Why the Agendashift 2nd edition? What happened?

In case you missed it:

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

Engagement models happened

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

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

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

Lots of small and not-so-small improvements happened

To name just a few:

Patterns happened

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

Framework image

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

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

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

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

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

Covid-19 happened

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

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

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

Right to Left happened, and Dialogic/Generative OD happened

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

deliberately-adaptive-image

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

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

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

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


Upcoming workshops

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


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Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting

This is the third post in what has become a series:

  1. Eating our own dog food (1/n): Our outside-in strategy review (OI-SR):
  2. Eating our own dog food (2/n): The strategy review’s assumptions
  3. Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting (this post)

From the first of those posts:

What it would be like if the Agendashift partner network was making a point of eating its own dog food (so to speak), in the powerful sense that it models a lot of what it’s like to be a wholehearteddeliberately adaptive organisation, its work happening in self-organising, self-governing circles, reviewing its strategy outside in, conducting outside-in service delivery reviews, and so on.

Yesterday we started an outside-in strategy review (OI-SR). As suspected, we didn’t get through all five questions in the limited time available, just one hour. And in my haste to get started we glossed over something important: In the question (below) for layer 1. Customer, who is there “we” here?

1. Customer: What’s happening when we’re reaching the right customers, meeting their strategic needs?

If from the preceding posts you’ve seen me explore some of the assumptions behind that question, you’ll have an idea of why I’m kicking myself! The one time I didn’t kick off with the Celebration-5W exercise was the time I most needed it…

Despite that little hiccup, some great stuff was captured for the first two layers, customer and organisation. That work was done in breakout groups (5 of them); we then had a brief whole-room discussion for Product and Platform before we ran out of time.

1. Customer

Who are those “right customers”?

  • Organisations that have the need and desire for change but not the know-how
  • Organisations that are stuck, needing clarity about their situation (framing their obstacles in ways that will help them get past them), wider perspectives, more options
  • Organisations that want to create shared awareness and from that define a way forward
  • Organisations that have suffered a bad experience of change and are looking for a better way
  • Organisations that want to adapt and innovate faster
  • Pioneers or those who have gone full circle – ready to get past the the “doing Agile” vs “being Agile” thing
  • Leaders willing to engage, organisations committed to supporting that
  • Leaders with skin in the game, taking responsibility

Their struggles:

  • Repeated attempts at change that don’t stick
  • The feeling that they have plateaued
  • Feelings of overwhelm and helplessness, no longer owners of their own destiny

Wrong customers:

  • Those unable to think beyond the linear project (not meant judgmentally – paradigm shifts are hard) 
  • Those unwilling to experiment (ditto – risk appetites differ, sometimes with good reason)
  • Those who want it all done for them (and again – old habits die hard)

Over-investing in these “wrong customers” in the short term would  waste of not just our time but theirs. However, we’re not writing them off. Their struggles are real enough, and the long game here is to inform the passive and (later) active seekers of help.

2. Organisation

When that customer part is working at its ideal best, what must be happening on our side? Answers below organised by circle (this was a two-part exercise):

  • Learning & other self-help:
    • Helping each other by sharing experiences of what did and didn’t work
    • Case studies (valuable also for marketing), “Agendashift from the Trenches” (see footnote later under Product)
    • Building the confidence of partners with less experience
    • How-to’s for engagement proposals and other commercial aspects
  • Content development & curation
    • Tools, exercises, models, etc
  • Marketing
    • Events
    • Other launches
    • Promotion generally
  • Domain-specific, for example:
    • SMEs
    • DevOps
    • Role-specific, eg senior leadership

3. Product

We really only had the time to discuss stuff that’s already in the pipeline or beyond:

  • The 2nd edition of Agendashift – very close to being able to announce a publication date
  • A conference (our first) to celebrate that
  • Self-paced learning options
  • The assessment tools:
    • Continuing some great work done on the language of the mini assessment and extending it to the full version
    • Two new assessment tools for the 1) wholehearted and 2) deliberately adaptive organisation
    • Doing a better job of promoting something we’re rightly proud of!

And a footnote on “Agendashift from the Trenches” (see 2. Organisation above): I wasn’t part of this breakout conversation but I have shared with the 2nd edition’s review team an idea for a collaborative book project. I’m thinking Wholehearted: Up and down the deliberately adaptive organisation, two key models from the 2nd edition brought to life through experience reports.

4. Platform

Some discussion (not completely conclusive) on technologies to support the work of those circles.

Despite my initial oversight, that’s a good haul for just one hour’s discussion – the outside-in structure delivers again! And let me repeat: If this kind of strategy review could work for you, do get in touch.


Upcoming

Tomorrow’s workshop below is nearly sold out but I’ve added another for early May. Keeping April free for book-related stuff!

All the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. Many of those considerations apply to private workshops also.

For the Deep Dive especially, if you think that you might become an Agendashift partner, partner discounts make it well worthwhile to get on board before you sign up to the workshop.


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Eating our own dog food (2/n): The strategy review’s assumptions

Update: This has become a series:

  1. Eating our own dog food (1/n) Our outside-in strategy review
  2. Eating our own dog food (2/n): The strategy review’s assumptions (this post)
  3. Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting

Graham Hill asks in response to Monday’s Eating our own dog food (1/n): Our outside-in strategy review (OI-SR):

Competitors? (source – linkedin.com)

Great question! 

The five main questions of our outside-in strategy review (OI-SR) are worded to be non-prescriptive – to the point of generative – but that doesn’t mean they don’t hide some assumptions. Some were called out in that initial post but there are others. Moreover, identifying assumptions like this is a really helpful facilitation technique; through them the question can be unpacked and the conversation encouraged to unfold productively.

Here in full is the relevant passage from the forthcoming 2nd edition:

Assumption 1 (the first of three) is that “reaching the right customers, meeting their strategic needs” is actually worth talking about. It usually is, but it doesn’t hurt to check! And this key phrase begs three further questions:

  1. Who are those “right customers” ?
  2. What does “reaching” mean for us here?
  3. And to those “strategic needs”(their needs, our strategy – the needs that help define our mission): What are they, and how will we know that we’re meeting them?

Assumption 2 is that there is a meaningful “when”. Is there a timeframe in which those customers and their strategic needs will coincide with our ability to reach and meet them?

Assumption 3 lies in the “we” of that sentence. Why us? Why not a competitor? And for an internal strategy review, why not another organisational unit, outsource even?

Bringing those back together, it should be clear that this single question combines a stimulating and potentially provocative generative image with concepts of positioning, timing, and competition. Not the last word on mission-oriented and multi-agent competitive strategy[i], but a start!

[i] Or in other words, manoeuvre strategy, although that term is a little militaristic for some tastes. An excellent book on the corporate form is written by friends of mine: Patterns of Strategy, Patrick Hoverstadt & Lucy Loh, (Routledge, 2017)

To Graham’s question, let me address assumption 3 in the context of tomorrow’s review. Why us? Why not a competitor?

I see two main competitors to Agendashift:

  1. Other engagement models
  2. Old-school change management

Two quite distinct categories, the former representing a paradigm shift with respect to the latter. OpenSpace Agility is our most notable competition in the engagement model space, and we complement each other far more than we compete. Our respective communities overlap significantly, and there is real innovation happening right now in that intersection.

Our challenge with old-school change management is helping people understand its limitations. It is so entrenched that people still regard as “doing it properly” a model that fails repeatedly when applied to adaptive rather than technical challenges – change that’s about culture, leadership, innovation, and yes, engagement. You don’t upgrade your organisation like your upgrading your email server!

This is well understood by the workshop’s participants – Agendashift partners – for whom an important motivation for joining is the contrast between the two paradigms. Much of the challenge for the rest of tomorrow’s review lies in making sure that not just our products and services but also how we organise ourselves best amplifies that message.

Next: Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting


Upcoming

Tomorrow’s workshop below is nearly sold out but I’ve added another for early May. Keeping April free for book-related stuff!

All the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. Many of those considerations apply to private workshops also.

For the Deep Dive especially, if you think that you might become an Agendashift partner, partner discounts make it well worthwhile to get on board before you sign up to the workshop.


Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
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Eating our own dog food (1/n): Our outside-in strategy review (OI-SR)

Update: This has become a series:

  1. Eating our own dog food (1/n) Our outside-in strategy review (this post)
  2. Eating our own dog food (2/n): The strategy review’s assumptions 
  3. Eating our own dog food (3/n): Harvesting

Last Thursday we held the first of two partner meetings over Zoom, the second happening this coming Thursday. The overall plan: a discovery session (facilitated last week by Kert Peterson) and a second session that’s more about ideas for the coming months.

At last week’s session I wondered out loud what it would be like if the Agendashift partner network was making a point of eating its own dog food (so to speak), in the powerful sense that it models a lot of what it’s like to be a wholehearted and deliberately adaptive organisation, its work happening in self-organising, self-governing circles, reviewing its strategy outside in, conducting outside-in service delivery reviews, and so on.

I suggested that we were months away, but why wait? Why not make this coming session an outside-in strategy review? Why not indeed!

So… with more here than probably we’ll have time for, an outline. It’s pretty much the standard questions as per the template and our workshop materials, contextualised just a bit. Not shown here, by Thursday I will line up some breakout exercises to support each of the 5 layers and their corresponding questions.

1. Customer: What’s happening when we’re reaching2 the right customers1, meeting their strategic needs3?

1Who are those “right customers”?

2What does “reaching” mean for us here?

3To those “strategic needs” (their needs, our strategy – the needs that help define our mission): What are they, and how will we know that we’re meeting them? When we’re meeting them, what new stories could they tell? What is their struggle? How do we help them make progress? [1] 

A bit of a steer: The “right customers” question can be surprisingly tricky sometimes, and it certainly is for us here. Who are they? Client organisations? Their staff? Members of the partner network? Current? Prospective? Yes, all of those and perhaps more!

2. Organisation: When we’re meeting those strategic needs, what kind of organisation are we?

This one is effectively answered by this review’s context (see my preamble above), so we’ll dig down a bit. Let’s turn that “What kind of…?” question into something that’s more like a “What’s happening…?” question:

  • With that customer part happening as we’d wish, identify what activities must be happening on our side

And then:

  • What set of circles would best be responsible for those activities? (Give names to them)

For the purposes of this exercise, a circle is defined only loosely, as a self-governing group of people responsible for a domain, business, technical, functional, geographical, or whatever. For stronger definitions, see Right to Left [2], We the People [3], and the Wikipedia page for Sociocracy [4]. Right to Left remains by the way the best source for our outside-in strategy review (OR-SR); the forthcoming Agendashift 2nd edition [5] covers it too but not in the same depth.

3. Product: Through what product and services are we meeting those strategic needs?

An opportunity both to mention some things that are in the pipeline (to be announced here at the appropriate time) and to ask if we’re missing anything important.

4. Platform: When we’re that kind of organisation, meeting those strategic needs, delivering those products and services, what are the defining/critical capabilities that make it all possible?

In support of all we have discussed so far, what are we currently lacking in terms of infrastructure (technical or otherwise), intellectual property, and so on?

5. Team(s): When we’re achieving all of the above, what kind(s) of team(s) are we?

Time for another strong steer. What if part of being a wholehearted and (especially) deliberately adaptive organisation was developmental [6] at the level of individual partners and prospective partners? More widely? How do we:

  1. Help each other grow where each of us currently is?
  2. Help each other identify and grow into new opportunities?
  3. Help each other step far enough back to look with some objectivity at our relationship with the system as it is and could be?

In other words, development that’s simultaneously personal, collaborative, and systemic. Can we organise ourselves to encourage this? I think we can.

I don’t know that we’ll get through all of that – certainly not the Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO) bit – but it will be fun to try! And if this kind of strategy review could work for you, do get in touch.

[1] “What is their struggle? How do we help them make progress?”: This new wording is inspired by connections I’m seeing connections between our outside-in strategy review (OI-SR) and Jobs to Be Done (JTBD). See Demand-side Sales 101: Stop selling and help your customers make progress, Bob Moesta (2020, Lioncrest Publishing)
[2] Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile by yours truly (2019, audiobook 2020)
[3] We the people: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, John Jr. Buck & Sharon Villenes (Sociocracy.info Press, second edition, 2019)
[4] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociocracy
[5] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2nd edition due March 2021)
[6] An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey (Harvard Business Review, 2016)

Next: Eating our own dog food (2/n): The strategy review’s assumptions


Upcoming

Tomorrow’s workshop below is nearly sold out but I’ve added another for early May. Keeping April free for book-related stuff!

All the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. Many of those considerations apply to private workshops also.

For the Deep Dive especially, if you think that you might become an Agendashift partner, partner discounts make it well worthwhile to get on board before you sign up to the workshop.


Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
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What’s new in the February Deep Dive workshop

February’s Agendashift Deep Dive isn’t just the first of the year, it’s the first since I delivered the manuscript for the 2nd edition (publication is due in March). The revision process has helped me identify a number of improvements to the workshop materials. More significantly – and as I mentioned in my previous post on strategy [1] – we have been digging some deep foundations in systems, organisation, and personal development over the past 18 months or so, work of a kind that takes its time to feed through.

There are two main elements coming now to the foreground. One is pre-existing, familiar to followers of this blog, and receiving an upgrade; the other is new. But before I introduce them, a reminder of what Agendashift is: it’s an engagement model. And what does an engagement model do? My definition [2] states that they have three jobs to do:

  1. To structure and support the work of those that would encourage innovation, change, and transformation
  2. To help the organisation engage its staff meaningfully in change-related work
  3. To keep the the organisation’s parts engaged with each other as they change

Visualised:

2021-01-18-engagment-model

The upgraded and new elements in Agendashift speak to the Organisation box in that picture:

  1. Wholehearted, our mission [3]
  2. The Deliberately Adaptive Organisation, a non-prescriptive but still powerfully diagnostic model of business agility

In the 2nd edition you will see Wholehearted reconciled to two foundational models, Bushe & Marshak’s Generative Change Model [4] and Stafford Beer’s classic Viable System Model (VSM) [5]. Out of that reconciliation come a number of base assumptions [6] that Deep Dive participants will have the opportunity to validate, reject, or reflect on. (I’ll share them here once the book’s out.)

Book-wise I nearly left it there, but after sketching out an appendix with more detail on how that reconciliation worked, I felt compelled to add a whole new final chapter, Up and down the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation, a title inspired by Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey’s Deliberately Developmental Organisation [6]. My model plugs theirs, Agendashift, Sociocracy [7], and OKR [8] into VSM. Thanks to the way that VSM scales – fractally – the combination is able not only to describe team-level, organisational-level, and people-level agility in one self-similar model, it reveals some of the organisational issues that Agile delivery frameworks either ignore or exacerbate [9].

For the Deep Dive, the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation helps to put several of our tools into better perspective, including:

I may also add an exercise on those scaling issues.

Details of that February Deep Dive:

And before that:

For all three workshops, all the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. Many of those considerations apply to private workshops also.

For the Deep Dive especially, if you think that you might become an Agendashift partner, partner discounts make it well worthwhile to get on board before you sign up to the workshop.

References

[1] If you are not already engaging on strategy, the time to get serious is now (January)
[2] agendashift.com/about
[3] agendashift.com/wholehearted
[4] The Dynamics of Generative Change, Gervase Bushe, Gervase R. Bushe, (BMI Publishing, 2020)
[5] The Fractal Organization: Creating Sustainable Organizations with the Viable System Model, Patrick Hoverstadt, (John Wiley & Sons, 2008)
[6] Organizational Culture and Leadership, Edgar H. Schein, (Jossey Bass, 5th edition, 2016)
[7] An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey, (Harvard Business Review, 2016)
[8] We the people: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, John Jr. Buck & Sharon Villenes, (Sociocracy.info Press, second edition, 2019)
[9] What the (Lean-)Agile scaling frameworks don’t give you (December)


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If you are not already engaging on strategy, the time to get serious is now

2021 promises to be a big year for Agendashift and I want to share a train of thought that crystallised over the closing weeks of 2020 as I finished the 2nd edition*.

