#2MBM: After strategy and ideation, operation

Excellent response to last week’s #2MBM: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method! Before the main business of this post, a couple of updates:

  1. In the interests of referenceability (if that’s a word) I’ve since given it a url: agendashift.com/2mbm (as shown in the image below) redirects to agendashift.com/frameworks/patterns/2mbm
  2. In the patterns pages, I’ve incorporated 2MBM into the definition of Right to Left:

    Right to Left: Ends before means, outcomes before solutions, and the two MBMs – meaning before metric and measure before method (2MBM)

agendashift-framework-overview-16x10-2020-07-07-2mbm

Last week’s post was about keeping metrics in their proper place with respect to strategy and ideation. This one is about the use of metrics as the strategy swings into action, the ideas continue to flow, and so on.

I’ve hinted already that you probably want a multiplicity of metrics. Chapter 5 of Right to Left gives some suggestions, and they’re organised by the layers of the outside-in strategy review, or OI-SR (as practiced in the Wholehearted:OKR workshop and as supported by the free OI-SR template):

  1. Customer: Customer satisfaction; helpdesk calls and hours spent on them; customer complaints, endorsements, and reviews; user growth and retention
  2. Organisation: Financial metrics, progress against relevant organisational objectives, and so on
  3. Product: Usage analytics; funnel metrics; market comparisons
  4. Platform: System performance and capacity metrics (along with plans to keep capacity ahead of anticipated demand – another good reason for the outside-in review); new capabilities and capabilities under development
  5. Team: Lead time distribution, throughput, and work in progress; quality metrics (defects escaped to production, for example); data on blockers and their impact; staffing levels; skill distribution and development

That’s quite a long list, beyond the capacity of most people to maintain on their own, and to be clear, they’re only suggestions. Both to make it practical and to help avoid the oppressive imposition of metrics:

  • Each layer is represented by one or two people (two being preferable, creating mentoring opportunities and making it easier to broaden the range of seniorities involved in the meeting overall), each closely identified with their respective layer(s)
  • The choice of which metrics will be presented is theirs (and by extension, their respective team’s¹); the meeting’s facilitator can coordinate across layers to help ensure good coverage

In the outside-in service delivery review (OI-SDR), those layers define the top-level agenda. The sequence helps to expose any misalignment between what we’re trying to achieve and the work we’re actually doing – not just within each layer but with respect to what’s been heard already. Within each layer, we go right to left:

  • A narrative update that includes an affirmation of we’re trying to achieve
  • What this layer’s metrics seem to be telling us
  • What has been learned from our experiments completed since last time
  • What experiments we currently have up and running and what we hope to learn
  • What’s in the pipeline

I was asked in a meetup last night what I would do if I could implement only one thing. Five years ago, I might have answered with “Validation”; today, my answer is the OI-SDR. It’s a piece of deliberate organisation design, building in the strong organisational expectation that learning will be happening – learning about our customers and learning about ourselves. An opportunity for double loop learning. And to do it justice, you’ll soon be practicing validation anyway!

Find out more

The OI-SR and OI-SDR are described in chapter 5 of Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile. Available in the usual places and (since May) as an audiobook.

Check out the workshops pages also – not just for Wholehearted:OKR and other strategy workshops but also for Implementing your OI-SDR among the short training workshops.

¹ ‘Circle‘ might be a better word than ‘team’ here. I’m alluding to Sociocracy, and that’s  covered in Right to Left chapter 6.

Related posts:


Upcoming public workshops

July:

August, Julia Wester stepping in:

Autumn:

The Agendashift events calendar always has the latest public workshops – watch this space for another (and updated) Wholehearted:OKR – and visit the workshops page if you’re considering doing something privately – chances are we have something of interest.


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#2MBM: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method

In the models-sources-inspirations picture shared in the  June roundup earlier this week you may have noticed one or more less-than famous acronyms upper right. I did leave a breadcrumb or two, but as was my plan all along, let me spell them out.

agendashift-inspiration-map-2020-06-29

The newest acronym – just days old – is 2MBM. From the patterns page (the Right to Left link points to my book/audiobook of that name):

Right to Left: ends before means, outcomes before solutions, and the two MBMs – meaning before metric and measure before method (2MBM)

MBM 1: Meaning before metric

I’ve been using this one for a while. Some clues here in From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019):

This [understanding fitness for purpose] is OK as far as it goes, but the faster it turns … into a conversation about metrics, the less time anyone spends actually exploring purpose. If I’m honest, this part leaves me a little cold … .

My real concern here is with a common behaviour: consultants and other practitioners leading too hard with a favourite metric. My advice: whether they’re pushing lead time, velocity, or NPS, if they’re not also demonstrating an interest in connecting deeply with your purpose, politely show them the door.

More reason to trust your instincts when you feel yourself go cold at the mention of metrics is when they’re imposed as targets. It’s when OKR (Objectives and Key Results) turns into MBO (Management by Objectives), and there’s a reason why the latter is discredited, disowned by its creator (Drucker). Particularly when they’re tied to compensation and advancement, imposed targets inspire creativity of the wrong kind, too-clever ways to meet the goal. In a word: dysfunction.

MBM 2: Measure before method

So…  metrics are bad? No! As we’ll see in a moment they can be a source of healthy creativity if explored at the right time. If the first MBM translates to “not too early”, then the second translates to “not too late”. In fact, there’s “too late”, and then there’s “way too late”:

  • “Too late”: having a solution idea and then coming up with the metrics that it is likely to impact, justifying it on that basis
  • “Way too late”: implementing a solution idea and looking for benefits afterwards

Not so much alignment as post hoc rationalisation, severely limiting the likelihood of any real learning taking place, and missing some vital input into the ideation process.

To illustrate that last point, here’s how we now teach it in Agendashift:

  1. Reacquaint ourselves with the outcome we’ve chosen to work on (remember that with us it’s “outcomes all the way down” and we haven’t even got to the bottom of that stack yet) with Challenge Mapping
  2. Having explored around it, identify a list of success indicators for that outcome
  3. With the conversations of steps 1 and 2 still in the air, generate solution ideas
  4. Select the fantastic option, the one most likely to significantly outperform – relative to the others and disproportionately (non-linearly) relative to its cost and risk

TASTE and ODIM

And finally to two more of the acronyms on my picture (plus a bonus).

Karl Scotland‘s TASTE stands for True north, Aspirations, Strategies, Tactics, and Evidence. What we’ve known for a while – in the Agendashift material we have deliberately made this a two-part exercise to emphasise this point – is to leave Tactics until last. Cross-referencing them in an X-Matrix, we’re asking this question:

  • Inspired by and aligning to our True north, what Tactics (collectively) will support our Strategies and deliver the Evidence of success we hope for? (Aspirations are already correlated with Strategies and Evidence at this point)

Larry Maccherone‘s ODIM stands for Objectives, Decisions, Insights, and Metrics. One creative way to think of it is in behavioural terms:

  • For this objective to be achieved, what will people need to do differently? If that involves them making different decisions, what in their immediate environment will guide those? What then do we need to measure?

In the latest iteration of the Wholehearted:OKR workshop we use TASTE when we’re exploring alignment between levels, a way to build coherence at scale. ODIM is introduced near ideation time (previously it came too early, reducing its impact – no pun intended).

One last credit: I took “Measure” and “Method” come from Salesforce’s management process V2MOM:

  1. Vision— what do you want to achieve?
  2. Values — what’s important to you?
  3. Methods — how do you get it?
  4. Obstacles — what is preventing you from being successful?
  5. Measures — how do you know you have it?

Type 1 MBM but not (as presented here) type 2. Still, it starts in the right kind of place, and for that I’m glad. Thank you Steve Pereira and Tom Kerwin for an interesting Twitter conversation.

Followup post:

Related posts:


Upcoming workshops

July:

August, Julia Wester stepping in:

Autumn:

The Agendashift events calendar always has the latest public workshops – watch this space for another (and updated) Wholehearted:OKR – and visit the workshops page if you’re considering doing something privately – chances are we have something of interest.


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Agendashift roundup, June 2020

In this edition: Outcomes all the way down; Agendashift’s “inspiration map”; Weekly #community Zoom; Summer & autumn workshops; Top posts – recent and classic

Outcomes all the way down

I had a lot of fun with the SquirrelNorth guys this month and the recording of our webinar together is now up:

Agendashift’s “inspiration map”

Funny how one thing leads to another…

agendashift-inspiration-map-2020-06-29

Last week I posted a rough sketch which I called my “inspiration map”. Not only has it sparked some very interesting conversations as it evolved over those few days (prompting some content improvements), it has spawned a new visual identity for Agendashift.

It will take me weeks to work through everything that now wants updating, but the Framework pages are done (there or thereabouts). Do check it out! Content-wise, the most interesting place to start is probably the Patterns page.

Weekly #community Zoom

Quick public service announcement: Our weekly Zoom calls have moved to the later time of 14:00 BST, 15:00 CEST, 9am EDT. Still every Friday, Lean Coffee style, details in the #community channel in the Agendashift Slack (or ping me).

Summer & autumn workshops

Apart from Implementing your Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR) which I’ve marked as private-only for now, in recent weeks I’ve done the full set of short training workshops publicly and at various times of day to suit participants from all timezones. We’ve done Deep Dive and Wholehearted:OKR too, so we can say with some confidence that we know how to do this stuff online!

In July I’m doing two of the longer workshops. Over multiple online sessions they cover the equivalent of the 1-day Core and 2-day Deep Dive:

The first of those is in conjunction with Agile Israel (until Covid-19 happened I was due to visit Tel Aviv in July), the second with my friends at SquirrelNorth (see Outcomes all the way down above).

In August I’m taking break from public workshops but Julia Wester steps in:

I’m back in September/October with the increasingly-familiar range of shorter training workshops:

The Agendashift events calendar always has the latest public workshops – watch this space for another (and updated) Wholehearted:OKR – and visit the workshops page if you’re considering doing something privately – chances are we have something of interest.

Top posts – recent and classic

Recent:

  1. I’m really enjoying Challenge Mapping
  2. Probe!
  3. Outcomes all the way down
  4. Revisiting ‘wholehearted’
  5. The audiobook is out! Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile

Classic – older posts popular this month:

  1. There will be caveats: Warming cautiously to OKR (September 2019)
  2. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  3. Agendashift as framework (April)
  4. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (June 2018)
  5. Agendashift, meet Reverse STATIK (October 2015)

The evergreen Introducing Kanban through its values (January 2013) should be taken as read. Nice to see the Reverse STATIK post from 2015 bubble up again at #5 though! Related to that, see the more recent #4 on the list below.

And for the half year January to June:

  1. What I really think about SAFe (October 2019)
  2. There will be caveats: Warming cautiously to OKR (September 2019)
  3. Visualising Agendashift: The why and how of outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (June 2019)
  4. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019)
  5. What kind of Organisational Development (OD)? (And a book recommendation) (May 2019)

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I’m really enjoying Challenge Mapping

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken every opportunity to play with Challenge Mapping and I’m really enjoying it. I even sneaked it into my ‘Outcomes all the way down’ webinar appearance the other week!

For the uninitiated (and also for the seemingly many who have seen it without knowing it by name), it’s a great way to generate those How might we…? (HMW) questions often associated now with the Design Sprint movement. Challenge Mapping and HMW have a much longer history than that however, and I’ve included some references in the page for the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO) pattern.

