Why the Agendashift 2nd edition? What happened?

In case you missed it:

What happened since 2018 and the 1st edition? Quite a lot actually!

Engagement models happened

It may seem a bit daft to say that one of the things that happened was the foreword to the 1st edition, but it’s true! Daniel Mezick’s use of the term engagement model (a term I hadn’t used) was a gift. It gives us a constructive and generative name for “change through means other than imposition”, it creates an identity for a category distinct from those linear models of change management, and I’ve come to appreciate the distance and differentiation that this affords. To quote from the book:

You can’t upgrade your organisation like you’re upgrading your email server!

The 2nd edition gains a foreword from Pia-Maria Thorén. So glad to make that connection with HR community! Time will tell where that will lead, somewhere good I’m sure.

Lots of small and not-so-small improvements happened

To name just a few:

Patterns happened

The “Agendashift as a river” poster is gone (hands up on that one, it was a mistake). In its place, the figure-of-8 framework picture, with Agendashift’s two main patterns for each loop and the Agenda for Change at their intersection:

Framework image

Chapters 1 & 2 each provide a demonstration of the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO) pattern. The pattern is discussed in relation to other coaching models and leadership routines – GROW, Toyota Kata etc, and it creates the opportunity for the now much more developed Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR) to be introduced much earlier in the book.

By chapter 3 (the Mapping chapter), the Agenda for Change is already well established and much better defined than it was in the 1st edition. It is one of the most-changed chapters, now describing the well-tested string of three mapping exercises practiced since early 2019:

  1. Option Approach Mapping – Cynefin Four Points with outcomes and under a pseudonym (it’s better that way)
  2. Option Relationship Mapping – Karl Scotland and Liz Keogh’s Cynefin-inspired brilliant reworking of Wardley Mapping designed to work with outcomes
  3. Pathway Mapping – ‘Transformation Mapping’ in the 1st edition, Story Mapping with outcomes

I wouldn’t describe either Mapping or the Agenda for Change as patterns but certainly there are patterns in that chapter – describing the three exercises together really helped me see those and I think they will be helpful to facilitators of these and similar exercises.

Chapter 3 is also the launchpad for the Right to Left Strategy Deployment pattern, making it the pivotal chapter. It changes the perspective of chapter 4 (Elaboration) quite noticeably, and chapter 5 (Operation) is completely rewritten. Before that, a smaller pattern, Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method (2MBM), which goes with improvements to the ideation part of chapter 4 (Elaboration).

Covid-19 happened

Let me just quote the Introduction (like chapter 5 this was rewritten from scratch):

Finally, Covid-19 happened. I have a vulnerable family member, and by the time lockdown was formalised in the UK I was already in self-imposed quarantine after a trip abroad. I realised very quickly that my globetrotting days were done and that I had to make a strategic shift online. I found that the change of platform helped me see the material through fresh eyes, and I have been glad of the opportunity to collaborate and experiment rapidly with others. We’re determined to deliver the best possible online experience and this new 2nd edition benefits significantly from what we’ve learned through this extraordinary time.

Stepping back from those technical improvements and personal challenges, it has never been clearer that strategy and ways of working are matters of urgency, and that they need to be tackled in an integrated and, dare I say, wholehearted, way. As the world shifts online, so customer relationships change (and as I observed in Right to Left, so increases the opportunity to learn from them). Meanwhile, the need for individuals and teams to connect both to purpose and to each other becomes critical. The alternative – irrelevance, fragmentation, and alienation – hardly bears thinking about. If instead I could bottle some of the best experiences in our progress since the 1st edition – special moments in workshops, client engagements, community and cross-community events, and smaller, purposeful collaborations – well I’d be a happy man indeed.

Right to Left happened, and Dialogic/Generative OD happened

Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile, my 2019 book and 2020 audiobook gave rise to the 1-liner for our mission, “We’re in the business of building wholehearted organisations”.

Right from the earliest days of wholehearted I’ve taken great care not to spoil the generative quality of the word by over-defining it. Nevertheless, chapter 5 does give some shape to the wholehearted organisation via Bushe & Marshak’s Dialogic Organisation Development (2015) (see this 2019 post on my initial encounter with it), the Generative Change Model as described in Bushe’s The Dynamics of Generative Change (2019), and – continuing a journey started in Right to Left –  Stafford Beer’s classic Viable System Model (VSM). Two strikingly different bodies of knowledge there but they work wonderfully well together in a vision of the organisation in which strategy, organisation development, and delivery are integrated through participation. Key quote:

It’s a funny kind of autonomy when strategy is something that happens to you

Right to Left is the also the source of two key elements of chapter 5, the Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR) and the Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR), the latter introduced in chapter 2 as previously mentioned. In the 1st edition they were only hinted at; I developed them properly in Right to Left. For the 2nd edition I didn’t want to just rehash that material though and so it extracts from them a number of lessons of organisation design and leadership. Clue: the Who’s invited? question is asked three times in chapter 5 alone.

