Foundation – root

This course shows ambitious leaders how Agile Lean Leadership (ALL) can transform an organization. It demonstrates how to scale Agile and Lean principles for a single Team, for a whole organizations, for large projects or for single Teams handling multiple streams of work.

The module details, the Why, Who, What and When of the transitions and contrasts the approach  to Neo-Taylorist management.

This ALL Foundation course assumes prior knowledge of Agile and Lean thinking. It is for people who have a Scrum Master or Product Owner certification or have taken ALL course #1 Introduction. Read a PDF description of the course here…

Find the other courses in the series here:

The Challenge

Change in an organization is always hard. For decades the Neo-Taylorist, reductionist way of seeing an organization as a giant machine that can be programmed by the appropriate expert has dominated management thinking and been regarded by many as undisputed fact. Alongside this idea the imperial leader emerged, either of the bureaucratic or the heroic type. The worst consequence of this is the resulting separation of thinking and doing; people’s pride of workmanship is gone, as is their sense of autonomy and sometimes also their sense of purpose.

This approach may have worked well for mass production, or commodity type businesses, but in today’s highly technical and rapidly innovating world, the challenges are much more complex and the average worker, more highly educated and skilled. So faced with novel and complex challenges, organizations must learn how to organize in ways that allow them to  adapt and survive in uncharted territory, where knowledge may be fragmented or non-existent, requiring it to be acquired through experiment and analysis..

Luckily the solution requires more common-sense than rocket-science. In fact, as much as Agile-Lean Leadership is forward looking and innovative, it also reflects on a time when craftsmen were respected for their skills and trusted with the responsibility of doing their jobs well. Today’s “craftsmen” include engineers, designers, technologists and scientists, but the idea is the same, de-emphasize the top-down command and control approach and give responsibility to those doing the work. Make them accountable to their team, but allow them to solve their own issue with minimal external direction.

The Agile Lean Leadership Foundation course will teach the participants the foundation of building an organization that:

  • Is fast
    • Delivers value fast
    • Learns quickly
    • Changes quickly and inexpensively when needed
  • Has a consistency of purpose
    • Is focused on the long term and and the sustainable
  • Is reliable and resilient
    • keeps promises and commitments
    • Have high quality standards in all aspects
    • Is able to react quickly and sensibly to the unexpected
  • Is innovative
    • Have motivated, energetic employees
    • Can explore and experiment
    • Can handle complex challenges
  • Has balanced empathy
    • With the customer
    • With the employee
    • With other stakeholders and society at large

The following principles and models are used

  • Cynefin for complexity and sense-making
  • Systems Thinking
  • Design Thinking
  • Beyond Budgeting
  • Dual Leadership
  • Lean thinking, Scrum and Kanban
  • The Learning organization

Target group

Ambitious managers/leaders at middle and top level, who want to capitalize on the benefits of Agile Lean Leadership.

Learning objectives

Agile Lean Leadership Context

Understand the history of leadership and management. Understand how complexity has to change our ways of working and is  the antithesis to the prevailing Neo-Taylorist, plan and numbers-driven management paradigm. Understand intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

Agile Lean Leadership Values and Principles

A deep understanding of the four values and 16 principles and ability to apply them in context. A deep understanding of the ALL pattern: Teams, Circles on different levels, manifests and relationships and why these patterns work.

Agile Lean Leadership Organization

Principles and practices of organizational design. Starting from the periphery, where the real clients are and working towards the service teams in the center. How to handle and escalate opportunities and issues.


  • What’s in it for me? Reality check, the challenges and benefits of ALL, why is it a plausible way forward?
  • Complexity – Theory, Cynefin in detail. How to use this in daily life and choose the right approaches in actual contexts.
  • The history of leadership – How did we get here? The rise of Neo-Taylorism and its consequences. Where did all things Agile and Lean come from? Lean thinking, Scrum and Kanban, Systems Thinking, Beyond Budgeting, The Learning organization.
  • Intrinsic Motivation – with checks and balances. People want to have purpose, autonomy and mastery.
  • Agile Lean Leadership, the four values and 16 principles – Clarity of purpose, a clear vision. A clear line of sight to the customer, be clear on who is served and why.
  • Leadership in complex domains, the organization as a complex organism. Binding people together with common goals and values, not rules and regulations. Focus on sustainability and resilience, keeping everything working through time and changes. Building psychological safety and leading for learning.
Circle Relationship Map
  • The ALL organizational pattern – How to generalize Teams into Circles with Relationships in a network. Primary focus on serving the customer, decision making and escalation, cross-cutting concerns.
  • The power of a hierarchy of Circles (Level two Circles or Teams of Teams) for Escalation and Resolution.
  • The power of guilds (Secondary Circles). Dealing with skill-based, cross-cutting concerns.
  • The power of manifests for Circles and Relationships.
  • The Organizational Relationship Map (ORM) showing Circles and Relationships.
  • The dual leadership pattern, inherited from Scrum.
  • Application of the pattern to the special cases of Scaling Up (several Teams and one backlog) and Scaling Down (One Team and several Backlogs)
  • A Model ALL organization is built – A model ORM is built. Canvases are developed for the business case and the roadmap for introducing Agile Lean Leadership.

Deep Questions and Answers

“The temptation to lead as a chess master … must give way to that of a gardener” – Stanley McChrystal

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