One of Challenge Mapping’s pioneers was Min Basadur, and here from him is a tweet showing some example output:

How Challenge Mapping works, very briefly: From an initial, anchoring challenge – something we’d like to achieve or solve – variations on these two questions:

  1. Why is this important?
  2. What’s stopping us? 

Answers can be re-framed in HMW form as required.

Visually, the Why and What questions respectively take us up and down. As well as that vertical axis – typically showing increasing levels of abstraction going up – “Why else..” and “What else…” allow for some sideways expansion also.

Try it! Here’s a little example suggested by my Challenge Mapping buddy Andreas Wittler:

  • Assuming for the purposes of this exercise that any legal barriers are now behind us, start by naming a key challenge (work-related or otherwise) around returning from lockdown.
  • Why is this important?
  • And perhaps: Why is that important?
  • What stops us?
  • Why is that important?
  • What else stops us?
  • etc
  • Note down your answers and after you have finished, try reframing them HMW-style

My first opportunity to experiment came about a few weeks ago thanks to our weekly Agendashift #community Zoom (named after the #community channel in the Agendashift Slack). In a hastily-arranged practice session with Andreas, we tried Challenge Mapping as a simpler, 2-question alternative to 15-minute FOTO, Agendashift’s Clean Language-inspired coaching game and our go-to tool for generating outcomes. We then trialled it as the opening exercise for a Strategic Mapping with Outcomes workshop.

It was a very interesting trial and let me say a big thank you to all my workshop participants! It borderline failed but with some great learning: it was more involved than I wanted for a kick-off exercise and it requires some extra work to generate outcomes, but still it does the job it was designed to do extremely well. We now use it not as a FOTO alternative (whew!) but either side of it in these two places:

  1. To explore the vicinity of an obstacle, adding some extra depth to the first O of the abovementioned IdOO pattern
  2. To refamiliarise ourselves with an outcome – IdOO’s second O – as we begin to action it – moving into ideation, solutionising etc

Its next outing comes as soon as this Thursday, where we’ll be using it for the second of those two purposes. The Probe! workshop is a short (2-hour), standalone version of the our longer workshops’ Elaboration, with some fun new material borrowed from Impact! and Wholehearted:OKR. Join us if you can!

Upcoming workshops

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


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Outcomes all the way down

“Outcomes all the way down” is an Agendashift catchphrase that my friends at SquirrelNorth (squirrelnorth.com) picked out as the title of a webinar we gave together last week. Here’s the recording:

Overview:

  1. (3:00) What Agendashift is – the wholehearted, outcome-oriented engagement model – unpacking those terms in reverse order
  2. (17:40) Me interviewing members of the SquirrelNorth team – Martin Aziz, Fernando Cuenca, James Steele, and Alexei Zheglov
    1. “What’s happening when you’re reaching the right customers, meeting their strategic needs?” (the beginning of the Outside-in Strategy Review as described in Right to Left, chapter 5)
    2. How they each respond to an Agendashift assessment prompt of their choice
  3. (48:15) What Agendashift provides – framework, tools, models, workshops (more on that last one in a moment)
  4. (55:30) Q&A

Parts 1 & 3 above follow a structure that’s easy enough to remember / follow and I did it without a slide deck. See the recent post Revisiting ‘wholehearted’ for a stepping stone to that structure; in the process of developing the talk (mostly in my head with a few sticky notes around my screen just in case) the Home and About pages went through a couple more iterations too.

The webinar is part of our preparations for an upcoming Deep Dive workshop. It’s timed for the Americas (SquirrelNorth are based in Canada) and scheduled in manageable chunks spread over 4 days:

It’s already well subscribed but at the time of writing there are still places available. We’d love to see you there!

Related:


Upcoming workshops

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


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Probe!

Quick one…

The name “Stories, Hypotheses, and A3” was proving ironically unwieldy for a short training workshop. It now goes by the handle of the Probe! workshop; full title and details of its first outing on June 25th (EMEA-friendly timing) here:

That is all!

