Building a collective context to thrive in extreme uncertainty

In coaching Agile teams, it became apparent that some individuals, teams and organisations were able to transition into the Agile mind-set a lot quicker or a lot less painfully than others. It was difficult to find the real reason(s) for this (even in current literature or dialogues) as it seemed to be more elusive than just straight forward adoption patterns (such as the team forming stages i.e. forming to performing or the Shu-Ha-Ri patterns).

A recent study published by Dan Greening on “Agile Base Patterns in the Agile Canon” (in this publication, he discusses that following this 5 base patterns leads to faster agile adoption and maintaining high degrees of agility) and an earlier study from 2010 called “Agility in Context” (Hoda et. al., 2010) shed light on the topic and hinted at a complex ‘missing’ pattern that these individuals, teams and organisations perform to accelerate their adoption of the Agile mindset and subsequent transformation.

This pattern is called ‘Collective Context’ and observations of individuals, teams and organisations that managed to practice this pattern intentionally had more alignment and cohesion and were able to tap into a far greater accelerated and successful Agile transformation.

Along this line, I will be discussing how having a collective context, individuals, teams and organisations are able to increase their agility.

Collective context is all about a having and maintaining a shared understanding of the current context that each individual, team or organisation finds themselves in.

This is a base pattern, and any mix of these (individual, team or organisation) not having such a shared understanding about their current context (and circumstances) will find a low degree of agility.

Collective Context as a base pattern is influenced by multiple factors (such as history, values, beliefs etc).

I grouped these into 8 themes (for instance physical factors, psychological factors, value factors, motivational factors, etc) and will briefly discuss this.

This talk aims to explore ‘Collective Context’ as a pattern at a high level, and what individuals, teams and organisations can do to build and maintain it. 


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Outline/structure of the Session

This presentation is 45 minutes in duration, with the following format/ agenda:

  • Why is a collective context important? (7 minutes)
    • Typical problems observed where collective context is weak (included in the above 10 minutes)
  • Aspects of a collective context (3 minutes)
  • A brief look at the factors influencing each aspect (15 Minutes)
  • Results and benefits of a strong collective context (5 minutes)
  • Some practices to build and maintain a collective context (10 minutes)
  • Questions (5 minutes)

Some elements or points will be supported and illustrated by audio-visual media, and examples will be supported by research and from my experience as an agile coach.

Learning Outcome

The following learning outcomes apply:

  • The importance of a collective context for individuals, teams, organisations and industries;
  • Identification of the aspects of collective context;
  • Identification of the factors that influence each aspect of a collective context;
  • Some practices in which a collective context can be built and maintained.

Target Audience

Anyone interested in building high performing teams

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

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