Engagement Model

Daniel Mezick, Engagement (openspaceagility.com):

Engagement Model (noun): Any pattern, or set of patterns, reducible to practice, which results in more employee engagement, during the implementation of an organizational-change initiative.

Martin Fowler, The State of Agile Software in 2018 (martinfowler.com):

The Agile Industrial Complex imposing methods on people is an absolute travesty.

Mike Burrows, Engagement: more than a two-way street (blog.agendashift.com):

It should now be clear why engagement models such as Agendashift, OpenSpace Agility (OSA), Systemic Modelling, BOSSA nova, and TASTE are so necessary. Non-prescriptive by design, they work happily with frameworks big or small, branded or home-brewed, and with each other. In their various and complementary ways, they bring people together from multiple levels of the organisation, help the organisation collectively to reveal to itself what needs to change, and come to agreement on what needs to change.

With Agendashift, the phrase engagement model works at multiple levels. It can describe:

  1. How we structure our work as facilitators, consultants, and coaches
  2. How our client organisations can engage their staff meaningfully in change-related work
  3. How the transforming parts of the organisation engage constructively with the rest of the organisation, so that both sides will thrive

Levels 1 & 2 are described in some depth in the 2018 book Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation. Quoting directly from chapter 5, here are the five activities as a model for a coaching engagement:

  1. Work with the client or sponsor to identify the strategic goals and needs that the engagement must address, setting the right tone in terms of ambition without losing sight of where the real challenges and opportunities lie
  2. Explore key areas of opportunity with the client in more detail, identifying obstacles, and from those generate a set of outcomes that represent the scope, objectives, and priorities of the engagement
  3. Help the client to understand the challenge in enough breadth to ensure that nothing important gets missed, and with depth sufficient to keep the coaching process fed with fresh and important challenges to investigate
  4. Drawing on a range of models, tools, and frameworks, encourage the client to generate and develop options for concrete action
  5. Through appropriate transparency, mutual accountability, and feedback in the coaching relationship with the client, ensure both the follow-through on actions already agreed and the flow of new ideas that can actioned as capacity becomes available

To explore the Agendashift model in more detail and see how it translates into workshop exercises, click the image:

There are strong hints at level 3 (intra-organisation engagement) in the Agendashift book, and it is developed more fully in the 2019 book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019). Talk to us about strategy workshops, silo-busting feedback loops, and other patterns generally poorly served by the Agile scaling frameworks.


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Agendashift™ is brought to you by Positive Incline Ltd, UK-based specialists in Lean and Agile. Founder Mike Burrows is known to the Agile and Lean-Agile communities as the author of Kanban from the Inside (2014) and Agendashift (2018), the creator of the Featureban and Changeban simulation games, a keynote speaker at conferences around the world, and as a consultant, coach, and trainer. His new book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile was published August 15th 2019.

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