Announcing v7 of 15-minute FOTO

15-minute FOTO is our Clean Language-inspired coaching game, and version 7 of the facilitation deck is out of beta. On top of the usual minor improvements – fewer slides, better wording, that kind of thing – the big new thing is a new ‘Lite’ edition.

foto15.png

To understand why we’ve wanted to make changes, consider what each participant is doing when they play the game for the first time:

  • Familiarising themselves with the Clean Language questions (from the cue card if it’s an in-room workshop, from the screen if it’s online)
  • Taking turns in the role of client, coach, scribe, or observer, participating in or supporting what can be an intense 1-on-1 coaching conversation
  • Worrying about the game’s objective, which to generate and capture outcomes

That’s a lot! Instead of doing this all at once, the Lite edition starts with a familiarisation exercise, turns the conversation into one for the table group as a whole, and the objective matters only after everyone has had a chance to get comfortable with it all.

If, as happens in many of our workshops, you plan to do 15-minute FOTO twice, you can start with the Lite edition and do the classic edition the second time round.

Spoiler alert

Another motivation for this new version is that it enables new strings of exercises for new workshops. I’ll be announcing the first of those very soon, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Get the materials

Just ask here:

You’ll find a helpful Youtube video there also.

When you subscribe, you’ll be sent a link to the 15-minute FOTO Dropbox folder and you can download materials (cue card and the deck) from there. Add that folder to your own Dropbox and you’ll get all updates automatically.

Get a taste online

There are two opportunities coming soon to experience 15-minute FOTO online:

  1. One of my two sessions at the Clean Language community’s online OpenSpace event  Metaphorum 2019 on November 22nd will be on 15-minute FOTO, focussing mainly on the Lite version
  2. Comprising two 2h sessions on December 11th and 12th, my next online workshop Learning the language of outcomes will feature both editions

By the December 11th if not November 22nd, there will be a version 8 that explicitly supports online use (the classic edition already does). Consider that announced 🙂

Questions

The best place for questions about 15-minute FOTO is the #cleanlanguage channel in the Agendashift Slack.


Upcoming workshops – Berlin, Oslo, Malmö, and online

New dates for USA and UK coming soon!


From the intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development, an engagement model fit for the 21st century!
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Agendashift roundup, October 2019

In this edition: Berlin; Working at the intersection / a monster post on SAFe; Right to Left; Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO; Upcoming workshops – Berlin, Oslo, Malmö, and online; Top posts

Berlin

I have a free day in Berlin today, arriving a day early to avoid travelling on what threatened to be Brexit day before a private workshop tomorrow. That workshop is actually the first of three November engagements in Berlin, with a 2-day Advanced Agendashift workshop and (through happy coincidence) the Open Leadership Symposium:

I keep saying it and I will say it again:

  • The Berlin workshop consistently delivers – not just a full house and a great experience, but a reliable source of great feedback and new ideas. Thank you Leanovate not just for hosting but for participating
  • The inaugural Open Leadership Symposium in Boston last May was a key coming together of multiple communities and it launched a new one. I have high expectations of the Berlin event, which takes place on the 19th with a selection of masterclasses on the 18th & 20th. If you’re thinking of coming to the main event, ping me for a chunky discount code (big enough to make a real difference, so don’t miss out!).

Working at the intersection / a monster post on SAFe

This was just a quick picture posted to LinkedIn and Twitter, but it has struck a chord with many people and it has already established itself as a way to introduce both myself and the communities I participate in. You’ll see some of the language reflected on the Agendashift site, the partner programme page most especially.

Who/where we are on one slide: People working at the intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development – bringing balance & perspective, focus on needs & outcomes, helping each other up their game in new areas

working at the intersection

That picture is a good scene-setter to a post that within 36 hours was my most-read post of the year:

Also doing well is a Kanban-related post:

And I can only apologise for this related tweet 😉:

Right to Left

Thank you Paul and Justyna! Two podcasts for the price of one, a book review and an interview:

After a long delay, Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile is at last available in EPUB format. That means you can download it as an ebook from more online booksellers, including Apple Books, Google Play Books, and Kobo – just search “Right to Left Mike Burrows”.

