Poster updates

Today I’ve been busy updating the website, the book, and our workshop materials with a new version of the poster:

poster-main-2017-12-15
Because every framework needs a poster…

Changes from the original version:

  • Fewer words, bigger font
  • Removed the line that went between 2. Exploration and 4. Elaboration (it raised more questions than it answered)
  • Specific mention of Aspirations” as an output captured from 1. Discovery, improving the setup to the brief reference to X-Matrix I make in the Mapping chapter of the book (see also the Lean-Agile Strategy Days workshops I do with Karl Scotland from time to time)
  • No more “values-based” – we no longer use this as a description of Agendashift (dropped in favour of “outcome-oriented”) and the names of the two assessment tools have been shortened

You can click the image to request a PDF version. Enjoy!


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):  6-7 February, Leeds, UK:
Advanced Agendashift: Coaching and Leading Continuous Transformation

We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change. By building agreement on outcomes we facilitate rapid, experiment-based evolution of process, practice, and organisation. Instead of the contradictory and self-defeating imposition of Lean and Agile practices, Agendashift helps you keep your vision and strategy aligned with and energised by a participatory culture of co‑creation and continuous transformation. More…

New Agendashift workshops for 2018

If you’ve been to the Agendashift home page recently you’ll have noticed that the two workshops have become three:

  1. The Agendashift Workshop: Co-Creating Your Transformation Strategy
    The focus of the Agendashift workshop is the host organisation and its ways of working. As its name suggests, its output is a coherent strategy for transformation, co-created by its participants. It is delivered either as an intensive 1-day event or as a series of smaller events as part of a broader engagement.
  2. Core Agendashift: Facilitating Outcome-Oriented Change
    This 1-day workshop provides familiarisation with the Agendashift transformation strategy tools and materials and an initial introduction to outcome orientation. Its typical audience includes coaches, consultants, and managers.
  3. Advanced Agendashift: Coaching and Leading Continuous Transformation
    From 2018 onwards we are proud to offer this new 2-day workshop. Expanding on the core workshop, it is aimed at coaches, consultants, and managers wishing to:

    • Develop their coaching and leadership skills in the areas of enquiry, facilitation, strategy deployment, and change management
    • Broaden and deepen their appreciation of the Lean-Agile landscape and related bodies of knowledge

The drivers for these changes:

  • There’s “intensive”, and then there’s “too much”! For some time there has been more material available than we could possibly give in a day. That’s true even for me (let alone partners using my material) and there’s more material to come. The new range allows the two 1-day workshops to be refocused and the 2-day workshop to offer more depth than is currently possible.
  • Greater clarity around our stance of outcome orientation (in which the catalyst for change is agreement on collaboratively-identified outcomes rather than prescription or imposition) and our goal of continuous transformation (change sustained on an ongoing basis thanks to it being treated as real work, expected by all concerned, and supported structurally).
  • A desire to address leadership development and organisational development needs more explicitly.

As tradition dictates, the new 2-day workshop gets its first outing in Leeds:

Super Early Bird for the Leeds workshop expires December 31st and Early Bird on January 16th, so get in there quickly! We’re not quite ready to announce the venue but be assured that it will be within easy reach of the station.

After that, I’m in the US for TriAgile 2018 and a 1-day Core workshop around the conference, and in Germany for a 2-day Advanced workshop, dates to be announced.

There are more events in the pipeline, but do please get in touch if:

  • You’d like to see public workshops take place in other locations. Only rarely will I do a workshop outside of the UK without the offer of help on the ground, and even at home I’m happy to work with others.
  • You’d like to see more outcome orientation and continuous transformation in your own workplace. Help us help you make it a reality!

Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: 
Home | About | Partners | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter
Workshops (see Events
):  6-7 February, Leeds, UK:
Advanced Agendashift: Coaching and Leading Continuous Transformation

We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change. By building agreement on outcomes we facilitate rapid, experiment-based evolution of process, practice, and organisation. Instead of the contradictory and self-defeating imposition of Lean and Agile practices, Agendashift helps you keep your vision and strategy aligned with and energised by a participatory culture of co‑creation and continuous transformation. More…

Interviewed for Lean Business Agility

Quick one! While I was in Paris last week for Lean Kanban France 2017 I was interviewed on video by Klaus Leopold for the Lean Business Agility podcast. See it here:

Enjoy!


