I’m really enjoying Challenge Mapping

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken every opportunity to play with Challenge Mapping and I’m really enjoying it. I even sneaked it into my ‘Outcomes all the way down’ webinar appearance the other week!

For the uninitiated (and also for the seemingly many who have seen it without knowing it by name), it’s a great way to generate those How might we…? (HMW) questions often associated now with the Design Sprint movement. Challenge Mapping and HMW have a much longer history than that however, and I’ve included some references in the page for the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO) pattern.

One of Challenge Mapping’s pioneers was Min Basadur, and here from him is a tweet showing some example output:

How Challenge Mapping works, very briefly: From an initial, anchoring challenge – something we’d like to achieve or solve – variations on these two questions:

  1. Why is this important?
  2. What’s stopping us? 

Answers can be re-framed in HMW form as required.

Visually, the Why and What questions respectively take us up and down. As well as that vertical axis – typically showing increasing levels of abstraction going up – “Why else..” and “What else…” allow for some sideways expansion also.

Try it! Here’s a little example suggested by my Challenge Mapping buddy Andreas Wittler:

  • Assuming for the purposes of this exercise that any legal barriers are now behind us, start by naming a key challenge (work-related or otherwise) around returning from lockdown.
  • Why is this important?
  • And perhaps: Why is that important?
  • What stops us?
  • Why is that important?
  • What else stops us?
  • etc
  • Note down your answers and after you have finished, try reframing them HMW-style

My first opportunity to experiment came about a few weeks ago thanks to our weekly Agendashift #community Zoom (named after the #community channel in the Agendashift Slack). In a hastily-arranged practice session with Andreas, we tried Challenge Mapping as a simpler, 2-question alternative to 15-minute FOTO, Agendashift’s Clean Language-inspired coaching game and our go-to tool for generating outcomes. We then trialled it as the opening exercise for a Strategic Mapping with Outcomes workshop.

It was a very interesting trial and let me say a big thank you to all my workshop participants! It borderline failed but with some great learning: it was more involved than I wanted for a kick-off exercise and it requires some extra work to generate outcomes, but still it does the job it was designed to do extremely well. We now use it not as a FOTO alternative (whew!) but either side of it in these two places:

  1. To explore the vicinity of an obstacle, adding some extra depth to the first O of the abovementioned IdOO pattern
  2. To refamiliarise ourselves with an outcome – IdOO’s second O – as we begin to action it – moving into ideation, solutionising etc

Its next outing comes as soon as this Thursday, where we’ll be using it for the second of those two purposes. The Probe! workshop is a short (2-hour), standalone version of the our longer workshops’ Elaboration, with some fun new material borrowed from Impact! and Wholehearted:OKR. Join us if you can!

Upcoming workshops

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Outcomes all the way down

“Outcomes all the way down” is an Agendashift catchphrase that my friends at SquirrelNorth (squirrelnorth.com) picked out as the title of a webinar we gave together last week. Here’s the recording:

Overview:

  1. (3:00) What Agendashift is – the wholehearted, outcome-oriented engagement model – unpacking those terms in reverse order
  2. (17:40) Me interviewing members of the SquirrelNorth team – Martin Aziz, Fernando Cuenca, James Steele, and Alexei Zheglov
    1. “What’s happening when you’re reaching the right customers, meeting their strategic needs?” (the beginning of the Outside-in Strategy Review as described in Right to Left, chapter 5)
    2. How they each respond to an Agendashift assessment prompt of their choice
  3. (48:15) What Agendashift provides – framework, tools, models, workshops (more on that last one in a moment)
  4. (55:30) Q&A

Parts 1 & 3 above follow a structure that’s easy enough to remember / follow and I did it without a slide deck. See the recent post Revisiting ‘wholehearted’ for a stepping stone to that structure; in the process of developing the talk (mostly in my head with a few sticky notes around my screen just in case) the Home and About pages went through a couple more iterations too.

The webinar is part of our preparations for an upcoming Deep Dive workshop. It’s timed for the Americas (SquirrelNorth are based in Canada) and scheduled in manageable chunks spread over 4 days:

It’s already well subscribed but at the time of writing there are still places available. We’d love to see you there!

Related:


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Probe!

Quick one…

The name “Stories, Hypotheses, and A3” was proving ironically unwieldy for a short training workshop. It now goes by the handle of the Probe! workshop; full title and details of its first outing on June 25th (EMEA-friendly timing) here:

That is all!

Related

experiment-a3-2020-04-18


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Revisiting ‘wholehearted’

agendashift-banner-2019-12-17

Agendashift’s strapline is “the wholehearted engagement model”, and I’ve been reflecting again on just what we mean by wholeheartedness. That in turns leads me to revisit how I introduce Agendashift – what it is, what differentiates it, and why we do what we do.

Wholehearted

Starting with my reflections on that word, I’m drawn to two clusters of qualities:

  1. Engagement, commitment, and purposefulness
  2. Alignment, integration, integrity, and wholeness

For an organisation to be wholehearted, both sets of qualities must apply. Crucial to developing and sustaining them are participation and outcomes:

  • Participation, because 1) people disengage when they’re denied the meaningful opportunity to influence on how their working environment operates, and 2) you can’t have integrity and wholeness – or for that matter self-organisation and other hallmarks of the modern organisation – when the organisation’s parts don’t relate both between and within themselves frequently and richly enough.
  • Outcomes, for the simple reason that they’re what people align on, and for the more subtle reason that it’s easy to destroy engagement when solutions are put ahead of outcomes. Keep outcomes in the foreground (and not a rationalisation or afterthought) and you create the opportunity for acceptable, effective, and often innovative solutions to emerge at the right time, no imposition needed.

With all of that in mind, Agendashift is best introduced as the wholehearted, outcome-oriented engagement model. Unpacking that backwards:

  • The term engagement model is our preferred shorthand for the kind of thing that Agendashift is, a framework for agents of participatory change and transformation. The framing there is deliberate; we find it necessary to keep a certain distance from the failed solution-driven change management models of the last century and don’t wish to be numbered among them! Neither is Agendashift a model only for continuous improvement, a process that while necessary is not a substitute for strategy.
  • Agendashift is outcome-oriented to such an extent that this is its defining feature. It’s “outcomes all the way down”, dealing coherently, humanely, and strategically with everything from the most aspirational of goals to the impact of the smallest experiment. With outcomes generated, organised, and developed through participation, agreement on outcomes follows naturally; solutions come as they should on a just-in-time basis, lightly held as hypotheses to be tested until some other approach is understood to be safe.
  • We – Agendashift’s founders, partners, and supporters – are wholehearted in our commitments to participation, to outcomes, and beyond those to the wholeheartedness of the organisations with which we work. We strive to develop all the qualities of wholeheartedness, building organisations that create meaning continuously, through both their discourse and their ability to anticipate and meet needs.

We’re in the business of building wholehearted organisations. Are you?

Related


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Agendashift roundup, May 2020

I’ll keep this one brief – this month’s top posts say it all really! The top 5 are all from this month (yes, we’ve been busy):

  1. The audiobook is out! Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile
  2. My kind of…
  3. Phases 1 & 2 of the agendashift-open project
  4. Two months in
  5. Workshops in June
  6. Agendashift as framework (April)
  7. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019)
  8. Devs not clear about strategy? It’s likely way worse than that (April)
  9. There will be caveats: Warming cautiously to OKR (September 2019)
  10. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (June 2018)

Very glad to say that the runaway winner is the audiobook announcement, not entirely surprising but I take nothing for granted! I shall leave it there, except to invite you to check out i) the other posts too, and ii) the list of upcoming workshops in its usual place at the end of this post.

cover right to left audiobook.001

 

Upcoming workshops (all online)

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

For some brief commentary:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


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My kind of…

Two years ago almost to the day,  I was among a group invited by Pierre Neis to answer this question:

What kind of Agile is your Agile?

I was writing Right to Left at the time, and “my kind of Agile” was already a feature of chapter 2. Here it is (the short version at least):

People collaborating over working software that is already beginning to meet needs

That’s just a starting point. To put it into practice, we work backwards from there, keeping needs and outcomes always in the foreground as we go. Understand how that “right to left”, outcomes-first kind of Agile differs both philosophically and practically from a “left to right”, backlog-driven kind of Agile – a kind that too often involves imposing process on people for the sake of mediocre results (at best) – and you’ll understand why the book needed to be written.

If you appreciate that essential difference already, you’ll enjoy the book’s singular perspective. If you don’t, you’ll find it a highly accessible introduction to the Lean-Agile landscape, one that avoids the mistake of explaining Agile in the terms of the models it seeks to replace, a mistake that undermines it every time it is made.

I opened this post with Pierre’s question of 2 years ago because I was delighted this week to speak at his invitation on “My kind of Agile” at an online meetup he hosts. In preparation I put up a new page:

In the print and e-book editions, My kind of… is Right to Left’s Appendix B. It’s a glossary of sorts, a gathering together of some informal definitions that are especially characteristic of the book. It starts with two versions (shorter and longer) of “My kind of Agile” and continues in that same vein.

If you’re listening to the new audiobook edition – out just a few days ago – the appendices aren’t included, so here you go!

cover right to left audiobook.001

Upcoming workshops (all online of course)

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

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


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Workshops in June

But first, some of what they said about this week’s 2-day Wholehearted:OKR workshop:

  • Loved the focus on outcomes
  • Insights on end-to-end strategy for Agile implementation
  • Learned how to design the process in practice
  • Great new facilitation exercises
  • Lots of new things to try
  • Strategy deployment for Agile ways of working
  • Highly interactive, great mix of presentation and activities

To our surprise, the majority of participants (albeit a self-selected and possibly unrepresentative group) would choose the 2-day online format again – that’s two full days online. We thought that the long-arranged Deep Dive workshop (June 8-9 below) would be last time we would offer this format but we may have to reconsider!

And so to June…

June 4th (2 hours from 10:00BST) Strategic Mapping with Outcomes

This standalone workshop is based on the string of three exercises from the Mapping session of the Deep Dive workshop. There are no prerequisites, but it’s one of two natural followups to the popular Learning the Language of Outcomes workshop. Also, if you’ve attended Agendashift workshops before January last year, it’s your chance to try Option Approach Mapping (the exercise formerly referred to as Reverse Wardley Mapping). No quadrants or clusters will be (ab)used in this workshop!

Limited spaces left.

June 8-9 (2 days, 09-00-17:00CET), Agendashift Deep Dive: Coaching and Leading Continuous transformation

They said a 2-day online workshop couldn’t be done, but (as demonstrated above) it can! We will of course be offering other online formats for our flagship workshop – 8 sessions over 4 days for example – but this way it is at least easy to schedule. Either way, it’s with new content designed especially for online.

For this one and the one below, the Agendashift Delivery Assessment is given as prework so you’d be advised to book at least a week in advance.

June 17 & 18 (Two 2-hour sessions from 16:00BST/11EST): Learning the Language of Outcomes

These are happening with increasing frequency, enough that we can put them on at different times to suit participants in different time zones. June’s will be for the Americas, here meaning that it will be late afternoon UK time – I won’t be checking passports!

June 25th (2 hours from 10:00BST): Stories, hypotheses, and A3

Another short standalone workshop and a natural followup to Learning the Language of outcomes.

This workshop is a standalone Elaboration session from the Core and Deep Dive workshops kicked off with a fun new exercise taken from the Impact! and Wholehearted:OKR workshops. As per Right to Left (of which the audiobook edition came out only last weekend), we move easily between stories of various kinds – including but not limited to user stories and job stories – and hypotheses, then develop them Agendashift-style with our Experiment A3.

Hope to see you at one (or more!) of these, and keep an eye on the events calendar for July and August, a couple of exciting things in store for Asia and the Americas.


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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.


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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.


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