Agendashift roundup, August 2022

In this edition: Patterns of generative conversations; December TTT/F; (The Deliberately) Adaptive Organisation; Upcoming; Top posts

Patterns of generative conversations

Something to celebrate: This morning I delivered the manuscript for my fourth book, working title Patterns of Generative Conversations, a shortish (100-page) commission for Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak’s BMI series in dialogic organisation development. If you’ve read the Agendashift 2nd edition, it expands on the “one model to the tune of another” reconciliation I did between Agendashift and Gervase’s Generative Change Model. If you haven’t, it will be an accessible and (I’m told) energetic introduction to both. As soon as I have a publication schedule I will of course announce it here.

December TTT/F

We have a quorum for September’s Leading with Outcomes Train-the-Trainer / Facilitator, so December’s is now open. It will take place over Zoom in the evenings UK time, beginning 17:30 GMT, 12:30 ET, 09:30 PT. If that’s too late for you, the September one begins 13:00 BST (places still available), and the February one (to be opened in due course) will take place in the morning, UK time.

More information:

To go directly to the booking pages:

And don’t forget to use your discount code! 30% off for partners, 25-40% off for most Academy subscribers (according to your subscription plan), 40% off for government, non-profit, education, etc also. If you don’t have your code already, ping me.

(The Deliberately) Adaptive Organisation

August has been a strangely productive month – that’s what a diary mostly empty of meetings does for you! Over September I’ll start recording the fourth module of Leading with Outcomes, Adaptive Organisation: Business agility at every scale, and as part of my preparations, some blog posts:

There’s a book there too, my next big writing project.

The Deliberately Adaptive Organisation

Upcoming

Anytime:

Top posts

  1. Six commitments: Putting the ‘Deliberate’ into the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation
  2. Open AMA (Ask Mike Anything) sessions
  3. New! Authorised Facilitator and Trainer Programmes for Leading with Outcomes (July)
  4. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  5. What does it mean to lead in a wholehearted organisation?

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December Train-the-Trainer / Facilitator is now open

We have a quorum for September’s Leading with Outcomes TTT/F so December’s is now open. It will take place over Zoom in the evenings UK time, beginning 17:30 GMT, 12:30 ET, 09:30 PT. If that’s too late for you, the September one begins 13:00 BST (places still available), and the February one (to be opened in due course) will take place in the morning, UK time.

More information:

To go directly to the booking pages:

And don’t forget to use your discount code! 30% off for partners, 25-40% off for most Academy subscribers (according to your subscription plan), 40% off for government, non-profit, education, etc also. If you don’t have your code already, ping me.


Upcoming

Anytime:


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New! Authorised Facilitator and Trainer Programmes for Leading with Outcomes

Another milestone for Agendashift and the Agendashift Academy: the partner programme goes into sunset mode (no new signups accepted from today) and is replaced by two new programmes:

  • Authorised Leading with Outcomes Facilitator – everything you need to bring the tools of Leading with Outcomes into your workplace or practice
  • Authorised Leading with Outcomes Trainer – on top of the above, the ability to deliver certified public or private training in the Leading with Outcomes curriculum

Of the two, Facilitator corresponds most closely with the old partner programme: it provides access to the Agendashift assessment tools and to integrated workshop materials.

The Trainer programme goes significantly further in allowing something that previously was excluded, namely for Agendashift-related services to be offered explicitly as training. Moreover, it is designed to be open to innovation: trainers will be able to use Academy-provided materials as-is, customised to local needs, used with or without the Academy’s video material, packaged for cohort-based training, and so on.

You’ll find detailed information on both programmes at the link below, including dates for forthcoming Train-the-Trainer / Facilitator (TTT/F) events.

More about the Leading with Outcomes curriculum (each page except the last one has a short video):

And subscription plans:

Let me finish by thanking the existing partners and early Academy students for their support, patience, encouragement, and enthusiasm as they watch this come together. It means a lot! Thank you!