Related

experiment-a3-2020-04-18


Upcoming workshops

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

For some brief commentary:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


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Revisiting ‘wholehearted’

agendashift-banner-2019-12-17

Agendashift’s strapline is “the wholehearted engagement model”, and I’ve been reflecting again on just what we mean by wholeheartedness. That in turns leads me to revisit how I introduce Agendashift – what it is, what differentiates it, and why we do what we do.

Wholehearted

Starting with my reflections on that word, I’m drawn to two clusters of qualities:

  1. Engagement, commitment, and purposefulness
  2. Alignment, integration, integrity, and wholeness

For an organisation to be wholehearted, both sets of qualities must apply. Crucial to developing and sustaining them are participation and outcomes:

  • Participation, because 1) people disengage when they’re denied the meaningful opportunity to influence on how their working environment operates, and 2) you can’t have integrity and wholeness – or for that matter self-organisation and other hallmarks of the modern organisation – when the organisation’s parts don’t relate both between and within themselves frequently and richly enough.
  • Outcomes, for the simple reason that they’re what people align on, and for the more subtle reason that it’s easy to destroy engagement when solutions are put ahead of outcomes. Keep outcomes in the foreground (and not a rationalisation or afterthought) and you create the opportunity for acceptable, effective, and often innovative solutions to emerge at the right time, no imposition needed.

With all of that in mind, Agendashift is best introduced as the wholehearted, outcome-oriented engagement model. Unpacking that backwards:

  • The term engagement model is our preferred shorthand for the kind of thing that Agendashift is, a framework for agents of participatory change and transformation. The framing there is deliberate; we find it necessary to keep a certain distance from the failed solution-driven change management models of the last century and don’t wish to be numbered among them! Neither is Agendashift a model only for continuous improvement, a process that while necessary is not a substitute for strategy.
  • Agendashift is outcome-oriented to such an extent that this is its defining feature. It’s “outcomes all the way down”, dealing coherently, humanely, and strategically with everything from the most aspirational of goals to the impact of the smallest experiment. With outcomes generated, organised, and developed through participation, agreement on outcomes follows naturally; solutions come as they should on a just-in-time basis, lightly held as hypotheses to be tested until some other approach is understood to be safe.
  • We – Agendashift’s founders, partners, and supporters – are wholehearted in our commitments to participation, to outcomes, and beyond those to the wholeheartedness of the organisations with which we work. We strive to develop all the qualities of wholeheartedness, building organisations that create meaning continuously, through both their discourse and their ability to anticipate and meet needs.

We’re in the business of building wholehearted organisations. Are you?

Related


Upcoming workshops

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

For some brief commentary:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


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Agendashift roundup, May 2020

I’ll keep this one brief – this month’s top posts say it all really! The top 5 are all from this month (yes, we’ve been busy):

  1. The audiobook is out! Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile
  2. My kind of…
  3. Phases 1 & 2 of the agendashift-open project
  4. Two months in
  5. Workshops in June
  6. Agendashift as framework (April)
  7. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019)
  8. Devs not clear about strategy? It’s likely way worse than that (April)
  9. There will be caveats: Warming cautiously to OKR (September 2019)
  10. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (June 2018)

Very glad to say that the runaway winner is the audiobook announcement, not entirely surprising but I take nothing for granted! I shall leave it there, except to invite you to check out i) the other posts too, and ii) the list of upcoming workshops in its usual place at the end of this post.

cover right to left audiobook.001

 

Upcoming workshops (all online)

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

For some brief commentary:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


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My kind of…

Two years ago almost to the day,  I was among a group invited by Pierre Neis to answer this question:

What kind of Agile is your Agile?

I was writing Right to Left at the time, and “my kind of Agile” was already a feature of chapter 2. Here it is (the short version at least):

People collaborating over working software that is already beginning to meet needs

That’s just a starting point. To put it into practice, we work backwards from there, keeping needs and outcomes always in the foreground as we go. Understand how that “right to left”, outcomes-first kind of Agile differs both philosophically and practically from a “left to right”, backlog-driven kind of Agile – a kind that too often involves imposing process on people for the sake of mediocre results (at best) – and you’ll understand why the book needed to be written.

If you appreciate that essential difference already, you’ll enjoy the book’s singular perspective. If you don’t, you’ll find it a highly accessible introduction to the Lean-Agile landscape, one that avoids the mistake of explaining Agile in the terms of the models it seeks to replace, a mistake that undermines it every time it is made.

I opened this post with Pierre’s question of 2 years ago because I was delighted this week to speak at his invitation on “My kind of Agile” at an online meetup he hosts. In preparation I put up a new page:

In the print and e-book editions, My kind of… is Right to Left’s Appendix B. It’s a glossary of sorts, a gathering together of some informal definitions that are especially characteristic of the book. It starts with two versions (shorter and longer) of “My kind of Agile” and continues in that same vein.

If you’re listening to the new audiobook edition – out just a few days ago – the appendices aren’t included, so here you go!

cover right to left audiobook.001

Upcoming workshops (all online of course)

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

For the latest workshop and speaking events check the Agendashift events calendar.


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Workshops in June

But first, some of what they said about this week’s 2-day Wholehearted:OKR workshop:

  • Loved the focus on outcomes
  • Insights on end-to-end strategy for Agile implementation
  • Learned how to design the process in practice
  • Great new facilitation exercises
  • Lots of new things to try
  • Strategy deployment for Agile ways of working
  • Highly interactive, great mix of presentation and activities

To our surprise, the majority of participants (albeit a self-selected and possibly unrepresentative group) would choose the 2-day online format again – that’s two full days online. We thought that the long-arranged Deep Dive workshop (June 8-9 below) would be last time we would offer this format but we may have to reconsider!

And so to June…

June 4th (2 hours from 10:00BST) Strategic Mapping with Outcomes

This standalone workshop is based on the string of three exercises from the Mapping session of the Deep Dive workshop. There are no prerequisites, but it’s one of two natural followups to the popular Learning the Language of Outcomes workshop. Also, if you’ve attended Agendashift workshops before January last year, it’s your chance to try Option Approach Mapping (the exercise formerly referred to as Reverse Wardley Mapping). No quadrants or clusters will be (ab)used in this workshop!

Limited spaces left.

June 8-9 (2 days, 09-00-17:00CET), Agendashift Deep Dive: Coaching and Leading Continuous transformation

They said a 2-day online workshop couldn’t be done, but (as demonstrated above) it can! We will of course be offering other online formats for our flagship workshop – 8 sessions over 4 days for example – but this way it is at least easy to schedule. Either way, it’s with new content designed especially for online.

For this one and the one below, the Agendashift Delivery Assessment is given as prework so you’d be advised to book at least a week in advance.

June 17 & 18 (Two 2-hour sessions from 16:00BST/11EST): Learning the Language of Outcomes

These are happening with increasing frequency, enough that we can put them on at different times to suit participants in different time zones. June’s will be for the Americas, here meaning that it will be late afternoon UK time – I won’t be checking passports!

June 25th (2 hours from 10:00BST): Stories, hypotheses, and A3

Another short standalone workshop and a natural followup to Learning the Language of outcomes.

This workshop is a standalone Elaboration session from the Core and Deep Dive workshops kicked off with a fun new exercise taken from the Impact! and Wholehearted:OKR workshops. As per Right to Left (of which the audiobook edition came out only last weekend), we move easily between stories of various kinds – including but not limited to user stories and job stories – and hypotheses, then develop them Agendashift-style with our Experiment A3.

Hope to see you at one (or more!) of these, and keep an eye on the events calendar for July and August, a couple of exciting things in store for Asia and the Americas.


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