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…

 

Rejection, insight, and learning

Two questions:

  • When did you last reject an idea as a result of deliberate testing?
  • What did you learn in the process?

And a followup question:

  • How does your process encourage that kind of rejection and learning to happen?

If your process doesn’t keep asking the right questions, you can be pretty sure you’re over-investing either in stuff no-one needs, or in changes that won’t deliver the organisational benefits you expect. But if you program in the time to reflect on your rejected ideas (however sporadically they’re currently happening), the rest might just follow.

Here’s how at the end of the Changeban [1, 2] game we model that reflection and introduce two key concepts: the hypothesis and double-loop learning [2] (notice the two levels of learning identified by the red callouts):

changeban-retrospect-on-experiments-2018-12-03

In theory, if you have an organisational design that encourages double-loop learning, the rest of your process will soon catch up. In my experience however, it’s rare to see it outside of those organisations that haven’t already chosen to pursue a hypothesis-driven, outcome-oriented, ‘right-to-left’ kind of delivery process.

For example, heavily ‘projectised’ organisations typically learn painfully slowly. This is only partly explained by the fact that they do everything in large batches that take a very long time to process. There are deeper issues:

  • Once the scope of a project has been decided, the mere thought that there might be more needs to discover and respond to is often actively discouraged. If discovery happens at all, it is done by people outside the delivery team in preparation for future projects, greatly limiting the opportunity to integrate new learning into current work.
  • Similarly, when the ironically-named ‘lessons learned’ meeting finally arrives, it is already too late for the project in question to test any proposed process changes, and it’s unlikely that other projects will be ready to do much with the insights generated either.

Not that Agile has this stuff completely sorted either:

  • Backlog-driven Agile projects (four words that will never gladden my heart) remain susceptible to the scope problem, and typically they don’t make a habit of framing individual pieces of work in ways designed to invite challenge
  • Even where the delivery process is a good generator of insights, team-centric Agile tends to limit the organisational scope of any learning

In Right to Left [4] (due summer 2019) I will describe a style of delivery organisation that has i) managed to let go of that old left-to-right kind of thinking, and ii) explicitly created not just opportunities for organisational learning to happen but the clear expectation that it will will be happening all of the time, a natural part of the process, and ‘real work’.

Fortunately, there are enough real-world examples of right-to-left thinking out there that I know that it is no idealistic fantasy. Neither is it a doomed attempt to shoehorn diverse experiences into a single and over-complicated delivery framework or to extrapolate from the experiences of just a few. Rather, the right-to-left concept represents a concentrated essence of Lean, Agile, and Lean-Agile working at their best, a helpful metaphor, and a unifying theme, one that allows me to celebrate a wide range of models, tools, and examples. Each of those is unique and special, but a commitment to learning connects all of them.

In the meantime, don’t forget Agendashift [5, 6]! This is no stopgap, but rather an approach to change and transformation through which that same right-to-left philosophy runs very deep. If you’re in the business of change in what could broadly be described as the Lean-Agile space and are hungry for alternatives to 20th century change management, the book and the tools it describes could be just what you’re looking for.

[1] Changeban (www.agendashift.com)
[2] Changeban has reached version 1.0 (blog.agendashift,com)
[3] Double-loop learning (en.wikipedia.org)
[4] Right to Left (www.agendashift.com)
[5] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (www.agendashift.com)
[6] Agendashift (www.agendashift.com)


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


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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…

Changeban has reached version 1.0

After several iterations (including runs at multiple workshops just this month) I’m delighted to announce that our Lean Startup-flavoured Kanban simulation game Changeban has reached version 1.0. As with its older sibling Featureban, it is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

changeban-crazy-wip-2018-11-26
Some crazy, off-the-board WIP happening there…

In recent weeks we have:

  • Removed all mention of coins (the source of variation in Changeban’s older sibling, Featureban), coming down firmly on the side of using playing cards.
  • Clarified instructions, with fewer slides and fewer words
  • Amplified certain concepts, most notably rejection (the positive, celebration-worthy decision to deem an experiment as failed), pull, and double-loop learning

I created Featureban in 2014 and it has been very good to me. In that time it has seen multiple adaptations and translations (thank you!) and has been used the world over. This year, I’ve played Changeban enough times to know that it’s a worthy successor, and it’s my preferred choice unless I have a particular need for Featureban’s metrics coverage (enough justification to use both with some clients, on separate visits). Changeban doesn’t just teach mechanics, it teaches a learning process, and because it feels less tied to a development process it removes a potential obstacle for some non-techies. In short: if you like Featureban, I think you’ll love Changeban.

Attendees of my 2-day Advanced Agendashift workshop in Gurugram (below) will definitely get to play it, and attendees of 1-day Core workshops (Julia’s in Munich or mine in Mumbai) might also. In Core workshops it would be at the expense of other things, but that’s a trade that participants are often happy to make.

Want to know more? Head over to the Changeban page – it’s all there!

Registered users will be emailed download instructions in the next few hours. Agendashift partners will find it under the Commons folder in the partner Dropbox.


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


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
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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 small revision to Changeban

Friday was quite a big day! Agendashift’s second birthday, plenty of attention for the article Engagement: more than a two-way street, and an Agendashift Studio*, a small-scale workshop held in my studio office.

After lunch at our local farm shop we played Changeban. Changeban is based on our popular Featureban game, with slightly different mechanics, a Lean Startup-inspired board design (below), and an introduction to hypothesis-based techniques.

Screenshot 2018-09-18 11.42.20

It went down a treat, generating these interesting comments:

Featureban’s great but I think I will start using Changeban with my clients instead. By not simulating a software development process, people who work outside of technology will relate to it much more easily.
– Steve

Absolutely agree. Not once during playing the game did we reference or talk about anything tech-related.
– Karen

Always keen to make language as accessible as possible (something the Agendashift delivery assessment is appreciated for), I’ve done another pass on the Changeban deck and removed all references to “features”. Instead of “feature ideas”, we have “product ideas”; “feature experiments” becomes “product experiments”, and so on. Small changes, but every little helps!

These new references to “product” also help to reinforce an observation made in the Agendashift book: tools designed for the product development space often have applicability in the organisational/process improvement space, and vice versa. Lean Startup is the perfect example of that!

If you’re a registered Changeban user, you’ll receive an update by email from me sometime in the next few hours. If you aren’t registered and would like to be, sign up here. We’re now up to revision 0.4; it seems stable enough to go to 1.0 once I get round to preparing a page of facilitation instructions (there’s a #changeban channel in the Agendashift Slack meanwhile).

*There is no calendar for these Agendashift Studio events – they’re self-organised via the #agendashift‑studio channel in Slack. If 3‑4 participants can agree on a date that works for me too, then we’re on! We’re based in Chesterfield, UK, close to the Peak District National Park.


Upcoming Agendashift workshops (UK, IT, DE)


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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…

Agendashift roundup, May 2018

In this edition:  ‘Done’ goes viral; Right to left; Reviews for Agendashift; Munich and South Wales; Tools and translations; Upcoming; Top posts

‘Done’ goes viral

I don’t usually start with the blog, but within days of posting, My handy, referenceable Definition of Done jumped to the top of the leader board for 2018, bringing with it a linked post from 2016, Better user stories start with authentic situations of need.

Screenshot 2018-05-05 06.23.15

The reaction to this post was striking. Clearly, most people got what I was doing right away, but a few (5% maybe) seemed offended that I had dared to subvert a cherished Agile concept, the definition of done. I have absolutely no regrets on that score, and not just because it provoked a response: it’s a legitimate target that I’d be only too happy taken down and replaced with better things – definitions of ready (the obvious technical alternative), needs, outcomes, goals, validation, and so on.

Right to left

It seems slightly crazy that I’ve started work on a new book (my third) so soon after Agendashift, but I just can’t help myself!

Are you tired of introductions to Agile (and actual implementations, for that matter) that start “on the left” with projects and backlogs and work their way slowly rightwards to where the long-suffering customer patiently waits for something of value actually to happen? Well so am I, and I’m doing something about it.

My best guess is that Right to left will be available sometime in 2019, and hopefully no more than 12 months from now – let’s call it early summer ’19. There’s no landing page for it yet but there is a #right-to-left channel in the Agendashift Slack and some blog posts:

For completeness, theme 3 of 3, “upside down”, the supportive organisation, will get its own post in the next few days.

In terms of tone, I’m aiming for “a book you’ll happily give your manager and hope they’ll want to pass on to theirs” – less practitioner-focussed than KFTI and Agendashift then, but plenty for the expert to enjoy too I’m sure.

Word count so far: 2,910 (May 31st, 2018).

Reviews for Agendashift

Fewer than I’d like (to be honest I’m a little frustrated), but the reviews we do have are great, all 5-star so far. See for yourself:

Many thanks to those that have taken the trouble so far, and keep them coming!

Munich, and South Wales

For reasons we don’t fully understand, the Munich workshop didn’t quite get off the ground. There were sales, but not quite enough of them came soon enough for us to be confident of being able to give a good experience. Postponed rather than cancelled, and we may find a client organisation both to host it and to ensure numbers. That’s a model that could work in your city too; do get in touch if you have even just a small core of people interested.

Cardiff though – with DevOpsGuys as both excellent hosts and active participants – was great. Again some fantastic feedback for the 2-day Advanced workshop, and I spoke afterwards at the South Wales Agile Group.

I’ll be in South Wales again in July for Agile Cymru, where no fewer than five Agendashift partners will be speaking:  Cat SwetelJose CasalKarl ScotlandMatt Turner, and yours truly. That’s amazing! Clearly, if you want to find good people, you should check out the partner directory, and perhaps decide to join that list yourself 😉

Tools and translations

  • The 15-minute FOTO cue card is now available in German – thank you Agendashift partner Alex Pukinskis
  • Featureban is now available in Spanish – thank you Youssef Oufaska and Daniel Carroza

After a long wait, we finally got to play Changeban during the Cardiff workshop and it worked great! A new version of the deck is now available, a couple of bugs fixed (just with the deck, the game itself worked as planned). More here:

Upcoming

Speaking:

Over the summer period, the only workshops I’ll be doing will either be private or the Agendashift Studio event on July 7th (in my home studio office in Chesterfield, UK, and it’s sold out). Watch this space for an exciting autumn/winter programme.

Top posts

Recent:

From the archives:


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Home | About | Partners | Resources | Contact | Mike
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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 evolution 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…

Changeban v0.3

On Wednesday we played Changeban as part of the 2-day Advanced Agendashift workshop “Coaching and leading continuous transformation” in Cardiff. We spotted a couple of things to improve but they didn’t get in the way of either our fun or our learning! I’ve since made the necessary updates.

For the uninitiated, Changeban is based on Featureban, our popular kanban simulation game, played in workshops and meetups all over the world. Both games are licensed under a Creative Commons license, which in Featureban’s case has helped to generate a number of language translations and other variants. Changeban dials down on the kanban content, making space for a followup exercise in Lean Startup-style experiment design and workflow as applied to both feature development and process improvement.

Changeban’s mechanics are also a little different, reducing slightly the impact of blockers and allowing the game to flow faster. That’s mostly a good thing and I’m considering doing the same for Featureban, but it would be at the expense of the easy calculation of flow efficiency that the old rules made possible. If anyone wants to test the new rules on the old game, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Its landing page will get updated soon. If you’d like to get hold of the updated deck meanwhile, don’t let it put you off! And join us in the #changeban and #featureban channels in the Agendashift Slack.


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…