Leading in a Transforming Organisation: Adaptive Organisation


2 day package: Adaptive Organisation I & II


We'll be exploring what it means to lead in an organisation where change is happening wherever it's needed, at the pace it's needed, and engaging the people that are needed – the people whose energy, insights, and innovations you'll need.

On day 1 (Foundation) we look at how to develop and pursue strategy in the language of outcomes, introducing some key conversational and organisational patterns and tools. You'll be developing skills you can bring not only to set-piece strategy events such as reviews and workshops but use in everyday settings too.

On days 2 and 3 (Adaptive Organisation parts I and II), we will be exercising those skills further as we get to grips with a classic model of organisation made accessible and brought up to date, applicable to a wide range of organisations of all shapes and sizes. For any given organisational scale (day 2), what are the preconditions for business agility, and what gets in the way of that? Similarly, in what practical ways can we help the relationships between organisational scales (day 3) to be more healthy and productive? You'll be learning some of the “deep magic” of organising, and you won't look at organisations in quite the same way again!


Trainer - Mike Burrows

Mike Burrows

Mike works at the intersection of Lean-Agile, strategy, and organisation development in the pursuit of the ‘wholehearted’ organisation. He is the author of Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2nd edition 2021), Right to Left: the digital leader’s guide to Lean and Agile (2019, audiobook 2020), and the classic Kanban from the Inside (2014). He is recognised for his pioneering work in Lean, Agile, and Kanban and in recent years his advocacy for participatory and outcome-oriented approaches to change, transformation, and strategy. Prior to his consulting career, Mike was global development manager and Executive Director at a top tier investment bank, CTO for an energy risk management startup, and later served as interim delivery manager for two UK government digital ‘exemplar’ services.


Package Options

This package is 2 days: Adaptive Organisation. All options include:


Total Days Package Options Days from Overall Package


Adaptive Organisation I

Day 1

Day 2


Foundation and Adaptive Organisation I 

Adaptive Organisation

Day 1 & 2

Day 2 & 3


Foundation and Adaptive Organisation

Day 1,2 & 3


Day 2 Adaptive Organisation (I): Business agility at every scale

Take this day on its own, with days 1 or 3.

In Adaptive Organisation part I, what every leader needs to know about organising for adaptability:

  • The three overlapping spaces of the Deliberately Adaptive Organisation
  • Integrating strategy, delivery, and mutual trust-building
  • Finding balance in relationships; managing complexity

For any given organisational scale – beginning with the scale and scope you most easily identify with and scaling up and down from there – what are the preconditions for business agility, and what gets in the way of that? Looking at your organisation (or any other), what constraints and freedoms operate? What elements should we expect to see? Between those many elements – people, teams, other organisational units of all sizes, the systems that exist at each scale, and so on – what relationships must be in place? How can we help those relationships become more balanced, more healthy and more productive for all who participate in them?

Prerequisites: Leading with Outcomes: Foundation is highly recommended. 

1. Delivery, Discovery, and Renewal:

  • Inside value creation's inner learning loop
  • Turning intent into progress and turning experiments into intelligence and insights
  • Reconciling Agile and business agility

2. Adaptive Strategy:

  • Making organising commitments, autonomy at every scope and scale
  • Understanding self and environment, creating and managing options accordingly
  • Actively maintaining coherent identity, purpose, and values

3. Mutual Trust Building:

  • Models of trust-building leadership
  • The systemic role of trust
  • Sensemaking – making meaningful progress in the presence of ambiguity


  • Viable System Model, Stafford Beer’s classic model for all organisations that have the drive to “meet the demands of surviving in the changing environment”; here it is the framework within which the other models and tools are integrated
  • Complexity science – Cynefin and more
  • Agendashift, Leading with Outcomes, Right to Left, and Wholehearted – outcome-orientation, leadership and strategy
  • Lean-Agile (“Lean and Agile celebrated both separately and together”) and friends


Day 3 Adaptive Organisation (II): Between spaces, scopes, and scales

See day 2 for prerequisites. Take this day with day 2, or all three days together.

In Adaptive Organisation part II, what every leader needs to know about scale:

  • Relationships between spaces and scales
  • Navigating structure
  • Managing the time dimension

Extending the approach of part I, and providing insights that are mostly absent from process-based frameworks (the Agile scaling frameworks for example), in what practical ways can we help the relationships between organisational scales to be more healthy and productive? And again, we scale down as well as up. What about our networks? And other kinds of relationship – people to business challenges, to business domains, and to their own and others' development, for example? And we finish very much in Leading with Outcomes style, developing and pursuing organisational strategy in the language of needs, obstacles, and outcomes.

1. Between and across scales – what the scaling frameworks don't tell you:

  • Understanding formal structure
  • Your organisation in 5 networks
  • Between and across scales: Structuring, connecting, translating, and reconciling

2. Organising at human scale

  • Thinking in circles – organising without reorganising
  • Teaming and re-teaming
  • The developmental organisation

3. Possibility and purpose

  • Developing organisational strategy with the IdOO ("I do") pattern: Ideal, Obstacles, Outcomes
  • Pursuing strategy with with Meaning, Measure, Method pattern


As day 2, plus:

  • Sociocracy (aka Dynamic Governance, Circular Hierarchy) – purposeful collaboration and self-governance at every scale
  • The Deliberately Developmental Organisation, Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey’s model for building organisations that align personal and organisational growth
  • Objectives and Key Results (OKR) – the strategy deployment framework pioneered at Intel