It’s mashup time: Adaptive challenges accomplished at their ideal best

A quick one, based on work already informally announced and more that’s in progress:

Already shared on Slack, LinkedIn and elsewhere, but for the record:

Released a v3 of our outside-in strategy template – just a 1 word change, replacing “Objectives” (confusing in an OKR context) with “Ideal”, channeling Ackoff if you like

OI-SR template (

And while I’m channeling Ackoff, a mashup:

adaptive challenge ideal best

Watch this space for news of Wholehearted:OKR, the new 2-day workshop from which this slide comes.

The Celebration-5W here is the Who, What, Where, When & Why of the (future) celebration, the context-setting exercise with which I kick off nearly all of my workshops. CC-BY-SA. This additional slide creates the early opportunity for some references:

[1] adaptive challenge: Heifetz, via Bushe & Marshak (Dialogic Organization Development, The Dynamics of Generative Change, etc) – organisation development here embracing complexity.

[2] ideal: I’m sneaking in an early opportunity to mention Ackoff’s concept of idealized design, setting the tone before the newly-modified Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR) tool is introduced. See Re-Creating the Corporation: A Design of Organizations for the 21st Century (1999), a classic and highly recommended.

[3] When you’re ___ at your best, ___?: Dee Berridge & Caitlin Walker, via Caitlin’s book book, From Contempt to Curiosity: Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate Using Clean Language and Systemic Modelling (2014), which I reference and warmly recommend in both Agendashift and Right to Left. Clean Language is introduced in the session following, via the 15-minute FOTO exercise (also CC-BY-SA).

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Agendashift roundup, November 2019

In this edition: More new stuff; Tampa, London, Gurugram, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Oslo; Top posts

More new stuff!

November saw a couple of key announcements, and they’re related:

Impact! is a new 1-day workshop, a member of a growing family of outside-in strategy review workshops as outlined in chapter 5 of Right to Left. You can think of this one as covering the “outside” part of “outside in”, a way to get started in strategy not by focussing on existing capabilities (these come later in the full review) but on positioning with respect to customer needs.

Meanwhile, the latest update to our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO adds an introductory ‘Lite’ mode, which takes not just obstacles as input but an initial shortlist of outcomes too. For the Impact! workshop, the outcomes in question are product (or service) goals.

And there is more in the pipeline – read the next section carefully for clues 😉

Tampa, London, Gurugram, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Oslo

I’ve just reached the end of several weeks of foreign travel for both public and private engagements (training, speaking, and an intense half-day slot at a leadership offsite). Exciting though it all was, it comes as something of a relief that I’m now grounded until February!

Coming up in February and March (read on for some commentary):

A few comments on that programme…

As per the initial announcement of the Impact! workshop (see More new stuff above for the link), I’m thrilled that its first public outing will be at an Open Leadership Network event and certified by that organisation, of which I am an advisory board member. Then I’m back to the city of my birth for a repeat performance, by which time it will be been done privately – and not only by me – a number of times.

I make it to India roughly once a year, and I love it. I hope it’s not my only visit of 2020 but to be sure of participating in an Agendashift workshop in India soon, you’d be advised to take this firm opportunity.

We don’t have a page for it yet, but ahead of the Malmö workshop I’ll also be doing a meetup in Copenhagen. It’s on the way! I’ll fly into Copenhagen, do the meetup, and then take the famous Øresund/Öresund bridge by train from Denmark to Sweden.

As of today (November 29th) there is only placeholder information available about the Wholehearted:OKR workshop scheduled for Oslo. In London last week I spent a very productive afternoon with Agendashift partners Karl Scotland and Steven Mackenzie and special guest contributor Mike Haber to design it, and trust me, it will be worth the wait 🙂 Expect a more complete announcement in the next week or two.

Via its teaser curriculum page I am already receiving enquiries for private workshops. If you’re looking to kick off 2020 with some participatory strategy, do get in touch, whether it’s for this, one of our other workshops, or something custom. And don’t forget to ask about January discounts!

Top posts

  1. What I really think about SAFe
  2. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation
  3. Announcing v7 of 15-minute FOTO
  4. Announcing a brand new (but tested) workshop:
    Impact! Strategically outcome-oriented for products and services
  5. There will be caveats: Warming cautiously to OKR


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Announcing v7 of 15-minute FOTO

15-minute FOTO is our Clean Language-inspired coaching game, and version 7 of the facilitation deck is out of beta. On top of the usual minor improvements – fewer slides, better wording, that kind of thing – the big new thing is a new ‘Lite’ edition.


To understand why we’ve wanted to make changes, consider what each participant is doing when they play the game for the first time:

  • Familiarising themselves with the Clean Language questions (from the cue card if it’s an in-room workshop, from the screen if it’s online)
  • Taking turns in the role of client, coach, scribe, or observer, participating in or supporting what can be an intense 1-on-1 coaching conversation
  • Worrying about the game’s objective, which to generate and capture outcomes

That’s a lot! Instead of doing this all at once, the Lite edition starts with a familiarisation exercise, turns the conversation into one for the table group as a whole, and the objective matters only after everyone has had a chance to get comfortable with it all.

If, as happens in many of our workshops, you plan to do 15-minute FOTO twice, you can start with the Lite edition and do the classic edition the second time round.

Spoiler alert

Another motivation for this new version is that it enables new strings of exercises for new workshops. I’ll be announcing the first of those very soon, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Get the materials

Just ask here:

You’ll find a helpful Youtube video there also.

When you subscribe, you’ll be sent a link to the 15-minute FOTO Dropbox folder and you can download materials (cue card and the deck) from there. Add that folder to your own Dropbox and you’ll get all updates automatically.

Get a taste online

There are two opportunities coming soon to experience 15-minute FOTO online:

  1. One of my two sessions at the Clean Language community’s online OpenSpace event  Metaphorum 2019 on November 22nd will be on 15-minute FOTO, focussing mainly on the Lite version
  2. Comprising two 2h sessions on December 11th and 12th, my next online workshop Learning the language of outcomes will feature both editions

By the December 11th if not November 22nd, there will be a version 8 that explicitly supports online use (the classic edition already does). Consider that announced 🙂


The best place for questions about 15-minute FOTO is the #cleanlanguage channel in the Agendashift Slack.

Upcoming workshops – Berlin, Oslo, Malmö, and online

New dates for USA and UK coming soon!

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New dates for your diaries

Only 8 days since the September roundup and there’s more! Late-breaking news:

  • Online update and Lean Coffee next week (free, all welcome)
  • Open Leadership Symposium, Berlin
  • New/moved workshops, Oslo and online

Online update and Lean Coffee (free, all welcome)

Via Zoom:

There’s no need to register (but RSVP via Slack if you like); just join here:

12:30 UK time is 13:30 CET and 07:30 ET.

Open Leadership Symposium, Berlin

You may remember how excited I was by the prospect and experience of the first Open Leadership Symposium, which took place in Boston in May. Now it comes to Europe!

The Berlin event takes place on November 19th, with masterclasses the day before and after. Details here:

Note that as per the calendar below I’m doing a 2-day Advanced workshop in Berlin the week before, a prior (and regular) engagement. Symposium participants will however get a discount for the online workshop, for which the Open Leadership Network (the symposium’s organisers) are the certifying body.


Upcoming workshops: Istanbul, Berlin, Oslo, and online

New: Oslo was added only today! There’ll be a meetup (topic: Outside-in Strategy Review) on the first evening too.

Moved: Due to a combination of 1) an idiotic mistake on my part and 2) circumstances beyond my control, I needed to move the two upcoming online Agendashift workshops “Learning the Language of Outcomes”. The first of these is now rescheduled for December and I’ll be adding some 2020 dates soon.

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Agendashift roundup, September 2019

In this edition: Right to Left; Announcing two new workshops; New versions of Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO; Upcoming: London, Istanbul, Berlin, and online; Top posts

Right to Left

It is still only six weeks since Right to Left launched! This month, a series of five 5-minute interviews – thank you Matthias Tölken of the Xuviate community! Details here:


  • An epub version for Google Play, Apple, Kobo, etc is imminent
  • Yes, an audiobook is looking increasingly likely

Announcing two new workshops

By some margin, this month’s top post was about a topic of active discussion in the Agendashift Slack, namely Objectives and Key Results (OKR):

To quote that post (a thought echoed also in Helpfully subversive about frameworks):

… OKR has something in common with Agile process frameworks: how you approach the framework matters very much more than the choice of framework itself.

That places OKR very much in Agendashift territory, and I’m glad to announce a new workshop, the product of a collaboration with (among others) Agendashift partners Karl Scotland and Steven Mackenzie. It will be available for client work in the coming weeks, and there will be public workshops in the new year.

For the record, I’ve put a page up for it already, though it doesn’t say much more than I’ve said here already:

Alongside that, another new Agendashift workshop. In common with the OKR one, it doesn’t assume that the focus is necessarily on things Lean or Agile (though it is of course 100% compatible with those Lean-Agile sensibilities). This one focuses directly on products and services, not just their delivery:

I’m excited about both of these workshops. Compared to the practitioner-focussed transformation strategy workshops (excluding the Applied one, for clients), they make few assumptions about the participants and should be highly accessible. Outcome-orientation – and some strategic thinking – for everyone!

New versions of Changeban, Featureban, and 15-minute FOTO

This month I did two Advanced workshops in quick succession, Stockholm and Athens on consecutive weeks. Somehow this always seems to amplify the feedback and I’m taking the opportunity to make some changes, some impacting our open source resources.

Watch this space and the relevant Slack channels for further announcements, but in brief:

  • For Changeban and Featureban, a change to the order in which the rules are introduced, and switching the colours. I’ll be testing the first change at the Advanced workshop in London later this week and at a meetup beforehand. The second change necessitates updates to the printed cards if you’re using them (you can also use playing cards), so I’ll make two distinct releases.
  • For 15-minute FOTO, a new introductory playing mode, and some quick forays from outcome space back in to obstacle space (making it more fractal). Both changes will necessitate an update to the cue card but I’ll test it first without.

Upcoming: London, Istanbul, Berlin, and online

Top posts

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Agendashift in 12 icons

Ten days until the big one – Right to Left comes out on the 15th – but still time to squeeze in something Agendashift-related…

Count carefully! Agendashift in 12 icons:


They have a new section on the Agendashift home page and a dedicated page at, both with links to related resources.

To see them in a bit more context, check out these workshop-related pages:

Other opportunities to experience all of this for yourself this autumn: Stockholm (9-10 September), Athens (17-18 September), Istanbul (26th October), and Berlin (13-14 November).

*The early bird discount for the London workshop expires at the end of this month so grab it while you can!


  • Idea: this was one of several ideas discussed at the last Berlin workshop (writeup here, though this particular idea isn’t mentioned)
  • Produced in collaboration with Steven Mackenzie with the encouragement of Mike Haber, whose Celebration-5W template design is reflected in its icon
  • I appreciate also Teddy Zetterlund‘s input on naming of items in the third and fourth rows – I’m pleased how options emerges more clearly as a theme, with Mapping (the fourth row) bringing about the shift in perspective
  • Inspiration: Liberating Structures ( and The Noun Project (

And as you’d expect, Creative Commons. See the icons page for details.

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At last! Featureban 3.0 and Changeban 1.2

As long promised, there is now an official 3.0 version of Featureban that incorporates the best of Changeban, making it easier to facilitate and more fun to play. Changeban itself has a new version 1.2 after some weeks in beta.

For the uninitiated, Featureban is (and I quote) our simple, fun, and highly customisable kanban simulation game. Since its creation in 2014 it has been used by trainers and coaches in Lean, Agile and Kanban-related events the world over. Changeban was derived from Featureban and retains many similarities, which is how improvements to Changeban have ultimately benefited Featureban too.

Which to use?

  • Featureban if you’re teaching Kanban in a development context and/or want to teach Kanban metrics
  • Changeban for most other purposes

I don’t go out of my way to advertise Kanban training. No big drama there but I have other priorities now and there’s no shortage of people who can do it. However, being the author of a recommended book has its privileges and I do get asked from time to time! In accordance with my experience before explanation” mantra I always start any training with Featureban. I get to use Changeban rather more often these days – it’s a fixture at Advanced Agendashift workshops (see public workshop listings at the end of this announcement).

Key changes:

  • For Changeban, version 1.0 represented the completion of a transition from the use of coins as the source of variation to the use of cards instead (more on those in a moment). Featureban 3.0 does the same, with a transitional (coins or cards) version 2.3 and a classic 2.2 version (coins only) still available for old times’ sake in the Dropbox.
  • Affecting Featureban only, its biggest source of confusion has been eliminated. There is now no mention of pairing and gone are the well-intentioned but non-obvious restrictions that went with that; instead players may “help someone” (anyone!) if they’re out of other options. There is a small price to pay and it’s the reason for my hesitation to address the frustration: the flow efficiency calculation in the spreadsheet is now merely an estimate.
  • Changes to the slides to make both games quicker and easier to introduce. Changeban has improved in this regard even since the recent video! Thank you (once again) to Steven Mackenzie for the nudge and for your own experiments.
  • For practical reasons, it was a mistake on my part to distribute Featureban by sharing links to individual files. There’s now a single combined Dropbox folder with all the files (original sources, PDFs, and translations) for both games. Once you’re subscribed, you’ll always have access to the latest.


Coins are not only less ubiquitous than once they were (it’s amazing how times change), they’re fiddly to handle, and they lack the replayability of cards. Trust me, once you’ve made the switch, you won’t want to go back!

Regular playing cards work well enough but I prefer to use these printed cards with the colour-specific rules on them:

These 65mm square cards were done by Moo (advertised as square business cards). We’re very happy with the results from testing but will continue to experiment with other formats. One small niggle here: the accept/reject rule shown here at the bottom of each card applies only to Changeban; this is made clearer in the most recent sources.


Featureban was one of my earliest experiments in Creative Commons licensing, and never a moment’s regret! Both games are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Check out blog posts tagged open for more on our commitments in this area.

Subscribe! Collaborate!

Go to either Featureban or Changeban and request your combined Dropbox invite there. It’s not essential that you subscribe to the two individually – the folder is the same but feel free if you want to signal your interest in both.

And if you haven’t already, I would strongly recommend joining the #featureban and #changeban channels in the Agendashift Slack.

Upcoming Agendashift workshops
(Online, Stockholm, Athens, London, Istanbul, Berlin)

Leading change in the 21st century? You need a 21st century engagement model:

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