There were two more 5 star reviews on Amazon UK this month (thank you!), making eight so far. We’re still waiting for the first one on Amazon US though, so who will be first?

Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO

Some news about three of our Creative Commons-licensed resources.

Changeban 1.3 is now the recommended version (it was in beta until properly tested). I’ll be making the equivalent changes to Featureban before making a separate announcement. Also, their respective Slack channels have merged into one, #featureban-changeban.

The updated 15-minute FOTO cue card is definitely an improvement and it too is out of beta. A new ‘Lite’ (gentle introduction) version of the game has been through a number of iterations and we’ll announce it soon. It’s available to try if you know where to look! Slack channel #cleanlanguage, and it’s enabling some new #workshops (we’ll announce those properly soon too).

Upcoming workshops – Berlin, Oslo, Malmö, and online

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From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation

It seems that my 2014 post Reinvigorating an existing Kanban implementation with STATIK is now gone. It is very likely the first mention of Reverse STATIK, and fortunately web.archive.org has saved it here, but 5 years on let me take the opportunity to revisit it.

We start with STATIK, the catchy acronym I coined for David J. Anderson’s Systems Thinking Approach To Introducing Kanban, which is quite a mouthful. STATIK looks like this (or at least it did in 2014):

  1. Understand sources of dissatisfaction
  2. Analyze demand and capability
  3. Model the knowledge discovery process
  4. Discover classes of service
  5. Design kanban systems
  6. Roll out

You may recognise those steps as the chapters of Part III of my first book Kanban from the Inside (hereafter referred to as KFTI); otherwise it was day 2 of the standard 2-day Kanban training. I don’t do much Kanban training these days (I don’t advertise it and for reasons of strategy rather than any falling out I’m no longer affiliated with the certification body), but when I do, I don’t use STATIK.

My main issues with STATIK aren’t the individual steps (there’s value in them all), but these:

  1. Even avoiding the middlebrow dismissal of “It’s too linear” (often thrown around rather unfairly), it’s much more likely to be understood and used as a discrete intervention (albeit a participatory one if it’s done the right way), not as a model for a continuous process.
  2. Even if I grant that you could in theory bail out of the process at any stage, it does rather assume that Kanban is the answer, so if we are to avoid the accusation of being solution-driven, something else has to come before it.

Aside (further to that second point, a bit of detail that doesn’t invalidate it): KFTI describes a step 0, ‘Understand the purpose of the system’, a phrase I borrowed (with full credit) from Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC). That has morphed into ‘Understand fitness for purpose’ (for the service you are applying STATIK to). This is OK as far as it goes, but the faster the this turns (as seems to be its intent) into a conversation about metrics, the less time anyone spends actually exploring purpose. If I’m honest, this part leaves me a little cold, though in the interests of balance, it should be pointed out that Kanban still does far more than any other framework I know to encourage its introduction in ways consistent with its principles. If only the others were as careful; if they were, perhaps Agendashift would never have been so necessary!

My original idea with Reverse STATIK was to retrace one’s steps, working backwards through the STATIK process looking for improvement opportunities. Today, I see it as more than that, and find it useful in two ways, both of which may seem surprising:

  1. Reverse STATIK turns out to be a great way to introduce/teach Kanban too. You can start with the simplest to-do/doing/done kanban board design (not yet a WIP-limited kanban system) and at each step introduce multiple options for improving not just its detailed design, but much of the surrounding organisation design that makes it work. No longer a one-shot intervention, but a rich model for improvement
  2. You can strip out all the kanban-specific techniques, replace them with their corresponding outcomes (outcomes that might be achieved in myriad other ways), and revise for breadth of coverage. A few iterations later (much of it done in collaboration with Dragan Jojic) we arrived at the genuinely framework-agnostic assessment that in the early days was Agendashift’s most important tool (it’s still important today but there are newer parts that are more exciting).

Aside: I glossed over one important detail there: In most people’s first experience of the assessment tool, its ‘prompts’ are organised under headings of Transparency, Balance, Leadership, Customer Focus, Flow, and Leadership. These 6 values are the titles of KFTI’s first 6 chapters; moreover Leadership incorporates Understanding, Agreement, and Respect, the so-called ‘leadership disciplines’ of chapters 7, 8, and 9.  I make no apologies for retaining these; most people would recognise these values as having relevance in any Lean-Agile context.

Fast forward to 2019, Reverse STATIK (mostly under the framework-neutral name of ‘Pathway’) looks like this:

  1. Refine existing systems
  2. Improve the service experience
  3. Manage the knowledge discovery process
  4. Balance demand and capability
  5. Address sources of dissatisfaction and other motivations for change
  6. Pursue fitness for purpose

These headings appear in my aforementioned teaching materials, as an option in the assessment tool, and the spine of the ‘Pathway map’, a visualisation inspired by User Story Mapping (see chapter 3 of the Agendashift book, which also introduces the Reverse STATIK model).

Instead of (and I say this tongue-in-cheek) doing a bunch of analysis exercises before (tada!) a kanban system is designed, an improvement process that identifies opportunities at a wide range of challenge and sophistication, with kanban or without. The spine starts small, grows in sophistication, and ends on high with purpose, leadership behaviours, and other similarly challenging, bigger-picture issues of organisation design; what detail gets prioritised under whatever heading at any given time is a matter for participatory decision making.

Relentless commitments to 1) participation and 2) agreement on outcomes as the basis for change are what took me from Reverse STATIK to Agendashift. The former wasn’t quite the 21st century engagement model I was striving for but a decent first attempt, and it lives on, even if quite well hidden.

pathway-mappingRelated:


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2 for the price of 1: Agile Book Club review and interview

Earlier this month my friends Paul Klipp (who I’ve known for nearly a decade) and Justyna Pindel (since the 2017 ACE! conference) released a thorough and thoughtful review of my latest book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile on their podcast Agile Book Club. Last week they interviewed me, and released it today as a separate podcast episode.

Both episodes can be found here: “Right to Left” by Mike Burrows. You can also find Agile Book Club on Spotify (review | interview) and Apple (review | interview).

Let me also take the opportunity to mention that the epub format of Right to Left is available at last on Google Play and Kobo, both with some mangled blurb that I’m getting fixed!

While we’re here…

A reminder that we’re doing an Agendashift update and Lean Coffee tomorrow, Thursday 17th,  at 12:30 UK time. The original announcement and details here:

And if you can be in Berlin around November 19th, the Open Leadership Symposium is not to be missed! Details here:

I have a chunky discount code for the Symposium – ping me for it!

Note that as per the calendar below I’m doing a 2-day Advanced workshop in Berlin the week before, a prior (and regular) engagement. Symposium participants will however get a discount for the online workshop, for which the Open Leadership Network (the symposium’s organisers) are the certifying body.

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Upcoming workshops: Istanbul, Berlin, Oslo, and online


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What I really think about SAFe

I keep repeating myself – more so since the announcements of the latest edition of SAFe – so let me put it here for the record. It’s based on previous comments on Twitter, LinkedIn, and elsewhere; nothing I haven’t said before, but not all in one place.

My concerns (I do have them) are entirely around implementation, but SAFe is by no means unique in that regard. It’s one on a long list of things for which how you approach it matters way, way more than the thing itself.

See SAFe as 1) a curriculum 2) a demonstration of how things can fit together: fine, whatever, if that floats your boat. That much should be clear from chapter 4 (the scaling chapter) of Right to Left. Some aspects I praise, the principles most of all, and I suggest ways to start from there.

See SAFe as a realisation of patterns such as iterated self-organisation around goals, you’re on pretty good foundations. Credit where credit is due, I found in my researches for the book that SAFe makes this more explicit than any of its rivals, at least when it comes to descriptions easily accessible to outsiders (and I didn’t stop there).

See SAFe as a solution to be implemented: you are courting disaster. Implementing something as big as this with any kind of determination leads almost inevitably to imposition, and that’s the way to destroy collaboration, self-organisation, problem-solving, and innovation. Why would you do that?

This problem is not specific to SAFe, and it’s the driver behind engagement models such as Agendashift (mine), OpenSpace Agility (Mezick et al); moreover it’s a big enough problem that we actively cooperate, not compete.

The sad truth is that mainstream Agile acts like the last two decades of organisation development never existed. If the impact weren’t so serious, it would be laughable. It’s certainly embarrassing, shameful even. SAFe must take its share of responsibility for that, but it is by no means alone.

There. I said it. Arguing about the relative merits of the framework becomes a way of dancing around that most crucial point. So don’t ask me to endorse or condemn it; I just won’t. But don’t think I don’t care…


Upcoming workshops; Istanbul, Berlin, Oslo, online

LqT4lizQ


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New dates for your diaries

Only 8 days since the September roundup and there’s more! Late-breaking news:

  • Online update and Lean Coffee next week (free, all welcome)
  • Open Leadership Symposium, Berlin
  • New/moved workshops, Oslo and online

Online update and Lean Coffee (free, all welcome)

Via Zoom:

There’s no need to register (but RSVP via Slack if you like); just join here:

12:30 UK time is 13:30 CET and 07:30 ET.

Open Leadership Symposium, Berlin

You may remember how excited I was by the prospect and experience of the first Open Leadership Symposium, which took place in Boston in May. Now it comes to Europe!

The Berlin event takes place on November 19th, with masterclasses the day before and after. Details here:

Note that as per the calendar below I’m doing a 2-day Advanced workshop in Berlin the week before, a prior (and regular) engagement. Symposium participants will however get a discount for the online workshop, for which the Open Leadership Network (the symposium’s organisers) are the certifying body.

LqT4lizQ

Upcoming workshops: Istanbul, Berlin, Oslo, and online

New: Oslo was added only today! There’ll be a meetup (topic: Outside-in Strategy Review) on the first evening too.

Moved: Due to a combination of 1) an idiotic mistake on my part and 2) circumstances beyond my control, I needed to move the two upcoming online Agendashift workshops “Learning the Language of Outcomes”. The first of these is now rescheduled for December and I’ll be adding some 2020 dates soon.


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Agendashift roundup, September 2019

In this edition: Right to Left; Announcing two new workshops; New versions of Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO; Upcoming: London, Istanbul, Berlin, and online; Top posts

Right to Left

It is still only six weeks since Right to Left launched! This month, a series of five 5-minute interviews – thank you Matthias Tölken of the Xuviate community! Details here:

Also:

  • An epub version for Google Play, Apple, Kobo, etc is imminent
  • Yes, an audiobook is looking increasingly likely

Announcing two new workshops

By some margin, this month’s top post was about a topic of active discussion in the Agendashift Slack, namely Objectives and Key Results (OKR):

To quote that post (a thought echoed also in Helpfully subversive about frameworks):

… OKR has something in common with Agile process frameworks: how you approach the framework matters very much more than the choice of framework itself.

That places OKR very much in Agendashift territory, and I’m glad to announce a new workshop, the product of a collaboration with (among others) Agendashift partners Karl Scotland and Steven Mackenzie. It will be available for client work in the coming weeks, and there will be public workshops in the new year.

For the record, I’ve put a page up for it already, though it doesn’t say much more than I’ve said here already:

Alongside that, another new Agendashift workshop. In common with the OKR one, it doesn’t assume that the focus is necessarily on things Lean or Agile (though it is of course 100% compatible with those Lean-Agile sensibilities). This one focuses directly on products and services, not just their delivery:

I’m excited about both of these workshops. Compared to the practitioner-focussed transformation strategy workshops (excluding the Applied one, for clients), they make few assumptions about the participants and should be highly accessible. Outcome-orientation – and some strategic thinking – for everyone!

New versions of Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO

This month I did two Advanced workshops in quick succession, Stockholm and Athens on consecutive weeks. Somehow this always seems to amplify the feedback and I’m taking the opportunity to make some changes, some impacting our open source resources.

Watch this space and the relevant Slack channels for further announcements, but in brief:

  • For Changeban and Featureban, a change to the order in which the rules are introduced, and switching the colours. I’ll be testing the first change at the Advanced workshop in London later this week and at a meetup beforehand. The second change necessitates updates to the printed cards if you’re using them (you can also use playing cards), so I’ll make two distinct releases.
  • For 15-minute FOTO, a new introductory playing mode, and some quick forays from outcome space back in to obstacle space (making it more fractal). Both changes will necessitate an update to the cue card but I’ll test it first without.

Upcoming: London, Istanbul, Berlin, and online

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