Facilitator’s guide to the Agendashift debrief/action workshop


  • Agreement on a way forward, to the level required to satisfy workshop sponsors and participants
  • Agreement on priority areas and immediate actions
  • Shared awareness of organisational context in the shape of objectives, challenges, problems, and desired outcomes
  • Exposure – in an experiential rather than didactic (“teachy”) way – to Lean-Agile, Kanban, Clean Language, Cynefin, Lean Startup, and A3. Potentially also to Story Mapping &/or other techniques of your choosing in support of the planning exercise.


The overall shape of the workshop is as follows:

  • A contextualisation exercise that serves also as an icebreaker. Aim to get to this as quickly as possible (with the barest minimum – none even – of introductions, overview etc).
  • Debriefing the survey results, preceded if necessary by conducting the survey itself. I prefer to set the survey as prework a few days in advance but some facilitators report positive experiences after investing significant time in this in the workshop itself.
  • Prioritising prompts from the survey, then generating, re-framing, developing, and organising a small number of urgent actions
  • Planning – whether that’s agreeing informally a way forward or a developing an agreed action plan more thoroughly. This might be just a short discussion or a mini workshop in its own right; facilitators should prepare for this according to sponsor expectations!
  • Review – looking back at the day’s work, reaffirming hoped-for outcomes in the participants’ own words and confirming what needs to be done to ensure effective follow-through.

The exercises are best done in groups of 3-5 people, 4 being the ideal number.

Most exercise start with some individual thinking and writing, then as a small group preparing an output that can be shared back to the room as a whole. For the Context for Change and Desired outcomes exercises the sharing back is accomplished via the Cynefin four points contextualisation exercise; for the others it’s implicitly left to the facilitator to manage.

Materials & facilities

  • Paper and pens for notes, enough for all participants
  • Stickies in at least two colours (one colour for each of the Cynefin exercises)
  • Larger stickies and marker pens for the four corners of the Cynefin exercise. These may come in useful also for the planning exercise also, eg for labelling columns in a story map &/or kanban board
  • Wall space for stickies
  • The A3 template, at least one per small group. It’s nice to have at least one printed on A3 paper for illustration purposes. A4 size (or the roughly equivalent US letter size) is workable if written on neatly
  • Laptop (or equivalent) and projector
  • Internet access (to survey results). If conducting the survey during the workshop, participants will need access too (via personal devices, smartphone and up). Contingency plans to cover technical difficulty!
  • Flipchart or whiteboard for explanations, deferred actions, etc

The deck

  • Rebrand as needed, but keep the Agendashift name, logo, and copyright notices on at least the cover pages
  • The main font is Clear Sans, a freely-available font developed from Intel. If the layout looks wonky, it’s likely that you don’t have the font installed. No, I can’t embed the font (Microsoft does not support this on Mac).
  • The first cover page is for presenting, the second for PDF handouts. There is an additional notice on the latter
  • Replace my bio slide with your own. Recommend not spending much time on this
  • Spend as much or as little time as you wish on the Agendashift slide. You may omit it entirely; it reappears later for use in handouts.
  • The next section is for the exercises (more on those below)
  • Then a References and Acknowledgements section. You can leave this for handouts.
  • I recommend you don’t include Bonus Slides in handouts that you don’t use in the workshop

The exercises

Context for change

  • Context for Change (1)
    should be self-explanatory
  • Make Context for Change (2) into a game. On paper (not stickies at this stage), each team must capture as many outcomes as possible, working within these constraints:
    1. It is against the clock – 10 minutes, with perhaps 5 minutes “extra time” at your discretion
    2. The coach may only use the phrases in italics, using the client’s own words in place of any X’s, the client representing themselves or role-playing for an absent stakeholder:
      • “What would you like to have happen?”
      • “Then what happens?”
      • “What happens before you break open the champagne?”
      • “Is there anything else about that meeting?”
      • “What kind of collaboration?”
  •  Context for Change (3) is a Cynefin four points contextualisation exercise. Use it to bring together the teams’ outputs from step (2). Refer to the excellent notes in
    Cynefin Review Part 7 – Finding Your Place on the Framework
    Afterwards discuss the appropriateness of different implementation strategies (eg planned vs exploratory),  personal/organisational preferences, and leadership styles.

Survey debrief (or Survey and debrief)

  • These slides are hidden, just a placeholder for stuff you’ll do on agendashift.com

Agree areas for attention

  • Just a dot voting exercise, but do encourage participants to make their own choices privately before the small teams work on a joint conclusion
  • A handout may be helpful here. There’s the online tool itself meanwhile, and participants may have starred some favourites.

Desired outcomes

  • As per context for change (2) & (3). Use stickies of a different colour.
  • Desired outcomes (3) is a gentle encouragement to pay attention to “top left” (complex) outcomes where the next set of tools will have the most to offer (not that they’re worthless elsewhere).

Generate and prioritise actions

  • Should be self-explanatory

Hypothesis-driven change (framing)

  • Using the 21st century language of Lean Startup
  • You may like to introduce this by example. I use introduction of the once-rumoured Facebook ‘dislike’ button. You can imagine a Facebook exec framing this feature as a hypothesis, then the process that led to today’s ‘reactions’ feature.

The A3 (development)

  • A little history lesson is ok here. Toyota thinks that an A3 sheet of paper is enough to scope a project, however large. 60-page decks or inch-think project documents might not be necessary!
  • Clarity is key, and a mentor to test your thinking may help (see the document control area at the top of the template)
  • The next 3 exercises take us through the parts of the A3 we haven’t done already

Assumptions, dependencies, pilot experiments

  • Mostly self-explanatory
  • The emphasis on demonstrably is a hint! If teams are struggling to identify pilot experiments, do they have the data to justify the project and do they have the means to track progress on outcomes? You may want to point this out up front.


  • Mostly self-explanatory
  • The concept of “upside risk” may be new; certainly worth discussing
  • The concept of “safe-to-fail” likewise. Discuss failure tolerance and the willingness of the organisation to support experimentation.


  • Feel free to omit the Quick recap slide. I contrast the mainly technical aspects we’ve covered so far with the People dimension we’re about to cover
  • People should be self-explanatory
  • The “Who holds a veto?” question can generate discussion
  • Mixed feelings about the “coalition for change” question; may retire it

Organise experiments for implementation

  • The first of these two slides is the “teachiest” of the whole deck. Doesn’t need a lot of time spending on it but notice the two references, one on Lean-Agile change and the other from Lean Startup. You will see similar board designs in both.
  • The exercise should be self explanatory. Do stress the second bullet, both beforehand and when debriefing. Do they have the feedback loops necessary to ensure follow-through?

Plan the path

  • Minutes to hours! Plan according to needs and expectations
  • By default I would start with the ‘pathway’ view in the agendashift.com (go to the survey results and switch templates). Plan to address basics first and work up to the more challenging organisational and leadership behaviour changes, taking in design sophistication en route.
  • Go-to techniques if detailed plan is required: build a big story map. Think about visualising priorities and progress on the story map as well as in a kanban view.
  • If you have your own way to structure a transformation plan, that’s fine, use it.

Full circle

  • Self-explanatory

Experience before explanation! Have fun achieving something meaningful!