Books: Agendashift (2nd edition 2021) | Right to Left (2019, audiobook 2020) | Kanban from the Inside (2014)

Right to Left: My kind of…

Appendix B of Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019, audiobook 2020), not a technical glossary, but gathering together some informal definitions that are especially characteristic of the book. These definitions apply very much in the context of digital leadership and are often helpful in wider contexts too.

My kind of…

Agile (short version)
People collaborating over the rapid evolution of working software that is already beginning to meet needs
Agile (longer version)
People bringing their various skills to bear on the rapid evolution of working software that is already beginning to meet needs, working in teams that place high value on collaboration and adaptation
Applying the culture, processes, business models & technologies of the internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations
~ Tom Loosemore, Definition of Digital,
Digital leader
Anyone who sees in digital technology the opportunity to serve their customers better (meeting their needs more effectively), recognises that this may have profound implications for how their organisation should work, and is ready to help make that happen
Someone’s need was met –
Engagement model
A model – of which Agendashift is an example – for how change agents do their work. To be effective in the organisational change space, an engagement model must do three things:
  1. Help to structure the work of change agents – facilitators, consultants, coaches, or employees whose remit includes the encouragement of change
  2. Help the client organisation engage its staff meaningfully in change-related work, inviting high levels of participation
  3. Help those parts of the client organisation that are undergoing deliberate change to engage constructively with the rest of the organisation, so that all sides will thrive
Lean (short version)
The strategic pursuit of flow, a deliberate process of organisational learning
(After Modig & Åhlström’s This is Lean and its “a strategy of flow efficiency”)
Lean (longer version)
The pursuit of flow as strategic imperative, an open-ended and purpose-driven endeavour that continuously and deliberately engages people at every level of the organisation in a learning process
The strategic pursuit of flow in complex environments, the organisation placing high value on collaboration, continuous delivery, adaptation, and learning
Outside in
Starting from outside the organisation – emphasising customers and their needs – and working inwards through layers of organisation and capability. The Outside-In Strategy Review (OI-SR) and the Outside-In Service Delivery Review (OI-SDR) are designed to create and sustain alignment (respectively).
Right to Left
A whole-process focus on needs and outcomes coupled with a sense of pull from the customer side (on the right hand side of a conventional value stream map). From the introduction: Putting outcomes before process, ends before means, vision before detail, “why” before “what”, “what” before “how”, and so on. It can also mean considering outputs before inputs, but give me outcomes over outputs, every time.
Rule of Three
“Design your strategy and governance meetings so that they invite the active participation of at least three levels of seniority. Include representatives from a range of different disciplines who have skin in the game and are respected for their direct knowledge of the situation.”
Upside down
Servant leadership in inverted hierarchies:
  • The organisation existing to support those who serve its customers
  • Decision authority moved to those who have the most relevant information (after Marquet).
As described in chapter 6 and after Greenleaf, the servant leader’s legitimacy rests on these three activities:
  1. Helping others to be successful
  2. Helping others find autonomy and meaning in their work
  3. Helping develop Servant Leadership in others
“I choose to be in the business of helping organisations to be more wholehearted – less at war with themselves, their contradictions identified and owned so that they can be resolved in some satisfactory way. By way of analogy, if we improve our delivery processes by removing impediments to flow, then we improve our organisations by removing impediments to alignment.”

As acknowledged in chapter 5, wholehearted is inspired by a quote from Christopher Alexander’s The Timeless Way of Building. Since publication of the print edition of Right to Left, it gave rise to our mission statement: Our mission: Wholehearted.

Copyright © 2019-2020 Mike Burrows. All rights reserved.


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Agendashift™ is brought to you by Agendashift Ltd (formerly Positive Incline Ltd), UK-based specialists in leadership, engagement, strategy, and change. Founder Mike Burrows came to prominence in the Lean-Agile community as the originator of Kanban’s values model, out of which came his first book, Kanban from the Inside (2014). His more recent books Agendashift (2nd edition 2021) and Right to Left (2019, audiobook 2020) bring a resolutely needs-based and outcome-oriented perspective to change, transformation, and the Lean-Agile landscape as a whole, contributing meanwhile a number of popular tools, games, and other resources. He works as a consultant, facilitator, and trainer, and as a keynote speaker at events public and private around the world.

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