Resources: Principles

Distilled essence of Agendashift™ in five principles, taken from the book and released under a Creative Commons with-attribution licence to enable adaptation and wider use:

As text:

  1. Start with needs
  2. Agree on outcomes
  3. Keep the agenda for change visible
  4. Manage options, testing assumptions
  5. Organise for speed, clarity, and mutual accountability

The principles first saw the light of day in the blog post Agendashift in 5 principles. In chapter 5 of Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2018) they are expanded as follows:

  1. Start with needs – get a sense of what’s needed, based on an appreciation of where we are now and our ambitions for where we’d like to get to
  2. Agree on outcomes – explore a landscape of obstacles and outcomes, using authentic agreement on outcomes as the basis for change
  3. Keep the agenda for change visible – use visual mapping to organise, prioritise, cross-check, and communicate
  4. Manage options, testing assumptions – generate and select options, frame hypotheses, and develop experiments that will validate or invalidate our assumptions
  5. Organise for clarity, speed, and mutual accountability – organise the conduct of experiments such that:
    • It is clear to all what is happening and why
    • Decisions are made quickly by the right people
    • Transparency and support are both given and received, with responsibility shared both for impact and for how results are achieved

Also in chapter 5, in the descriptive, outcome-oriented style of the Agendashift assessment prompts:

  1. Start with needs – We understand why the organisation should continue to exist, discovering and rediscovering the needs of customers, employees, and the stakeholders that it must serve
  2. Agree on outcomes – We maximise potential and minimise friction by deferring and delegating the ‘how’; by habit and deliberate practice we focus first on the intent of any change
  3. Keep the agenda for change visible – We maintain alignment on organisational themes, goals, and priorities, keeping them (and progress against them) visible and under regular review as they evolve
  4. Manage options, testing assumptions – We make progress by generating and prioritising options, surfacing their assumptions, testing them through experiments, and incorporating learning
  5. Organise for clarity, speed, and mutual accountability – Our organisation is designed and operated such that decisions about delivery or change can be made quickly and safely, close to where the real action takes place

Note that For the Model overview image, the wording of principle 5 has evolved since the book’s publication:

Agendashift™ is copyright © 2015-2020 Positive Incline Ltd. All rights reserved. Agendashift Principles 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

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Agendashift™ is brought to you by Positive Incline Ltd, UK-based specialists in Lean and Agile. Founder Mike Burrows is known to the Agile and Lean-Agile communities as the author of Kanban from the Inside (2014) and Agendashift (2018), the creator of the Featureban and Changeban simulation games, a keynote speaker at conferences around the world, and as a consultant, coach, and trainer. His new book Right to Left: The digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile was published August 15th 2019.

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