Ways of Working104

Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and Sociocracy

Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and Sociocracy

Jutta Eckstein, John Buck

March 15, 2018


The challenges companies face today in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world call for Agile throughout the company. There are two challenges: companies in general are trying to survive intense disruption and companies with successful software departments are trying to expand Agile methods to the whole company, including the board and the legal structure of the enterprise. Both the VUCA challenge and the pressure to implement Agile beyond IT, demand guidelines for implementing company-wide Agility.

We discovered these needed guidelines in Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, Sociocracy, and Agile. Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Human Systems Dynamics, and Cynefin provide additional insights.

However, in talking with various experts about how to address the challenges companies face, we got answers from within that expert’s framework. For example,

  • A Beyond Budgeting expert said, ‘Stop fixing the budget annually, because otherwise you won’t have the flexibility to react to frequent market changes.’
  • An Open Space expert said, ‘You need to make space for what you don’t know and can’t control, for totally new things to emerge. If people can follow their passion, you will be able to implement company-wide Agility, otherwise people will just do what they are asked.’
  • A Sociocracy expert said, ‘You first need to resolve the power structure, because as long as you have a hierarchy defined as top-down you will not become agile.’
  • An Agile expert said, ‘You need to start inspecting and adapting by using regular retrospectives in order to react flexibly, otherwise you will neither be able to learn from the market nor from within your company.’

All of these perspectives are true, but each perspective was always from within the discipline. We synthesized the approach into a wider perspective dubbed BOSSA nova: B = Beyond Budgeting, OS = Open Space, S = Sociocracy, A = Agile.

The synthesis leads to a new organigram that reflects all the sources of guidance to a value center. The new organigram focuses board/CEO, inspiration, and resource and legal considerations on the value center. The value center is thereby free to focus on the customer.

We discuss how to use Cynefin-type probes that enable everyone to apply this new strategy for implementing company-wide Agility in their own organization.

Eckstein Buck - Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and Sociocracy


Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the four values you need for company-wide agility: self-organization, transparency, constant customer focus, and continuous learning.
  • See how you can synthesize Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, Sociocracy, and Agile into a powerful new way of strategizing, structuring, and running a company.
  • Learn how to probe the VUCA challenges your company faces to find ways to create a dynamic and nimble organization.

Jutta Eckstein | Coach, Consultant, Trainer

Jutta Eckstein

Jutta Eckstein works as an independent coach, consultant, and trainer. She holds a M.A. in Business Coaching & Change Management, a Dipl.Eng. in Product-Engineering, and a B.A. in Education. She has helped many teams and organizations worldwide to make an Agile transition. She has a unique experience in applying Agile processes within medium-sized to large distributed mission-critical projects. She has published her experience in her books Agile Software Development in the Large, Agile Software Development with Distributed Teams, Retrospectives for Organizational Change, and together with Johanna Rothman Diving for Hidden Treasures: Uncovering the Cost of Delay in your Project Portfolio.

Jutta is currently co-writing (actually pair-writing) with John Buck a book on Company-wide Agility. This book focuses on synthesizing Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, Sociocracy, and Agility.

John Buck | President, GovernanceAlive, LLC; Co-Director, Center for Dynamic Community Governance

John Buck

A Certified Sociocratic Organizational Consultant, John is a President of GovernanceAlive LLC, a meeting facilitation, training, and consulting company that works throughout the world. The Center for Dynamic Community Governance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that focuses on improving community governance in Greenbelt, Maryland and surrounding areas. Both organizations offer the BOSSA nova method for improving company and organization governance. John has led dozens of implementation projects for a variety of organizations, resulting in greater efficiency and increased employee engagement. He believes that such basic values as self-organization, transparency, constant customer focus, and continuous learning can make our work places dramatically more sustainable, egalitarian, and profitable.

He excels in customizing BOSSA nova principles to each organization’s particular concerns, work schedules, and professional areas. His clients span the globe and include plastics manufacturers, colleges and universities, long-term care facilities, co-housing groups, and software companies.

John originally brought sociocracy to the English-speaking world from the Netherlands. He has translated numerous documents from the original Dutch and is coauthor (with Sharon Villines) of We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy.

Education and credentials: Master of Science degree in Quantitative Sociology, The George Washington University.




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