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1-day Leading with Outcomes workshop, June 20th, Europe-friendly timing

You may recall that we put public training on hold while we – Agendashift Academy – reorganised the Leading with Outcomes curriculum and launched our self-paced training offerings, but we’re back! It’s also our first full-day workshop for quite some time. It’s offered by the Swiss professional association swissICT as part of LAS Academy, a week of workshops they’re hosting in the run-up to their LAS Conference on June 23rd. Thank you to them and in particular Wolfgang Rathert for helping to make this happen.

What you need to know:

  • When: 20th June 2022, 09:30CEST (08:30BST) to 17:30CEST (16:30BST)
  • Where it is: Zoom
  • What it’s called: Inside-out Strategy: Leading with outcomes in times of change
  • What it is: Workshop-based training
  • What you’ll be doing: You’ll be doing some inside-out strategy¹ (twice in fact), and doing it Agendashift-style
  • What you’ll be learning: You’ll be learning how to put outcomes ahead of solutions², avoiding the dysfunctions that accompany traditional change management approaches
  • Prerequisites: None – we’ll cover enough of Leading with Outcomes:Foundation that no prior knowledge is necessary, and you’ll qualify for your Inside-out Strategy certificate without it³
  • Who’s it for: anyone who recognises that being a leader in a transforming organisation is difficult enough without your change management approach making things worse
  • Price: CHF690 (roughly £570 or €670), less a 10% discount when you book via the link below

¹ Inside-out: that’s strategy that starts from your internal experience and capability; we have an outside-in (customer-first) strategy track too and will discuss the two approaches together
² That’s basically who we are, outcomes-before-solutions people
³ We won’t be doing that often – the opportunity was just too good to miss

Use the link below to claim a 10% discount:


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Agendashift Academy has a community on Circle

For students and supporters of the Agendashift Academy (“Leadership and strategy in the transforming organisation”) there is now a community on Circle. Regardless of your role or level of seniority, if by any definition you’re a leader in a transforming organisation, you aspire to be one, or you support others in that, then you are most welcome.

Currently, it has two main areas (we’re calling them ‘circles’, each with their own more topic-specific  spaces within them):

  1. The Welcome circle is open to all logged-in users, a shared space for public Announcements and Public Events, also Member guidelines (please read) and the latest progress on Curriculum development. If you’d like to invite interested colleagues to this shared space you are welcome to use this link.
  2. The Foundation circle is a private, invitation-only space for students of Leading with Outcomes: Foundation. Invitation is automatic on signing up to the course, and every post in the course invites community commenting – you can do it without leaving the course but naturally you’ll want to join the conversation afterwards 🙂

Over the course of 2022, the three tracks of the Leading with Outcomes curriculum will get their own circles, as will members of the Academy’s affiliate programme and training community.

For mobile users on iOS there’s an app for Circle, this community’s host platform. Highly recommended! We’re told that an Android app is in the pipeline.

Should I join?

The new Circle-based community doesn’t replace the LinkedIn group or our Slack community – audiences overlap but they’re not the same. It is primarily for Agendashift Academy students and (soon) for other kinds of participants, but if for whatever reason, you’re interested in seeing how the Academy develops content-wise or ecosystem-wise, you’d be most welcome. Join here.

If you sign up for any Agendashift Academy training you’ll be invited automatically and added to the relevant private space. Currently that means the Foundation space for students of Leading with Outcomes: Foundation. If by any definition you could describe as a leader in a transforming organisation, you aspire to that, or you support others in that unique challenge, then it’s for you! Two and a half hours of bite-sized video content and 18 short exercises – great value at €99.

The next two Leading with Outcomes modules – one self-paced, one workshop – will be announced soon. They’re from the same track and you’ll be able to take them separately or together. The Foundation module will be a prerequisite for both.


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Out of beta, Leading with Outcomes: Foundation goes fully live today

Too many organisations are habitually and perpetually distracted by solutions – often clumsy and inadequate solutions, solutions aimed at problems of little relevance to the business’s real challenges. Those solutions rarely live up to expectations, but still the organisation keeps paying the price – the pain of implementation and the business cost of all that distraction. What an expensive habit!

Up and down successfully transforming organisations, leaders in all kinds of roles have broken that habit. They know to lead not with solutions but with outcomes, inviting and sustaining engagement on what the organisation needs to achieve and on what it needs to become. And they have learned to keep those objectives integrated and relevant as things change and understanding evolves, a process that’s happening continuously at every level of organisation.

So if you’re a leader in a transforming organisation, whatever your level of experience, whatever your role, whatever your scope – team, team-of-teams, or something much bigger – Leading with Outcomes: Foundation is for you.

Yes, it’s here at last! It took a little longer than expected, but we leave beta proud of what we have created. If you participated in that beta, thank you!

certificate-079mZeQ-07RXRNG-1920-1080

What to expect

  • In bite-sized chunks – we take “self-paced” seriously – nearly two and a half hours of video instruction, no video more than a few minutes long
  • Four “chapters”:
    1. Inside-out strategy: Fit for maximum impact – the biggest chapter, as it introduces the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes structure, Agendashift’s IdOO (“I do”) pattern
    2. Outside-in strategy: Positioned for success
    3. Adaptive Organisation: Business agility at every scale
    4. Innovating for performance: Ideation, experimentation, and feedback
  • Over the course of those four chapters, 18 exercises taking you through that process
  • A student workbook in a choice of convenient formats
  • A student community where you can ask questions, share insights, and meet other leaders

All of it is designed for leaders at every level of organisation. Whatever your level of experience or authority, whether you’re a leader in a team, a team-of-teams, or the whole enterprise, you’ll find it relatable, fresh, and with just the right level of challenge. All for €99!

What’s new

What makes Leading with Outcomes: Foundation different to anything we’ve done before:

  • Our audience, “leaders in transforming organisations”, a description we hope many will be able to relate to, likewise the Agendashift Academy’s new strapline, “Leadership and strategy in the transforming organisation”
  • Compared to our workshops, it is unequivocally a training product, designed and delivered as such

To that first point, my empathy towards leaders in transforming organisations is very real, because I’ve been there myself. During the banking crisis I led a global department that found itself uncomfortably close to the centre of the storm. I’ve been a CTO in a startup, looking for its exit, needing to transform itself in the process. I’ve had hands-on leadership roles in two government digital transformations and advised others, much of that at the kind of scale that kept me in mind of what it was like to lead teams or to manage managers for the first time. More recently, it seems that Agendashift, its community, and its ecosystem are constantly evolving – something I’m glad about and a different kind of leadership responsibility perhaps, but still I feel it.

That second, training-related point is important too. Up to now, Agendashift has been largely a workshop-based product. But many workshops – including some very enjoyable and productive ones – should not be understood as training. The Leading with Outcomes curriculum will of course include the workshops for which we are best known, but LwO:Foundation is designed from the ground up as training. Its primary goal is clear: it is to greatly increase the number of leaders at all levels of experience and authority who are equipped to participate thoughtfully and effectively in the processes of strategy and transformation. Helping leaders increase their impact is how we increase ours.

What stays the same

What stays the same is the question:

What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

At a minimum, Leading with Outcomes: Foundation demonstrates the practicality of an outcome-oriented approach, all students having the opportunity to practice some basic strategy development themselves (and no, that is not above anyone’s pay grade, nor a job only for specialists). We hope that this will whet the appetite to develop fluency in the language of outcomes, whether that’s to enhance their leadership skills at their place of work or to support others.

What’s in store

After the LwO:Foundation prerequisite, Leading with Outcomes branches out into three tracks:

  1. Inside-out strategy – working on the experience and capability of the organisation (or your unit thereof), creating new possibilities, gaining fluency in the language of outcomes
  2. Outside-in strategy – keeping your organisation/unit well positioned in its business environment, meeting strategic needs, creating the right perceptions, developing product offerings, building a platform, creating advantage
  3. Adaptive organisation – helping the organisation become the organisation it needs to become, addressing its imbalances, disconnects, and other structural issues within and between levels, developing its people, and accelerating its learning

Each has modules in two formats, study (self-paced or classroom-based) and experiential (the workshops, in other words). As with Foundation, nothing is only for specialists; nothing is above (or below) anyone’s pay grade. Always, we start with the context that matters, yours.

The tracks will roll out in the above sequence over the course of 2022. Once they’re all in place, you’ll be able to take modules in whichever order suits you best. They will feature some of our best-known tools: Celebration-5W, 15-minute FOTO, the Agendashift Delivery Assessment, the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation Assessment, multiple mapping tools, Changeban, and more. The dual-format approach of each track means that you’ll have the opportunity both to experience these tools as a participant and to understand them from a more expert perspective.

What does it mean for Agendashift’s practitioner community?

Many in the Agendashift community are practitioners – consultants, coaches, facilitators, trainers, and so on. What does Leading with Outcomes mean for them?

Honestly, it is early days, and for me, 2022 will be dominated by the development of the three tracks. We don’t have all the details defined yet but we are making it possible to participate in more ways:

  1. Participating in the same training that your clients will take
  2. Participating economically as an affiliate
  3. Participating as a connector of communities
  4. Delivering certifiable training and/or workshops yourself

The first two of those options exist from day 1, with generous discounts/commissions for affiliates. The third option however isn’t yet well defined at all, and developing the pathway to the last one is a significant piece of work in its own right. We do know though that there is significant appetite already, and we are very open to working with others. With the right participation, perhaps it will come together sooner rather than later.

Let’s do this

Sign up today to Leading with Outcomes: Foundation. And bring your colleagues!

If you need to explore with us what it might mean to bring Foundation, the Leading with Outcomes curriculum or parts thereof into your organisation – perhaps as part of your leadership development or organisation development programme – don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us via support@agendashift.academy, the Agendashift contact page,  or you can contact me directly at mike@agendashift.com. Likewise if you see yourself participating in some of the other ways I have described – there is plenty of opportunity there!


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Celebration-5W version 6, “your next big breakthrough”

Agendashift is founded on one simple but radical idea: authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes as the basis for change. If there’s a stronger foundation for the kind of change where engagement, collaboration, and innovation are key – any interesting kind of change, in other words – I have yet to find it.

Accepting that authentic agreement is unlikely without some kind of conversation, where do those conversations start? One tried-and-tested place is Celebration-5W, our context-capturing workshop kickoff exercise. It’s not the only available starting point, but it is certainly a reliable one. It’s a time travel exercise with a simple premise: we use the journalistic Five Ws – Who, What, Where, When, and Why – to report on a celebration that will take place some time from now. The exercise is usually done in small groups, with outputs compared in a debrief afterwards.

In version 6 I’ve made a couple of small changes to align the materials with how I already introduce and facilitate it:

  1. Under What, “your next big breakthrough”. This is a deliberate nudge away from the thinking that we must wait for the end of a project. For a while in my patter I would say things like “your next big piece of learning” but that’s too abstract for this early stage in proceedings and not nearly as engaging.
  2. Under When, I inserted “business-relevant” to make a “significant and business-relevant challenge”.  An obvious enough tweak, but I have always stressed that it’s not good enough to celebrate something specific to (say) Agile practitioners without making its business relevance very clear. Better indeed to start with something recognisably business-related and work backwards from there. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to do an Agendashift workshop without mentioning the A word at all and I make no apologies for that.

Celebration-5W-slide-2021-08-v6

As per the tip highlighted middle right on the above slide, the two affected W’s together represent a good place to start the exercise. The trick is to iterate between the What (top right in Mike Haber’s nice template) and the When (bottom right) until you have a scope that seems to work. We recommend a timeframe measured in months, long enough for there to be some real challenge remaining but not so long that it risks becoming just an aspiration or someone else’s problem.

Your next big breakthrough

What if workshop exercises aren’t your thing or if now’s not the time? Fair enough! A little mental/paper exercise for you:

  • What is the next big (multi-month, significant, and business-relevant) breakthrough that you would like to be celebrating?
  • Where do you think that breakthrough will come from?
  • Were you to ask those questions of your colleagues, how do you think they would answer?
  • How would their Five Ws compare to each other’s and to yours?

Be honest now! Answers aren’t going to be identical, but you do want them to be coherent. If they are not, you have a problem, perhaps even the seeds of real crisis (I do not exaggerate – we’ve seen it firsthand). Of course it’s not normally as bad as that, but incoherence, misalignment, or complacency are hardly trivial issues either. One way or another, it’s time to get together and start creating some shared context.

Celebration-5W is one of the first exercises in our self-paced online training Leading with Outcomes. It represents just one of multiple opportunities for you to engage with questions of transformational leadership and with a range of tools specifically designed for productive conversations in the language of outcomes. Whether you’re a manager or a practitioner, we’re confident that it will help you be a better leader. Could it be where your next personal breakthrough comes from?

Related resources


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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What do I mean by ‘generative pattern’?

That question came up recently in our weekly #community Zoom and again afterwards so I thought it would make sense to write it up here. I have two possible definitions, but before I get to those, some lower-level building blocks:

  • Generative and generative process: Generative has two meanings, (i) capable of creating something, or (ii) something with finite rules that when applied repeatedly can produce things of arbitrary complexity (for example the production of language from the rules of grammar; computer-generated art or music). Both of these meanings have some relevance here; I use generative process when referring specifically to the second of those meanings.
  • Generative image: words or images designed both to challenge and to inspire a wide range of possible responses, usually achieved by taking care not to prescribe or otherwise over-specify, perhaps to the extent of deliberately introducing ambiguity or paradox. Two notable examples, beginning with the most famous of them all: “sustainable development” and “Agile Software Development”. Examples from Agendashift include our True North statement, “wholehearted organisations” (best left under-specified), and the assessment prompts (inspired by practice but carefully non-prescriptive); we have others. These examples are all carefully crafted well in advance but they might instead be harvested from the organisation or created through (say) a workshop exercise; one of the earliest exercises in  Gervase Bushe’s The Dynamics of Generative Change (2020) has the objective of crafting a generative purpose statement for the change initiative in question.
  • Generative question: open-ended questions that can be used in a wide range of contexts and generate a wide range of valuable but unpredictable answers, perhaps provoking some insight in the process. Examples: setup questions such as “For this ___ to be really useful for you, it will be like what?” (from Clean Setup) and menus of questions that can be used repeatedly within a generative process, for example “Why is that important?” and “What stops that?” (from Challenge Mapping), and the Clean Language questions (our Clean Language-inspired coaching game 15-minute FOTO includes 8 of the 40+ canonical questions)

Rather like the word generative, the term generative pattern could have several meanings. Literally “things that as patterns recur in different contexts and that are generative”, would do. Then there’s the more specialised, “patterns that combine in a pattern language” – think for example Christopher Alexander’s pattern language for architecture and the facilitation patterns of Liberating Structures.

Agendashift’s usage is tends to be more specific but still compatible with both of those meanings. Usually I’m referring to higher level structures into which which all of the lower-level generative elements mentioned so far can be plugged in. The design community’s double diamond would be an example of that, a recognisable pattern with applicability in a wide range of innovation contexts, within whose overarching structure a wide of generative tools can be used.

The most memorable generative pattern in Agendashift is the IdOO pattern (“I do”, for Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes) and it meets all of these definitions. It’s clearly a pattern (it’s recognisable in different contexts), it combines with other patterns (even with itself – the landscape of obstacles and outcomes is fractal), and it’s a structure into which other generative elements can be inserted:

  • Ideal: typically a reflection on a generative image and often with the aid of a setup question; sometimes it’s just a question, perhaps with the hint of a generative image embedded in it (see the Outside-in Strategy Review template for at least one example of that)
  • Obstacles: “What stops that?” as a generative question or something more elaborate, the TRIZ exercise from Liberating Structures for example
  • Outcomes: SFBT’s miracle question on its own or as a precursor to 15-minute FOTO, generative question and generative process respectively

What it does of course is keep that generative conversation moving forward in a productive direction. Unconstrained, the random walk might be enjoyable for a while but trust in the process would diminish rather quickly.

Postscript 1

It’s about time I announced the IdOO breakout generator tool. I’ve been using it in meetups for a few weeks now. It’s simple online tool to help you facilitate breakout discussions or personal reflections with the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO) pattern. These convenience links will take you to first user-facing page with an Agendashift-related challenge already configured for you:

You can also configure it to use a challenge of your own. Read the tips and gave a play!

Postscript 2

Talking of structure, while this post was already under construction I saw in a community forum this from Ian Phillips . With his permission:

…so I know a few people on here attended the MindShift Conference on ING’s. Am reflecting a bit on Jesko von den Steinen and:
  • “There is intuition in your structure.”
  • “Structure your intuition.”

Love that! It took a while for Agendashift’s patterns to crystallise out but it was well worth encouraging that process. After doing it once with the IdOO pattern (and it took much of the time between the 1st and 2nd editions of the book), it got easier. 2MBM took only hours 🙂

Related

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

agendashift.com/book (March 2021)


What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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Agendashift came of age yesterday

Yesterday was Agendashift 2021, our inaugural conference, and by all accounts it was a big success. I’m hearing words like “inspiring”, “wonderful”, and (importantly) “valuable”, and we got past 400 registrations in the limited number of weeks available for marketing it.

We can truly say now that Agendashift has a life of its own. The conference wasn’t my idea (I always saw it as something that would happen one day, not something I felt ready to instigate), and of the committee members, I was actually the least involved! A heartfelt thank you therefore to Kjell Tore Guttormsen, Andrew Jones, Karl Scotland, and Russ Lewis – outstanding work! My most sincere thanks also to our two keynote speakers Pia Maria Thorén and Gervase Bushe, all our other speakers, and our generous sponsors. So much there, so well presented, and so aligned.

Given that there were two tracks, I haven’t been able to watch every presentation yet. Two quotes of the day stood out for me though. They’re from the Agendashift and Transformation tracks respectively, the first from Dragan Jojic:

Invite people, or invite resistance

The second is from Daniel Mezick:

Agile transformations around the world are epic train wrecks

What ties the two quotes together isn’t just the idea of invitation to participation – Daniel literally (co)-wrote the book on that – but the sad fact that too much of the change industry still sees resistance as something to overcome, not the massive clue that they’re approaching transformative change completely backwards. This is of course Agendashift’s starting point, its big “what if” question and the opening of my introductory talk: What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

2021 is a year not to squander and we won’t be resting on our laurels. The 2nd edition is out, the Agendashift Academy is launched, and the first few participant are approaching the end of Leading with Outcomes, our first self-paced training. Beyond LwO we have a training roadmap not quite ready for publication but it’s already the focus of partner discussions and I’m ready at short notice to do a quick Zoom on it with any prospective partner or corporate client. There’s opportunity too for the partner programme to evolve, allowing partners to deliver a wider range of hybrid solutions with different combinations of self-paced and in-person training, integrated with hands-on client work such that it can be recognised for its developmental value. I’ve no doubt that we’ll see some some real innovation there.

If I may, let me briefly mention another conference, next week’s Lean Agile Global 2021. Not just because we’re sponsors, but because my brand new talk Up and Down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation will reveal more of where we’re headed content-wise. For some hints of what’s in store, visit deliberately-adaptive.org.

So, once again, thank you everyone who participated yesterday. A milestone moment, the day Agendashift came of age, definitely well worth being there 🙂

Agendashift 2021 May 18th Page Image

One last thank you to our sponsors:

Gold

Silver:

Bronze:


Upcoming

Listed now on the Agendashift Academy’s Store page are our scheduled workshops:

And my apologies: June’s Deep Dive workshop (Americas) must be rescheduled for family reasons.

Always now the self-paced option (and it’s a great option):

Selected appearances by Agendashift partners, me where unspecified:


What if we put authentic agreement on meaningful outcomes ahead of solutions?

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The IdOO pattern as leadership model

The IdOO pattern (below) is integral to the first two chapters of the Agendashift 2nd edition (March 2021) and also to our Leading with Outcomes and Coaching with Outcomes training (self-paced and interactive workshop respectively). It hardly seems possible that the pattern is only a year old, but this post from April last year really does seem to be my first mention of it.

agendashift-framework-overview-16x10-2020-12-07-idoo

So what is it? Well, it’s at least four things in one, demonstrating its considerable “stretchiness” in terms of the timescales involved:

  • It’s a leadership routine – three or four quick questions, some quick answers, taking just moments
  • It’s a coaching pattern – a higher-level structure to wrap around your favourite coaching tools to bring some strategic perspective – less emphasis on getting to the next commitment, more on the strategic landscape in which options will be developed
  • For facilitators, it’s the overall arc for a string of workshop exercises, whether that’s an hour’s worth or a day’s
  • For consultants, it’s a way to frame a client engagement – as helping them understand where they’d like to get to, what’s in the way of that, and what they might achieve along the way

When taken slowly enough it’s fractal: there may be obstacles in the way of any outcome, and there is always the opportunity to bootstrap the process and identify new ideals at different levels of detail.

This post relates most closely to the first of those uses, IdOO as leadership routine. Here is the IdOO mnemonic not as the structure of a conversation but as an easily-remembered leadership model:

  • Ideal – sustaining a sense of overall direction, connecting people to purpose, helping people find meaning in their work
  • Obstacles – building trust and empathy by recognising the obstacles that people face – their everyday frustrations, the “struggling moments” of actual and potential customers – everything that stands in the way of performance and success; real, relevant, and representative problems that better-designed organisations or products would alleviate
  • Outcomes – keeping at the forefront the goals around which work is organised and to which streams of work are aligned; remembering to celebrate their achievement and to focus the associated learning (both organisational and individual) to the maximum

It’s not a million miles away from my 3-point summary of Servant Leadership. Here in the last chapter of Right to Left I’m channeling Greenleaf, noting what I describe as his “masterful systems thinking”:

  1. The first responsibility of the Servant Leader is to help others to be successful – removing impediments, ensuring that basic needs are met
  2. For people to remain engaged, the Servant Leader must help others find autonomy and meaning in their work, together discovering, developing, and pursuing the organisation’s values, mission, and purpose in society
  3. For this process of transformation to be sustained indefinitely, Servant Leaders must help develop Servant Leadership in others

Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile, Mike Burrows (2019, audiobook 2020)

I wouldn’t for a moment suggest that IdOO supersedes any of that (IdOO only scratches the surface of point 3, for example), but it could be a good starting point if you find Servant Leadership hard to grapple with.

Sources

I’ve mentioned my Agendashift (2021) and Right to Left (2019) already; let me mention some other books I’ve referenced in one or both of those:

  • Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, Robert K. Greenleaf (Paulist Press, 25th Anniversary edition, 2002) – decades ahead of its time and still an inspiration; I re-read it every few years
  • The Serving Leader: Five powerful actions to transform your team, business, and community, Kenneth R. Jennings & John Stahl-Wert (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2nd edition, 2016) – a recent take on servant leadership and a tweak on the language that some will welcome; I’m grateful to Agendashift partner and Servant Leadership champion Angie Main for finding that one
  • Host: Six new roles of engagement, Mark McKergow & Helen Bailey (Solutions Books, 2014) – a change of metaphor and one that brings new insights
  • Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, L. David Marquet (Portfolio, 2013) – another great book all round; helpful advice here with regard both to obstacles (when and when not to take them away, for example) and to the learning and development aspects of the model

Not referenced but worthy additions to that list:

  • Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything, Stephen M.R. Covey (Free Press, 2006)
  • Demand-side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress, Bob Moesta (Lioncrest Publishing, 2020)

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Covey’s Speed of Trust, good stuff so far. Bob Moesta’s book fits here better than you might guess from the title; it’s a great book on Jobs to be Done, and it’s my source for the the phrase “struggling moments”.

IdOO at the the conferences

Don’t forget the Agendashift 2021 conference on May 18th – not long now! The IdOO pattern will certainly get a mention in my opening introduction (not keynote – that honour goes to Pia-Mia Thorén). And I’m thrilled that Gervase Bushe will be speaking on leadership in the closing keynote. He is the author or co-author of two of the 2nd edition’s key references, The Dynamics of Generative Change and Dialogic Organisation Development.  

Possibly a mention of IdOO in one form or another in my LAG21 talk on the 25th, trust-building being a key element of the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation (see the last couple of chapters of the Agendashift 2nd edition). Agendashift Academy is proud to sponsor that conference too.


Upcoming

Listed now on the Agendashift Academy’s Store page are our scheduled workshops:

And always now the self-paced option:

Selected appearances by Agendashift partners, me where unspecified:


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