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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Agendashift roundup, October 2021

In this edition: Agendashift Academy update; The 1967 manifesto for the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation; Get unstuck and get going; Upcoming; Top posts

Agendashift Academy update

What really happened: on the brink of releasing a new intermediate-level self-paced training module Outside-in Strategy with Outcomes, we decided that it would be much better to revisit Leading with Outcomes, our first self-paced training module. A big decision not taken lightly! As part of a significant pivot for the Academy itself, we’re now re-recording it, repositioning it for a much broader audience.

We’re adding, not taking away, and if you’re a practitioner of some kind (the main audience for the first version) there’s still plenty to be had from the second version. Still the familiar and well-tested exercises, but every session now connecting with leadership, speaking to a specific leadership theme, and with practical takeaways for leaders at all levels of experience. We think of it now as doing something foundational for transformational leadership, the Academy aimed squarely at “leadership and strategy in the transforming organisation”.

What to expect:

  • We’ll release each session of the new Leading with Outcomes as it becomes available, the first one mid-November and the remaining three sessions at intervals of a couple of weeks (ish). While it remains incomplete (we know that some of you like to binge on these things) we’ll offer it at a discount.
  • As a thank you and in the hope of fresh feedback, past purchasers of the old one – even those whose purchases have now expired – will be granted access to the new one up to the end of January 2022
  • We’ll announce the next interactive workshop Coaching with Outcomes soon, conducted now over four sessions to match Leading with Outcomes – you can take them in either order but you’ll be encouraged to take them together as cohort-based training, publicly or privately
  • The two in combination effectively replace the first half of the old Agendashift Deep Dive; its eventual replacement will go quite a bit further, covering the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation also
  • A re-recorded Outside-in Strategy with Outcomes (intermediate) and a new Transforming with Outcomes (advanced) will follow in the early months of 2022; complementing them will be more interactive workshops both old and new

As allowed by the quantity and growth rate of the content – soon if we hit our stride as we expect – we plan to move to a subscription model, covering what will be an ever-growing portfolio of self-paced material and offering substantial discounts on interactive workshops. Meanwhile, we’re putting in place the infrastructure to better support corporate purchasers also.

Let me finish this update with a massive thank you to everyone who gave feedback on LwO version 1. Highly encouraging for the most part, and we took to heart your ideas for improvement. We think you’ll love version 2 – not just a refinement but a bold step!

The 1967 manifesto for the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation

The first of two more-than-usually successful blog posts this month:

It has provoked some interesting conversations and no doubt I’ll be returning to the topic soon.

Get unstuck and get going

The second of those posts was this one:

For “Practice Outcomes” (the name of a warmup exercise), now think “5% Outcomes, 15% Outcomes”. Typically we do it just before doing 15-minute FOTO for the first time, and an updated 15-minute FOTO will make reference to it. There’s another change in the wings to come on top of that, so watch out for version 11 soon.

Upcoming

Per my Academy update above, there are still no workshops in the calendar but we’ll be addressing that soon. Other events:

Top posts

  1. The 1967 Manifesto for The Deliberately Adaptive Organisation
  2. Get unstuck and get going: Starting small with 5% and 15% outcomes
  3. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  4. I’m really enjoying Challenge Mapping (June 2020)
  5. Celebration-5W version 6, “your next big breakthrough” (September)

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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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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Agendashift roundup, October 2020

In this edition: Media – recordings, articles, etc; November Deep Dive; Updates to Celebration-5W; Progress on the 2nd edition; Top posts

Media – recordings, articles, etc

Released this month:

I’ve taken the opportunity to gather these and similar resources from the past year or more on a new media page, agendashift.com/media. Over time I’ll add dig out some Agendashift-era conference recordings etc also. If you have any favourites you think I should add, let me know!

Thanks for those I’ve added so far go to the Cutter Consortium, Jay Hrcsko (Agile Uprising podcast), Martin Aziz & team (SquirrelNorth), Joe Auslander & Jakub Jurkiewicz (Joekub podcast), Ben Linders (InfoQ), Rahul Bhattacharya (Agile Atelier podcast), Mo Hagar (Agile on the Edge podcast), John Rouda (A Geek Leader podcast), Paul Klipp & Justyna Pindel (Agile Book Club podcast).

November Deep Dive

17th-20th November: Agendashift Deep Dive: Coaching and leading continuous transformation – eight 2-hour sessions over four days, EMEA-friendly timing. A practical, hands-on experience of Agendashift, the wholehearted outcome-oriented, engagement model.

All the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. We have a quorum already but the more the merrier.

Updates to Celebration-5W

There is a new version 4 deck for our workshop kickoff exercise, Celebration-5W. Like most of our exercises, games, templates etc it is Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA) and you can obtain it via its resource page agendashift.com/celebration-5w.

The main changes:

  • I’ve tweaked a key slide – see the image below – to suggest some initial iteration between When and What; the discussion (if not its later presentation) begins here
  • Unhiding the initial slides for facilitators – they weren’t showing up in Dropbox
  • In those initial slides for facilitators, the quote from Agendashift is now from the pending 2nd edition (more on that in a moment)

celebration-5w-2020-10-30

Progress on the 2nd edition

A couple of blog posts this month flow from (among other things) work on the 2nd edition of Agendashift:

From the second of those, nearly 3 weeks old now:

I’ll be pulling out all the stops, integrating (as Agendashift has done consistently for a long time) ideas and experience from Lean-Agile, organisation development, and strategy

Glad to report that this work on the 5th and final chapter is not only well underway, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now! Just a few more sections and I’ll have a first complete draft and I’ll be at the “90% done and still half the work to do” stage. I’m not quoting dates yet but quarter 1 of 2021 seems very doable.

Top posts

Recent:

Classic:


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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

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


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