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We help leaders and engaged team members at every level to gain fluency in the language of outcomes – developing and pursuing strategies together, innovating and adapting as the organisation learns to renew and transform itself. More...

Resources: Everywhere all at once: Introducing the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation, an accessible, situational, and complexity-aware presentation of the Viable System Model

This white paper describes the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation, the organisational model at the heart of the Leading with Outcomes module Adaptive Organisation: Business agility at every scale and its related assessment tool. Motivated initially by a desire to bring some deeper thinking on organisation to the Lean-Agile community but already showing the promise of wider application, it builds on a classic model from the systems community, Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model (VSM), which we introduce and use in a novel way.

In contrast to the more traditional diagnostic and rollout-driven approaches to organisation development (still paradoxically popular despite their poor track record), this elegant and accessible model is highly suited for use in the participatory, outcome-oriented, and complexity-aware way already associated with Agendashift and Leading with Outcomes.

We introduce the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation in stages. First, it is introduced as a simple model of three mutually-related spaces applicable at every organisational scale. Next, we engage with each space’s internal structure. Finally, we identify four key strands in the relationships between organisational scales. At each stage, imbalances in the relationships between model elements makes organisational dysfunctions easy to identify. Envisioning those relationships working at their healthy and productive best for everyone leads us (via obstacles and outcomes) to a testable organisational strategy, participants already motivated to find fitting solutions.

White paper contents

  1. Introduction
  2. At every scale
  3. Between scales
  4. Organising at human scale
  5. Discussion
  6. Related offerings
  7. References
  8. Acknowledgements

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About us

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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