Agendashift roundup, January 2019

A shorter and less structured roundup this month – there are a number of additions and changes to the events calendar in the pipeline and I’ll begin to announce these separately in the coming weeks. Watch out for details of 2-day Advanced workshops in the UK, the Netherlands, in Germany, Scandinavia, Greece, and the US. The last of those will be announced as a masterclass linked to an exciting new event, The Open Leadership Symposium, which takes place in Boston in May.

Right to Left

Before things get crazy again I have a quietish February in prospect and there’s every chance that I’ll have a decent draft of Right to Left done by the end of the month. I’ve been aiming for early summer for publication; dare I say late spring now? We’ll see!

To whet your appetite, the first few paragraphs of the introduction now appear on the Right to Left landing page. If you’d like to read the whole introduction, drop me a line or visit channel #right-to-left in Slack.

Changeban and Featureban

My recent trip to India plus a private workshop back in the UK has given me three more opportunities to run Changeban sessions, two of them for 50+ people at a time. Based on the experience of those larger sessions (both of which were recorded; fingers crossed we’ll be able to share at least one of them) I’ve switched around some of the introductory slides – in the ‘endgame’ part, if you’re familiar with it. If you’ve signed up to the Changeban Dropbox, look for a version 1.1 deck. Nothing fundamental, it just flows better.

I’ve still not had the chance to test Featureban with Changeban-style rules and it seems likely that others will beat me to it. When that does finally happen (and I’ll be grateful), watch out for Featureban 3.0. Until then it remains at version 2.3.

Questions? #changeban and #featureban in Slack.

Top posts

  1. My favourite Clean Language question
  2. A Grand Unification Theory for Lean-Agile?
  3. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (June)
  4. Right to Left: a transcript of my Lean Agile Brighton talk (October)
  5. My kind of Agile (November)

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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…

 

My favourite Clean Language question

We describe our coaching game 15-minute FOTO [1] as “Clean Language-inspired”, and as shown on the cue card (below) it makes use of a small subset of the Clean Language questions, a subset particularly suited to exploring or modelling (ie building a model of) a landscape of obstacles and (especially) outcomes.

The objective of the game and its function in Agendashift is to generate a good number of outcomes that can then be organised in various interesting ways. Through subsequent exercises we facilitate agreement on outcomes, thereby helping to co-create the basis for organisational change. Those goals aren’t quite the same as those of Clean Language, and through my favourite Clean Language question I hope to say a bit about the latter.

Here’s the 15-minute FOTO cue card, an essential piece of equipment for the game. Notice that the X‘s (and in one question a Y), placeholders which the coach replaces with the client’s own words (coach and client are roles in the game; participants take turns in different roles):

15-minute-foto-cue-card-2018-01-29

Given the game’s objectives, the two most important questions on the card are these:

  1. “What would you like to have happen?”, which tends to “flip” obstacles into outcomes, moving from the negative to the positive, quickly identifying the outcome that might be found hiding behind the obstacle (figuratively speaking).
  2. “And when X, then what happens?”, which when the X is an outcome, generates another, and sometimes several. Asked a few times, a surprisingly long chain of outcomes can be generated with the minimum of prompting from the coach.

However, my favourite question on the card is a different one, namely “What kind of X?”. Functionally, it’s a clarifying question, one we use in preference to questions such as “What do you mean by X?”, and “Can you be more specific?”. In the aspiring Lean-Agile context typical of an Agendashift workshop, examples might include:

  • “What kind of Agile?” (instead of “What do you mean by Agile?”)
  • “What kind of collaboration?” (instead of “Can you be more specific about the kind of collaboration you’re talking about?”)

(Aside: see [2] for my answer to the first of those)

Let me further illustrate the “What kind of X?” (WKO) question with an everyday scenario that I frequently find helpful as an example. You have just told me that you’ll be on holiday next week. How do I respond?

Some possible responses politely close the conversation before it gets started: “That’s nice!”, “I hope you have a lovely time!”, and so on.

I might show some interest with a question: “Where are you going?”. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned question is not entirely without risk. Suppose your answer is “I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying at home”.  Awkward! Have I embarrassed you?

To be clear, “Where are you going?” isn’t a terrible question. It is at least an open question, a question to which might be given a wide range of possible answers. This is in contrast with binary questions that expect mainly yes/no answers or leading questions which are mostly about the questioner’s own agenda (in the Agendashift book [3] I describe the latter as not genuine).

The possible flaw in the question “Where are you going?” is that it makes an assumption that might not be valid in this context, the assumption that you’re going somewhere. “What kind of holiday?” removes that assumption – in fact it is about as stripped of assumption as a question can get. As a result, it is much more likely to lead to an interesting answer, one that I can’t easily predict.

This is what Clean Language is all about. It’s not about the killer question, a trick that like the world’s funniest joke soon gets old. It’s about putting the coach’s assumptions to one side, because what’s in the mind of the client is far more valuable. As well as heightening curiosity it improves listening, because we can’t fill in those X‘s if we’re not paying attention. And although there is some skill in choosing the question (a skill that we begin to develop by playing the game), it’s not about leading the client on the strength of the coach’s domain knowledge – there’s a time and place for that, but not yet. Instead, it’s about facilitating a process, one that helps navigate what may be complex issues, often helping the client arrive at some real insights.

15-minute FOTO is carefully framed as a game: it works within clear constraints and with clear goals. It’s not therapy, and never pretends to be. But for some it has been the gateway to the Clean Language body of knowledge with its generous community and has kindled interest in a deeper kind of coaching. And that’s wonderful!

References

[1] 15-minute FOTO
[2] My kind of Agile
[3] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation; Clean Language is introduced with 15-minute FOTO in chapters 1 and 2. See also its recommended reading page, in particular (these Clean Language-related books):

  • The Five Minute Coach: Improve Performance Rapidly
    Lynne Cooper & Mariette Castellino (2012, Crown House Publishing)
  • Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds
    Wendy Sullivan & Judy Rees (2008, Crown House Publishing)
  • From Contempt to Curiosity: Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate Using Clean Language and Systemic Modelling
    Caitlin Walker (2014, Clean Publishing)

Acknowledgements: I’m grateful to Johan Nordin, Steve Williams, and Mike Haber for feedback on earlier drafts of this post.


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Upcoming public Agendashift workshops (India, US*2, UK, Netherlands, Germany):

Also: Channel #agendashift-studio in the Agendashift Slack if interested in a cozy workshop with me at Agendashift HQ (Derbyshire, England).


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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…

A Grand Unification Theory for Lean-Agile?

The job of chapter 3 of the forthcoming book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile is to introduce a number of important Agile, Lean-Agile, and associated frameworks. I have taken care to describe them not as alternative solutions that must be chosen between, but as patterns to be combined in interesting ways. That’s not a new idea, but what does seem remarkable is how helpful a right-to-left perspective is in explaining how they work together and complement each other. When I say right-to-left, we’re talking not just collaborative, continuous, pull-based, and so on (concepts conventionally associated with Lean-Agile) but something very explicitly outcome-oriented.

Almost verbatim from the manuscript:

  1. Scrum (and Scrum-based scaling frameworks, if that’s your bag): continuously iterating on and self-organising around goals (short term outcomes) in the pursuit of longer term outcomes – product vision, the team’s mission, broader organisational objectives, and so on
  2. Kanban, making progress on outcomes visible, concentrating effort on the ones that matter most, fostering a focus on completion
  3. XP and DevOps, right across development and production, providing the infrastructure of process, practice, and technology necessary to accelerate feedback on the delivery of outcomes
  4. Service Design Thinking (along with user research, user experience and so on), continuously discovering which outcomes are important
  5. Lean Startup, pursuing business viability through continuous deliberate experimentation, managing for impact (outcomes again), finding and continuously refining a business model that enables customer outcomes to be sustained

Here it really is outcomes that holds everything together, not (as you might expect) flow, collaboration, or some other shared value or technical principle. This way, we avoid saying “if you dig deep enough, they’re the same” (which I hear from time to time and strongly reject, believing that it does each framework’s creators and communities a huge disservice).

Neither are we saying “don’t use frameworks”, if (and it’s quite a big if) this means that you must always start from first principles. A sensible way to start is again outcome-oriented and has a measured and pragmatic attitude towards frameworks (quoting this time from chapter 4, Viable scaling):

  • Identify needs – looking at what kind of organisation you’re trying to be and at what you’re trying to achieve  – and the obstacles that currently prevent those needs from being met
  • Agree on outcomes, not just goals plucked out of the air, but the kind of outcomes that might be achieved when these obstacles are removed, overcome, or bypassed
  • On a just-in-time basis, prioritise outcomes and generate a range of options to realise them, using your favourite frameworks as sources of ideas (not excluding other sources, but valuing coherence nevertheless)
  • In manageably small chunks of change and through a combination of direct action and experimentation (choosing between those approaches on a case-by-case basis according to the level of uncertainty and risk involved), begin to treat change as real work: tracking it, validating its impact, and reflecting on it just as we would for product work

In a nutshell, I’ve described Agendashift, which is of course a right-to-left approach to change and transformation. Other engagement models exist – see OpenSpace Agility (OSA) for another excellent, well-documented, and highly complementary example. Whichever approach you choose, take care to choose one that models Lean and Agile values, lest the dissonance proves too great and you fatally undermine your work, a very real risk. To sow disengagement would be a truly bad outcome!

Related:


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Upcoming public Agendashift workshops (India*2, US*2, UK, Netherlands):

Also: Channel #agendashift-studio in the Agendashift Slack if interested in a cozy workshop with me at Agendashift HQ (Derbyshire, England).


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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…

 

Let’s get 2019 off to a flying start

Yes, it’s that time of year again! Here are just a few of the ways that we – whether that’s me (Mike) or one of our amazing partners – can help get your organisation off to a great start:

  1. A 1-day workshop, Core Agendashift: Facilitating Outcome-Oriented Change: basic familiarisation with the Agendashift tools and an initial introduction to outcome-orientation. As described in the first four chapters of the book, Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation.
  2. A 1-day workshop, Applied Agendashift: Co-Creating Your Transformation Strategy: the same material as the Core workshop, but focussed on your organisation specifically.
  3. A 2-day workshop, Advanced Agendashift: Coaching and Leading Continuous Transformation: a much deeper experience, covering all five chapters of the book and plenty more.
  4. An Outside-in strategy review or Service delivery review, Agendashift-style: alluded to in chapter 5 of the Agendashift book and described in detail in the forthcoming Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile.
  5. Something smaller: a quick Changeban, Celebration-5W, or 15-minute FOTO session, for example.

If we can help you in any of these ways or if you’d like to be able to offer them yourself, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Subscribe here for monthly roundups and very occasional mid-month announcements

Upcoming public Agendashift workshops (India*2, US*2, UK, Netherlands):

Also: Channel #agendashift-studio in the Agendashift Slack if interested in a cozy workshop with me at Agendashift HQ (Derbyshire, England).


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…

 

The Agendashift blog’s top posts of 2018

It’s hard to predict how any given post will perform, but I’m pretty happy with how these have come out, not least because they seem to bode well for my 2019 book, Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile. Two lists, starting with posts published in 2018:

  1. My handy, referenceable Definition of Done (May)
  2. ‘Right to Left’ works for Scrum too (July)
  3. Right to Left: a transcript of my Lean Agile Brighton talk (October)
  4. Engagement: more than a two-way street (September)
  5. Understanding Lean-Agile, right to left (May)
  6. Changeban has reached version 1.0 (November)
  7. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (March)
  8. A small departure from the book (September)
  9. You can’t deliver a task (August)
  10. My kind of Agile (November)

And some perennial favourites published pre 2018:

  1. Introducing Kanban through its values (January 2013)
  2. Featureban 2.0 (June 2016)
  3. Better user stories start with authentic situations of need (October 2016)
  4. Scrum and Kanban revisited (August 2017)
  5. STATIK, Kanban’s hidden gem (March 2014)

Subscribe here for monthly roundups and very occasional mid-month announcements

Upcoming public Agendashift workshops (India*2, UK, Netherlands):

Also: Channel #agendashift-studio in the Agendashift Slack if interested in a cozy workshop at Agendashift HQ (Derbyshire, England).


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…

Agendashift roundup, December 2018

In this pre-Christmas edition: India (and webinar); Being Human; Right to Left (with a plea for help); Celebration-5W; Top posts

But first, let me thank you for your support through 2018 and wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2019. If you are taking a break for Christmas, have a good one! I will try to keep this short 🙂

India (and webinar)

There’s still time to book places at one of my two Agendashift workshops in India mid next month. Details under ‘Upcoming public workshops’ near the bottom of this post or see last month’s announcement:

As part of our preparations, I’ll be doing a webinar with my hosts Innovation Roots on Monday, January 7th at 11am UK time, noon CET, 16:30 IST:

Being Human

Another podcast interview this month, this time an extended conversation with my friend and Being Human host Richard Atherton. Here:

Right to Left (with a plea for help)

The monthly progress check on my forthcoming book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile:

  • 30,317 words
  • Five out of the six chapters written, four of those reviewed, and one out for review today

The plea for help: For chapter 1 (which introduces Lean), I’d really like to visit a manufacturer of power tools. If through your network you could help make that happen I’d be eternally grateful!

Celebration-5W

Announced this month:

Top posts

Early in the new year I’ll list the top posts for the whole of 2018.


Subscribe here for monthly roundups and very occasional mid-month announcements

Upcoming public Agendashift workshops (India*2, UK, Netherlands):

Also: Channel #agendashift-studio in the Agendashift Slack if interested in a cozy workshop at Agendashift HQ (Derbyshire, England).


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…

Open sourcing our Discovery exercise, Celebration-5W

Here’s how chapter 1 of the Agendashift book opens:

Picture the scene: It’s some months from now, and you’re celebrating! Isn’t it wonderful to see everyone together like this? And you deserve it: over this period, you, your teams, and your entire organisation have achieved far more than anyone would have thought possible. You dared to aim high, and still you smashed it!

What makes this celebration so special? We’re going to explore that via some time travel and the classic journalistic questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why, otherwise known as the five W’s.

Most Agendashift workshops kick off with this simple time-travelling and context-setting exercise – the first of four Discovery exercises – and now we’ve open-sourced it. Head over to the Celebration-5W page for more information, including a preview of the slides, a video, download information, and related tools and exercises.

The small print:

Celebration-5W is copyright © 2018-2018 Agendashift (a trading name of Positive Incline Ltd). Celebration-5W by Mike Burrows of Positive Incline Ltd is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.

We warmly encourage customisations, adaptations, translations, etc to be made and shared. It seems however that not everyone gets how Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (aka CC-BY-SA) is meant to work, so I’ve added a guidance slide to the deck.

If you have questions, drop me a line or (better) go to channel #workshops in the Agendashift Slack. There are several people there who have facilitated this exercise before. I have used it dozens of times.

Enjoy Celebration-5W!

Screenshot 2018-12-11 13.40.42.png


Subscribe here for monthly roundups and very occasional mid-month announcements

Upcoming public Agendashift workshops (India*2, UK, Netherlands):


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…