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):  Look out for our new 2-day Advanced workshop Coaching and Leading Continuous Transformation, dates for UK and Germany to be announced shortly

Just in, this awesome client endorsement

Matt Turner – a member of our partner programme – was in touch this week with this awesome client endorsement from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC to its friends). Reproduced with the permission of all concerned:

With the guidance of Agendashift partner Matt Turner, we have employed a number of the Agendashift resources to help understand how our ongoing Digital Transformation work is advancing, from the perspective of the teams delivering the work. We have used the online assessment as an indicator of progress and maturity, enabling us to “temperature check” delivery capability at team level and aggregated across the whole of IT. The outputs have influenced changes in team practice, goal setting and stakeholder support & involvement. We have used Agendashift workshop exercises to explore individual and team perspectives before we begin complex pieces of work in order to gain a level of coherence and cohesion in groups before embarking on what would otherwise be risk-laden activities.


Phil Welch, Head of IT, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
170px-stockport_council_logo

A little bit of context: The SMBC Digital by Design Programme has already won the 2017 Granicus Digital Achievement Awards, and have also been named as finalists in the LDC Digital Council of the year awards under the following categories; Business Transformation, Driving Efficiency through Technology, and the coveted Digital Council of the Year.

There’s plenty to be pleased about here, in particular the importance given to the perspective of the teams and the “coherence and cohesion” (their words) that follows when you start with agreement on outcomes instead of the more usual prescription of solutions. Of course we’ve known this for some time, but it’s gratifying indeed to see such a public demonstration of Agendashift’s transferability and broad applicability. And well done Matt!

About Matt Turner

In his own words: “I have been practicing Kanban since 2010, working predominantly with IT Service Management and Operations teams. Over recent years this has extended through other professional and business service teams within Higher Education and Local Government for whom Agendashift has proven extremely helpful.”

About Agendashift

We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change. By building agreement on outcomes we facilitate rapid, experiment-based evolution of process, practice, and organisation. Agendashift avoids the self‑defeating prescription of Lean and Agile techniques in isolation; instead we help you keep your vision and strategy aligned with a culture of co‑creation and continuous transformation. More…


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):  Look out for our new 2-day Advanced workshop Coaching and Leading Continuous Transformation, dates for UK and Germany to be announced shortly

Agendashift roundup, November 2017

In this edition: Workshops; 15-minute FOTO; Back to Scrum; Speaking; Top posts

Workshops

This month I facilitated two public Agendashift workshops. The first was in Cape Town which I was visiting for the first time as the opening keynote speaker at the Regional Scrum Gathering (great event!). The day after the workshop I published some of the artifacts it produced:

Last week was London Lean-Agile Strategy Days (II), a return of the two-day workshop I co-facilitate with Karl Scotland. We switched things around this time, putting the Agendashift day first (just jumping right in as I normally would), then a day from Karl on Strategy Deployment. It works much better this way round, and it’s in keeping with changes we’re making to the Agendashift workshops too.

We’re not quite ready to announce those changes properly yet, but you can get a taste by taking a look at the Agendashift home page. Three workshops instead of two, and some renaming and rescoping that we’ll explain in due course.

We will soon have workshop dates in the US – definitely one (probably April 4th) and possibly two – and likely Germany, the new 2-day workshop we think. Watch this space for news on both! If you want to see one near you (public or private), get in touch.

15-minute FOTO

Recent workshops have given us good opportunity to test and iterate on our coaching game ’15-minute FOTO’ that we recently open sourced (see last month’s announcement). We’re now at version 3 of the deck; if you’d like access to this just let me know. Apologies, a month of travel means I haven’t been able to push updates out yet (but I will).

 

Back to Scrum

December’s traditional review of the year’s most-read blog posts will include at least two on Scrum, including one from this month that has already reached the top 5 for the year. This new post was prompted by the release of the latest Scrum Guide:

Speaking

France and USA:

I’ll take this opportunity to mention that Agendashift partner Philippe Guenet has launched a new Lean IT meetup in London. Karl and I spoke at the inaugural meeting last week. Networking afterwards lasted until late into the evening; congrats to Philippe for assembling such a great crowd!

Top posts

Not quite so successful, me doing some of my thinking out loud (the process and the resulting feedback helps):


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):
4 Apr, Raleigh, NC, USA (TBC)

Details, details, details

This weekend I really enjoyed Jason Gorman’s post Everything Else is Details.

The first thing to like is the title. Compare Jason’s “Everything else is details” to my “the rest is ‘just’ the How” which I blogged about just a couple of weeks ago. Mine needed scare quotes and Jason’s doesn’t. I already prefer Jason’s!

And from the post itself just a sample (emphasis mine):

The trick to this – a skill that’s sadly still vanishingly rare in our industry – is to paint a clear picture of how the world will look with our software in it, without describing the software itself. A true requirements specification does not commit in any way to the implementation design of a solution. It merely defines the edges of the solution-shaped hole into which anything we create will need to fit.

We know of course that what works for product development often translates into organisational change and vice versa (just look at how Lean Startup transfers ideas and techniques in both directions). Let’s make the highlighted sentence less specific to software:

Learn to describe the world with the thing without describing the thing itself

It goes a long way to explaining how Agendashift works: without any mention of Lean, Agile, Lean-Agile, or their practices, we help people to paint a picture of a more Lean-Agile organisation – broad brush initially, and then in more detail around areas of opportunity. In this way we facilitate agreement on outcomes (goals in Jason-speak). After that, Everything Else is Details.

Not that we don’t care about Details – actually we care quite a lot and have tools for managing them – but we know better than to start with them. As an industry, we seem to be great at them, but have a habit of moving on before anyone dares to ask why the results are so often so mediocre!

I put much of that mediocrity down to the institutionalisation of these twin delusions:

  1. The delusion that when requirements are met, needs will be satisfied
  2. The delusion that when problems are solved, meaningful outcomes will inevitably be achieved

Delusions that are perhaps not so surprising given an industry so thoroughly in love with its ability to deliver Details. Easily explained? Yes. Excusable? I don’t think so.

How I read the Scrum Guide

Overview:

  1. The good: Things the Scrum Guide™ reinforces that would otherwise get lost
  2. The ugly: Things that should not be accepted at face value
  3. How I approach it

I’m going to assume that you have at least a passing acquaintance with Scrum, either as it’s generally taught and discussed, or as defined in the Scrum Guide. The guide itself has been updated in the past few days, there now being a 2017 edition:

The guide is ©2017 Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. Offered for license under the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons, accessible at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode and also described in summary form at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.

I haven’t checked to see when this license model was applied, but nice move.

1. The good: Things the Scrum Guide reinforces that can easily get lost

My biggest “Aha!” moment for Scrum was when I realised that it wasn’t about story points, velocity, Fibonacci numbers, and the like. Although tools like these do seem to work effectively enough for some people, others find them a recipe for (i) busywork or (ii) setting teams up for regular disappointment. Small wonder that they’re a popular target for sniping. Rightly, there is no mention of them at all in the guide.

The guide instead talks of the sprint backlog as both a set of items selected for the sprint, and – crucially – a plan for delivering them. And get this: the sprint backlog is subordinate to something else, the sprint goal:

As the Development Team works, it keeps the Sprint Goal in mind. In order to satisfy the Sprint Goal, it implements functionality and technology. If the work turns out to be different than the Development Team expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of Sprint Backlog within the Sprint.

Imagine you’re working in an organisation that typically takes months or even years to deliver anything of note (I exaggerate not). Now give people the chance to work together on achieving a meaningful goal in a matter of days. And again. And again. That’s powerful. Could that be done without Scrum? Does it happen without Scrum? Of course it could and of course it does, but Scrum is often the vehicle by which people experience this for the first time, and that’s something to celebrate.

