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Resources: Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR) template

The OI-SR template as described in chapter 5 of the 2019 book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile, put in context in the 2021 2nd edition of Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation, and featured in our cheat sheet. It released under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license; translations and other adaptations welcome!

Workshop slideware for the Outside-in Strategy Review is included under the Agendashift partner programme. The Agendashift Academy module Outside-in Strategy: positioned for success is based on a hands-on walk through the model and its application.

Especially if (say) visual mapping techniques will be used, the template may be regarded more as a guide to the process rather than something to be filled in.

For a given scope – team, team-of-teams, something bigger (up to whole organisation) – it poses an interesting sequence of generative questions that launch conversations of the form Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes, in other words the IdOO ("I do") pattern.

OI-SR template image

An alternate version inspired by Option Relationship Mapping, Wardley Mapping, and Challenge Mapping allows for outcomes or “How might we”s (HMWs) to be organised on an axis of ambiguity, spreading them out so that relationships between can more easily be drawn:

OI-SR template image

The Ideal for each layer can be interpreted in various ways:

  • Implicitly or explicitly identifying its key challenge, describing a “compelling future” without which the strategy would lack motivation
  • As a “possibility-focussed purpose statement” – see The Dynamics of Generative Change, Gervase Bushe (BMI Publishing, 2020)
  • As describing a job-to-be-done – see Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress, Bob Moesta, Greg Engle (Lioncrest Publishing, 2020)

For the standard version, the obstacles for each layer are “what stops that, what gets in the way” of that layer’s Ideal. Outcomes are generated from those and then organised.

For the alternate version, the standard process can be followed, or the Why? and What stops us? questions of Challenge Mapping used to generate “How might we”s (HMWs).

The 5 layers and the outside-in questions

  1. Customer: What’s happening when we’re reaching the right customers, meeting their strategic needs1?
  2. Organisation: When we’re meeting those strategic needs, what kind of organisation are we?
  3. Product: Through what products and services are we meeting those strategic needs?
  4. Platform: When we’re that kind of organisation, meeting those strategic needs, delivering those products and services, what are the defining/critical capabilities that make it all possible?
  5. Team(s): When we’re achieving all of the above, what kind(s) of team(s) are we?

1strategic needs: Their needs, our strategy

Source: Right to Left, chapter 5

The questions are non-prescriptive by design, making as few assumptions as possible. Each question builds on its predecessors, supporting participants in a process of model building. Also by design, the layers, the relationships between them, and their respective questions leave room for some careful (non-prescriptive) unpacking by the facilitator or trainer.

The Outside-in Strategy Readiness Assessment

Developed for the Agendashift Academy module Outside-in Strategy: positioned for success, this is a short (15-prompt) assessment tool, 3 prompts for each of the abovementioned 5 layers.

Try it here:


Copyright © 2015-2022 Agendashift Ltd (formerly Positive Incline Ltd). All rights reserved. The page Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR) template by Mike Burrows of Agendashift 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/resources/oi-sr-template.md (github.com)

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Materials for Outside-in Strategy Review (OI-SR) template


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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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