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The Education of a Lean-Agile Leader

At Temenos+Agility we are fascinated with this question: “How can Lean-Agile leaders educate themselves for their work?”

We treasure this question for two reasons: first, because it is our business to help Lean-Agile leaders grow - to help them educate themselves for their work in the broadest sense; and second,  because we seek to continually educate ourselves every day to become better Lean-Agile leaders ourselves.  

When we speak about education here, we use the word in its broadest sense: far beyond formal schooling or training, to include a pattern of lifelong learning.

This subject evokes passion, pride, and a sense of awe and deep humility in us. Our leadership team includes people who have been working with leaders to promote “Agility” since before the creation of the Agile Manifesto. We are one of the world’s leading providers of training and coaching in the Lean-Agile space. Our team includes people who have been studying leadership and leadership thinking for 30 years and more, working with some of the leading theorists and practitioners in this field. We practice an approach to cultural evolution that we believe is at the cutting edge of current global practice.  With all this experience in our hands, we feel both humbled and excited by the breadth of the challenge. We are proud of what we bring to the conversation, and deeply aware of how large is the field of inquiry and how much we still need to learn.

From this place of excitement and dauntedness, we would like to share a framework for thinking about Lean-Agile leadership. We hope doing so opens up the conversation and dialogue about the education of Agile leaders. We will be using this framework as a platform for sharing and dialogue here on this blog, in our multi-media channels, in the meetups around the world that we sponsor and participate in, and as a foundation for participation in the conversations held by others. This framework, a living and dynamic offering, lies at the heart of our own leadership programs offered to clients.

We find it helpful to organise our thinking about the education of an Agile leader around ten themes:

  1. Leadership lessons specifically gained from Lean and Agile
  2. Calling forward personal and shared vision - sometimes thought of as purpose, inspiration, and mission - and bringing them to life through strategies, tactics and plans
  3. Creating and holding containers (relational and team structures) that foster dialogue and collective intelligence
  4. Fostering and holding journeys of inquiry - journeys where individuals and teams hold big questions and learn together as a foundation for innovation
  5. Understanding and working with the stances and mindsets required for personal and collective leadership
  6. Understanding and working with levels of human development and awareness
  7. Holding journeys of personal and organisational transformation
  8. Understanding and working with the full range of human capacities - including emotional, intuitive and embodied as well as rational and cognitive
  9. Understanding the systemic quality of human experience.
  10. Embodying a design ethos - designing beautiful things and beautiful experiences; becoming a maker

As we understand it today, we believe the education of an Lean-Agile leader needs to incorporate all of these themes.

To help our clients, and ourselves, along on this journey, we seek to draw both on our own experience and on the best of the Lean-Agile and leadership thinking and practice advanced by thought leaders around the world, including the founders of the Lean and Agile movements, Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Nick Udall, Joseph Campbell, David Bohm, Bill Isaacs, Bill Torbert, Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Ken Wilber, Frederic Laloux, Fred Kofman, Fritjof Kapra, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, the founders of IDEO, Roger Martin, David Abram, Bessel van der Kolk, Matthew E. May and many others from ancient and modern traditions. For us, this is a journey not just of sharing and developing our own practice, but of co-creation: curating, digesting and sharing the best thinking and practice from around the world. No one individual or organisation can hope to hold a monopoly on the wisdom needed to address this great challenge.

Our intent is continually to refine and share our understanding around this great question through dialogue in all the channels available to us, as well as in our work with clients.  We are profoundly excited by this journey of exploration and learning.

We invite you to join us on the road. Please do so in direct conversation, by sharing your own insights in comments [on this blog or] on social media, by joining us at one of our sponsored meetups in North America, Europe or Asia-Pacific, by attending one of our trainings or Gatherings, or by joining our Leadership Program.


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