Generative patterns: 2MBM

Two patterns for the price of one: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method. Type 1 and type 2 MBM respectively, collectively 2MBM.

2MBM image

2MBM doesn’t mean that metrics are bad, rather that they should come after mission and purpose and before solutions. It’s the difference between OKR done right and MBO, the latter a recipe for dysfunction.

From the blog post #2MBM: Meaning before Metric, Measure before Method (blog.agendashift.com):

So… metrics are bad? No! As we’ll see in a moment they can be a source of healthy creativity if explored at the right time. If the first MBM translates to “not too early”, then the second translates to “not too late”. In fact, there’s “too late”, and then there’s “way too late”:

  • “Too late”: having a solution idea and then coming up with the metrics that it is likely to impact, justifying it on that basis
  • “Way too late”: implementing a solution idea and looking for benefits afterwards

Not so much alignment as post hoc rationalisation, severely limiting the likelihood of any real learning taking place, and missing some vital input into the ideation process.

To illustrate that last point, here’s how we now facilitate ideation in Agendashift¹:

  1. Reacquaint ourselves with the outcome we’ve chosen to work on (remember that with us it’s “outcomes all the way down” and we haven’t even got to the bottom of that stack yet) with Challenge Mapping²
  2. Having explored around it, identify a list of success indicators for that outcome
  3. With the conversations of steps 1 and 2 still in the air, generate solution ideas
  4. Select the fantastic option, the one most likely to significantly outperform – relative to the others and disproportionately (non-linearly) relative to its cost and risk

¹ We cover the 2MBM pattern most explicitly in the Deep Dive and Wholehearted:OKR workshops
² See the IdOO pattern

Blog posts tagged #2mbm (blog.agendashift.com):


Agendashift™ is copyright © 2015-2020 Positive Incline Ltd. All rights reserved. The page 2MBM 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/patterns/2mbm.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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