direction of Gall’s Law.

Bullet 2 is much more up my street, and I’ve stuck to this line consistently – it’s pretty much the definition I use for the Lean-Agile community in the Agendashift book: a community that celebrates Lean and Agile, both separately and together.

That definition describes a very broad umbrella, and there’s a wide variety of things happening beneath it. Agendashift is one of them, a community centered [1] on outcome-oriented change. Around that theme we are:

  • Running with the idea, diving deep, developing it through use, making our more successful experiments more repeatable and more easily transferable to others
  • Taking a stance against imposed change (in which we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends in the OpenSpace Agility community)
  • Bringing together a range of different experiences and areas of expertise, colliding a number of models old and new, from within Lean-Agile and without
  • Expecting exciting things to happen.

It’s interesting to note that among the Agendashift community’s closest collaborators we have both Certified Scrum Trainers and Accredited Kanban Trainers, knowledgeable and experienced representatives of two great communities whose relationship hasn’t always been easy. Along with vast majority of practitioners who would be comfortable sitting under a Lean-Agile umbrella, I think I can speak for all of them when I say that each of them understands and respects the special contributions of their erstwhile antagonists. And after that, not just “Why can’t we all just get along?”, but “What can we achieve together that were weren’t achieving on our own?”

Observing this, I wonder aloud if the concept of T-shaped people [2] might extend to T-shaped subcommunities. I’m suggesting that in order to stay healthy, an ecosystem as large as Lean-Agile needs groups of people that have:

  1. The persistence to run with ideas and to see just how far they can take them (so that you don’t have to, except where there’s a genuine passion to pursue)
  2. The diversity to ensure they stay vibrantly creative
  3. Broad enough representation that their learning will diffuse and cross-pollinate via the overlaps between communities

Sometimes this will happen by accident, but I suspect that the majority of successful examples are the product of deliberate attention. Can we make it more repeatable? I don’t know, but I would certainly be interested in comparing notes with others who are doing similar things. Could conversations such as these help make Lean-Agile simultaneously more cohesive, more diverse, more respectful, and more productive? I’d like to think so…

[1] BDD is a Centered Community Rather than a Bounded Community (
[2] T-shaped skills (

Upcoming Agendashift workshops:

Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Home | About | Partners | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation. Building from agreement on outcomes, Agendashift facilitates rapid, experiment-based evolution of process, practice, and organisation. Instead of Lean and Agile by imposition – contradictory and ultimately self-defeating – we help you keep your business vision and transformation strategy aligned with and energised by a culture of meaningful participation. More…

2 thoughts on “Centered and T-shaped (sub)communities

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s