Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting

This is the third post in what has become a series:

  1. Eating our own dog food (1/n): Our outside-in strategy review (OI-SR):
  2. Eating our own dog food (2/n): The strategy review’s assumptions
  3. Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting (this post)

From the first of those posts:

What it would be like if the Agendashift partner network was making a point of eating its own dog food (so to speak), in the powerful sense that it models a lot of what it’s like to be a wholehearteddeliberately adaptive organisation, its work happening in self-organising, self-governing circles, reviewing its strategy outside in, conducting outside-in service delivery reviews, and so on.

Yesterday we started an outside-in strategy review (OI-SR). As suspected, we didn’t get through all five questions in the limited time available, just one hour. And in my haste to get started we glossed over something important: In the question (below) for layer 1. Customer, who is there “we” here?

1. Customer: What’s happening when we’re reaching the right customers, meeting their strategic needs?

If from the preceding posts you’ve seen me explore some of the assumptions behind that question, you’ll have an idea of why I’m kicking myself! The one time I didn’t kick off with the Celebration-5W exercise was the time I most needed it…

Despite that little hiccup, some great stuff was captured for the first two layers, customer and organisation. That work was done in breakout groups (5 of them); we then had a brief whole-room discussion for Product and Platform before we ran out of time.

1. Customer

Who are those “right customers”?

  • Organisations that have the need and desire for change but not the know-how
  • Organisations that are stuck, needing clarity about their situation (framing their obstacles in ways that will help them get past them), wider perspectives, more options
  • Organisations that want to create shared awareness and from that define a way forward
  • Organisations that have suffered a bad experience of change and are looking for a better way
  • Organisations that want to adapt and innovate faster
  • Pioneers or those who have gone full circle – ready to get past the the “doing Agile” vs “being Agile” thing
  • Leaders willing to engage, organisations committed to supporting that
  • Leaders with skin in the game, taking responsibility

Their struggles:

  • Repeated attempts at change that don’t stick
  • The feeling that they have plateaued
  • Feelings of overwhelm and helplessness, no longer owners of their own destiny

Wrong customers:

  • Those unable to think beyond the linear project (not meant judgmentally – paradigm shifts are hard) 
  • Those unwilling to experiment (ditto – risk appetites differ, sometimes with good reason)
  • Those who want it all done for them (and again – old habits die hard)

Over-investing in these “wrong customers” in the short term would  waste of not just our time but theirs. However, we’re not writing them off. Their struggles are real enough, and the long game here is to inform the passive and (later) active seekers of help.

2. Organisation

When that customer part is working at its ideal best, what must be happening on our side? Answers below organised by circle (this was a two-part exercise):

  • Learning & other self-help:
    • Helping each other by sharing experiences of what did and didn’t work
    • Case studies (valuable also for marketing), “Agendashift from the Trenches” (see footnote later under Product)
    • Building the confidence of partners with less experience
    • How-to’s for engagement proposals and other commercial aspects
  • Content development & curation
    • Tools, exercises, models, etc
  • Marketing
    • Events
    • Other launches
    • Promotion generally
  • Domain-specific, for example:
    • SMEs
    • DevOps
    • Role-specific, eg senior leadership

3. Product

We really only had the time to discuss stuff that’s already in the pipeline or beyond:

  • The 2nd edition of Agendashift – very close to being able to announce a publication date
  • A conference (our first) to celebrate that
  • Self-paced learning options
  • The assessment tools:
    • Continuing some great work done on the language of the mini assessment and extending it to the full version
    • Two new assessment tools for the 1) wholehearted and 2) deliberately adaptive organisation
    • Doing a better job of promoting something we’re rightly proud of!

And a footnote on “Agendashift from the Trenches” (see 2. Organisation above): I wasn’t part of this breakout conversation but I have shared with the 2nd edition’s review team an idea for a collaborative book project. I’m thinking Wholehearted: Up and down the deliberately adaptive organisation, two key models from the 2nd edition brought to life through experience reports.

4. Platform

Some discussion (not completely conclusive) on technologies to support the work of those circles.

Despite my initial oversight, that’s a good haul for just one hour’s discussion – the outside-in structure delivers again! And let me repeat: If this kind of strategy review could work for you, do get in touch.


Tomorrow’s workshop below is nearly sold out but I’ve added another for early May. Keeping April free for book-related stuff!

All the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. Many of those considerations apply to private workshops also.

For the Deep Dive especially, if you think that you might become an Agendashift partner, partner discounts make it well worthwhile to get on board before you sign up to the workshop.

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