Organize Forward
Organize Forward
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Organize Forward

Last updated on 2020-09-08

About the Book

The way we organize ourselves in the work place today is frequently a source of human misery and suffering. Many of us are unhappy with the work we do, with how we do it, with why we do it. We are often unhappy with the outcomes of our work, and we chafe at how hard it is to get work done. As a general rule it seems that the organizations we work in bring a large amount of dysfunction to our lives.

We get directions that are woefully uninformed, and frequently defy basic common sense. We are held to task for our work without being allowed to make the most basic of decisions. We are surrounded by inane bureaucracy and senseless processes, with no means of improving them. We consign ourselves to a world of ineffectiveness and irrelevance.

Being a boss isn't any better, we are accountable for things we have very little control over. We rely on people that seem ill suited for the work they are doing. We have top make to many decisions on way to many topics. Things are always blowing up as soon as our attention is turned elsewhere.

The fact of the matter is the traditional organization is a relic from the Industrial era, a relic whose time is long past due. In today's world of constant change we need a new approach to organizing together to deliver value.

Using Agile Teams are our starting point, we need to start Organizing Forward, to meet the need of today and tomorrow. 

This book provides a set of thinking tools to help leaders, change agents, coaches and interested knowledge workers rethink how to get organized so that we foster self-organization rather than strangle it. Organizing Forward promotes a new way of defining and operating institutions of today based om the following principles;

Organize Around Purpose

  • Elevate meaningfulness – impact and clarity
  • Instill authenticity - values, beliefs, and behaviors
  • Increase autonomy – decentralization, cross functional teams, outcome ownership

Is organizational purpose both meaningful and authentic enough that people will accomplish it with maximum autonomy ?

Organize Through Choice

  • Improve confidence – fairness, trust, safety
  • Empower self organization – of roles, methods, process
  • Empower self management – of people, team, support functions
  • Empower self direction – solution, problem, outcome

Is there sufficient organizational confidence to facilitate self - organization, self - management, and even self - direction?

Organize For Change

  • Increase awareness – transparency, feedback, and flow
  • Adapt structure – collaboration, teaming, travelling
  • Evolve continuously– invitation, co – creation, experimentation based change

Is there sufficient organizational awareness to continuously adapt structure and evolve continuously through invitational, co-creative experimentation?

Organize Forward reflects over 15 years of organizational change experience from the Agile By Design team. It integrates and extends material from many sources across agile and humanistic management domains into a cohesive set of principles and practices that will help the reader facilitate a new mode of organizing structures, one based on teams that can self-organize to meet market and higher level outcomes.

About the Author

Jeff Anderson
Jeff Anderson

My mission in life is to help technology knowledge workers be awesome at what they do. Having been in the market since 1994, I have transitioned my initial passion for agile software engineering to provide advisory services to clients that want to thrive in a world of uncertainty and learning.

Over the last several years I have been running an Agile/Lean transformation service to help clients move from command and control towards feedback and self organization.

Our team has a solid track record coaching teams on foundational agile practices, guiding end to end organizational transformation to embrace a more agile mindset, and focused coaching of product and operations teams on how to embrace design thinking and validated learning.

I admit to an unbridled enthusiasm for any method or practice that bring creativity and joy to the value creation process, and get a kick out of turning leading edge thinking into contextualized, practical tools.

I also love to supercharge complex workshops through a combination of crowd awareness, passion, and above all humour. I’ll often iterate over a vast array of models/workshops in real time to adapt to the crowd's thinking and evolving goal of the session.

My most important skill is growing the talent around me. I continue to provide passionate, motivated people with a suite of leading edge skills that take their leadership to the next level.

I have presented at numerous conferences, nominated for a Brickell Key award, and am a founding fellow of the Lean System Society. I have also wrote a book on agile organizational change, The Lean Change Method.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • The Traditional Organization is a Relic Whose Time is Long Past Due
    • The World Today is A World of Constant Change
    • Organizing Forward: to meet the needs of the modern age
    • The Need to Constantly Organize Towards Greater Agility
    • The Agile Team is a key inspiration for Organizing Forward
    • But Most Agile Transformations Fail
    • Organizing Forward: Your Handbook to getting organized in the face of uncertainty
    • A Brief Note On Sources Of Inspiration
    • Read this work as it is being written in real time
  • From Industry to Uncertainty
    • Traditional thinking is over a century old
    • This legacy thinking was well suited to the Industrial era
    • Traditional thinking is toxic in the age of uncertainty
    • The Age of Uncertainty != The Age of Industry
    • A network of self motivated, cross functional teams
    • From hierarchy to value Network
  • The Need For Organizing Around Purpose
    • The Purpose of Organizational Purpose
    • Most Organizations Seem Bereft Of Purpose
    • Purpose - A Key Organizing Principle
    • Agile Transformations Seldom Place Enough Emphasis On Organizational Purpose
  • The Meaningful Organizing Purpose
    • The Hierarchy Of Meaningful Organizational Purpose
    • Profit as Purpose
    • The Market Purpose
    • More Meaningful Purpose
    • Moving to a Higher Purpose
    • Without Authenticity, Purpose Cannot be Meaningful
    • Purpose Driven Organizations In Action
    • Without Strong Purpose, Decisions are based on Ego and Survival
    • Elevating Purpose Through Impact Mapping
    • Co - Creating an Organizational Purpose Canvas
  • Purpose, Authenticity, and Mindset
    • Describing and Demonstrating Mindset
    • A Mindset as a Collection of Values, Beliefs and Behaviors
    • Making it Real : A representation of using Values, Beliefs and Behaviors to illustrate the Buurtzorg mindset
    • Establishing Rules that Ground us to Mindset and Purpose
    • Facilitating A Mindset Mapping Exercise
    • Hiring For Mindset and Culture over Skills and Experience
    • Ground Rules
  • Increasing Autonomy Of Purpose Through Agile Teams
    • Meaningful And Authentic Purpose Provide the Conditions For Autonomy
    • The Goal of Self-Organization is Effective Organization
    • Agile Teams Are Your Foundational Organizing Building Blocks
    • Organizing Constraint 1: Use Agile teams as the core organizing unit to enable effective self organization
    • Organizing Constraint 2: Cross Functional Teams Deliver Value, Functional Departments Grow Capability
    • Extending Your Impact Map To Include Fundamental Organizing Structures
  • Foundational Organizing Structures For Autonomy of Purpose at Scale
    • Some Unfortunate Truths About Agile Teams
    • Fact 1: There Are No Autonomous Teams
    • We Can’t Scale Agile Teams With Traditional Org Structure
    • Foundational Structures To Organize For Purpose At Scale
    • Going through each zone in a little more detail
    • Organizing Constraint 2: Most People Work In Edge Teams Directly Connected to Their Markets
    • Organizing Constraint 3: Work doesn’t get Handed To Support, Core People travel to The Edge Instead
    • Fact 2: Agility Does Not Come from Agile Teams
    • Organizing Constraint 4: Organizing Structures Are Demarcated into Contexts that Align To Social Boundaries
  • Adding Purpose Driven Organizing Structure To Your Impact Map
    • Before we get started
    • 1 - Identify active Market Actors
    • 2 - Define Identifying Goals
    • 3 - Map the Edge
    • 4 - Extract the Core
    • A Special note On context boundaries
  • Questions to Get You Started On Organizing For Purpose
    • The Purpose Challenge
  • A Graduated Path to Organizing Around Purpose
  • Why The People In Your Organization Need To Be Able To Make More Choices
  • Why is Choice Important
  • There is not Enough Choice In Your Organization
  • Establishing a System Of Fairness and Safety to Create An Environment Of Choice
  • The Roles People Play is a Choice
    • Traditional jobs and roles suck
    • You are your Job and nothing but your job
    • Do we even need role and job descriptions defined for an agile organization?
    • The Sports Team: A Good metaphor for thinking about roles and job functions in the age of uncertainty
    • Jobs and roles done well
    • A new mental model for jobs and roles
    • A more comprehensive example using a typical tech product organization
    • Role Personas
    • Flatten Reporting Hierarchies
    • A Note On T-Skilled People
  • Connecting an Organization through Choice
    • Organize based on Choice
    • Why are Patterns Important
    • Collaboration patterns
    • Dedicated Team Member
    • Traveler Pool Member
    • Service Provider
    • Enablers
    • Communities of Practice
    • Dynamic Team Member
    • Agile Ecosystem
  • Using Full Stack Poker To Choose How Teams Collaborate
    • Steps to playing full stack poker
  • Questions to Ask When Getting Started on Organizing Through Choice
    • The Choice Challenge
  • The Need For Continuous Re-Organization
    • Truly Stable Teams Erode Agility
    • Balance Preserving Stability with Evolving Away from Hand offs
  • Scaling Agile For Continuous Organizational Change
    • The Need to Constantly Evolve Your Organizing Structures
    • Foundational Agile Team Behaviors Enable Self-organizing Teams
    • Agile Behavior of the Self-organizing Team
    • Scaling Foundational Agile Team Behaviors Enable Ecosystems of Self Forming Teams
    • Agile Behavior Of the Ecosystem of Self Forming Teams
    • Agile Long Term Planning
    • Visually Managing Flow of Value Across The Ecosystem of Teams
    • Use Visualization to Illustrate Capabilities and Expertise in more Detail
  • Using Kanban to Enable Continuous Evolution of Organizing Structures
  • Achieve Constant Learning Through Human Centered Delivery
  • Inverse Conway - Designing Your Organizing Structure Around Domains
  • Mapping when to use What Organizing Technique

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