A True North for Lean-Agile?

You may have noticed that the blurb for our workshops and for the new book always starts with this:

Imagine… everyone able to work consistently at their best:
 • Individuals, teams, between teams, across the organisation
 • Right conversations, right people, best possible moment
 • Needs anticipated, met at just the right time

It’s taken from one of our Discovery exercises (chapter 1), an early opportunity for participants to explore different ways of working not from the perspective of prescribed practices, but in terms of what it is like – how it feels, what’s different, and so on.

Some of the groups I’ve facilitated have found the exercise so cathartic that they ask repeatedly for more time. It’s not hard to see why:

  • If you feel that you’re rarely given the opportunity to work at your best, your team doesn’t work well, or you’re painfully aware that teams aren’t working work well together, it can come as a relief to be given the chance to imagine a different reality
  • Whether you’re a front line worker or a manager, conversations happening at the wrong time (or not at all) can be very frustrating
  • For most of us, knowing that we’re meeting needs is crucial to finding meaning in our work

The current text of the book doesn’t identify these words as a True North statement (a compass direction rather than a destination), but it probably should. A True North for Agendashift certainly, and I’d like to put it forward as a True North for Lean-Agile also. It’s consistent with the Lean pillars of respect for people and just in time. Consistent with the Agile manifesto, it elevates individuals and interactions, combining those with a sense of timeliness (I joke that Agile seems to imply lots of meetings, the beginning – one hopes– of true collaboration).

In its favour as a worthy True North:

  • It is easy to understand, worth striving for, and will remain always just out of reach. Transformation must be continuous, not a one-off project
  • It works at every scale – from individual to organisation, and at scales in between
  • In its last bullet, it conveys much-needed senses of proactive discovery (needs don’t get consistently anticipated by accident) and purpose (needs being met)

Also, it’s not specifically about software, or even about product development. That’s a departure from the Agile manifesto, but I have no doubt that this is in its favour too.

So… Does it work for you?


Screenshot 2017-05-22 13.42.56

Confirmed venue for Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London

Quick one…

The 2-day workshop Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London (June 7th & 8th) has a confirmed venue:

Monticello House
45 Russell Square

That’s fairly central, a 20ish-minute walk from St Pancras International, and close to Russell Square (Piccadilly Line), Goodge Street (Northern Line), and Holborn (Central Line and Piccadilly Line) tube stations.

In case you missed it, here’s a previous post describing this exciting collaboration with my co-facilitator Karl Scotland: Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London. And here’s Karl’s: Lean-Agile Strategy Days: An X-Matrix and Agendashift Fusion.

And read the book! Part I of Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation came out exactly a week ago.

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If you’ve read Kanban from the Inside…

…what should you expect from my second book?

TLDR: Agendashift wouldn’t have happened without Kanban from the Inside. It is however very much its own book. I think you will enjoy it 🙂

Not only is Agendashift not a book about Kanban – in fact it is very consciously method-neutral –  it makes few assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of Kanban either. In terms of detailed content then, the overlap is minimal and both books stand alone. The resonances between the two are however very strong:

  • The titles of the first six chapters of KFTI make an appearance in Agendashift chapter 2 (Exploration) as the headings of the Agendashift values-based delivery assessment. These are the values of Transparency, Balance, Collaboration, Customer focus, Flow, and Leadership. If you’re wondering what happened to Understanding, Agreement, and Respect (KFTI chapters 7, 8, and 9), they belong with Leadership (which shouldn’t be a big surprise).
  • Reverse STATIK (which was developed while KFTI was nearing completion) reappears in chapter 3 (Mapping), not as an improvement process, but to provide a sense of narrative flow to the transformation map, something the values can’t easily provide.
  • The same sense of respect for a broad range of models described in KFTI part II, in particular Agile, Lean, Lean-Agile, Lean Startup, Cynefin, Systems Thinking, and Scrum. If anything, the appreciation is deepened thanks to experience and integration.

Moreover, you can see the final chapter of KFTI (chapter 23, Rollout) as the springboard for Agendashift, a more thoroughly exercised how-to – not for Kanban, but for continuous transformation, a term not found in the older book. Expect these themes from chapter 23 to be developed more fully:

  • Making the agenda for change visible
  • Pulling change through the system
  • Making a connection between purpose and transformation
  • Identifying increments of change
  • Managing change visually
  • Recognising different kinds of change (and choosing appropriate tools)

The section Identifying increments of change contained the seeds for the Agendashift values-based delivery assessment, which in turn gave rise to the transformation mapping workshop and our now well-rehearsed routines for identifying priorities, obstacles, outcomes, options, actions, and so on. These are covered in chapters 2-4 of the new book.

In short, Agendashift wouldn’t have happened without Kanban from the Inside. It is however very much its own book. I think you will enjoy it 🙂

Read them both:


It’s here! Agendashift (part I) is published!

Part I of Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation is available now on Leanpub in MOBI (Kindle), EPUB (iBooks, Google Books, and other e-readers), and PDF formats, also via Leanpub’s online reader. Buy it today and you’ll still have time to recommend it to your colleagues for the weekend 🙂

If you plan to read it on your iPad or iPhone, note that we have encountered a couple of formatting bugs specific to Kindle on the iOS platform and I’d recommend downloading the EPUB format and reading it in iBooks.

In celebration, we’re offering a discount on Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London (June 7th & 8th). For the next week, you can use the code BOOKLAUNCH for a discount of 10%. It just goes to show that launch codes can sometimes be used for good…

What next?

In the next week or two I’ll be sharing plans for Part II and some thoughts about next steps for Agendashift more broadly. To stay tuned, join our LinkedIn group and/or Slack community. Meanwhile, enjoy part 1!


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Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London

June 8th is a special day: not just because the UK general election is (somewhat inconsiderately) being held on that day, but because I’m pairing up with Karl Scotland for a 2-day public workshop in London, Lean-Agile Strategy Days.

I like to think of it as “pure & applied” strategy deployment. On day 1, we’ll be experimenting with Lean approaches for engaging people in the development and implementation of strategy. On day 2, we’ll use Agendashift as a model for continuous Lean-Agile transformation, a serious question of organisational strategy if ever there was one.

This workshop is a first, and I’m proud to be doing it with Karl. We describe the workshop as an opportunity for collaboration, and this isn’t just hype. As a key collaborator in the development of Agendashift, Karl did much to push Agendashift upstream, suggesting (and bravely testing) ways to develop the Discovery tools, also to better integrate the Cynefin-related material. He has a gift for nudging me in productive directions, and I would be surprised if something new and exciting didn’t come out of this event.

You can be part of it! Book your place here.

Read Karl’s post: Lean-Agile Strategy Days: An X-Matrix and Agendashift Fusion

PS Did I mention I have a book coming out? May 11th!

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The Agendashift book (part I) goes to press on the 11th

When I say “press”, I mean that it will be available for purchase and download in multiple formats from leanpub.com/agendashift.

The teaser:

How do you bring about continuous transformation, and how do you do it without resorting to the questionable top-down and bottom-up approaches of the 20th century? Agendashift describes an inclusive, values-based, and methodology-neutral approach fit for the 21st century, based on genuine participation and integrating the best of modern techniques.

And the main blurb:

Imagine… everyone able to work consistently at their best:

  • Individuals, teams, between teams, across the organisation
  • Right conversations, right people, best possible moment
  • Needs anticipated and met at just the right time

Fun to imagine, but how do you begin to bring that kind of Lean-Agile vision to life?

This book has some answers, exploring new ways to scope, launch, or re-energise your Lean-Agile transformation, integrating some powerful techniques from Clean Language, Cynefin, Agile, Lean Startup, A3, and Kanban.

Modelled on the Agendashift transformation mapping workshop, this book covers:

  1. Discovery – identifying strategic goals, obstacles, and outcomes
  2. Exploration –  prioritising areas for attention, generating outcomes, agreeing scope and approach
  3. Mapping – building your transformation plan
  4. Elaboration – generating options; framing and developing actions
  5. Operation – organising for continuous transformation

Read this book if any of the following apply:

  • You’ve an interest – whether as a practitioner or potential sponsor – in Lean-Agile change (perhaps under a banner of “Agile transformation” or similar)
  • You’d like to see what a 21st century change management approach can look like, and how that might inform your work as coach, consultant, or some other kind of change agent
  • You’d love to see a model for Lean-Agile change that properly reflects Lean-Agile values and demonstrates Lean-Agile process and thinking in operation


Agendashift roundup, April 2017

In this edition: Limited free trial; Featureban 2.2; Cue cards; Book update; Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London (a joint 2-day workshop in June with Karl Scotland); Top posts

Limited free trial

Hiding in plain sight for a while but unannounced: agendashift.com now offers a free trial, allowing you to create your own Agendashift surveys for use with individuals or small groups. You’ll have access to the 18-prompt “mini edition” assessment template, which is available in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Dutch, and Spanish.

Relative to the paid plan (the Agendashift partner programme), some limitations apply:

  • You won’t have access to the full 43-prompt Values-based delivery assessment template or its corresponding ‘pathway’ template
  • Neither will you have access to the offline assets (workshop materials, source files for things otherwise available only as PDFs, etc)
  • Your surveys will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants each
  • Your surveys will be filed under a single ‘Free trial’ context that you won’t be able to rename

Still, a good way to get a taste of what we’re about!

Featureban 2.2

I was over in Oslo last weekend for a private 1-day practitioner’s workshop (Friday) followed by a Featureban session at our host’s weekend offsite. It was an opportunity to test some changes and the updated deck is now available.

If you’re a registered Featureban user you will have the download link in your inbox already. If not, read the announcement for a description of the changes (and a special offer!), review the Featureban facilitation information and downloads page, and sign yourself up.

See also our resources page.

Cue cards

Talking of resources, and as mentioned in the March roundup, I’ve also updated the Clean Language cue cards for our game 15-minute FOTO. The blog post describing that change came too late but you can read it now:

Book update

Part 1 of the new Agendashift book is very close to completion, and it’s conceivable that it will be out on Leanpub before next month’s roundup. You can read a preview of the intro and chapter 1 meanwhile: request yours here.  Feel free to re-request your preview if you received yours earlier than April 22nd.

Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London (a joint 2-day workshop in June with Karl Scotland)

My next public workshop will be Lean-Agile Strategy Days, London, a 2-day event held jointly with Agendashift partner Karl Scotland. Karl has been one of my closest collaborators, and to say that I’m looking forward to this would be a massive understatement!

Karl has blogged about it (as will I, no doubt):

Top posts

This month:

Still going strong:

[Previous roundup: March 2017][Next roundup: May 2017]
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