And so to the new chapter 6, Up and down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation. This was very nearly just an appendix – a reconciliation between Agendashift and VSM – but it grew! Its name is inspired by Kegan & Lahey’s Deliberately Developmental Organisation (see An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, 2016), which despite my sometimes outspoken aversion to staged development models, maturity models, etc integrates really nicely.

This has been a very rewarding process. We’ve established some deep foundations, learned a lot, tweaked the language a bit, and found that we could say something both challenging and constructive about scale. And nothing broke!

And out of it, something new that might be substantial enough to enjoy a life of its own:

deliberately-adaptive-image

The lines between Agendashift and the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation are perhaps a little blurry but I don’t mind that. If now we’re in the business of building wholehearted and deliberately adaptive organisations, Agendashift is how that happens, ‘wholehearted and deliberately adaptive’ describes what we’re aiming for, and any blurriness is a function of that mission’s internal consistency. I find that rather satisfying.

So yes, quite a lot happened since 2018. Be in no doubt, the 2nd edition of Agendashift: outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation is a big update. It’s available here:

An ePub edition is imminent also – expect to find it very soon on Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and elsewhere.

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


Upcoming workshops

The long-promised Deep Dive for the Americas is in the calendar at last and we’ve added a shorter Leading with Outcomes for APAC also:


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The Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR)

oi-sdr-slide-2020-11-07

It’s something of a work in progress but I have given the Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR) its own page now, agendashift.com/oi-sdr, its content Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA). It’s long overdue – the OI-SDR was introduced in the 1st edition of Agendashift (2018), described more fully (with a case study) in chapter 5 of the  Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019, audiobook 2020) and it will be revisited big time in the Agendashift 2nd edition due early 2021.

I don’t want to give too much away just yet but you can expect the second edition to be a lot stronger on questions of organisation, leadership, and (self-)governance than the first, and the OI-SDR is a key part of that (moreso than might be obvious at first glance). Meanwhile, there’s plenty in Right to Left if you haven’t already read that or listened to it, and the Deep Dive workshop – see Upcoming workshops below.

Related

Upcoming workshops

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.


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Agendashift roundup, October 2019

In this edition: Berlin; Working at the intersection / a monster post on SAFe; Right to Left; Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO; Upcoming workshops – Berlin, Oslo, Malmö, and online; Top posts

Berlin

I have a free day in Berlin today, arriving a day early to avoid travelling on what threatened to be Brexit day before a private workshop tomorrow. That workshop is actually the first of three November engagements in Berlin, with a 2-day Advanced Agendashift workshop and (through happy coincidence) the Open Leadership Symposium:

I keep saying it and I will say it again:

  • The Berlin workshop consistently delivers – not just a full house and a great experience, but a reliable source of great feedback and new ideas. Thank you Leanovate not just for hosting but for participating
  • The inaugural Open Leadership Symposium in Boston last May was a key coming together of multiple communities and it launched a new one. I have high expectations of the Berlin event, which takes place on the 19th with a selection of masterclasses on the 18th & 20th. If you’re thinking of coming to the main event, ping me for a chunky discount code (big enough to make a real difference, so don’t miss out!).

Working at the intersection / a monster post on SAFe

This was just a quick picture posted to LinkedIn and Twitter, but it has struck a chord with many people and it has already established itself as a way to introduce both myself and the communities I participate in. You’ll see some of the language reflected on the Agendashift site, the partner programme page most especially.

Who/where we are on one slide: People working at the intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development – bringing balance & perspective, focus on needs & outcomes, helping each other up their game in new areas

working at the intersection

That picture is a good scene-setter to a post that within 36 hours was my most-read post of the year:

Also doing well is a Kanban-related post:

And I can only apologise for this related tweet 😉:

Right to Left

Thank you Paul and Justyna! Two podcasts for the price of one, a book review and an interview:

After a long delay, Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile is at last available in EPUB format. That means you can download it as an ebook from more online booksellers, including Apple Books, Google Play Books, and Kobo – just search “Right to Left Mike Burrows”.

There were two more 5 star reviews on Amazon UK this month (thank you!), making eight so far. We’re still waiting for the first one on Amazon US though, so who will be first?

Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO

Some news about three of our Creative Commons-licensed resources.

Changeban 1.3 is now the recommended version (it was in beta until properly tested). I’ll be making the equivalent changes to Featureban before making a separate announcement. Also, their respective Slack channels have merged into one, #featureban-changeban.

The updated 15-minute FOTO cue card is definitely an improvement and it too is out of beta. A new ‘Lite’ (gentle introduction) version of the game has been through a number of iterations and we’ll announce it soon. It’s available to try if you know where to look! Slack channel #cleanlanguage, and it’s enabling some new #workshops (we’ll announce those properly soon too).

Upcoming workshops – Berlin, Oslo, Malmö, and online

Top posts


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Agendashift roundup, May 2019

In this edition: Martin, this one’s for you; Two kinds of organisation development (OD); Featureban and Changeban; Upcoming workshops – Stockholm, Berlin, and online; Top posts

Martin, this one’s for you

This month the Lean-Agile community mourned the sudden and tragic loss of Martin Burns, a friend to many. My tribute, with links to several others – all of which well worth reading – is here:

Right to Left

Everything crossed, Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile comes out next month (sorry, I can’t give an exact date yet). Watch out for a Q&A with Ben Linders on InfoQ soon, always a pleasure!

Two kinds of organisation development (OD)

“So many books, so little time” (Pliny the Younger or Frank Zappa – take your pick). I began the month with a book I wish I had known about soon enough to reference in Agendashift, Bushe & Marshak’s Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change. In a highly encouraging way it had a profound effect on me and continues to do so; read my initial thoughts and then some practical follow-through in these two posts:

Featureban and Changeban

For months I’ve been promising a big update to Featureban, a Kanban simulation game that is used around the world and remains one of my most popular downloads. Not only do I now have a 3.0 beta version that I’ll be playing next week and releasing soon, we’ve tested some improvements too in Changeban (see below a photo from Berlin last week) that benefit both games. So watch out for an announcement, both here on the blog and in your inbox if you’re a registered user of either game.

2019-05-23 13.28.28-1.jpg

Meanwhile, we have at last a video for Changeban (thank you Steven Mackenzie for producing it), announcement here:

Upcoming workshops – Stockholm, Berlin, and online

Watch this space for autumn dates in Greece, Turkey, London, and the Benelux region.

Top posts

Recent:

  1. Martin, this one’s for you
  2. What kind of Organisational Development (OD)? (And a book recommendation)
  3. A video for Changeban (and related: what’s in store for Featureban)
  4. Takeaways from Boston and Berlin
  5. Needs-based, outcome-oriented, continuous, open

Older:

  1. ‘Right to Left’ works for Scrum too (July 2018)
  2. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down(June 2018)
  3. Stringing it together with Reverse Wardley (February 2019)

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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…

 

What kind of Organisational Development (OD)? (And a book recommendation)

both-kinds.png

Mind slightly blown, I discover that organisation development (OD) divides into two schools of thought. Or more accurately, that a crucial aspect of organisation development may have been hiding in plain sight for decades. The two ‘schools’ (if for the moment I can refer to them that way) are diagnostic OD and dialogic ODThey are not in fact mutually exclusive – it’s this that allowed one to hide with the other – but for the purposes of explanation let me begin by describing two ends of an OD spectrum.

Diagnostic OD

At the “extreme diagnostic” end of the spectrum, the OD practitioner (here very much playing the role of the expert consultant) thinks and works like this:

  • According to the practitioner and in all likelihood the sponsor (the latter chooses the former after all), your organisation is best understood by some dominant metaphor: as a machine, an organism, an ecosystem, or a system of autonomous agents (the ‘agents’ being ‘people’ and groups thereof)
  • Accordingly, the task is to diagnose a problem and to prescribe (and perhaps implement) a fix, a cure, a conservation measure, or some reprogramming

Only a short distance beyond that extreme lies dysfunction:

  • Ivory tower diagnosis – lacking in empathy and respect, characterised by dismissiveness and judgementalism – or fake diagnosis whose main purpose is to establish the absence of some fashionable solution (see also snake oil merchants) and perhaps induce an inauthentic sense of urgency (burning platforms and the like)
  • Inviting failure by approaching adaptive challenges as though they are mere technical problems, fixable through linear, step-by-step processes (hey, 20th century change management frameworks, I’m looking at you)

Drawing a safe distance back from that precipitous edge, we have whole systems approaches, in which the diagnosis part and increasingly the implementation part involve meaningful levels of staff participation. As much facilitator as consultant, the practitioner consciously dials down their judgemental side and dials up their curious and conversational sides instead.

What if this begins to describe what successful OD has looked like all along? Would an alternative to the diagnostic model be helpful? Enter dialogic OD.

