15-minute FOTO, version 12

The facilitation deck for our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO is now at version 12. Just one change: for the Lite format of the game, what previously were announced under a heading of “Tips:” are now announced as follows:

Help your colleagues enjoy a productive time:

  • Start small: 5% and 15% outcomes, bullet point answers
  • Be generous in the outcomes you accept (and write down)
  • If a minute passes without an outcome being captured, something is wrong

A renamed heading might seem a trivial change, but in the debrief after the game we will introduce (retrospectively) the three roles of Client, Coach, and Host, which in the Lite format any player can adopt at any time. Client and Coach correspond very obviously to the tasks of answering and asking the questions from the cue card, but until this version, it didn’t seem that we had done enough to set up the Host role.

Bonus

Emphasising the “leading” in “Leading with Outcomes” (our core curriculum), this discussion question comes from the Agendashift Academy version of the 15-minute FOTO debrief:

Reflecting some more on the Client, Coach, and Host roles, which one is the leader?

There it’s pre-recorded; I have tested it “live” also.

For some background on prior changes that led up to this one:

As ever go to agendashift.com/15-minute-foto for tips, download instructions, and an ancient but still fun video.


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Agendashift roundup, November 2021

In this edition: Leading with Outcomes: Foundation; 15-minute FOTO, version 11; New video on Agendashift assessments; Top posts

Leading with Outcomes: Foundation

As announced this morning to current and existing students, the “old” Leading with Outcomes will be retired soon, and its replacement will look and feel strikingly different.

Leading with Outcomes: Foundation goes into limited private beta this week, to be launched in full around the end of the year. We’re aiming for a much broader audience – all “leaders in transforming organisations” – and as the name suggests, it’s also the starting point for more. Henceforth, the name “Leading with Outcomes” covers a whole curriculum that reorganises the Agendashift Academy’s existing offerings (both self-paced and interactive) into three parallel tracks, for which the highly accessible Foundation module will be a prerequisite.

For more detail than that, you’ll have to wait for the announcements. Remember meanwhile our guiding principle: Agreement on outcomes before solutions – literally, leading with outcomes! If you share our desire to see more of that, up and down transforming organisations everywhere, then you understand the level of our ambition. We’re going to make it easier for more people to participate in the realisation of that vision, so if you’re with us, get ready.

15-minute FOTO, version 11

The latest version of our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO was announced this week, and the announcement drew a lot of interest. Read it here:

15-Minute-FOTO-cue-card-2020-09-v16

New video on Agendashift assessments

Added this month to our media page:

Top posts

  1. Announcing 15-minute FOTO version 11
  2. Get unstuck and get going: Starting small with 5% and 15% outcomes (August)
  3. The 1967 Manifesto for The Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (October)
  4. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  5. Up and Down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (September)

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

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Announcing 15-minute FOTO version 11

The facilitation deck for our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO is now at version 11. Minor tweaks aside, the two main changes:

  1. The tip to “start small” with 5% and 15% outcomes
  2. The four roles of the Classic edition of the game have been reduced to three (the Lite edition doesn’t mention roles until the debrief)

You can read some background to the “start small” advice in the recent post Get unstuck and get going: Starting small with 5% and 15% outcomes. Thinking about it more tactically, if the objective of the game is to produce a quantity of outcomes, jumping straight to “world peace” leaves a lot of space unexplored! So start small, see where “Then what happens?” takes you, and in the process uncover not just meaningful objectives to pursue, but places to start, outcomes to organise around, outcomes that tell us when we’re winning, outcomes that (at the right time) will lead to solutions, and so on.

The change to the roles in the Classic edition takes us from the four of Client, Coach, Scribe, and Observer to the three of Client, Coach, and Host. The host’s job subsumes scribe and observer but goes further: it is to ensure that within the deliberate constraints of the game, everyone has an enjoyable and productive time. It covers things like:

  • Making sure the client and coach who they are and what they are meant to be doing
  • Making sure the client has chosen the obstacle that will be the focus of the next conversation
  • Making sure that outcomes get captured – whether or not that means performing the scribing task themselves
  • Safety officer (noting that whatever the coach might think, “I can’t answer that” is a valid answer)
  • Referee – keeping the conversation to the rules (it is a game after all)
  • Time-keeper – it takes some time discipline to ensure that everyone gets to play every role within the game’s 15 minutes
  • Intervening when a conversation hasn’t got started (distracted by meta conversations perhaps) or is running out of steam (perhaps it’s time to choose another obstacle)
  • Observer – from a perspective outside the conversation, noticing things that might be useful to recall later in the debrief

As per the 2014 book Host by Mark McKergow and Helen Bailey, hosting is a powerful metaphor for leadership. If ever you’ve struggled with the notion of servant leadership or feel that the leader’s responsibility to “create the environment” is never properly explained, then host leadership is for you. It’s worth noting also that Mark McKergow is also a co-author of one of the references / inspirations for 5% outcomes – see the abovementioned post for details.

As ever go to agendashift.com/15-minute-foto for tips, download instruction, and an ancient but still fun video.

15-Minute-FOTO-cue-card-2020-09-v16


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

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Get unstuck and get going: Starting small with 5% and 15% outcomes

In chapter 1 of Agendashift (2nd edition 2021) you’ll find a crucial but awkwardly-named exercise, Practice Outcomes. It’s there because the main event, the Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO, goes so much better if players have been primed to start small. If your first outcome is a small one, the chain of consequences that follows – “Then what happens? Then what happens?” – is so much more productive.

5% outcomes, getting unstuck

I’ve been working on making not just the exercise of Practice Outcomes but its outputs and its rationale easier to reference. Hence “5% outcomes”, the kind of teeny-tiny outcomes you get from the miracle question (source: Solutions-focused brief therapy, via the 2006 Jackson and McKergow book The Solutions Focus). The version of the miracle question we use in Practice Outcomes isn’t exactly canonical but it’s close enough:

  • If that obstacle disappeared overnight (it doesn’t matter how), what would be the first thing you would notice? (something positive)

The rationale? Make your outcomes small enough, and perhaps they’re there already if only you knew where to look. And if they’re there, so are what causes them – solutions! A great way to get unstuck.

If you find yourself not wanting to explain the miracle question, something simpler:

  • What first, tiniest signs of success might we see?
  • And before that, even tinier?

Context for those questions might be a some kind of obstacle, an outcome (a larger one, obviously), or even our overall objective. Here I’ve visualised it in terms of the IdOO (“I do”) pattern:

5-percent-outcomes

15% outcomes, getting going

If we get unstuck with 5% outcomes and their corresponding 5% solutions, then 15% outcomes and their corresponding 15% solutions are how we make faster progress. I’m riffing on the Liberating Structures pattern 15% Solutions, whose rationale speaks to the stuckness issue but invites us to think a little bigger. If our attitude is that “15% is always there for the taking”, then we’re primed to iterate towards our goals. Faced with an adaptive challenge, the sooner we embrace that kind of approach, the better. Here, 100% solution are worse than unlikely, they’re a route to failure.

15% is always there for the taking

15% Solutions: Discover and Focus on What Each Person Has the Freedom and Resources to Do Now (liberatingstructures.com)

The questions here:

  • “How will we know that we’ve made a small but significant step in the right direction?”
  • “And then what happens?”

Anticipating one of the three most important questions in 15-minute FOTO, the “And then what happens?” is already getting us to think more iteratively. Visualised:

15-percent-outcomes

5% and 15% outcomes, yes outcomes

You might be wondering why I start with Solutions Focus and 15% Solutions and invite participants to capture not solutions but outcomes. Is this some strange insult to my sources? Not a bit of it!

Think of Agendashift as a two-pronged approach to adaptive strategy:

  1. its formation through an ongoing process of meaningful participation
  2. integrated with innovation and learning processes

In the context of an adaptive challenge in a changing environment (one we’re actively changing, no less), if we take the attitude that solutions are always there for the taking – a core premise of both our sources –  the right time for solutions is just in time. To solutionise sooner is to invite solutions that may be beyond their shelf life by the time they’re really needed. Worse, having them designed only by the people who happen to be in the room at the time is another recipe for failure.

We are not merely counting on but institutionalising the emergence of solutions “from the people closest to the problem”, to quote my friend Karl Scotland. Keeping that innovation process well fed, appropriately oriented, and with room to breathe, strategy is developed in the language of outcomes.

Going as far as mostly as avoiding the term change management for fear of being associated with it, this is the very antithesis of 1990’s-style managed change. Great for upgrading your email server, but completely the wrong paradigm for anything transformational. Catch yourself thinking that a preconceived solution – worse, a borrowed one – should be your main response to your adaptive challenge? Tempting, but think again. You’d be making a category error, already a terrible place to start. Rolling it out, overcoming resistance to change and all that? Well that would be doubling down, compounding the mistake, and the consequences will be yours to own.

So solutions come well after outcomes, not before. But if you hear a solution prematurely – even a 5% or 15% solution – don’t worry. They’re easy to deal with:

  • Then what happens?

Get unstuck and get going with 5% and 15% outcomes. Small – tiny even – but powerful!


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

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Agendashift roundup, September 2021

In this edition: Academy update; Up and down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation; Celebration-5W version 6; Upcoming events; Top posts

Academy update

Time to come clean: our next public workshops (there are still private workshops taking place) won’t happen until the new year. Honestly, the desire was there, but with all the behind-the-scenes work we’re currently doing, it just got too complicated.

For a taste of things to come, Coaching with Outcomes will return in the format of four 2-hour online sessions over four weeks. Although (like the current one) you will be able to take it standalone, it will also:

  1. bring together cohorts of students taking Leading with Outcomes, and
  2. form part of a modular replacement for what was the Deep Dive workshop (actually we’re up to something more ambitious than that, but more than that I can’t say at this stage)

Outside-in Strategy with Outcomes (originally planned to be out by now) and the advanced modules based on the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (more on that below) are similarly postponed. We’re confident though that the delay will be well worth it.

Up and down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation

This month’s big event was the webinar Up and Down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation. Read about it and watch the video!

Meanwhile, the Deliberately Adaptive assessment pilots are going strong – three have their debrief workshops scheduled for October.deliberately-adaptive-image

Celebration-5W version 6

Also this month, an update to our context-creating workshop kickoff exercise Celebration-5W. Read about that here:

I am also testing some changes to 15-minute FOTO, our Clean Language-inspired coaching game. More on that next month I hope, and in the #cleanlanguage channel in the Agendashift Slack meanwhile.

Upcoming events

Top posts

Predictably perhaps:

  1. Up and Down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation
  2. Celebration-5W version 6, “your next big breakthrough”
  3. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  4. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019)
  5. ‘Right to Left’ works for Scrum too (July 2018)

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

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Loved Adam Grant’s Think Again

41+9W87E6nL

On Daniel Hulter’s recommendation I grabbed the audiobook edition of Adam Grant’s Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know (Penguin Audio, 2021). Loved it, highly recommended!

Let me share a couple particularly relevant quotes. The first one sits very well with Agendashift’s opening two chapters, the second with the closing two and a bit:

Listening well is more than a matter of talking less. It’s a set of skills in asking and responding. It starts with showing more interest in other people’s interests rather than trying to judge their status or prove our own. As journalist Kate Murphy writes, we can all get better at asking truly curious questions that don’t have the hidden agenda of fixing, saving, advising, convincing, or correcting.

Rethinking is more likely to happen in a learning culture, where growth is the core value and rethinking cycles are routine. In learning cultures, the norm is for people to know what they don’t know, doubt their existing practices, and stay curious about new routines to try out. Evans shows that in learning cultures, organisations innovate more and make fewer mistakes. After studying and advising change initiatives at NASA and the Gates Foundation I’ve learned that learning cultures thrive under a particular combination of psychological safety and accountability.

He goes on to describe something quite similar to my “expectation that learning will be accounted for” (deliberately-adaptive.org).

That’s all! Enjoy!


Upcoming

Always and at your convenience (and highly relevant to the first of the quotes above, as is Coaching with Outcomes below):

Scheduled:


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

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Leading with Outcomes: a cheat sheet

To whet the appetite, a cheat sheet for:

Yes, you read that right: March 2021. Publication imminent!

Go to agendashift.com/leading-with-outcomes-cheat-sheet or click on the image below for download information, references, etc. It’s Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA); by subscribing you’ll get not just the PDF but the original .pptx file too – translations and other adaptations welcome. Enjoy!

leading-with-outcomes-cheat-sheet-2021-03-14-v1

Upcoming

Comment & reactions on this post appreciated: LinkedIn | Slack (join ours) | Twitter


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15-minute FOTO version 10

Quick one: the facilitation deck for our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO is now at version 10. Changes:

  1. Added a slide for a quick practice: the two and three most important questions (the questions in bold on the card, the ones that do most of the work in the game) on your most concrete and most abstract obstacles, respectively without and with the What kind of… question (my favourite). You can do it as a facilitator-led demonstration and/or a short breakout (doing both isn’t overkill in my experience).
  2. Removed a slide titled Essential: Launch from a clear challenge, go deep. Essential it might be, but it’s smoother to cover the point while on the preceding slide.
  3. Moved the And when X... slide to improve the flow.
  4. Updated the reference material at the back to mention the now-imminent 2nd edition of the book.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve recorded myself using this version and am much happier with the flow now.

More: Go to agendashift.com/15-minute-foto for tips, download instruction, and an ancient but still fun video.

15-Minute-FOTO-cue-card-2020-09-v16


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How I choose my models

As demonstrated by the models-sources-inspirations picture below, I like my models. If you’ve read my third book Right to Left, you’ll know also that I have little time for the idea that there is one best model – one best Agile framework, for example. And the fun isn’t in choosing between them, not even in recognising what each of them can bring, but in integrating them. And it doesn’t stop there: this is not a one-shot process design exercise, but a process of continuous transformation. In short, I’m a pluralist, and I love to see what happens when models and their underlying patterns are allowed to combine.

agendashift-inspiration-map-2020-06-29

Believe it or not, I am a picky though. In one of our weekly community Zoom sessions (see #community in Slack), that pickiness resulted in a conversation that was outside our usual norms (if the truth be told I was abrupt to the point of rudeness) and I reflected afterwards on what happened. Happily, we cleared things up quickly and had a much healthier conversation the following week after I had the chance to turn something heartfelt into something more articulate. What follows is a summary.

If Agendashift has taught me anything, it is to be very careful with assumptions. Credit for this goes to Clean Language, which turns the dial up to 11 on the discipline of its practitioners to minimise the influence of their private assumptions (which are SO not the point) on their conversations. This discipline applies most to their explicitly Clean conversations but it rubs off elsewhere in ways that need not mean “coachiness” when that is not called for. Practicing it subtly trains your brain to recognise when you are imposing yourself in ways that aren’t helpful.

You see that attention to assumptions in Agendashift’s outside-in strategy review. The way we make explicit its carefully minimal assumptions is of great help to the facilitator. See my recent Cutter paper for details (announcement included in my post last week); they’re also in Right to Left (chapter 5) and there will be brief coverage in the forthcoming 2nd edition of Agendashift also.

I tend to avoid models that encourage me to make assumptions about what is going in someone’s mind, how they will behave, how they will develop, and so on. The same at team level and organisation level, and I have come to be particularly sceptical of extrapolations from one of those levels to another. The replication crisis (en.wikipedia.org) gives me pause also.  For better or for worse therefore, you won’t see Agendashift depending on many “popular” models of psychology, development, or maturity. This is not to say that they are valueless, rather that they make potentially unreliable foundations.

What I do appreciate:

  • Challenges to my own assumptions
  • Ways to moderate the impact of unsafe assumptions
  • Ways to bring assumptions and misalignments to the surface at the right time
  • Ways to encourage people to find their own solutions in the pursuit of outcomes (authentically shared outcomes most especially)
  • Ways to sustain all of the above – engines of transformation

And supporting those:

  • Models that have withstood scrutiny over a length of time
  • Models that treat the individual’s agency, creativity, and problem-solving ability with the utmost respect (you’ll permit me some personal values and base assumptions there I trust)
  • Models that help to scale up the preceding

Thankfully, the list of helpful and reliable models compatible with my outlook of optimistic pluralism outlook is long, a fact to which my Models, Source, and Inspirations picture attests. And please do not take the omission of a favourite model of yours as a snub; if I don’t have time to throw yours into the Great Model Collider™ in the hope that something interesting will fly out, perhaps you (or someone else) will.

Opinions mine, strongly held it would seem. Thank you Andrea Chiou and Tom Ayerst for putting up with me – we got there in the end 🙂


Upcoming workshops

Just the one event in the calendar for now – I’ll be adding some more soon, and feel free to twist my arm if you have a particular requirement, public or private. The full menu of workshops is laid out here and over the months I schedule them for most time zones.


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Agendashift roundup, September 2020

In this edition: Good obstacle, bad obstacle; The quality that now has a name; 15-minute FOTO update; Agendashift #community Zoom; Upcoming events; Top posts

Good obstacle, bad obstacle

Important dates coming soon: a free October webinar ahead of a November Deep Dive workshop. Details of both here:

The quality that now has a name

I’m hard at work on the 2nd edition of the Agendashift book (not far short of a rewrite if I’m honest) and I’m now on chapter 3 (of 5). In my head I’m a couple of chapters ahead and in this blog post you can see some of what’s going on up there!

15-minute FOTO update

I’ve done some work on the deck for 15-minute FOTO, aligning it with how I have been facilitating our Clean Language-inspired coaching game over recent weeks. Also, I’ve made it both easier for me to maintain and more flexible: hide/show slides according to format (Lite or Classic) and medium (in-room or online). More here:

Agendashift #community Zoom

On Wednesdays I like to put out a reminder on Slack that tomorrow (ie every Thursday) it’s the Agendashift #community Lean Coffee Zoom at 14:00 BST, 15:00 CEST, 9am EDT. I can’t include the Zoom link in this post so ping me for details or check the #community channel in Slack.

Upcoming events

I might yet add some December dates but that will very definitely be the last Deep Dive of the year. If you’re holding out for one in a different time zone in early 2021, let me know.

I get asked about discounts based on country or similar factors. Typically answer is yes, also for non-profit, government, educational, etc, or if you’ve done one of the bigger workshops before – several people have attended multiple times. And Agendashift partners of course. Again, ping me.

Top posts

Recent:

  1. What I really think about Scrum (August)
  2. 15-minute FOTO, latest v9 deck
  3. The quality that now has a name
  4. Good obstacle, bad obstacle
  5. #2MBM: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method (July)

Classic:

  1. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  2. What kind of Organisational Development (OD)? (And a book recommendation) (May 2019)
  3. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019)
  4. Stringing it together with Reverse Wardley (February 2019)
  5. ‘Right to Left’ works for Scrum too (July 2018)

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workshop 2x1