What do I mean by ‘generative pattern’?

That question came up recently in our weekly #community Zoom and again afterwards so I thought it would make sense to write it up here. I have two possible definitions, but before I get to those, some lower-level building blocks:

  • Generative and generative process: Generative has two meanings, (i) capable of creating something, or (ii) something with finite rules that when applied repeatedly can produce things of arbitrary complexity (for example the production of language from the rules of grammar; computer-generated art or music). Both of these meanings have some relevance here; I use generative process when referring specifically to the second of those meanings.
  • Generative image: words or images designed both to challenge and to inspire a wide range of possible responses, usually achieved by taking care not to prescribe or otherwise over-specify, perhaps to the extent of deliberately introducing ambiguity or paradox. Two notable examples, beginning with the most famous of them all: “sustainable development” and “Agile Software Development”. Examples from Agendashift include our True North statement, “wholehearted organisations” (best left under-specified), and the assessment prompts (inspired by practice but carefully non-prescriptive); we have others. These examples are all carefully crafted well in advance but they might instead be harvested from the organisation or created through (say) a workshop exercise; one of the earliest exercises in  Gervase Bushe’s The Dynamics of Generative Change (2020) has the objective of crafting a generative purpose statement for the change initiative in question.
  • Generative question: open-ended questions that can be used in a wide range of contexts and generate a wide range of valuable but unpredictable answers, perhaps provoking some insight in the process. Examples: setup questions such as “For this ___ to be really useful for you, it will be like what?” (from Clean Setup) and menus of questions that can be used repeatedly within a generative process, for example “Why is that important?” and “What stops that?” (from Challenge Mapping), and the Clean Language questions (our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO includes 8 of the 40+ canonical questions)

Rather like the word generative, the term generative pattern could have several meanings. Literally “things that as patterns recur in different contexts and that are generative”, would do. Then there’s the more specialised, “patterns that combine in a pattern language” – think for example Christopher Alexander’s pattern language for architecture and the facilitation patterns of Liberating Structures.

Agendashift’s usage is tends to be more specific but still compatible with both of those meanings. Usually I’m referring to higher level structures into which which all of the lower-level generative elements mentioned so far can be plugged in. The design community’s double diamond would be an example of that, a recognisable pattern with applicability in a wide range of innovation contexts, within whose overarching structure a wide of generative tools can be used.

The most memorable generative pattern in Agendashift is the IdOO pattern (“I do”, for Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes) and it meets all of these definitions. It’s clearly a pattern (it’s recognisable in different contexts), it combines with other patterns (even with itself – the landscape of obstacles and outcomes is fractal), and it’s a structure into which other generative elements can be inserted:

  • Ideal: typically a reflection on a generative image and often with the aid of a setup question; sometimes it’s just a question, perhaps with the hint of a generative image embedded in it (see the Outside-in Strategy Review template for at least one example of that)
  • Obstacles: “What stops that?” as a generative question or something more elaborate, the TRIZ exercise from Liberating Structures for example
  • Outcomes: SFBT’s miracle question on its own or as a precursor to 15-minute FOTO, generative question and generative process respectively

What it does of course is keep that generative conversation moving forward in a productive direction. Unconstrained, the random walk might be enjoyable for a while but trust in the process would diminish rather quickly.

Postscript 1

It’s about time I announced the IdOO breakout generator tool. I’ve been using it in meetups for a few weeks now. It’s simple online tool to help you facilitate breakout discussions or personal reflections with the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO) pattern. These convenience links will take you to first user-facing page with an Agendashift-related challenge already configured for you:

You can also configure it to use a challenge of your own. Read the tips and gave a play!

Postscript 2

Talking of structure, while this post was already under construction I saw in a community forum this from Ian Phillips . With his permission:

…so I know a few people on here attended the MindShift Conference on ING’s. Am reflecting a bit on Jesko von den Steinen and:
  • “There is intuition in your structure.”
  • “Structure your intuition.”

Love that! It took a while for Agendashift’s patterns to crystallise out but it was well worth encouraging that process. After doing it once with the IdOO pattern (and it took much of the time between the 1st and 2nd editions of the book), it got easier. 2MBM took only hours 🙂

Related

agendashift-2nd-ed-sharing-1200x628-2021-02-10

agendashift.com/book (March 2021)


Upcoming

Listed now on the Agendashift Academy’s Store page are our scheduled workshops:

And my apologies: June’s Deep Dive workshop (Americas) must be rescheduled for family reasons.

Always now the self-paced option (and it’s a great option):

Selected appearances by Agendashift partners, me where unspecified:


What if we put authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes ahead of solutions?

Welcome to Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model

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

Agendashift came of age yesterday

Yesterday was Agendashift 2021, our inaugural conference, and by all accounts it was a big success. I’m hearing words like “inspiring”, “wonderful”, and (importantly) “valuable”, and we got past 400 registrations in the limited number of weeks available for marketing it.

We can truly say now that Agendashift has a life of its own. The conference wasn’t my idea (I always saw it as something that would happen one day, not something I felt ready to instigate), and of the committee members, I was actually the least involved! A heartfelt thank you therefore to Kjell Tore Guttormsen, Andrew Jones, Karl Scotland, and Russ Lewis – outstanding work! My most sincere thanks also to our two keynote speakers Pia Maria Thorén and Gervase Bushe, all our other speakers, and our generous sponsors. So much there, so well presented, and so aligned.

Given that there were two tracks, I haven’t been able to watch every presentation yet. Two quotes of the day stood out for me though. They’re from the Agendashift and Transformation tracks respectively, the first from Dragan Jojic:

Invite people, or invite resistance

The second is from Daniel Mezick:

Agile transformations around the world are epic train wrecks

What ties the two quotes together isn’t just the idea of invitation to participation – Daniel literally (co)-wrote the book on that – but the sad fact that too much of the change industry still sees resistance as something to overcome, not the massive clue that they’re approaching transformative change completely backwards. This is of course Agendashift’s starting point, its big “what if” question and the opening of my introductory talk: What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

2021 is a year not to squander and we won’t be resting on our laurels. The 2nd edition is out, the Agendashift Academy is launched, and the first few participant are approaching the end of Leading with Outcomes, our first self-paced training. Beyond LwO we have a training roadmap not quite ready for publication but it’s already the focus of partner discussions and I’m ready at short notice to do a quick Zoom on it with any prospective partner or corporate client. There’s opportunity too for the partner programme to evolve, allowing partners to deliver a wider range of hybrid solutions with different combinations of self-paced and in-person training, integrated with hands-on client work such that it can be recognised for its developmental value. I’ve no doubt that we’ll see some some real innovation there.

If I may, let me briefly mention another conference, next week’s Lean Agile Global 2021. Not just because we’re sponsors, but because my brand new talk Up and Down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation will reveal more of where we’re headed content-wise. For some hints of what’s in store, visit deliberately-adaptive.org.

So, once again, thank you everyone who participated yesterday. A milestone moment, the day Agendashift came of age, definitely well worth being there 🙂

Agendashift 2021 May 18th Page Image

One last thank you to our sponsors:

Gold

Silver:

Bronze:


Upcoming

Listed now on the Agendashift Academy’s Store page are our scheduled workshops:

And my apologies: June’s Deep Dive workshop (Americas) must be rescheduled for family reasons.

Always now the self-paced option (and it’s a great option):

Selected appearances by Agendashift partners, me where unspecified:


What if we put authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes ahead of solutions?

Welcome to Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model

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

Announcing 1) our first self-paced training Leading with Outcomes (LwO) and 2) the Agendashift Academy

academy-sharing

Last week’s little announcement (a rename) paves the way for today’s, big enough that I’ll do it two parts:

  1. Leading with Outcomes (LwO) is our first self-paced training offering, and we’re very excited about it, seeing it as the foundation module for a powerful blend of self-paced and real-time/interactive/experiential learning. And it won’t be the last such module – recognising that some of the new material introduced in the Agendashift 2nd edition is well suited to that medium. We anticipate that by the end of the year it will be possible to do a “hybrid” Deep Dive equivalent over an extended period and multiple modules, both self-paced and interactive.
  2. Agendashift Academy (academy.agendashift.com) is both our new platform for self-paced training and the hub for our training workshops and other public events. It has been several months in the making, a collaboration with Agendashift partner Kjell Tore Guttormsen and Humanize, the Norway-based company of which he is a principal. My gratitude and respect for them is enormous.

The Academy has been hiding in plain sight for a while – among other things it hosts the landing page for our May 18th conference. Well done if you guessed what we were up to! Longer term it gives us a new platform for different kinds of participation: people from a range of backgrounds self-funding their (quite affordable) self-development; the ecosystem of Agendashift partners, their firms, and their clients; corporates using Agendashift in their learning & development programmes.

Before we go any further, a launch offer:

Listed now on the Academy’s Store page are our scheduled workshops, the next one only days away:

Coaching with Outcomes (April and July, for EMEA and APAC – hurry if you want to do the EMEA one) is the interactive version of Leading with Outcomes. They’re a great pairing, LwO doing the groundwork and CwO focussing on the experience, facilitation options, and so on. CwO will evolve this year to acknowledge its self-paced cousin but LwO is not yet a prerequisite. That will change.

Strategic Mapping with Outcomes (also soon – early May for EMEA) is our most popular single-session workshop. It is included in the Deep Dive and is a natural follow-on to CwO and LwO.

The Agendashift Deep Dive (June, Americas) still goes strong, and my feeling is that there will always be a place for something as intensive as this. Some however will prefer the hybrid model and take its equivalent over a period of months. And they’re not mutually exclusive – not so crazy when you know that there are people out there who have done multiple Deep Dives!

You may be relieved to hear that this completes the announcements and followups saved up pending the launch of the 2nd edition of the book. So to finish, let me bring them all together:


Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Media | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Outside-in strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter