New online workshops added to a reorganised portfolio

Update 20/4: Make that three new workshops, with dates for the first two (the third is currently private-only):

There are additional dates for Learning the language of outcomes also.


Rather than post the next installment in the Doing Agendshift Online series this week, it seemed sensible to wait until after next week’s public workshop and after that share some of the new things we’re trying.

Meanwhile, far from using this enforced period online as an excuse to withdraw, we’ve been working hard to round out the overall offering. The result: twothree new short training workshops (both of them online-first of course), triggering a reorganisation of the portfolio.

One wholehearted engagement model, three workshop families:

  1. The transformation strategy workshops that we’re best known for
  2. The outside-in strategy workshops that take us deeper into strategy deployment  – still highly compatible with Lean and Agile but less about them
  3. A set of complementary short training workshops, more skills-focussed than organisation-focussed

With the twothree new short training workshops, Mapping with Outcomes, Stories, Hypotheses, and A3 and Implementing your OI-SDR (more on those in a moment), this structure doesn’t seem like overkill. Here’s the relevant bits of sitemap:

The workshops:

  1. Transformation strategy – Core, Applied, and Deep Dive:
  2. Outside-in strategy – OI-SR (the generic platform on which the other two are built), Impact!, and Wholehearted:OKR:
  3. Short training workshops – one to two online sessions of up to 2 hours each:

The twothree new short training workshops

We’ve been doing Learning the language of outcomes online since last summer (see the calendar below for dates, with more added recently). The first of the three new additions is a natural follow-on to that:

It covers the following:

  • A quick reprise of Plan on a Page, the simple visualisation used in Discovery
  • The “string” of exercises defined for the Mapping activity, each exercise valuable both in its own right and for making its successor easier:
    • The Cynefin Four Points Contextualisation exercise, introduced under the pseudonym Option Approach Mapping
    • Option Relationship Mapping, previously known as Reverse Wardley Mapping
    • Pathway Mapping (User Story Mapping meets Reverse STATIK)
  • An introduction to Changeban and its simple kanban system for managing a portfolio of experiments

Then comes Stories, Hypotheses, and A3. In framework-speak, this is Elaboration as standalone workshop. This covers:

  • Stories, authentic situations of need, and hypotheses “hard” and “soft”
  • Just-in-time option selection
  • Generating and selecting solution ideas
  • Framing solution ideas as hypotheses
  • Developing solution ideas with the Agendashift Experiment A3 Template
  • Portfolios of experiments

Its first public outing will also be in June:

The third addition, Implementing your Outside-in Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR) complements the strategy workshops. It’s about how you set yourself up for success, before or after the strategy workshop – ie groundwork or follow-through – or as a standalone exercise in organisation design. Its agenda will resonate with anyone who has read Right to Left:

  1. Thinking in circles:
    • Interlinked circles of responsibility
    • Concentric circles of alignment
  2. Metrics:
    • Performance measures
    • Health indicators
  3. Stories, hypotheses, and experiments:
    • Framing for maximum learning
    • Focussing for maximum leverage
  4. The nuts and bolts of the OI-SDR meeting:
    • Agenda:
      • Outside in (customer & environment first), then
      • Right to left (outcome first)
    • Protocols, participation, and preparation

Initially at least, we’ll be offering this workshop only privately before deciding whether (and how) to make it available publicly. Do this workshop with your colleagues and you will be well on your way to implementing your own OI-SDR successfully. With that, you will be building into your organisation design some powerful expectations: that experimentation will always be happening, that the strategy will be advancing, that service continues to improve, and that intelligence and insights will be shared – all of this in a structure specifically designed to create leadership opportunities and to cause misalignments to reveal themselves.

Finally, a reminder that we make all our workshop materials available to partners for use with their clients. It’s easy and inexpensive to join; details here.

Upcoming online workshops

All online, and all with your truly (Mike Burrows) unless otherwise specified:

For the latest workshop and speaking events check the Agendashift events calendar.


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Doing Agendashift online (4 of n): Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO)

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This is #4 in a series of unspecified length, covering ways you can do Agendashifty things online (we have plenty of practice). And here, we really get to the heart of things.

Followers of this blog will know that 15-minute FOTO is our Clean Language-inspired coaching game, one of the highlights of any Agendashift workshop. You might even have guessed that this would be the 15-minute FOTO installment. You’re not wrong exactly, but first let’s see it in context.

Here it is in the Discovery session of the classic Core, Applied, or Deep Dive workshop, chapter 1 of the Agendashift book:

Idoo-Discovery

Same workshops, same book, but session/chapter 2, Exploration:

Idoo-Exploration

And now the Wholehearted:OKR workshop, different book (Right to Left), and the session Outside-in review (I):

Idoo-Wholehearted-OKR-outside-in-review-I

And session Outside-in review (II):

Idoo-Wholehearted-OKR-outside-in-review-II

Even if 1) the slides didn’t give the game away already and 2) I told you that there are two different flavours of 15-minute FOTO here and that sometimes we use a different tool entirely, you’d have no trouble recognising that there’s a pattern here.

I’m calling that pattern IdOO:

idoo-2020-03-25

Doing IdOO online

See the past installment 2. Celebration-5W to understand how we facilitate online at least one of the ways we can can establish some business context ahead of any reflection.

See 3. The assessments for how participants prioritise the assessment prompts on which they will reflect. For Discovery, it’s even simpler: just share the Agendashift True North (see the Resources section below).

Then (and you’ll find these questions in the True North deck):

  • When this is working at its ideal best for you, what’s that like?
  • And when that’s happening, what new stories could you tell?

Those questions work really well 1-2-4-All style as described in the assessments installment – individual silent reflections followed by pairwise, table group, and debrief conversations (a good test of your breakout room skills if you’re using Zoom).

That’s IdOO’s Ideal reflection part done. Easy!

To identify Obstacles:

  • What stops that? What gets in the way?

(See also The language of outcomes: 2. Framing obstacles)

Again, that’s straightforward enough. And again, 1-2-4-All works really well, except that this time those obstacles will need to be captured somehow when the conversation gets to table group level. Google Docs works great, but you’ll want to get documents set up and distributed ahead of time.

To generate Outcomes, you could just ask these questions with respect to the obstacles just captured:

  • What would you like to have happen? (or your favourite equivalent)
  • Then what happens? (asked a few times perhaps)

Even online, that’s temptingly easy. That would however be a huge opportunity missed. Instead of you asking the questions, how about your participants coach each other? That’s what 15-minute FOTO does, and both editions of the game (Lite and Classic) have versions specifically tailored for online use.

In some ways the online version is more efficient, with everyone joining in to help with the scribe’s task of capturing outcomes, clients as well as coaches able to refer to the notes (these roles rotate by the way). Especially if you’re facilitating it for the first time, don’t be afraid to join in – the Lite edition in particular includes a familiarisation phase.

Next time (not Monday, it being Easter) we’ll look at different ways those generated outcomes can be organised online.

Resources

All of these are open source (CC-BY-SA):

Become a partner for both the integrated workshop materials and the ability to administer the assessments described in the previous installment.

And the two books:

Upcoming online workshops


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Doing Agendashift online (3 of n): The assessments

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This is #3 in a series of unspecified length, covering ways you can do Agendashifty things online (we have plenty of practice).

Here we look at Agendashift’s assessments, which have been online since the beginning. If ever you’ve been surveyed by email and Excel, you’ll know why we do it online; if you’re still doing it like it’s 1999, shame on you!

You can easily adapt the advice given here if you want to use the assessment for coaching purposes. Considerations for online workshops:

  1. How & when to send out the survey
  2. Delivering the survey debrief
  3. Facilitating the followups

That last consideration is a big enough topic that it will spill over into the next installment. Here we’ll cover things specific to the assessment itself.

1. How & when to send out the survey

I’ve not written about the assessment tool as much as I could and should – quite apart from its specific role in the workshop of helping people to identify areas of opportunity, it does a great job of setting the tone for the workshop or coaching engagement. And it’s a door-opener!

In its wording, we’ve taken great care to avoid prescription. People don’t respond well to anything that feels like coercion, and dialling back on the jargon means that it works in a wide range of contexts (some of our best experiences have been outside of technology teams) and opens up the broadest range of possibilities.

Some partners have reported good results from capturing survey input through a facilitated group exercise. Personally, I don’t do that, for fear 1) of sucking the energy from the room and 2) of depriving ourselves of the widest range of responses. That said, conducting the survey via a series of private one-to-one conversations does work really well.

Doing it one-to-one when you’re physically in the same room, handy tip #1 is to open the survey’s sharing link in a private browser window (an ‘Incognito’ window in Chrome). You slide your laptop over to your counterpart, they sign themselves up, and you take notes as they provide “as little or as much commentary as they like” as they complete their assessment. Online, just share the link – via Zoom’s chat feature, say – and have them complete their assessment whilst sharing their screen. Easy!

Tip #2: If you’re surveying a lot of people, and only some of them are through these one-to-one conversations, ‘tag’ the sharing link for each population group so that you can slice and dice the results afterwards. We find that leadership teams (for example) tend to score the assessment more strictly (lower, in other words), making them a good baseline for comparison with other groups.

For those larger populations, here’s a typical email invitation:

At the link below is the prework for <event>. Before you begin, decide on a scope – your team or something bigger – and stick to it; trust me that any differences in scope or scale will be not be an obstacle when we review the full survey results together.

If any of the prompts strike you as particularly important for discussion, please ‘star’ them when you get to the review page at the end. We ask that you limit yourself to a maximum of 6 stars, eg 3, 2, 1 for your top 3 priorities or 1 star each across 6; the tool will warn you if you go over this limit.

Please do your best to complete by <date> to give us time to print the handouts with the survey results. Thank you!

I like to send this out a week in advance. Of course for online workshops we won’t be relying on the printed handouts referred to in the last paragraph so the timing is slightly less constrained, but still you want to allow enough time both for responses and for a polite nudge or two if you’re not seeing the expected response rate.

2. Delivering the survey debrief

This part hardly changes. The debrief is already done via a browser-based report designed for projection, so just share your screen and you’re away. It’s a single page app that responds to your keyboard, mouse, or presentation clicker. The report starts high level – the aim being to get everyone comfortable and recognising their own data – and finishes on the prompts with the widest range of scores, where you’ll have the interesting discussions.

Tip #3: Remember the “brief” in “debrief”. Better too fast than too slow; participants will have plenty of opportunity to interact with the content afterwards.

Tip #4: Remember that it’s not your job to provide a diagnosis but to facilitate a conversation. Calibrate any commentary carefully. Agreement on outcomes is the most powerful for enabler for strategic change that we know; it’s why Agendashift exists, and the assessment and the followups are designed with that in mind. Don’t undermine it!

3. Facilitating the followups

Group work starts with prioritising the assessment prompts, each table group choosing a shortlist of prompts for further discussion, prompts that help to identify areas of opportunity. 5 prompts per table group works well.

I like to facilitate this 1-2-4-All style:

  • 1: On their own, silently, participants choose their top 3
  • 2: In pairs (or threes, as necessary) , a conversation to arrive at a joint top 4
  • 4: In table groups, agreement on a combined top 5
  • All: A quick whole group debrief

Each of those steps suitably timeboxed.

Tip #5: if you’re using breakout rooms in Zoom (a great feature), remember that anything you’re sharing on-screen will disappear when participants move to their pairs, threes, or table groups. Clear instructions and the availability of all necessary resources are both essential. To that end, each page of the debrief (the one below, for example, or the pages designed for printing) has a shareable URL.

Screenshot 2020-03-25 09.06.37

What happens next isn’t specific to the assessment and I’ll save for next week’s installment what turns out to be a key pattern and well worth covering on its own. So watch this space!

Two things to leave you with meanwhile:

1. Ways to access the assessment:

  1. The Agendashift global survey, with a mini (18-prompt) version of the assessment
  2. The free trial – also the mini version, surveys limited to up to 10 people
  3. Through the partner programme, access to the full range of templates (including the main 42-prompt assessment), size restrictions removed:
    1. Engage one of our partners to administer a survey on your behalf; most would also be delighted to do the surrounding facilitation
    2. Become a partner yourself  – access not just the assessment tool but all our materials too

2. Upcoming opportunities to experience Agendashift online:

 


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Doing Agendashift online (2 of n): Celebration-5W

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This is #2 in a series of unspecified length, covering ways you can do Agendashifty things online. Here we look at Celebration-5W, the exercise I’ve used at or near the beginning of nearly every workshop I have conducted in recent years, and (accordingly) the exercise that opens chapter 1 of the Agendashift book. It’s open source (CC-BY-SA license), one of several such resources you can access here.

From the Celebration-5W page:

Celebration-5W is the first of Agendashift’s Discovery exercises. We have now made it available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license; not only can you view the deck here (embedded from Slideshare), you can request the original source .pptx files for incorporation with your own material or adaptation to your needs.

Celebration-5W is a time travel exercise, typically focussed on a celebration several months into the future. It is typically used at the start of a workshop, retrospective, or chartering exercise to create some shared business context. Everything else we go on to discuss should in some way help us to achieve the things we identify here.

You can see it in action 6 minutes into the video on the 15-minute FOTO page.

Celebration-5W is easy to facilitate online. Just as with doing it in person, there are two main considerations. The technology may have some influence on your choices:

  1. Is this a whole room exercise, or do we work in small groups (table groups in person, breakout rooms online)?
  2. Fancy template, or “Put your paper in portrait mode, the five headings down the page”?

Doing this in person with 6 or more people, I have a strong preference for working in table groups, debriefing each group one at a time afterwards if there aren’t too many of those, a small number of groups volunteering otherwise. This way, you learn a lot from the alignment (or otherwise) of outputs. That said, some facilitators report good experiences doing this as a whole room exercise, so take your pick. Online, your level of comfort with managing breakout rooms will no doubt be a factor (and I’ll mention some gotchas next time), perhaps favouring the whole room experience.

Working in person, I have used Mike Haber’s template ever since he contributed it. Doing it in person isn’t an option right now, but for when that opportunity returns it’s easy enough to draw by hand, and the Celebration-5W Dropbox includes pptx and pdf files you can print (I print them on A3 paper).

Online, a couple choices:

  • Replicate Mike’s template in your favourite online whiteboarding tool (eg Miro)
  • In Google Docs (or equivalent), the 5W headings – Who, What, Where, When, and Why – down the page (or pages or docs plural, for multiple groups)

I like Miro, but given that this is usually the kickoff exercise, I stick with the option familiar to the most people, Google Docs. In fact, in the Agendashift Online workshop (see below), Zoom and Google Docs is all the technology needed for the entirety of the first two-hour session.

All pretty straightforward, so give it a try! Including how access the Dropbox, there’s more on Celebration-5W here.

I leave you with some upcoming opportunities to experience it online:

Next: Doing Agendashift online (3 of n): The assessments

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


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Doing Agendashift online (series start)

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This the first of what is likely to be several posts given extra urgency by the COVID-19 situation. On that specifically, there’s a quick personal update here on my precautionary self-isolation (if you’re connected with me on Facebook).

Inevitably, online is going to be a big theme for the next few months, and over the coming weeks I’ll describe some practical tips for doing various Agendashifty things online, and with it a few of the concepts, some of which we’re finding new and better ways to explain.

The series so far (I’ll keep this updated):

  1. Doing Agendashift online (this post)
  2. Celebration-5W
  3. The assessments
  4. Doing Agendashift online (4 of n): Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO)

And also:

As it happens, we know enough already to do the whole thing online. And it’s just as well: we’ve withdrawn the two upcoming 2-day Wholehearted:OKR workshops that were to be held in Oslo and London, replacing them with one online:

Meanwhile, there’s the existing Agendashift Online workshop, which comprises two 2-hour sessions conducted over Zoom (and with the help of certain other collaboration tools) on consecutive days, covering the first two modules of the classic 4 or 5-module transformation strategy workshop. As of today, there are now two in the calendar, the first in the morning, UK time (good for morning people and much of APAC), and the second the late afternoon (evening people and the US).

I’ve reduced prices too. With the usual £50 discount on the Agendashift partner programme available to all workshop participants, it almost pays for itself, especially if you’re in there quick enough to grab an early bird ticket. So join us!

PS I’ve been in copywriting mode, rewriting the workshop descriptions for the April and June events. Even if you don’t currently plan to attend, your feedback would be very welcome – substantial portions of that text are destined to appear elsewhere…

Next: Doing Agendashift online (2 of n): Celebration-5W


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The workshop formerly known as Advanced

I’m just back from Gurugram – the city formerly known as Gurgaon, in the National Capital Region (NCR) around Delhi, India. Here’s the team photo, and thank you Deepti (far right):

7498dca0-a248-4e72-90ca-4e88f025efbc

Mid workshop, and after discussion both there and on Slack, we renamed Advanced Agendashift – a name that some found off-putting – to Agendashift Deep Dive, or to give it its full title, Agendashift Deep Dive: Coaching and leading continuous transformation. At a very high level, the two days comprise the following:

  1. A deep dive into Discovery, paced to create space for reflection and experimentation, and including additional material (relative both to Core and to the the Agendashift book) on culture, values, systems thinking, leadership, and coaching
  2. Everything from the assessment onwards as one integrated string of exercises, with additional material on organisation design

If you enjoyed my recent series on the Language of Outcomes, this is that, but in hands-on workshop form, aimed at anyone interested in leading change in a non-prescriptive and resolutely outcome-oriented way; Lean-Agile sensibilities definitely, but still framework-agnostic.

The next deep dive takes place Wednesday and Thursday next week in Malmö, Sweden, me co-facilitating with Julia Wester. Malmö is just a short train ride over the bridge from Copenhagen and I’ll be doing a meetup there the evening before.

The calendar below notwithstanding, given the coronavirus it’s possible that this might be your best opportunity attend to this workshop for some time (already we’re moving online a Wholehearted:OKR workshop originally intended for Oslo). Don’t miss your chance!


Workshops upcoming in 2020 – Malmö, Oslo (*2), London, Tel Aviv, and online

For a 20% saving, use discount code LONDON2020 for the London workshop and NORDIC2020 for Oslo and Malmö.

See also our workshops and events pages – Switzerland and Australia to be added soon.


From the exciting intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development, Agendashift™: The wholehearted engagement model
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Aka the ‘And when X…’ game

This post relates to 15-minute FOTO, our Creative Commons-licensed and Clean Language-inspired coaching game that’s not just for coaches – everyone gets a turn! Consistently, it’s a highlight of our workshops: it’s fun, insightful, and surprisingly practical. Above all, it’s the tool by which we generate outcomes – outcomes being the currency in which we deal.

For several weeks the 15-minute FOTO dropbox (which you can subscribe to for free) has included a beta version of the cue card (below) which adds the text “aka the And When X… game“. The facilitator’s deck has a slide with that as its title too. It’s a low effort / high impact tweak, a helpful reminder to the facilitator to introduce very briefly a little of the theory and practice of Clean Language. After exhausting my old stock of cards (I get them printed by the hundred) I had the opportunity to test the new one last week and the beta tag is removed at last!

15-Minute-FOTO-cue-card-2020-01-v15

The Clean Language questions have been carefully curated and refined over the years to minimise the coach’s natural tendency to pollute a conversation with their unasked-for assumptions and solutions. Keeping the conversation ‘clean’ maximises the chances that the client will achieve an insight of their own.

An important part of the discipline is to stay with the client’s language. One question you won’t hear in a clean conversation is this (the X and Y here are placeholders for the client’s and coach’s words respectively):

What you said X, did you mean Y?

Put words into the client’s mouth like this and there’s a high risk that whatever the client was currently holding or constructing in their head (their model, a precious and perhaps fragile thing) will be destroyed. Potentially, a huge opportunity wasted! So, if as the coach you find yourself a bit lost (ie you’re unsure what X is or how to deal with it), turn instead to the “pre-question”:

And when X…

Three things have been achieved already:

  1. You’re stopped yourself from paraphrasing (or at least delayed it)
  2. You’ve bought yourself some time while you choose what question to ask next
  3. You’ve focussed attention on something interesting

And you have plenty of choice here. If it’s important that you (in the coach role) understand what X is, then ask a clarifying question, probably one of the middle three on the card. If it’s not – and let’s not forget here that the conversation isn’t about you – you could decide to move the conversation along instead and see what happens.

There’s another use for this technique, and that’s to go back to an earlier part of the conversation. Perhaps the conversation is uncovering a virtuous circle of outcomes (not uncommon, but congratulations!) and after a certain amount of repetition you’re ready now to jump off that roundabout. It’s easy:

And when X…

Is there anything else about X?

This is for some past X, allowing the conversation to take a different branch. You’re right, the “And when X…” isn’t strictly necessary. Yes, it’s a bit redundant. But it helps! Somehow, that big leap back seems more manageable.

Related


Workshops upcoming in 2020 – Gurugram, Malmö, Oslo (*2), London, Tel Aviv, and online

For a 20% saving, use discount code LONDON2020 for the London workshop and NORDIC2020 for Oslo and Malmö.

See also our workshops and events pages – Switzerland and Australia to be added soon.


From the exciting intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development, Agendashift™: The wholehearted engagement model
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Interim roundup: Language of outcomes series; Impact! workshop (and more)

Just 10 days into February and there’s enough happening to warrant an interim roundup:

  • I published the 5th and final instalment of my “Language of outcomes” series today, complete with a summary of leadership lessons taken from all 5 posts. Read The language of outcomes: 5. Between ends and means or start from the beginning with The language of outcomes: 1. Identifying the adaptive challenge
  • I’m just back from Tampa, FL for the first Open Leadership Symposium of the year and the very positive public debut of the new Impact! workshop. Read: What just happened? What they said about the new Impact! workshop
  • That same workshop comes to London on Friday. Short notice I know, but use code LONDON2020 for 20% off, and ping me if you think you may qualify for a bigger discount. I’d be glad to see at least a couple more people there so you probably do, but be quick! If Friday is too soon (or too short), check out its bigger brother, the 2-day Wholehearted:OKR workshops taking place in March and April.
  • The Tel Aviv workshop (June 3rd) is now on the calendar (see below). Watch out for Switzerland and Australia (yes, you read that right) too!

impact-workshop-tampa-bits-and-pieces

Photo: Ulises S. Aguila


Workshops upcoming in 2020 – London (*2), Gurugram, Malmö, Tel Aviv, Oslo (*2), and online

For a 20% saving, use discount code LONDON2020 for the London workshops and NORDIC2020 for Oslo and Malmö.

See also our workshops and events pages – Switzerland and Australia to be added soon.


From the exciting intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development, Agendashift™: The wholehearted engagement model
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The language of outcomes: 5. Between ends and means

This is the 5th and final part of a series looking at the language of outcomes and its lessons for leadership. If we’re keen to see collaboration, self-organisation, and innovation in our organisations, how should we conduct ourselves? What behaviours should we model?

The 5 posts of this series come roughly in the order that its leadership lessons arise in our workshops:

  1. Identifying the adaptive challenge
  2. Framing obstacles
  3. Generating outcomes 
  4. Organising outcomes
  5. Between ends and means (this post)

As ever:

  • Subscribe to our mailing list, and whilst you won’t get every post as an email, you will get our monthly roundups and you won’t miss a thing, I promise!
  • Scroll to the end of this post for news of upcoming public workshops in which you can experience what I describe for yourself

5. Between ends and means

The typical Agendashift workshop involves multiple planning sessions. In a classic transformation strategy workshop as described in the Agendashift book [1], for example:

  1. Discovery: capturing not just where we’d like to get to, but some of the key outcomes we’d like achieve along the way
  2. Exploration: driven by the assessment [2], working forwards from opportunities, usually starting at a lower level of detail compared to anything seen in Discovery
  3. Elaboration: ideas, hypotheses, experiments, impact, etc – what we’ll actually do, the next level of detail captured on a just-in-time basis

(Sometimes we like to switch the first two around – maybe days apart – and that’s fine)

An outside-in strategy review workshop as described in Right to Left [3] might include a separate planning session for each of the five ‘layers’ – Customer, Organisation, Product, Platform, and Team. In the Wholehearted:OKR workshop [4] we take those layers in two groups, the first two (Customer and Organisation) on day 1, and the remaining three on day 2.

The different levels of detail or organisational concerns are interesting and useful, but so too is the separation between what Ackoff [5] calls ends planning and means planning:

  • Ends planning: where we’d like to get to and why
  • Means planning: where we will commit our efforts, with what resources, and how

Organisations too often jump straight to means without paying adequate attention to ends. This is change management as project management, with the solution – the Agile process framework, say – already chosen! The last few decades are littered with the repeated failures of that approach, and yet it persists, even – and most ironically of all – in the Agile community.

There’s a clear lesson there, and Agendashift provides practical ways to do both kinds of planning in the transformation and strategy spaces. There are some more subtle lessons though.

One important subtlety, and I’m grateful to Ackoff for the clarification, is that ends and means can be relative. Consider again these three sessions:

  1. Discovery: capturing not just where we’d like to get to, but some of the key outcomes we’d like achieve along the way
  2. Exploration: driven by the assessment, working forwards from opportunities, usually starting at a lower level of detail compared to anything seen in Discovery
  3. Elaboration: ideas, hypotheses, experiments, impact, etc – what we’ll actually do, the next level of detail captured on a just-in-time basis

If it is for a big enough scope (and that’s usually the case), most participants will experience Discovery very much as ends planning. Elaboration is clearly intended to be means planning.

For Exploration though, whether it’s means planning or ends planning can depend on your perspective. If you’re the sponsor, you’ll be glad to see teams fired up, engaged on the issues [6], prioritising a way forward. For you, that’s job done – means! On the other hand, if you suffer every day with those issues on the ground, exploring ways past them is an end in itself, a powerful motivation to change things, cathartic even!

The real lesson therefore is not just to practice ends planning from time to time, but to make sure that ends and means are properly understood relative to everyone’s different perspectives. Not just knowing the difference between outcomes and solutions, but knowing whose needs will be met by them. Not just resolving to avoid fixating prematurely on solutions, but having the awareness and skill to move easily between obstacles, outcomes, and solutions [7], the last of those lightly held, as hypotheses.

None of this will happen without the right people in the room. Again, if it’s collaboration, self-organisation, and innovation that you want:

Encourage solutions to emerge as & when they’re needed from the people closest to the problem [8]

Good advice generally, and especially so when those people closest to the problem are among those whose needs will be met. When the context is organisational change, it’s absolutely crucial.

Summary: The language of outcomes and its lessons for leadership

Yes, it may take a little discipline, but none of what I have described in this series is fundamentally hard. Yes, it takes some deliberate organisation design of the kind described in my books and explored in our workshops if it is to be sustained reliably over time, but that needn’t be a prerequisite for some real progress today. So why not start practicing now?

1. Identifying the adaptive challenge:

Without prescribing what the answer should be, ask questions that invite answers meaningful to the most stakeholders, exploring those answers just enough to be sure that everyone involved knows both whose needs they’ll be meeting and how they’ll be able to confirm that they’re being met. If the How can be deferred, don’t ask for it!

2. Framing obstacles:

If you want see collaboration, self-organisation, and innovation, identify real issues, taking care to avoid language that needlessly excludes people or possibility 

3. Generating outcomes:

Practice!

  • Practice asking questions to which you don’t already have the answer
  • Practice asking questions that don’t needlessly pollute the conversation with your own assumptions

4. Organising outcomes

Maintain a clear line of sight between decisions on the ground and overall objectives

5. Between ends planning and means planning (this post)

Encourage solutions to emerge as & when they’re needed from the people closest to the problem

References

[1] Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation, Mike Burrows (New Generation Publishing, 2018)
[2] Agendashift™ assessments (agendashift.com)
[3] Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile, Mike Burrows (New Generation Publishing, 2019)
[4] Wholehearted:OKR (agendashift.com)
[5] Re-creating the Corporation: A Design of Organizations for the 21st Century, Russell L. Ackoff (OUP USA, 1999)
[6] “Obstacles, contradictions, and imbalances recognised and owned as opportunities for authentic engagement” – the first line of Our mission: Wholehearted (agendashift.com). See also its announcement, Making it official: Agendashift, the wholehearted engagement model
[7] See also Coaching for P.RO.s, (cleanlanguage.co.uk), Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, using slightly different terminology to Agendashift’s: problems, remedies, and outcomes
[8] What is Strategy Deployment (availagility.co.uk)

Acknowledgements

I’m grateful for feedback on earlier drafts of this post from Teddy Zetterlund, Thorbjørn Sigberg, Richard Cornelius, and Kert Peterson. And thank you Karl Scotland for reference [8].

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Workshops upcoming in 2020 – London (*2), Gurugram, Malmö, Tel Aviv, Oslo (*2), and online

For a 20% saving, use discount code LONDON2020 for the London workshops and NORDIC2020 for Oslo and Malmö.

See also our workshops and events pages – Switzerland and Australia to be added soon.


From the exciting intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development, Agendashift™: The wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home | About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
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What just happened? What they said about the new Impact! workshop

Tuesday saw the public debut of the Impact! workshop. It took place in Tampa ahead of the Open Leadership Symposium there, and it comes to London next week. Use code LONDON2020 for 20% off! Feel free to get in touch privately if you think you may qualify for a larger discount.

What it is

A 1-day, customer-centric workshop, dealing in strategy, outcomes, experiments, and a little bit of leadership and org design. All intended to get product, development, and service delivery of all levels of experience onto the same page, speaking the same language, the language of outcomes.

What they said

  • “These product goal tools/models extremely helpful for product development, both new and already under development”
  • “Aligning organisations to customer needs from the outside in – very insightful”
  • “Thinking tools for the organisation”
  • “Understanding right (needs) to left (process)”
  • “Outcome based experimentation for determining customer needs”
  • “Great approach to product development and strategy”
  • “Bringing practical, high-impact tools to the change practitioner’s toolkit”
  • “Dynamic coaching framework that tames unhelpful advice-giving tendencies”
  • “Highly interactive, real application methods”
  • “Tools easy to understand, thought-provoking to use”
  • “Telling stories and proving concepts”
  • “Highlight: Option Relationship Mapping, especially the customer visibility axis”
  • “Want to see our org try Option Relationship Mapping to solve for product strategy”
  • “Loved 15-minute FOTO – very complementary to other coaching models”
  • “Will use obstacles and outcomes with Clean Language for discovery”

Things to revisit (not all of them for a 1-day workshop)

“Don’t change anything” was one delightful piece of feedback! I won’t be resting on my laurels though. To reflect on:

  • These tools in relationship to larger product development frameworks
  • More case study depth (aka ‘Springboard’)
  • Pointers to opportunities to practice

Pictures: Ulises S. Aguila

Workshops upcoming in 2020 – London (*2), Gurugram, Malmö, Oslo (*2), Tel Aviv, and online

As already mentioned, I’m doing the Impact! workshop next week in London, on Friday 14th, and don’t forget code LONDON2020 for a 20% saving. Coming after that, most of the range of Agendashift workshops! Use NORDIC2020 for Oslo and Malmö.

See also our workshops and events pages. Switzerland (May) to be added soon.


From the exciting intersection of Lean-Agile, Strategy, and Organisation Development, Agendashift™: The wholehearted engagement model
Links: Home | About | Our mission: Wholehearted | Become an Agendashift partner | Assessments | Books | Resources | Events | Contact | MikeSubscribe
Blog: Monthly roundups | Classic posts
Community: Slack | LinkedIn group | Twitter