Open sourcing our Discovery exercise, Celebration-5W

Here’s how chapter 1 of the Agendashift book opens:

Picture the scene: It’s some months from now, and you’re celebrating! Isn’t it wonderful to see everyone together like this? And you deserve it: over this period, you, your teams, and your entire organisation have achieved far more than anyone would have thought possible. You dared to aim high, and still you smashed it!

What makes this celebration so special? We’re going to explore that via some time travel and the classic journalistic questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why, otherwise known as the five W’s.

Most Agendashift workshops kick off with this simple time-travelling and context-setting exercise – the first of four Discovery exercises – and now we’ve open-sourced it. Head over to the Celebration-5W page for more information, including a preview of the slides, a video, download information, and related tools and exercises.

The small print:

Celebration-5W is copyright © 2018-2018 Agendashift (a trading name of Positive Incline Ltd). Celebration-5W by Mike Burrows of Positive Incline Ltd is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.

We warmly encourage customisations, adaptations, translations, etc to be made and shared. It seems however that not everyone gets how Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (aka CC-BY-SA) is meant to work, so I’ve added a guidance slide to the deck.

If you have questions, drop me a line or (better) go to channel #workshops in the Agendashift Slack. There are several people there who have facilitated this exercise before. I have used it dozens of times.

Enjoy Celebration-5W!

Screenshot 2018-12-11 13.40.42.png


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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.


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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.


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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…

True North, tweaked – and a couple more classic posts restored

At last week’s workshop there was a brief discussion on whether the last line of the Agendashift True North – the focus of one of my favourite workshop exercises – should make explicit reference not just to needs, but to “individual needs, corporate needs, societal needs” (or something similar). These have long been in my mind as a result of my several explorations into Servant Leadership – clearly I did not stop at the neutered, team-centric version typically taught in Agile circles.

Through our discussions in Slack and LinkedIn, the more it become clear that change was justified, but not the one I proposed. Here’s that line:

Needs anticipated, met at just at the right time

A conversation with Damian Crawford quickly convinced me to leave this line alone. As currently written, this line includes a range of needs that that hadn’t necessarily occurred to me, and we concluded that it would be unfortunate to exclude them. All it takes to dig deeper here is a simple question (thanks again Damian for asking this Clean-style):

What kind of needs anticipated?

A comment from Vincent van der Lubbe meanwhile reminded me that even whole organisations don’t live in a vacuum, and we turned to this line:

Individuals, teams, between teams, across the organisation

Very easily fixed:

Individuals, teams, between teams, across the organisation, and beyond

Scaling, anyone?

In full, from agendashift.com/true-north, where I’ve updated both the image and the text:

true-north-2018-02-13

Needs anticipated

That last line also attracted comment in relation to the phrase “Needs anticipated”. I dug out a relevant quote from Kanban from the Inside (published 2014) and it was nice to remind myself to find that I’ve been been banging the drum for needs and anticipation since 2013 if not earlier. Today I restored these two classic posts from positiveincline.com (explaining the sudden flurry if you’re an email subscriber!):

Enjoy those blasts from the past!


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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…

Featureban 2.2 (and a special offer)

For the uninitiated, Featureban is our simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

There were already some minor updates pending, but the biggest change was inspired by an exercise described in the first chapter of the new book Practical Kanban by my friend Klaus Leopold. With the board full of work-in-progress (WIP), how long will it take to clear it? Or in other words, roughly how long will the next piece of work take, assuming it’s of normal priority and doesn’t get to jump over everything else?

The price of Klaus’s book goes up with each completed chapter, but he has kindly given us a coupon that fixes the price at just $4 until the end of May. Grab yours here:

Changes

  • Hidden slides for the reference of the facilitator are now clearly marked as such
  • Clarified the wording of the pairing rule
  • New ‘Take Stock’ slides at the end of iterations 1 & 2, the review of WIP described above
  • ‘Cleaned up’ the debrief slides
    • What was that like?
    • Then what happens?
    • What just happened?
  • The ‘By the same author’ slide now includes the Agendashift book
  • Added a final slide with a link to Okaloa Flowlab, a fully productionised simulation game and workshop initially inspired by Featureban, by my friends Patrick Steyaert and Arlette Vercammen

See also


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A sixth question for our cue cards

Registered users of our cue cards received an update a few days ago – we’ve added a sixth Clean Language question.

Screenshot 2017-04-03 18.09.15
The six clean questions of the v2 card

The new question is the one at the bottom of the card: Is there a relationship between X and Y?

As with all the Clean questions, the coach (or the player in the coaching role in our game 15-minute FOTO) replaces any placeholders (the X and Y here) with words or phrases previously spoken by the client (or player in that role). Both in the game and in Clean Language generally, the coach’s job isn’t to offer/impose advice, but to help the client explore some landscape and build up some kind of model of it.

In 15-minute FOTO (the FOTO standing for “From Obstacles To Outcomes”), that landscape consists initially of goals and obstacles to those goals. Then comes the chance to discover outcomes hiding behind those obstacles, more outcomes behind those outcomes, outcomes that are more abstract or more specific, intermediate outcomes (stepping stones), and so on.

Technically, these outcomes are the raw material from which maps (plans), options, and then actions are generated. In this regard they’re a great unit of currency, as they don’t force us to choose (or prescribe) solutions too early. It’s worth spelling out also that they describe things that we want; instead of worrying about buy-in for change, we start with it!

If you’ve read the preview chapter you’ll remember a description of the game but not this new question. This isn’t an oversight. It is saved for chapter 2, Exploration, where it provides the opportunity for connections to be explored between the outcomes generated after debriefing the Agendashift survey and the goals and other high level outcomes captured during Discovery (chapter 1, the preview chapter).

Health warning

  • Is there a relationship between X and Y?

One reason for delaying this question’s introduction is that it might be asked judgmentally, breaking the flow of the game (or worse). It is better introduced second time around, when players already have a good feel for how the questions work.

Get yours

Both of these free resources (and more) are available via  www.agendshift.com/resources:

  • A PDF of the cue cards (I get mine printed on satin card, A5 size)
  • The preview chapter of the book (PDF also); this includes a description of the 15-minute FOTO game

Questions? Comments? Discuss this post right here, in our LinkedIn group, or in the #cleanlanguage channel in our Slack community. Or just drop me a line.


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Free preview: Read the introduction and first chapter of the forthcoming Agendashift book

[Update: The completed book is of course now available here]

It’s taking shape – Agendashift: clean conversations, coherent collaboration, continuous transformation.  Part 1 – “Facilitating the transformation process” – is due out by the summer [Update: it’s out now, at the above link]. Meanwhile, you can request a free PDF containing the introduction and first chapter, Discovery.

agendashift-cover-mid

You’ll definitely want to read this book if any of these apply to you:

  • You’re dissatisfied (if that’s a strong enough word) with transformation approaches that seem either disrespectful or feeble
  • You’d like to see what a 21st century change management approach can look like, and how that might inform your work as coach, consultant, or some other kind of change agent
  • You’ve an interest – whether as a practitioner or potential sponsor – in Lean-Agile change (perhaps under the banner of “Agile transformation” or similar)
  • You’d love to see a model for Lean-Agile change that reflects Lean-Agile values and demonstrates Lean-Agile process and thinking in operation

Also, check out the related Resources page. Find out how to obtain:

  • Cue cards for our Clean Language game 15-Minute FOTO, a description of which is included in chapter 1 (the preview chapter)
  • The Agendashift values-based delivery assessment, described in chapter 2
  • Our white paper 6+1 Essential strategies for successful Lean-Agile transformation (referred to in chapter 3) and the related video Servant Leadership un-neutered
  • The Agendashift A3 template, referred to in chapter 4
  • Featureban, our Creative Commons-licensed simulation game (not referred to in the book, but it’s still great!)

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