Most Agile process is built around the autonomous team. The uncomfortable truth though is that many if not most of those teams get little meaningful opportunity to participate in strategy. Surely it is a funny kind of autonomy when strategy is something that happens to you!

The flip side of the same coin: business agility depends on rapid adaptation, but it’s a funny kind of adaptive strategy when it doesn’t know how to listen and learn.

Tackle those two problems together and you get loads more benefit for free. With authentic participation in strategy you get engagement. And with that, ways of working and broader aspects of culture become natural and integrated ingredients in the way forward, neither compartmentalised off (sterile when separated from mission), nor imposed (almost certainly self-defeating).

This is of course where Agendashift comes in. Not only do we know how to facilitate those conversations, we give you the tools to keep doing it yourself. And it’s not just the workshops; how to make the process of continuous transformation self-sustaining is a key focus of ours, to the extent that much of the past 18 months has been spent digging deep foundations in systems, organisation, and personal development.

As I write, the four nations of the UK each enter new levels of lockdown, a situation sure to be echoed in different ways around the world. Yes, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel this time, but there can be no doubt that the world of work has changed forever. If you’re a leader and your strategy process does not already invite meaningful engagement, the time to get serious is now. And we can help, whether that’s directly, working with your internal coaching team, or through one of our partners. Get in touch or check out our partner directory right away.

If you’re a practitioner in (Lean-)Agile, strategy, &/or organisation development – one of those is enough if you buy into our mission of building wholehearted organisations – you can be that help. From the start, Agendashift has been accessible and affordable. And there’s no time like the present: join the partner programme now and your discount on the February Deep Dive will cover your first year’s membership.

autonomy

*The 2nd edition gets delivered to the publishers tomorrow for publication this quarter

Upcoming

The workshops continue to evolve at quite a pace and watch out for some new developments this year. In the calendar so far:

All the usual discounts apply: repeat visits (not uncommon), partners, gov, edu, non-profit, country, un- or under-employment, bulk orders. If you think that one might apply to you, do please ask. Most of those considerations apply to private workshops also.

For the Deep Dive especially, if you think that you might become an Agendashift partner, partner discounts make it well worthwhile to get on board before you sign up to the workshop.


Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Media | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
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Agendashift roundup, September 2020

In this edition: Good obstacle, bad obstacle; The quality that now has a name; 15-minute FOTO update; Agendashift #community Zoom; Upcoming events; Top posts

Good obstacle, bad obstacle

Important dates coming soon: a free October webinar ahead of a November Deep Dive workshop. Details of both here:

The quality that now has a name

I’m hard at work on the 2nd edition of the Agendashift book (not far short of a rewrite if I’m honest) and I’m now on chapter 3 (of 5). In my head I’m a couple of chapters ahead and in this blog post you can see some of what’s going on up there!

15-minute FOTO update

I’ve done some work on the deck for 15-minute FOTO, aligning it with how I have been facilitating our Clean Language-inspired coaching game over recent weeks. Also, I’ve made it both easier for me to maintain and more flexible: hide/show slides according to format (Lite or Classic) and medium (in-room or online). More here:

Agendashift #community Zoom

On Wednesdays I like to put out a reminder on Slack that tomorrow (ie every Thursday) it’s the Agendashift #community Lean Coffee Zoom at 14:00 BST, 15:00 CEST, 9am EDT. I can’t include the Zoom link in this post so ping me for details or check the #community channel in Slack.

Upcoming events

I might yet add some December dates but that will very definitely be the last Deep Dive of the year. If you’re holding out for one in a different time zone in early 2021, let me know.

I get asked about discounts based on country or similar factors. Typically answer is yes, also for non-profit, government, educational, etc, or if you’ve done one of the bigger workshops before – several people have attended multiple times. And Agendashift partners of course. Again, ping me.

