The audiobook is out! Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile

I’m thrilled to announce that my 2019 book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile is now available as an audiobook, read by yours truly. It has been a long time coming and I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little relieved too!

Find it here:

Or search “Right to Left Mike Burrows” in the iTunes store.

Enjoy!

PS Please like, re-share, retweet, etc! LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

cover right to left audiobook.001

Right to Left is the third book by Agendashift founder Mike Burrows, doing for Lean and Agile in digital delivery what his 2018 book Agendashift did for change and transformation.

Do you see in digital technology the opportunity to meet customer needs more effectively? Do you recognise that this may have profound implications for how your organisation should work? Do you want to help bring that about?

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a technologist, if your answer to those questions is “yes”, you are what we refer to in this book as a digital leader. If you are a digital leader, aspire to be one, or think that sometime soon you might need to become one, then this book is for you. Whatever your current level of knowledge of Lean and Agile, you will find here both an accessible guide to the Lean-Agile landscape and a helpfully challenging perspective on it.

The book is organised into six chapters. The first four have a strong right-to-left theme, which means consistently, deliberately, and even provocatively starting with outcomes – with needs being met – and working backwards from there, keeping outcomes always in the foreground:

  1. Right to left in the material world – introducing Lean, the strategic pursuit of flow
  2. Right to left in the digital space – introducing Agile and Lean-Agile
  3. Patterns and frameworks – popular Lean, Agile, and Lean-Agile frameworks and how they combine and complement each other
  4. Viable scaling – the Agile scaling frameworks, organisational viability, and the challenges of change

The last two chapters approach questions of organisational design and leadership from angles complementary to that core theme:

  1. Outside in – strategy and governance in the wholehearted organisation
  2. Upside down – Servant Leadership and the supportive, ‘intentful’, customer-focused organisation

©2019 Mike Burrows (P)2020 Mike Burrows

Phases 1 & 2 of the agendashift-open project

I’ve finished moving the source files for two sets of pages on agendashift.com to a public git repo, asplake/agendashift-open. In the process I’ve reformatted them from HTML to CommonMark – slightly limited but very much easier to maintain, a worthwhile tradeoff in this case.

The two sets of pages concerned are these:

  1. Agendashift as framework – principles, patterns, and activities
  2. Agendashift Workshops

Look around in either of those areas and you’ll see that each page links to its respective source file just below its license notice.

All 29 pages of this content were already Creative Commons, specifically CC-BY-SA. This change just makes it easier for others to reuse, comment on, or contribute fixes to these pages, and potentially to fork them and create create derivative works under the terms of that same license.

Let’s be clear what that means: Just about all the workshops and consulting services I offer are defined by this content and I accept the commitment to curate it carefully; others are free (within the quite generous license terms) to use it. It attracts some to join the community; some collaborate actively (see for example the Wholehearted:OKR page, very much a collaborative effort); some become Agendashift partners, gaining access to other tools and materials on a commercial basis; some corporate clients arrive via this route too.

Phase 3 will involve doing the same for the all CC-BY-SA content in the Resources area. Some of the pages are quite substantial and the conversion will require a little bit of effort, but worth it I’m sure. Making (for example) the page for Featureban page more community-maintainable must surely be a win.

Thank you John Grant for the nudge. Channel #open in the Agendashift Slack.


Upcoming workshops (all online of course)

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

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


agendashift-banner-2019-12-17
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

 

Two months in

Correction: Two months, not three. Feels like longer! And let me now (May 15th) preface it with something I posted yesterday on Facebook and LinkedIn:

I have fully embraced this online thing. Not for the first time, 3 continents – this time Europe, Asia, and Australasia – were represented in my workshop this morning, and the thought of doing that by plane like I used to suddenly appalls me. Even putting to one side the shielding issue (I have a vulnerable family member), that kind of travel will for me and I guess many others be the exception, not the norm, perhaps forever. And no bad thing either

It’s three two months since I got back from an Agendashift Deep Dive workshop in Malmö, Sweden. Arriving home after midnight, I gave the house a miss and headed straight to the “studio” (a nicely-converted double garage, my office by day and self-contained living accommodation for us when we have carers in for our daughter) and a week of solitary quarantine. Comfortable enough but weird! A couple of weeks later the UK was officially in lockdown, but for my wife and I the strategy was already clear: for our medically vulnerable daughter’s sake, catching the virus wasn’t an option.

