The Agendashift community on Slack is 2 today 🎉🎉

If you’re interested in outcome-oriented change, continuous transformation, and Lean-Agile generally, here’s the place to find like-minded people, have your questions answered, and engage in thoughtful discussion. If you’re putting Agendashift into practice, it’s where you’ll find support.

Two years ago today saw the birth of something really special: the Agendashift community on Slack. We’re now just a few short of 500 members, a milestone that is surely only days away.

2-today

A selection of recent activity in some of the more popular channels:

  • #assessments: enhancements to the online survey tool deployed in recent days; the wording of some of the assessment prompts
  • #bookclub: coordinating a Zoom-based discussion on 3rd volume of Gerald Weinberg’s Quality Software Management
  • #changeban: sharing the announcement of Changeban v0.3 (it’s evolving a bit faster now that we’re creating more opportunities to use it)
  • #cleanlanguage: various Clean Language-related events (some organised by channel members); a podcast featuring Caitlin Walker (author of one of the three Clean Language book in the Agendashift reading list)
  • #featureban: experience reports from Norway, Sweden, and South Africa; the Spanish translation (see the Featureban page for resources)
  • #kanban: a discussion on whether and what to document for the benefit of future joiners to a team
  • #leancoffee: organising our next meeting, probably on July 13th; a recording of our previous one
  • #right-to-left: progress on the next book
  • #workshops: transformation strategy workshops and more general business strategy workshops (mostly using Agendashift material but not exclusively); changes to the material as it evolves through use; workshop facilitation in general

If you’d like to join, just head over to agendashift.com/slack and request your invite. See you there!


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We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation. Building from agreement on outcomes, Agendashift facilitates rapid, experiment-based emergence 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…

 

Agendashift in the mirror universe

We had a bit of fun in the Cardiff workshop a few days ago taking a prompt from the Agendashift delivery assessment and negating it. Here’s the original:

We bring work into the delivery process only as capacity allows, preferring to finish work items already in progress than to start new work items

Via some mysterious wormhole (the details aren’t important), here’s a version that came from some negligent universe’s Agendashift assessment:

We’re happy to let work into our delivery process regardless of the consequences [on work already in progress and on potentially overburdened people]

I put the second half in brackets because the determinedly negligent (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) probably wouldn’t bother to think that hard.

From a more evil universe:

We push work into already-overburdened systems in the full knowledge of the impact it will have on people, existing work, and its customers. The power!

No-one would do that back here in the real, right?

Here are a few more. Can you guess what the original prompts look like?

We are careful to keep progress on our work to ourselves, thereby avoiding the temptation to work with others

We prefer to store up our work rather than allow it reach our customers when it is ready

Neither our decisions, our setting of customer expectations, nor our priorities for improvement have any basis whatsoever in fact

We like our assumptions untested (like our code)

Curious? You can try a mini assessment with a small subset of the full template on teams of up to 10 people by signing up to the trial and here for the unrestricted version (paid). The same 18 prompts (out of the full 43) of the mini assessment also feature in chapters 2, 3, and 5 of the Agendashift book. The place for questions, comments, experience reports, and suggested improvements is the #assessments channel in the Agendashift Slack. Enjoy!


Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: Home | About | Partners | Resources | Contact | Mike
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We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation. Building from agreement on outcomes, Agendashift facilitates rapid, experiment-based emergence 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…

How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down

If you’ve heard me speak in recent months, it won’t come as a surprise when I say that L. David Marquet’s Turn the ship around! [1] has become a favourite book. It’s the story of how Marquet, a US Navy captain, turned around a poor-performing nuclear submarine with its crew, taking it from “worst in fleet” to “first”. I can also recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by the author himself.

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Commander’s Intent [2] is an important model from the military which (rightly) receives attention in business circles. In this model, leaders make a habit of expressing objectives and the rationale for them, controlling the urge to specify in detail how that objective should be achieved. In short, the what and why, not the how. As explained in Stephen Bungay’s The Art of Action [3], it was developed in the 19th century by Carl von Clausewitz, a general in the Prussian army, and has since become firmly established in military doctrine around the world.

Marquet turns Commender’s Intent upside down, but in so doing proves its point!

Suppose now the intent is expressed not by the leader to a subordinate, but by someone under their command and in the other direction. That person is showing initiative, might even be attempting something innovative. The commander has a choice: to trust them to get on with it, to provide support, or to suggest alternative course of action. Either way, they are mutually accountable, the one for his or her actions, the other for providing an appropriate level of support (in a context in which safety is paramount). If you can establish these leader-to-leader conversations as a new habit, then through countless such encounters and through essentially unlimited opportunities for people at every level of the organisation to show leadership, the organisation grows.

Marquet’s ultimate intention was no different to Clausewitz’s – to turn an organisation stuck in the ways of the past and barely fit for the present into one capable of thinking for itself and innovating its way into the future. Understand Commander’s Intent in those terms and Marquet’s Leader-Leader makes perfect sense.

How frequent are the opportunities for statements of intent in your organisation? Do colleagues (whether seniors, peers, or otherwise) both offer appropriate support and hold each other to account when intent has been expressed? It’s a great way for people and teams alike to grow in capability and for leadership to develop.

This post is the third in a series of three, introducing three core themes to be developed in my next book (my third, out I hope about a year from now in early summer ’19) :

  1. Right to left: the effective organisation – see Understanding Lean-Agile, right to left
  2. Outside in: the wholehearted organisation – see Towards the wholehearted organisation, outside in
  3. Upside down: the supportive organisation – this post

Working title (as of this week!): Right to left: A leader’s guide to Lean-Agile.

Meanwhile, the Agendashift book [4] is a book not about Lean-Agile but about outcome-oriented change. It is steeped in those themes, but by design it assumes them more than it explains them (though they begin to become explicit in the final chapter). If you like, Right to left is Agendashift’s prequel. Join us in the #right-to-left channel in the Agendashift Slack to monitor progress and to discuss any of these three themes.

[1] L. David Marquet, Turn the ship around!: : A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules (Portfolio Penguin, 2015)
[2] Commander’s Intent (en.wikipedia.org)
[3] Stephen Bungay, The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2010)
[4] Mike Burrows, Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (New Generation Publishing, 2018)


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We are champions and enablers of outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation. Building from agreement on outcomes, Agendashift facilitates rapid, experiment-based emergence 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…

Agendashift roundup, May 2018

In this edition:  ‘Done’ goes viral; Right to left; Reviews for Agendashift; Munich and South Wales; Tools and translations; Upcoming; Top posts

‘Done’ goes viral

I don’t usually start with the blog, but within days of posting, My handy, referenceable Definition of Done jumped to the top of the leader board for 2018, bringing with it a linked post from 2016, Better user stories start with authentic situations of need.

Screenshot 2018-05-05 06.23.15

The reaction to this post was striking. Clearly, most people got what I was doing right away, but a few (5% maybe) seemed offended that I had dared to subvert a cherished Agile concept, the definition of done. I have absolutely no regrets on that score, and not just because it provoked a response: it’s a legitimate target that I’d be only too happy taken down and replaced with better things – definitions of ready (the obvious technical alternative), needs, outcomes, goals, validation, and so on.

Right to left

It seems slightly crazy that I’ve started work on a new book (my third) so soon after Agendashift, but I just can’t help myself!

Are you tired of introductions to Agile (and actual implementations, for that matter) that start “on the left” with projects and backlogs and work their way slowly rightwards to where the long-suffering customer patiently waits for something of value actually to happen? Well so am I, and I’m doing something about it.

My best guess is that Right to left will be available sometime in 2019, and hopefully no more than 12 months from now – let’s call it early summer ’19. There’s no landing page for it yet but there is a #right-to-left channel in the Agendashift Slack and some blog posts:

For completeness, theme 3 of 3, “upside down”, the supportive organisation, will get its own post in the next few days.

In terms of tone, I’m aiming for “a book you’ll happily give your manager and hope they’ll want to pass on to theirs” – less practitioner-focussed than KFTI and Agendashift then, but plenty for the expert to enjoy too I’m sure.

Word count so far: 2,910 (May 31st, 2018).

Reviews for Agendashift

Fewer than I’d like (to be honest I’m a little frustrated), but the reviews we do have are great, all 5-star so far. See for yourself:

Many thanks to those that have taken the trouble so far, and keep them coming!

Munich, and South Wales

For reasons we don’t fully understand, the Munich workshop didn’t quite get off the ground. There were sales, but not quite enough of them came soon enough for us to be confident of being able to give a good experience. Postponed rather than cancelled, and we may find a client organisation both to host it and to ensure numbers. That’s a model that could work in your city too; do get in touch if you have even just a small core of people interested.

Cardiff though – with DevOpsGuys as both excellent hosts and active participants – was great. Again some fantastic feedback for the 2-day Advanced workshop, and I spoke afterwards at the South Wales Agile Group.

I’ll be in South Wales again in July for Agile Cymru, where no fewer than five Agendashift partners will be speaking:  Cat SwetelJose CasalKarl ScotlandMatt Turner, and yours truly. That’s amazing! Clearly, if you want to find good people, you should check out the partner directory, and perhaps decide to join that list yourself 😉

Tools and translations

  • The 15-minute FOTO cue card is now available in German – thank you Agendashift partner Alex Pukinskis
  • Featureban is now available in Spanish – thank you Youssef Oufaska and Daniel Carroza

After a long wait, we finally got to play Changeban during the Cardiff workshop and it worked great! A new version of the deck is now available, a couple of bugs fixed (just with the deck, the game itself worked as planned). More here:

Upcoming

Speaking:

Over the summer period, the only workshops I’ll be doing will either be private or the Agendashift Studio event on July 7th (in my home studio office in Chesterfield, UK, and it’s sold out). Watch this space for an exciting autumn/winter programme.

Top posts

Recent:

From the archives:


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: 
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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…

Towards the wholehearted organisation, outside in

It’s one of those often-cited, non-enough-read books, Christopher Alexander’s The Timeless Way of Building, the classic book on architecture and the built environment that inspired the patterns movement in software (think Gang of Four Design Patterns, PLoP, etc).

It’s a rewarding read – philosophical in a way that is both surprising and delightful, and (whether intended by the author or not) full of ideas that are just asking to be carried over to other domains. I read it with organisation design in mind.

This favourite quote isn’t specific to building but it is loaded with metaphor:

Screenshot 2018-05-26 11.52.59

It got me thinking that I would love to be known for being in the business of helping organisations to be more wholehearted – less at war with themselves, their contradictions identified and owned so that they can be resolved in some pleasing way. If squeezing out excess work-in-progress is a key strategy for improving our delivery processes, perhaps squeezing out the contradictions is the way to improve our organisations for the mutual benefit of all concerned.

In my keynote talk Inverting the pyramid, I use this quote to introduce a section on outside-in reviews – for example the strategy reviews and service delivery reviews that follow the kind of outside-in agenda as described in chapter 5 of the Agendashift book:

  1. Customer
  2. Organisation
  3. Platform
  4. Product
  5. Team

Juxtaposing these different perspectives – each one presented by the people who are best equipped represent them – increases our chances of not only bringing our inner contradictions and misalignments to the surface, but of finding better ways to meet external needs too. Within each agenda item, a right-to-left [1] structure: what we’ve recently learned about how things are, what we’re beginning to learn through experimentation, and what experiments we plan to conduct as capacity permits.

Some context and an invitation: As mentioned a few days ago, I have just begun work on my third book: a no-nonsense, leader’s guide to Lean-Agile, organised around the three themes of right to leftoutside in, and upside down. Join us in the #right-to-left channel in the Agendashift Slack to monitor progress and to discuss any of these three themes.

Related posts:

[1] Understanding Lean-Agile, right to left


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: 
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 emergence 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…

Changeban v0.3

On Wednesday we played Changeban as part of the 2-day Advanced Agendashift workshop “Coaching and leading continuous transformation” in Cardiff. We spotted a couple of things to improve but they didn’t get in the way of either our fun or our learning! I’ve since made the necessary updates.

For the uninitiated, Changeban is based on Featureban, our popular kanban simulation game, played in workshops and meetups all over the world. Both games are licensed under a Creative Commons license, which in Featureban’s case has helped to generate a number of language translations and other variants. Changeban dials down on the kanban content, making space for a followup exercise in Lean Startup-style experiment design and workflow as applied to both feature development and process improvement.

Changeban’s mechanics are also a little different, reducing slightly the impact of blockers and allowing the game to flow faster. That’s mostly a good thing and I’m considering doing the same for Featureban, but it would be at the expense of the easy calculation of flow efficiency that the old rules made possible. If anyone wants to test the new rules on the old game, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Its landing page will get updated soon. If you’d like to get hold of the updated deck meanwhile, don’t let it put you off! And join us in the #changeban and #featureban channels in the Agendashift Slack.


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: 
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 emergence 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…

Understanding Lean-Agile, right to left

Suppose you had to understand Lego – and I mean really understand it. Where do you start? With children playing, or with plastic feedstock?


Now suppose you had to understand Lean-Agile. Where do you start? With people collaborating over software that is already beginning to work, or with backlogs and projects? Working software, or JIRA?

With the Agendashift book [1] only just out of the door, I’ve begun work on the prequel, a no-nonsense guide to Lean-Agile, the kind of book you’ll give to your manager and hope that they’ll pass on to theirs. And yes, we’ll start right to left, beginning at the point where needs are met [2] and working our way upstream. We’ll describe what it’s like to have Lean and Agile already working well, and demonstrate powerful ways to understand, manage, and improve almost any kind of delivery process.

There’ll be two more themes: outside in and upside down; more on those soon. Join us meanwhile in the #right-to-left channel in the Agendashift Slack [3] if any of these themes are of interest to you. Perhaps you have relevant examples or models that support these themes, or are already beginning to wonder about how they might be applied in your current situation and have questions.

[1] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation
[2] My handy, referenceable Definition of Done
[3] Agendashift on Slack


Upcoming Agendashift workshops:


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: 
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 emergence 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…