Dialogic OD

Again for the sake of explanation, let’s put those organisational metaphors to one side and start with something more philosophical:

  • The organisation is socially constructed and the creator of meaning – brought to life, sustaining itself, and continuing to evolve through its discourse, both with itself and with the outside world
  • Change is an ongoing (ever-present) process that is never entirely under anyone’s control; the practitioner’s job is to spark and facilitate new conversations, uncover fresh expressions of meaning, and help set loose new kinds of dialogue

The idea that culture is the product of a process that no-one fully controls is an important one. No wonder that change management is hard! I first saw it spelt out that way by Edgar H. Schein [1], and referenced it in Agendashift [2]. Schein is without doubt one on the greats of OD and it seems to me a little ironic that he is so strongly identified with the diagnostic model. In fairness to him, social constructionism [3] is younger than OD; moreover he contributes a superb foreword to Bushe & Marshak’s Dialogic Organization Development [4] – an excellent book that might easily have escaped my notice without his endorsement.

Before reading Bushe & Marhak’s book and as I began to read Schein’s foreword, I couldn’t help imagining for myself what diagnostic and dialogic OD might mean. Quite naturally I wondered what Agendashift would look like in the light of those two imagined models. I jumped to the conclusion that Agendashift had elements of both: diagnostic wherever it is concerned with the present (in particular the assessment and anything concerned with current obstacles), and dialogic wherever it is concerned with the future (which it does most of the rest of the time).

My instincts weren’t completely wrong, but nevertheless as I read the book I was surprised just how strongly the dialogic model resonated with me. It turns out that Agendashift is much further along the spectrum towards fully dialogic than I anticipated. Some of the more obvious parallels:

  1. Even Agendashift’s more diagnostic tools are there not to measure or judge but to stimulate conversations whose destinations – outcomes – the facilitator can’t even guess at (certainly I don’t try). As the Solutions Focus [5] guys will tell you, the point of scaling  – which they mean in the sense of giving something a numeric score – isn’t the number, but they way that it encourages you to think.
  2. Agendashift makes extensive use of generative images, things – typically terms or phrases – that help to conjure up a diverse range of naturally-aligned responses. Our de-jargonised Lean-Agile True North statement (below) is Agendashift’s most obvious example (quite a chunky one by normal standards), but even the prompts of the assessment tool are used in that way.
  3. And of course there’s the Clean Language, mainly via our 15-minute FOTO coaching game [6], though its influence runs deeper. It’s not just that the game gives participants the opportunity to ‘model’ the organisation’s obstacles and outcomes – conversations that probably haven’t happened before – it also creates the experience of a new kind of conversation.

Slide12

With the benefit of a few days of reflection, I am over that initial surprise. Agendashift was designed as a positive response to the prescriptive approaches to Agile adoption that at their worst seem to actively embrace all the diagnostic dysfunctions I identified above. Instead of prescriptive and linear, generative. And what do we generate? Outcomes around which people can self-organise, and ideas for action and experimentation that will point the organisation in the direction of those outcomes – hence outcome-oriented change – and all of it done in a coherent way that helps to develop Lean, Agile, and Lean-Agile sensibilities rather than work against them.

That said, I am not yet over my enjoyment of this book. In fact, I’m still wondering if Agendashift could and should move even further towards the dialogic end of the spectrum. Even in the Agendashift book there are hints of what might be possible – helping organisations create their own True North statements or their own non-prescriptive assessment tools, for example. And without creating any new tools, we practitioners should perhaps be keeping a closer watch for powerful new generative images amongst the many outcomes generated by participants, using their “thematic outcomes” (a phrase that is already part of the Agendashift lexicon) not just for organising plans but as seeds for wider dialogue.

I’m even challenged (in a good way) by two alternative visions of the workshop (a large part of my work). Is an Agendashift workshop:

  1. A planning event (diagnostic), or
  2. A “container for disruption” (dialogic)?

Yes!

One thing is for sure: if ever there’s a 2nd edition of Agendashift, Bushe & Marshak’s Dialogic Organization Development will certainly be among its key references. I’ll be adding it to our recommended reading list [7] very soon.

References

[1] Organizational Culture and Leadership, Edgar H. Schein (5th edition, 2016, Wiley)
[2] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation, Mike Burrows (2018, New Generation Publishing)
[3] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructionism
[4] Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change, Gervase R. Bushe & Robert J. Marshak (2015, Berrett-Koehler Publishers)
[5] The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE , Mark McKergow and Paul Z. Jackson (2011, Nicholas Brealey International)
[6] 15-minute FOTO: agendashift.com/15-minute-foto
[7] Recommended reading: agendashift.com/recommended-reading

Acknowledgements

Thank you Mike Haber and Parag Gogate for feedback on earlier drafts of this post.


Upcoming workshops – Boston, Berlin, Oslo, and Stockholm

Watch this space for Greece, Turkey, London, the Benelux region and Scandinavia in the autumn.


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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…