I’m well used to working from home and am well set up for it. I’m fully reconciled to travelling very much less than before, if at all. I’m embracing a strategic shift here: instead of holding out for a return to how things were, Agendashift is (to borrow a phrase) digital by default. If physical presence is the exception (and perhaps a rare one), we design for online first.

Those Powerpoint decks? Screen-sharing a slide-based presentation over Zoom isn’t a great look, and the transitions between that and conversational group work is jarring, to put it mildly. They’ve been relegated to design documentation, just a tiny and steadily diminishing fraction of slides finding their way into other, more collaborative media. Out with my material, in with your shared workbooks.

In some ways it’s liberating. In the past week or so I’ve done whole workshops without sharing my screen even once. Similarly, a whole meetup without slides, live-chatting a few prepared quotes, links, and instructions for breakouts – definitely doing that again!

There will be things that I’ll miss about the old way, but having concluded that it’s a fool’s errand to try to replicate it faithfully online, I’ve moved on. Online is different. We’re making it work. We’re taking advantage of its advantages (and they’re real), minimising its weaknesses (yes they’re real too). We’re digital by default, online first, and honestly, that’s ok.

PS: While we’re here (it’s kinda related, in that the tech of online transported me temporarily to New Zealand), I was interviewed for the Joekub podcast early morning UK time last Saturday. Listen to it here:

And a nice bit of feedback:

I also have a friend who loved the podcast, bought Right to Left and she said she would start explaining agile in a different way now 😀

Related:


Upcoming workshops (all online of course)

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

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


agendashift-banner-2019-12-17
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

 

 

Agendashift roundup, April 2020

In this edition: Agendashift as Framework; Online first; Assessment updates; Featureban online; Upcoming; Top posts

[And apologies if you were hoping for an announcement about the audiobook edition of Right to Left; ACX (Audible) are quoting 30 business days (6 weeks plus) for their review stage]

Agendashift as Framework

There were multiple contenders for the biggest thing in Agendashift-land in April but I must go with this one:

It has been well received and it’s an important step in my preparations for a 2nd edition of Agendashift, the book.

Agendashift overview 16x10 2020-04

Online first

Another big bit of work was reorganising the Agendashift workshop portfolio to accommodate some new short training workshops to complement the existing Learning the Language of Outcomes workshop. Also, public online workshops are now specifically timed to suit different parts of the world – Europe, APAC, and the Americas. For me in the UK this means mid-morning, early morning, and late afternoon/early evening respectively. Even since this change we’ve had people from all three timezones and from north and south of the equator in one workshop, so feel free, take your pick!

See the events calendar at the end of this post, and the details in this announcement below. This mentions workshops not (or not yet) in the calendar which may be of interest:

Assessment updates

Quite a bit happening with the online assessments too:

  • A simplified English (‘EN-simplified’) version of the mini assessment. A joint effort, but a special shout out to Alex Pukinskis who saved us all a ton of work
  • A Farsi language translation contributed by Asad Safari
  • To be deployed shortly, some updates by Kirill Klimov to the Russian translation

Non-partners can test these translations (and others) in two ways:

Those are limited to the mini (18-prompt) templates. For access to the full 42-prompt version, check the the partner programme:

Featureban online

As per the Featureban page on Agendashift.com:

Play Featureban online!

We’re thrilled that our friends at Kaiten have created a free online version of Featureban. Play it here:

Evgeniy Stepchenko has produced this guide:

Featureban is (and I quote): a simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game. Since its creation in 2014 it has been used by trainers and coaches in Lean, Agile and Kanban-related events the world over.

See also Changeban, the Lean Startup-flavoured version of Featureban. Of the two, I use Featureban when I need to teach certain Kanban-related practices (metrics in particular) to a mainly technical audience, which these days I mostly leave to others; otherwise,  Changeban is more fun.