Top posts

Recent:

  1. What I really think about Scrum (August)
  2. 15-minute FOTO, latest v9 deck
  3. The quality that now has a name
  4. Good obstacle, bad obstacle
  5. #2MBM: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method (July)

Classic:

  1. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  2. What kind of Organisational Development (OD)? (And a book recommendation) (May 2019)
  3. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation (October 2019)
  4. Stringing it together with Reverse Wardley (February 2019)
  5. ‘Right to Left’ works for Scrum too (July 2018)

Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
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workshop 2x1

The quality that now has a name

The term quality without a name comes from a favourite book of mine, Christopher Alexander’s The Timeless Way of Building [1]. I discovered only today in my research for this article that 20 years after writing that wonderful book he did in fact give this intriguing thing a name: wholeness [2].

My ignorance aside, that’s almost spooky! Wholehearted is the concept in my book Right to Left [3] that was directly inspired by Alexander. It was quickly embraced by the Agendashift community, and later it gave its name to our mission statement [4].

What prompted today’s post was the realisation that repeatedly, people have cited wholehearted as the thing that attracted them to Agendashift. Fascinatingly, many of them were members of the community even before wholehearted was a thing! In other words, it seems to give a name to something that people somehow perceived already.

I’m working now on the 2nd edition of the Agendashift book [5] and it affords me a valuable opportunity say more about wholehearted than I could at the time of Right to Left. I am determined however not to over-specify it. Much of its power comes from the way that it resonates with different people in different ways, and while that’s happening, it’s a source of both creativity and energy. I make a point therefore of starting not with a definition, but with the word itself and what it tends to evoke.

As written here previously [6], it evokes two clusters of qualities:

  1. Engagement, commitment, and purposefulness
  2. Alignment, integration, integrity, and wholeness

(And yes, that’s Alexander’s wholeness again.)

Beyond that almost gut reaction, it’s fair to ask what it means to me personally, and in more concrete and perhaps practical terms. Inevitably, I relate it to things that interest, influence, and motivate me:

  1. Generativity – generative conversations [7], generative patterns [8] and so on, energisers of emergent and adaptive thinking and the focus of much that is exciting in modern organisation development
  2. Viability – the science of how organisations (at every level) maintain their independence and integrity, explaining much about their vulnerabilities and dysfunctions also
  3. Outcome-orientation ­– ends before means, outcomes before solutions – both as a deliberate stance, and as demonstrated in Right to Left, a way to understand and integrate – a way to approach Lean, Agile, and Lean-Agile for example

Across all three of those: purpose, participation, and pluralism, making it all very human when done well.

The later chapters of the significantly updated Agendashift will put a little flesh on those bones, enough to make it practical in a non-prescriptive way, prescription bringing only contradiction in a book that describes an engagement model [9]. Wholehearted meanwhile is not a process or a framework. It’s barely even a model, and I’m happy to keep it that way!

References

[1] The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander, (OUP USA, 1980)
[2] Quality Without a Name (wiki.c2.com)
[3] Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile, Mike Burrows  (New Generation Publishing, 2019; audiobook 2020)
[4] Our mission: Wholehearted (agendashift.com)
[5] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation, Mike Burrows  (New Generation Publishing, 2018)
[6] Revisiting ‘wholehearted’ (blog.agendashift.com)
[7] See for example our Clean Language-inspired coaching game, 15-minute FOTO (agendashift.com)
[8] Agendashift’s Generative Patterns (agendashift.com)
[9] Engagement model (agendashift.com)

Upcoming events


Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
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Wholehearted

Agendashift roundup, July 2020

In this edition: 2MBM; Campaign mode; Deep Dive done; Upcoming; Top posts for July; Friday community Zoom

2MBM

July wasn’t really a month for the blog (more on that in a moment) but a couple of posts early in the month did do well.

In the followups to the last Wholehearted:OKR workshop we identified a new pattern, 2MBM:

agendashift-framework-overview-16x10-2020-07-07-2mbm

2MBM gets a new page in the patterns section of the Agendashift site, and two blog posts:

Campaign mode

For most of the month, instead of blogging I have been experimenting with using LinkedIn to establish/promote some key terms, and it seems to be working well. Check these out:

Further to the second of those and prompted by a conversation on social media, the revival of a classic:

Deep Dive done

By the power of Zoom I’ve been in Canada this week, leading an 8-session Deep Dive. I’m very happy with how it went – not that I won’t still want to improve it of course! Tons of positive feedback, but let pick out a few comments which relate to recent developments:

  • IdOO is the killer app of purpose and alignment
  • Learning the pattern language in Agendashift
  • Feels less prescriptive than the book
  • Multiple options to choose from for a workshop

Prescription is and always was an anti-goal, and introducing Agendashift in terms of patterns really works! This augurs well for the 2nd edition of the book I’m sure, and on that, a first rough draft of a completely rewritten intro is available in the #agendashift-book channel in the Agendashift Slack.

Upcoming

All with me, except for the first one which is led by Julia Wester:

Top posts for July

Recent:

  1. #2MBM: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method
  2. I’m really enjoying Challenge Mapping (June)
  3. Outcomes all the way down (June, video)
  4. #2MBM: After strategy and ideation, operation
  5. Yes IdOO! Leading with Outcomes

Classic:

  1. Engagement: more than a two-way street (September 2018)
  2. There will be caveats: Warming cautiously to OKR (September 2019)
  3. My favourite Clean Language question (January 2019)
  4. From Reverse STATIK to a ‘Pathway’ for continuous transformation(October 2019)
  5. Stringing it together with Reverse Wardley (February 2019)

Friday #community Zoom

Finally, a reminder that as of the past few weeks our Lean Coffee-style Friday Zoom calls are now at 14:00 BST, 15:00 CEST, 9am EDT. Details in the #community channel in Slack or ping me for them.


Agendashift™, the wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter

Revisiting ‘wholehearted’

agendashift-banner-2019-12-17

Agendashift’s strapline is “the wholehearted engagement model”, and I’ve been reflecting again on just what we mean by wholeheartedness. That in turns leads me to revisit how I introduce Agendashift – what it is, what differentiates it, and why we do what we do.

Wholehearted

Starting with my reflections on that word, I’m drawn to two clusters of qualities:

  1. Engagement, commitment, and purposefulness
  2. Alignment, integration, integrity, and wholeness

For an organisation to be wholehearted, both sets of qualities must apply. Crucial to developing and sustaining them are participation and outcomes:

  • Participation, because 1) people disengage when they’re denied the meaningful opportunity to influence on how their working environment operates, and 2) you can’t have integrity and wholeness – or for that matter self-organisation and other hallmarks of the modern organisation – when the organisation’s parts don’t relate both between and within themselves frequently and richly enough.
  • Outcomes, for the simple reason that they’re what people align on, and for the more subtle reason that it’s easy to destroy engagement when solutions are put ahead of outcomes. Keep outcomes in the foreground (and not a rationalisation or afterthought) and you create the opportunity for acceptable, effective, and often innovative solutions to emerge at the right time, no imposition needed.

With all of that in mind, Agendashift is best introduced as the wholehearted, outcome-oriented engagement model. Unpacking that backwards:

  • The term engagement model is our preferred shorthand for the kind of thing that Agendashift is, a framework for agents of participatory change and transformation. The framing there is deliberate; we find it necessary to keep a certain distance from the failed solution-driven change management models of the last century and don’t wish to be numbered among them! Neither is Agendashift a model only for continuous improvement, a process that while necessary is not a substitute for strategy.
  • Agendashift is outcome-oriented to such an extent that this is its defining feature. It’s “outcomes all the way down”, dealing coherently, humanely, and strategically with everything from the most aspirational of goals to the impact of the smallest experiment. With outcomes generated, organised, and developed through participation, agreement on outcomes follows naturally; solutions come as they should on a just-in-time basis, lightly held as hypotheses to be tested until some other approach is understood to be safe.
  • We – Agendashift’s founders, partners, and supporters – are wholehearted in our commitments to participation, to outcomes, and beyond those to the wholeheartedness of the organisations with which we work. We strive to develop all the qualities of wholeheartedness, building organisations that create meaning continuously, through both their discourse and their ability to anticipate and meet needs.

We’re in the business of building wholehearted organisations. Are you?

Related


Upcoming workshops

With yours truly unless otherwise indicated:

For some brief commentary:

And for the latest, check the Agendashift events calendar.


agendashift-banner-2019-12-17
Links: Home |
About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Workshops: Transformation strategy | Transformation strategy | Short training
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter