Core activities: Discovery

Discovery: Getting a shared sense of where we’d like to get to, identifying needs, ambitions and aspirations as well as shorter-term outcomes.

As a workshop session:

Discovery image

The Core Agendashift workshop includes the following Discovery exercises (with their related models/inspirations):

This structure realises the generative pattern Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes (IdOO):

  • Ideal (or Ideal best): In a context established here by Celebration-5W (preceded perhaps by some context-gathering icebreakers), a lightly guided reflection on some provided or harvested generative image or adaptive challenge, here the True North statement
  • Obstacles: “What stops that? What gets in the way?”; see also the [Language of outcomes] resource for tips on raising the quality of obstacles
  • Outcomes: As with obstacles (and relative to them, and perhaps identifying further obstacles in the process), outcomes are generated, not prescribed. 15-minute FOTO is one way of generating them; it does it efficiently enough that they typically need organising afterwards, hence Plan on a Page.

This pattern is repeated in the Exploration activity and in other workshops but with different tools. Other workshops may replace any or all of the above tools but retain this same structure overall. For example, in the Outside-in strategy family of workshops, the True North is replaced by the outermost one or two layers of the outside-in strategy review and their respective questions (see the OI-SR template for details).

Longer workshops such as Deep Dive and Wholehearted:OKR may add these and/or other related exercises or discussion topics:

  • Culture, values, and Systems Thinking (Schein)
  • Stories as expressions of strategy (Denning)

Agendashift™ is copyright © 2015-2020 Positive Incline Ltd. All rights reserved. The page Discovery by Mike Burrows of Positive Incline Ltd is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.


Source text maintained at github.com/asplake/agendashift-open/tree/master/framework/core-activities/discovery.md (github.com)

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Agendashift™ is brought to you by Positive Incline Ltd, UK-based specialists in Lean, Agile, strategy, and change. Founder Mike Burrows came to prominence in the Lean-Agile community as the orginator of Kanban’s values model, out of which came his first book, Kanban from the Inside (2014). His more recent books Agendashift (2018) 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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