Online versions, translations, adaptations all made possible by open sourcing these games (they’re both CC-BY-SA). One of my smarter moves!

Upcoming workshops

With yours truly unless otherwise stated:

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

Top posts

 


Links: Home | About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Devs not clear about strategy? It’s likely way worse than that

A quite common issue surfaced by the Agendashift Delivery Assessment is that so-called delivery teams (and I don’t just mean developers and other technologists) aren’t clear about things like vision, purpose, and strategy. Digging into what was apparently a source of real frustration at one client a few years ago, I asked a product manager what he and his colleagues in the product team were doing to keep these things at the forefront of minds and conversations in their technology team.

His answer?

“They never asked”

I was unable to stop my jaw from dropping! At my unguarded reaction he tried hastily to row back, but not very convincingly.

Show me a development team not involved in the strategy conversation and I’ll show you one that delivers code but not insights, features but not intelligence, and products that are mediocre at best, meeting the spec but failing to satisfy. You don’t want that. No strategist worth his salt wants that. No business can afford that kind of failure for long, but work in a strategy bubble and it’s what you get.

The systems theory around this issue is well known, developed since the middle of the last century. A key lesson is that if you neglect the necessary interplay between organisational processes such as strategy and delivery (to name but two), you put your independent existence – your viability – under real threat. Happily, much of the associated practice is now highly accessible to a 21st century audience – the startup community lives by it – so there’s little excuse not to be guided by the theory.

As for Agendashift, it’s built into our mission statement, right there in the middle:

wholehearted-16x10-2020-03-15

The practical side is reflected in the bottom half of the new framework overview (see the recent announcement Agendashift as framework):

Agendashift overview 16x10 2020-04

The pattern Just-in-time (JIT) strategy deployment is the second of two key generative patterns in Agendashift, and is itself several patterns for the price of one. It describes strategy as being (and I quote):

“developed and refined collaboratively (with varying degrees of participation) over time and in response to the feedback generated through its implementation, solutions emerging from the people closest to the problem”

Agendashift has always been about strategy – whether transformation strategy specifically or strategy more broadly – but it can’t (and doesn’t) ignore delivery. If you’re struggling to connect the two adequately, read that page and take (I hope) some inspiration. And for a whole book’s worth, start with the highly accessible Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile. If you’ve not read any of my books before, this one is almost certainly the one to pick first.


Upcoming online workshops

All online, and all with your truly (Mike Burrows) unless otherwise specified:

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


Links: Home | About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

New online workshops added to a reorganised portfolio

Update 20/4: Make that three new workshops, with dates for the first two (the third is currently private-only):

There are additional dates for Learning the language of outcomes also.


Rather than post the next installment in the Doing Agendshift Online series this week, it seemed sensible to wait until after next week’s public workshop and after that share some of the new things we’re trying.

Meanwhile, far from using this enforced period online as an excuse to withdraw, we’ve been working hard to round out the overall offering. The result: twothree new short training workshops (both of them online-first of course), triggering a reorganisation of the portfolio.

One wholehearted engagement model, three workshop families:

  1. The transformation strategy workshops that we’re best known for
  2. The outside-in strategy workshops that take us deeper into strategy deployment  – still highly compatible with Lean and Agile but less about them
  3. A set of complementary short training workshops, more skills-focussed than organisation-focussed

With the twothree new short training workshops, Mapping with Outcomes, Stories, Hypotheses, and A3 and Implementing your OI-SDR (more on those in a moment), this structure doesn’t seem like overkill. Here’s the relevant bits of sitemap:

The workshops:

  1. Transformation strategy – Core, Applied, and Deep Dive:
  2. Outside-in strategy – OI-SR (the generic platform on which the other two are built), Impact!, and Wholehearted:OKR:
  3. Short training workshops – one to two online sessions of up to 2 hours each:

The twothree new short training workshops

We’ve been doing Learning the language of outcomes online since last summer (see the calendar below for dates, with more added recently). The first of the three new additions is a natural follow-on to that:

It covers the following:

  • A quick reprise of Plan on a Page, the simple visualisation used in Discovery
  • The “string” of exercises defined for the Mapping activity, each exercise valuable both in its own right and for making its successor easier:
    • The Cynefin Four Points Contextualisation exercise, introduced under the pseudonym Option Approach Mapping
    • Option Relationship Mapping, previously known as Reverse Wardley Mapping
    • Pathway Mapping (User Story Mapping meets Reverse STATIK)
  • An introduction to Changeban and its simple kanban system for managing a portfolio of experiments

Then comes Stories, Hypotheses, and A3. In framework-speak, this is Elaboration as standalone workshop. This covers:

  • Stories, authentic situations of need, and hypotheses “hard” and “soft”
  • Just-in-time option selection
  • Generating and selecting solution ideas
  • Framing solution ideas as hypotheses
  • Developing solution ideas with the Agendashift Experiment A3 Template
  • Portfolios of experiments

Its first public outing will also be in June:

The third addition, Implementing your Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR) complements the strategy workshops. It’s about how you set yourself up for success, before or after the strategy workshop – ie groundwork or follow-through – or as a standalone exercise in organisation design. Its agenda will resonate with anyone who has read Right to Left:

  1. Thinking in circles:
    • Interlinked circles of responsibility
    • Concentric circles of alignment
  2. Metrics:
    • Performance measures
    • Health indicators
  3. Stories, hypotheses, and experiments:
    • Framing for maximum learning
    • Focussing for maximum leverage
  4. The nuts and bolts of the OI-SDR meeting:
    • Agenda:
      • Outside in (customer & environment first), then
      • Right to left (outcome first)
    • Protocols, participation, and preparation

Initially at least, we’ll be offering this workshop only privately before deciding whether (and how) to make it available publicly. Do this workshop with your colleagues and you will be well on your way to implementing your own OI-SDR successfully. With that, you will be building into your organisation design some powerful expectations: that experimentation will always be happening, that the strategy will be advancing, that service continues to improve, and that intelligence and insights will be shared – all of this in a structure specifically designed to create leadership opportunities and to cause misalignments to reveal themselves.

Finally, a reminder that we make all our workshop materials available to partners for use with their clients. It’s easy and inexpensive to join; details here.

Upcoming online workshops

All online, and all with your truly (Mike Burrows) unless otherwise specified:

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


agendashift-banner-2019-12-17
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Agendashift as framework

So here it is, slowly revealing itself online over the past few weeks, and now ready for the formal announcement and some background. It’s the biggest update to Agendashift since the 2018 book and it prepares the ground for a second edition.

New &/or updated:

Previously announced, and updated again in line with the above:

The last of those is of course the basis of Agendashift’s recent rebranding:

Agendashift as framework

From the framework page:

These pages describe Agendashift – the wholehearted engagement model – as an open framework for continuous, outcome-oriented transformation.

Agendashift is primarily for use by agents of strategic change, with or without an explicit Lean-Agile agenda. It is not intended as a replacement for the likes of Scrum, Kanban, or SAFe; neither do we consider it a way to choose between them. Our clear opposition to the imposition of frameworks on the unwilling does not make us anti-framework; rather we’re pluralists, celebrating frameworks as exemplars and sources of patterns that combine in interesting ways.

We don’t however pretend to be neutral. Outcome-orientation is not a neutral stance. If these pages give you a fresh perspective on other frameworks and help you avoid yet another failed or mediocre implementation, that’s definitely for the better. Moreover, it’s not hard to see that whole system engagement and strategy deployment are useful models for delivery in complex environments.

In the past I’ve been a little reluctant to describe Agendashift as a framework, for reasons similar (I guess) to those of the Kanban community: compared to Scrum, SAFe etc, it’s not the same kind of thing at all! Then in Right to Left I made a point of always describing these as process frameworks, solving that problem. And from chapter 3, Frameworks and patterns:

 [The word ‘frameworks’] has multiple meanings. Some of them – Scrum and Lean Startup most especially – are frameworks in the sense that they provide some minimal structure into which specific practices can be introduced. Others – DevOps and Design Thinking for example – are frameworks in the different sense that they provide a particular perspective to an organisational problem and an array of techniques with which to approach it.

Within the context of change and transformation, both definitions apply to Agendashift. What makes the second one particularly interesting is that Agendashift’s needs-based and outcome-oriented perspective has an impact on how you think about and operate delivery too – certainly if you take it to the level of a resolute stance (which of course I do). You could say that this is how I went from Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2018) to Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019). Read that and you’ll never look at a process framework in quite the same way again.

Key changes

Principles

I’ve tweaked the wording of principles 1 & 5 (there’s a before & after comparison on the principles page):

principles-2020-04-04

This feels like a good place to start so I’ve made them a little more prominent.

Patterns

This is new. Agendashift can now be summarised as two generative patterns:

Understand those, how they relate to each other, and how they challenge the status quo, and you’re a long way towards understanding both how Agendashift works and why it exists.

I’m presenting the patterns ahead of the five core activities – Discovery, Exploration, Mapping, Elaboration, and Operation – a demotion for those if you like. Certainly I see this as a significant change. Although the patterns are an addition, it’s one that seems to crystallise and simplify; one of the reassuring things about Agendashift is that the more it develops, the easier it becomes.

You may have noticed that I sneaked IdOO into Monday’s post Doing Agendashift online (4 of n): Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO). Behind the scenes there was a flurry of activity making everything ready in time!

idoo-2020-03-25

No doubt I’ll be referencing the second pattern – Just-in-time Strategy Deployment – in a later installment of the Doing Agendashift online series and I’ll keep my powder dry for now. Give it a read meanwhile!

A new overview picture

Bringing it all together:

Agendashift overview 16x10 2020-04

Don’t worry: despite appearances my long-held caveats on the subject of cycles remain. I leave you with this post-workshop tweet from friend and workshop participant Allan Kelly:


Upcoming online workshops


Agendashift, the wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Doing Agendashift online (4 of n): Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO)

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This is #4 in a series of unspecified length, covering ways you can do Agendashifty things online (we have plenty of practice). And here, we really get to the heart of things.

Followers of this blog will know that 15-minute FOTO is our Clean Language-inspired coaching game, one of the highlights of any Agendashift workshop. You might even have guessed that this would be the 15-minute FOTO installment. You’re not wrong exactly, but first let’s see it in context.

Here it is in the Discovery session of the classic Core, Applied, or Deep Dive workshop, chapter 1 of the Agendashift book:

Idoo-Discovery

Same workshops, same book, but session/chapter 2, Exploration:

Idoo-Exploration

And now the Wholehearted:OKR workshop, different book (Right to Left), and the session Outside-in review (I):

Idoo-Wholehearted-OKR-outside-in-review-I

And session Outside-in review (II):

Idoo-Wholehearted-OKR-outside-in-review-II

Even if 1) the slides didn’t give the game away already and 2) I told you that there are two different flavours of 15-minute FOTO here and that sometimes we use a different tool entirely, you’d have no trouble recognising that there’s a pattern here.

I’m calling that pattern IdOO:

idoo-2020-03-25

Doing IdOO online

See the past installment 2. Celebration-5W to understand how we facilitate online at least one of the ways we can can establish some business context ahead of any reflection.

See 3. The assessments for how participants prioritise the assessment prompts on which they will reflect. For Discovery, it’s even simpler: just share the Agendashift True North (see the Resources section below).

Then (and you’ll find these questions in the True North deck):

  • When this is working at its ideal best for you, what’s that like?
  • And when that’s happening, what new stories could you tell?

Those questions work really well 1-2-4-All style as described in the assessments installment – individual silent reflections followed by pairwise, table group, and debrief conversations (a good test of your breakout room skills if you’re using Zoom).

That’s IdOO’s Ideal reflection part done. Easy!

To identify Obstacles:

  • What stops that? What gets in the way?

(See also The language of outcomes: 2. Framing obstacles)

Again, that’s straightforward enough. And again, 1-2-4-All works really well, except that this time those obstacles will need to be captured somehow when the conversation gets to table group level. Google Docs works great, but you’ll want to get documents set up and distributed ahead of time.

To generate Outcomes, you could just ask these questions with respect to the obstacles just captured:

  • What would you like to have happen? (or your favourite equivalent)
  • Then what happens? (asked a few times perhaps)

Even online, that’s temptingly easy. That would however be a huge opportunity missed. Instead of you asking the questions, how about your participants coach each other? That’s what 15-minute FOTO does, and both editions of the game (Lite and Classic) have versions specifically tailored for online use.

In some ways the online version is more efficient, with everyone joining in to help with the scribe’s task of capturing outcomes, clients as well as coaches able to refer to the notes (these roles rotate by the way). Especially if you’re facilitating it for the first time, don’t be afraid to join in – the Lite edition in particular includes a familiarisation phase.

Next time (not Monday, it being Easter) we’ll look at different ways those generated outcomes can be organised online.

Resources

All of these are open source (CC-BY-SA):

Become a partner for both the integrated workshop materials and the ability to administer the assessments described in the previous installment.

And the two books:

Upcoming online workshops


Agendashift, the wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Agendashift roundup, March 2020

In this edition: New blog series: Doing Agendashift online; Site updates; Upcoming workshops (online of course); Top posts

New blog series: Doing Agendashift online

The recent series The language of outcomes is followed by a new one: Doing Agendashift online. There have been three installments so far:

  1. Doing Agendashift online
  2. Celebration-5W
  3. The assessments

The timing of this series is of course no accident.  We do a lot online already; this was given extra urgency by the COVID-19 situation. There’ll be at least three more of these posts in the coming weeks; so far they’ve come out every Monday and I’ll do my best to keep to that pattern.

On a personal note, I’m glad to report that I’m out of solitary, no longer holed up in the studio (my office by day, self-contained accommodation when needed, actually quite comfortable). However, as we have what the UK authorities refer to as a “shielded” family member, our household will remain in complete physical isolation for weeks, if not longer. “Online” is very much the new normal for us and for many others like us. We’re ok, but if you know others in a similar situation, please do your best to help – it’s going to be a long haul.

Site updates

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

Work on the Agendashift site never really stops, but over the past few weeks the change has been particularly rapid. Most visibly:

The basic idea is to delineate more clearly – and in this order – what kind of thing Agendashift is, its ethos, and what it has offer. For those that want to dig deeper into the detail: where we’re coming from, what we reference, key structures, ideas, tools and techniques, and so on.

As well some major rework to existing content, new pages have been added too (some of those still a work in progress). One of those at least will get mentioned in the next blog installment, so don’t worry if it doesn’t jump out at you straight away!

agendashift-banner-2019-12-17

Screenshot 2020-03-31 11.23.06

Upcoming workshops (online of course)

Top posts

  1. Doing Agendashift online (1 of n)
  2. The workshop formerly known as Advanced
  3. Doing Agendashift online (2 of n): Celebration-5W
  4. The language of outcomes: 1. Identifying the adaptive challenge
  5. The language of outcomes: 5. Between ends and means

 


agendashift-banner-2019-12-17Links: Home | About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Doing Agendashift online (3 of n): The assessments

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This is #3 in a series of unspecified length, covering ways you can do Agendashifty things online (we have plenty of practice).

Here we look at Agendashift’s assessments, which have been online since the beginning. If ever you’ve been surveyed by email and Excel, you’ll know why we do it online; if you’re still doing it like it’s 1999, shame on you!

You can easily adapt the advice given here if you want to use the assessment for coaching purposes. Considerations for online workshops:

  1. How & when to send out the survey
  2. Delivering the survey debrief
  3. Facilitating the followups

That last consideration is a big enough topic that it will spill over into the next installment. Here we’ll cover things specific to the assessment itself.

1. How & when to send out the survey

I’ve not written about the assessment tool as much as I could and should – quite apart from its specific role in the workshop of helping people to identify areas of opportunity, it does a great job of setting the tone for the workshop or coaching engagement. And it’s a door-opener!

In its wording, we’ve taken great care to avoid prescription. People don’t respond well to anything that feels like coercion, and dialling back on the jargon means that it works in a wide range of contexts (some of our best experiences have been outside of technology teams) and opens up the broadest range of possibilities.

Some partners have reported good results from capturing survey input through a facilitated group exercise. Personally, I don’t do that, for fear 1) of sucking the energy from the room and 2) of depriving ourselves of the widest range of responses. That said, conducting the survey via a series of private one-to-one conversations does work really well.

Doing it one-to-one when you’re physically in the same room, handy tip #1 is to open the survey’s sharing link in a private browser window (an ‘Incognito’ window in Chrome). You slide your laptop over to your counterpart, they sign themselves up, and you take notes as they provide “as little or as much commentary as they like” as they complete their assessment. Online, just share the link – via Zoom’s chat feature, say – and have them complete their assessment whilst sharing their screen. Easy!

Tip #2: If you’re surveying a lot of people, and only some of them are through these one-to-one conversations, ‘tag’ the sharing link for each population group so that you can slice and dice the results afterwards. We find that leadership teams (for example) tend to score the assessment more strictly (lower, in other words), making them a good baseline for comparison with other groups.

For those larger populations, here’s a typical email invitation:

At the link below is the prework for <event>. Before you begin, decide on a scope – your team or something bigger – and stick to it; trust me that any differences in scope or scale will be not be an obstacle when we review the full survey results together.

If any of the prompts strike you as particularly important for discussion, please ‘star’ them when you get to the review page at the end. We ask that you limit yourself to a maximum of 6 stars, eg 3, 2, 1 for your top 3 priorities or 1 star each across 6; the tool will warn you if you go over this limit.

Please do your best to complete by <date> to give us time to print the handouts with the survey results. Thank you!

I like to send this out a week in advance. Of course for online workshops we won’t be relying on the printed handouts referred to in the last paragraph so the timing is slightly less constrained, but still you want to allow enough time both for responses and for a polite nudge or two if you’re not seeing the expected response rate.

2. Delivering the survey debrief

This part hardly changes. The debrief is already done via a browser-based report designed for projection, so just share your screen and you’re away. It’s a single page app that responds to your keyboard, mouse, or presentation clicker. The report starts high level – the aim being to get everyone comfortable and recognising their own data – and finishes on the prompts with the widest range of scores, where you’ll have the interesting discussions.

Tip #3: Remember the “brief” in “debrief”. Better too fast than too slow; participants will have plenty of opportunity to interact with the content afterwards.

Tip #4: Remember that it’s not your job to provide a diagnosis but to facilitate a conversation. Calibrate any commentary carefully. Agreement on outcomes is the most powerful for enabler for strategic change that we know; it’s why Agendashift exists, and the assessment and the followups are designed with that in mind. Don’t undermine it!

3. Facilitating the followups

Group work starts with prioritising the assessment prompts, each table group choosing a shortlist of prompts for further discussion, prompts that help to identify areas of opportunity. 5 prompts per table group works well.

I like to facilitate this 1-2-4-All style:

  • 1: On their own, silently, participants choose their top 3
  • 2: In pairs (or threes, as necessary) , a conversation to arrive at a joint top 4
  • 4: In table groups, agreement on a combined top 5
  • All: A quick whole group debrief

Each of those steps suitably timeboxed.

Tip #5: if you’re using breakout rooms in Zoom (a great feature), remember that anything you’re sharing on-screen will disappear when participants move to their pairs, threes, or table groups. Clear instructions and the availability of all necessary resources are both essential. To that end, each page of the debrief (the one below, for example, or the pages designed for printing) has a shareable URL.

Screenshot 2020-03-25 09.06.37

What happens next isn’t specific to the assessment and I’ll save for next week’s installment what turns out to be a key pattern and well worth covering on its own. So watch this space!

Two things to leave you with meanwhile:

1. Ways to access the assessment:

  1. The Agendashift global survey, with a mini (18-prompt) version of the assessment
  2. The free trial – also the mini version, surveys limited to up to 10 people
  3. Through the partner programme, access to the full range of templates (including the main 42-prompt assessment), size restrictions removed:
    1. Engage one of our partners to administer a survey on your behalf; most would also be delighted to do the surrounding facilitation
    2. Become a partner yourself  – access not just the assessment tool but all our materials too

2. Upcoming opportunities to experience Agendashift online:

 


agendashift-banner-2019-12-17Links: Home | About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter