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…

 

Martin, this one’s for you

A week ago we were trying process the impossible – the news that friend, colleague, encourager, and debating partner Martin Burns had suddenly passed away. Starting with one from Martin’s wife Lucy, here are some touching tributes:

In the light of the above it’s easy to explain my small tribute, which is to dedicate my forthcoming book Right to Left to his memory. Lucy has given her permission, and I’ve had confirmation that the dedication and a postscript can be accommodated at this late stage (it is already with the typesetter).

I have described Martin as “encourager and debating partner”. And it’s not just me – two very strong themes can be drawn from the tributes:

  1. Martin the optimist – always ready to think the best of people, “people positive”, to borrow a phrase from Aaron Dignan’s recent book
  2. Martin the principled – prepared to make a public stand for difficult causes in the face of opposition from people he continued to respect

Those weren’t two different Martins; rather he demonstrated that you could be both things at the same time. To take a notable and relevant example from his recent professional life, he supported SAFe because of what he believed it could do for people in the right context, and not to imply that it should be imposed on people (and oh how I wish that more people could separate those two concerns).

Martin was already named in the acknowledgements as a contributor to Right to Left. This was not just for his SAFe knowledge (key to a chapter on scaling, a potentially controversial chapter and one I really wanted to get right), but for confirming to me that the tension between the left-to-right (backlog-driven and implementation-focussed) and right-to-left (needs-based and outcome-oriented) perspectives manifests itself in SAFe just as it does for Scrum. Moreover, I knew him as an Agendashift supporter, an enthusiastic participant at the first ever Advanced workshop, and a valued advocate for it in his client engagements. To say that his name deserved inclusion would be an understatement.

People like Martin don’t come along every day, and it is good therefore to say thank you when they do. Martin, this one’s for you.

Martin Burns-4-square.jpeg

Agendashift roundup, April 2019

In this edition: Right to Left; London workshop; Open Leadership Symposium (Boston) & online workshops; Top posts; Upcoming workshops – Boston, Berlin, Oslo, and Stockholm

Right to Left

I’m thrilled to announce that the completed manuscript for Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile is now with the publishers. Fingers crossed it will be available for preorder early-mid June and for purchase by the end of that month. This one was 11 months in the making, and work started immediately after Agendashift; I have to say that it feels a little weird not to have a big writing project on the go any more!

As you can see from the updated cover image below, Right to Left has a foreword by John Buck, the co-author of two of the books I reference:

John describes my book as “emerging on his [ie my] focus on the needs of actual and aspiring leaders”, who should “be prepared to have some of their favourite mental models delightfully upended”. Thank you John! I predict that this “updending” will be experienced by more than a few practitioners too 🙂

cover-right-to-left-2019-04-26.001 border

London workshop

Lots of positives from the London workshop earlier this month! Highlights:

  • Mike Haber’s template for Celebration-5W is a keeper
  • The updates to the 15-minute FOTO cue card are now official (in fact the Dropbox has a more polished version contributed by Agendashift partner Steven Mackenzie)
  • Also by Steven, we’ll be announcing a video for the Changeban game shortly

Open Leadership Symposium (Boston) & online workshops

A final reminder that I’ll be in Boston for the Open Leadership Symposium and a 2-day post-conference masterclass in a couple of weeks. I would love to see you there, and not just for the first opportunity to hold a 2-day Agendashift workshop in the US! I’m not exaggerating when I say that Open Leadership and Open in general could turn out to be important themes in the coming months. I certainly hope so.

As a spinoff from Boston, I’ll be doing my first online workshops in June and July. More details here: More ‘Open’, and my first online workshops. If you’re on the mailing list you’ll already have a discount code for these.

The week after Boston I’m off to Berlin for another 2-day workshop; then in June it’s Stockholm and Oslo in quick succession. Check out the calendar of upcoming workshops below for details.

Top posts

  1. Notes from the April 2019 Advanced Agendashift workshop, London
  2. More ‘Open’, and my first online workshops
  3. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (June 2018, a prototype for a passage in the forthcoming Right to Left)
  4. Stringing it together with Reverse Wardley (February)
  5. Right to Left: a transcript of my Lean Agile Brighton talk (October 2018)

Upcoming workshops – Boston, Berlin, Oslo, and Stockholm

Watch this space for Greece, Turkey, London, and the Benelux region 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…

Notes from the April 2019 Advanced Agendashift workshop, London

Update (June 28th 2019): Over the months, the exercise referred to here by my working title Reverse Wardley has served us incredibly well. With full credit to Liz and Karl, it’s a great addition to our workshops and I love it! My name for it has proved way too nerdy for some tastes though, and after several iterations in the Agendashift Slack we may be settling on Option Visibility Mapping. If that changes, I’ll update this update! I’ve also added a new tag ‘mapping‘ to this and related posts.

Thursday and Friday last week was the 2-day Advanced Agendashift workshop in London. The quick version of my takeaways (all confirmed by the retro stickies):

  1. Mike Haber’s Celebration-5W template is a keeper
  2. The beta version of the 15-minute FOTO cue card passes muster
  3. My “Rule of Three” seems to resonate
  4. Some rejigging
  5. Excitement around “wholehearted

Also, details of the next four of these workshops – Boston, Berlin, Oslo, and Stockholm.

Mike Haber’s Celebration-5W template is a keeper

Announced only a couple of weeks ago, I would definitely recommend using Mike Haber’s template – it makes the exercise easier for everyone involved, and the output vastly more presentable. I’ve updated the Celebration-5W page to make it more prominent.

Celebration-5W-template-2019-03-v1

The beta version of the 15-minute FOTO cue card passes muster

Also announced recently but previously untested, a beta version of the 15-minute FOTO cue card is now made official:

No-one missed the old “Is there a relationship between X and Y?” question (a question that comes with health warnings) and according to the retro sticky, the new question “Where does X come from?” rocks!

My “Rule of Three” seems to resonate

I mentioned my “Rule of Three” in answer to an important question about who should be invited to internal workshops. I had already written it up for my forthcoming book Right to Left but I was encouraged to put together a page for it with an easy-to-remember url, agendashift.com/rule-of-three.

After a few iterations on the text (helped by feedback in the #right-to-left channel in Slack), here’s the key quote:

Clicking on the image or the link above you’ll find a condensed, bullet point version, and some notes that hint at what’s to come in the book.

Some rejigging

Consolidating experiments described in Stringing it together with Reverse Wardley, The Cynefin Four Points exercise moves from day 1 to day 2, the launchpad for Mapping rather than the conclusion to Exploration. It allowed me to run “my slowest ever Discovery” on day 1, and nobody minded one bit.

Update: The name “Reverse Wardley” is (as we say in the UK) “a bit Marmite”, meaning that some loved it and others hated it. Is it “way too geeky”? This was already suspected, but I still don’t have a better alternative.

Excitement around “wholehearted

Remember Towards the wholehearted organisation, outside in (May 2018)? For the evening of day 1, Steven Mackenzie (one of Right to Left‘s reviewers) suggested we held a “Lean Curry” around the topic. Here he is with his heart-shaped picture:

Before Right to Left is even published, perhaps a spinoff! Definitely one to watch.

Upcoming workshops – Boston, Berlin, Oslo, and Stockholm


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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 new template for Celebration-5W

Nicely following on from my post a few days ago on ‘Open‘, here’s a community-driven enhancement to our Creative Commons-licensed workshop kickoff exercise, Celebration-5W, in which participants capture the ‘Who, What, When, Where, and Why’ (the journalistic 5Ws) of a celebration that will take place some months from now. I use it to capture or create some shared context not just for classic Agendashift workshops, but also for my ‘outside-in’ strategy workshops (more on those coming soon in Right to Left), where a sense of timescale is very helpful.

Mike Haber took my “Clean sheet of A3, portrait mode, big bold headings down the page” and came up with something significantly better:

This is great, and not just because it looks good – it’s really clever!

The original guidance as described in the deck and in chapter 1 of the book suggests that you start with ‘When’ (How long will we need to achieve something meaningful?) and work backwards through the ‘What’ and the ‘Who’ before finishing up with the ‘Where’ (a venue that makes some kind of statement) and the ‘Why’ (the importance of not just the celebration but the whole endeavour). With Mike’s layout, this translates to “Start with the When (bottom right) and work anticlockwise” – much more elegant! For presentation purposes, it’s natural to start either top left with the ‘Who’ and work clockwise or left-right, or in the visually impactful middle with the ‘Why’.

The Celebration-5W Dropbox now includes an updated facilitation deck with instructions for both old and new layouts, also a printable template (I just bought myself an A3 printer with very much this kind of thing in mind). Request access here.

I will of course be using this new template in my upcoming workshops; Julia might too. Check out details of events in Seattle, London, Boston, Berlin, Stockholm, and Oslo below.


Upcoming Agendashift workshops

See also the recent blog post: Agendashift workshops in Seattle, London, Boston, and Berlin, which includes a detailed description of the 2-day workshop. Workshops facilitated by Mike Burrows (yours truly) unless otherwise indicated:


Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
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Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

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…

 

On the quality and nature of backlogs

From the Agendashift and Agile and Lean Software Development LinkedIn groups (the second by request):

If you’re building systems for use by humans, ploughing through backlogs of requirements  – however well they might be written – rarely delivers anything better than mediocrity. Conversely, in a high feedback environment (where ideas get tested very quickly), even apparently low-quality inputs can deliver great results, if the inputs do at least focus collaboration and innovation on the right challenges.

Not that the “upstream” folks get a free ride from me – it’s their job to ensure a ready supply of those right challenges to work on, options developed to an appropriate level of detail just-in-time. What’s “appropriate” here is highly contextual, depending as it does on the degree of uncertainty involved and the skillset of the team. Focussing on the quality of the backlog as a whole would be a mistake and not a metric I would want anyone to take seriously.

That’s taken a little out of context and there is no doubt a risk that I’ll be misunderstood, but the comment stands alone well enough I think. One thing is for sure: I completely stand by the idea that ploughing through backlogs is a recipe for mediocrity, particularly when the system under construction is mainly for use by real people. I said it before in Agendashift and I’ll be saying it again (albeit for a different audience) it in Right to Left.

As to the idea that focussing too much on the quality of the backlog can be a trap for the unwary, let me quote from the draft of Right to Left. Here we’re describing close collaboration between development and its ‘upstream’ process in a digital context where this kind of working is now very well proven:

[They] learned to stop thinking of [their ‘upstream’ process] as a phase broken down into stages with gates in between; now they understand it as managing a portfolio of options for the best possible return. The best ideas will be released quickly, perhaps even before they are fully formed – the opportunity being great enough that more eyes and hands should be involved sooner. Some ideas take longer to mature, the cost/benefit equation being sufficiently marginal that a few rounds of prototyping and user testing might save the team some wasted effort later. The least promising ideas will languish for a while before a positive decision is made to reject them. No-one mourns a rejected option; each one is a bullet dodged, waste avoided.

Focus less on the backlog itself and more on the job that it has to do!


Upcoming Agendashift workshops

See recent blog post: Agendashift workshops in Seattle, London, Boston, and Berlin

Facilitated by Mike Burrows unless otherwise indicated:

open_leadership_symposium_speaker_burrows


Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
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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…

Agendashift roundup, January 2019

A shorter and less structured roundup this month – there are a number of additions and changes to the events calendar in the pipeline and I’ll begin to announce these separately in the coming weeks. Watch out for details of 2-day Advanced workshops in the UK, the Netherlands, in Germany, Scandinavia, Greece, and the US. The last of those will be announced as a masterclass linked to an exciting new event, The Open Leadership Symposium, which takes place in Boston in May.

Right to Left

Before things get crazy again I have a quietish February in prospect and there’s every chance that I’ll have a decent draft of Right to Left done by the end of the month. I’ve been aiming for early summer for publication; dare I say late spring now? We’ll see!

To whet your appetite, the first few paragraphs of the introduction now appear on the Right to Left landing page. If you’d like to read the whole introduction, drop me a line or visit channel #right-to-left in Slack.

Changeban and Featureban

My recent trip to India plus a private workshop back in the UK has given me three more opportunities to run Changeban sessions, two of them for 50+ people at a time. Based on the experience of those larger sessions (both of which were recorded; fingers crossed we’ll be able to share at least one of them) I’ve switched around some of the introductory slides – in the ‘endgame’ part, if you’re familiar with it. If you’ve signed up to the Changeban Dropbox, look for a version 1.1 deck. Nothing fundamental, it just flows better.

I’ve still not had the chance to test Featureban with Changeban-style rules and it seems likely that others will beat me to it. When that does finally happen (and I’ll be grateful), watch out for Featureban 3.0. Until then it remains at version 2.3.

Questions? #changeban and #featureban in Slack.

Top posts

  1. My favourite Clean Language question
  2. A Grand Unification Theory for Lean-Agile?
  3. How the Leader-Leader model turns Commander’s Intent upside down (June)
  4. Right to Left: a transcript of my Lean Agile Brighton talk (October)
  5. My kind of Agile (November)

Agendashift-cover-thumbBlog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Links: Home | About | Partners | Resources | Contact | Mike
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

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…