I also have to give credit to Ken and Jeff for being explicit about Scrum’s applicability:

Scrum (n): A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

I don’t highlight this quote as some kind of backhanded compliment, a way to put Scrum back into its box. The domain described here is huge! And it’s important for reasons explored in chapter 5 of the Agendashift book. To operate a Lean, Agile, or Lean-Agile process worthy of that name, you must embrace the idea that the often challenging, sometimes messy, and always necessary work of helping the organisation to change must be treated as real work, to be carried out not just alongside delivery work, but integral to it. The ‘complex adaptive’ part of that quote might be unnecessarily jargony but it refers to the inability of any linear plan to deliver this vital kind of change effectively (see my “Change in the 21st century” keynote).

Taking these together, Scrum working well means:

  1. Meaningful goals regularly met
  2. The system – the team and well beyond – evolving commensurately

That’s harder to achieve and even harder to sustain than it might sound, and the guide is honest about the level of challenge involved. What it leaves unsaid is that as soon as Scrum comes to mean ploughing through the backlog, these benefits become increasingly difficult to sustain. It’s why we find support in complementary tools such as Kanban, Lean Startup, and now Agendashift [1] when the returns from Scrum on its own begin to diminish.

2. The ugly: Things that should not be accepted at face value

The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. Scrum Masters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

There are so many better ways in which the Scrum Master role could have been introduced, and it beggars belief that this section could be edited (yet again) in the 2017 edition and left like this. After an ugly paragraph easily construed as ‘your first responsibility is towards Scrum’ we see a very carefully circumscribed kind of servant-leadership that will surely be read in the light of what precedes it. There are more charitable interpretations, but they depend on assumptions that aren’t made explicit.

To be a true servant leader, your responsibility is towards your colleagues, your organisation, your customers, other stakeholders, even towards society. Where by-the-book Scrum helps you in those responsibilities, fantastic. Where it gets in the way, it might be time to do something not by the book. A true master at Scrum might find these situations rare, but pity the conflicted rookie! Even if only in the context of these sentences, if it doesn’t bother you that Scrum Masters are certified after just a couple of days of training, it should.

If we want our industry to do better, we have to look at its systems, ready to challenge a status quo that tends to preserve itself. Scrum has been around long enough to qualify for that kind of scrutiny and whatever their true intent, these widely-read sentences are too open to a cynical, self-serving interpretation.

In response to my tweet yesterday morning, Neil Killick was quick with this much better alternative:

With all due respect to Neil, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

3. How I approach it

I start from the perspective that Scrum describes some pragmatic solutions to common problems. Do you have multiple customers, far removed from the team? Then you’ll find it helpful to have a highly available Product Owner. Do you need someone to model and facilitate appropriate practices and behaviors? Then bring in a Scrum Master. Are your feedback loops too slow relative to the rate of environmental change? Then plan your work to fill short timeboxes and meet daily.

Conversely, if you don’t have all of these problems, you might not need Scrum. At the very least, tread carefully:

  • Don’t place obstacles between a team and its customers if they’re already collaborating (yay, manifesto values!)
  • Don’t add layers of process and ceremony where teams are already self organising effectively
  • Don’t allow Scrum’s timeboxes get in the way of rapid flow and rapid change – they needn’t [2], which is why I don’t present this as a technical objection to Scrum

Nice problems to have, you might argue. And well you might, which why I am significantly more pro Scrum than anti. But I don’t check in my experience, knowledge, or curiosity at the door. Where I see conflict between approaches, I dig deeper, fully expect to find agreement, and am usually rewarded handsomely.

For the most part, you can leave the self-serving stuff behind (I’ve learned to filter it out). If you are helping to bring clarity and agreement around purpose and goals (things Agendashift and the guide fully agree on), and if you start with needs, seek agreement on outcomes, and so on [3], it’s likely that you’re approaching things in a good way. As time passes you might find that things look less and less like anything you heard in class, but don’t let anyone shame you for that. Expert or rookie (and yes, tread accordingly), you’re responsible. You’re a leader!

[1] About Agendashift
[2] Scrum and Kanban revisited
[3] Agendashift in 5 principles

I’m grateful to Olivier My, Neil Killick, Johan Nordin, and Karen Beck for their valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this post.

While we here

Lean-Agile Strategy Days London (II) – 22-23 Nov, London, UK is just over a week away and there’s still time to book your place. Interested in Lean-Agile change and its relationship to strategy? You should be there! In case you can’t make both days, we’ve just added a strictly limited number of single day tickets.