Category Archives: Presentations

ExecCamp: Turn Enterprise Executives to Entrepreneurs

The acceleration of change impacts technology, consumer expectations and economic models. The lifespan of companies is tumbling, from a 67 year average in the 1920s to 15 years today.

Are you responding? How? Organization wide transformation programs that lose momentum and slowly die? Innovation Labs that never produce or deliver? Training courses to certify teams in the next great method? Talking a lot of theory, yet showing next to no action. It’s time to stop doing the same things and expecting a different result.

The problem with transformation is never a lack of ideas. It’s lack of behavior change.

The enterprises that will survive embrace the entrepreneurial mindset, culture and approach at all levels of their organization.

In this talk Barry, will share how he is helping Fortune 500 companies rekindle their innovative spirit to tackle uncertainty and win on his executive immersion program ExecCamp.

Talks At Google: How ExecCamp is tackling Business Transformation

I was recently invited to Google to share my experiences of working with executives from leading global organizations who have taken part in ExecCamp.

ExecCamp is an ‘intervention program’ where executives leave their regular roles for 4-8 weeks with the goal of launching new businesses to disrupt their existing organizations.

The purpose of ExecCamp is to provide executives with a deeply immersive experience in which they can develop new skills and capabilities to transform themselves and their organizations.

By embracing Lean Enterprise principles and learning by doing, ExecCamp helps business leaders explore the intersection of business model innovation, product development, organizational design and culture transformation.

Lessons from deploying Lean Enterprise At Scale

How can you accelerate your journey in becoming a Lean Enterprise?

In this talk I share my lessons learnt from client engagements. I showcase how I’ve helped enterprises rekindle their capability to explore, experiment and embrace continuous improvement.

What are the key aspects to consider when you start? What are the tools and techniques to use? How do you organize to make a meaningful business impact?

I highlight the key issues holding organizations back from unleashing innovation, and demonstrating the countermeasures to achieve high performance at scale.

Email info at for the slides and 3 free chapters of my book, Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate At Scale

Think BIG, Learn fast, Start now!

lean-enterprise-book-think-big-start-now (1)

Your competitors have the freedom to see the world different because they’re programmed to THINK BIG,  Learn Fast, Start Now!

They don’t care about your legacy systems and mindset, how you operate your business, or the numbers you need to hit.

Your business is already dead. You just don’t know it yet.

How do you unlearn to relearn the skills you need to keep your business relevant?

In this keynote I share how we helped the largest organizations on the planet reinvent how they approach new product development and innovation in ExecCamp.

We take executives out of the boardroom and back on the streets to learn at light speed, and learn by doing.

You will learn how to:

  • Start new businesses inside a large enterprise
  • Train executives to recapture their entrepreneurial spirit
  • Blow up legacy mindsets and see opportunity through new lenses
  • Establish killer teams to conquer new territory
  • Create a culture of continuous experimentation
  • Test strategy through execution in minutes not months or years.
  • Launch winning products by starting small and acting now to make decisions based on evidence not conjecture

Find out how to turn your 50 year business into an adaptive, resilient entity ready for the fight for survival that lays ahead.

Blow Up The Business Case

Writing a well-crafted business case may be key to securing funding but it has little impact on whether your initiative succeeds or fails. A clear product vision, strategy for testing it and knowing which initiatives to start, stop, or continue will serve you better every time — especially if your goal is to create a high performance organization.

Blow Up The Business Case

Blow Up The Business Case

While the discipline of creating a business plan is useful it doesn’t guarantee anything; except maybe that the plan will change once it comes into contact with customers. So it begs the questions, how do you manage investment risk without simply writing documents, cloning other companies success by becoming ‘The Uber of [insert domain here]‘ or implementing the next great HiPPO (High Paid Person Opinion) idea?

In the webinar ‘Blow Up The Business Case’ hosted by O’Reilly Media, I presented how to take an evidence-based approach to investment decision-making by creating a framework of evaluation to manage and prioritise your organization’s projects and products. It discussed how use techniques such as customer discovery, hypothesis-driven development, and innovation accounting can minimize risk, uncover and inform options, and get the optimal return on your efforts.

Throughout the course of the webinar I asked the attendees three questions to get a sense of what techniques they are currently using and how they are incorporating customer/user feedback, measurement and decision-making frameworks into their development process to drive success in their own organisations. As ever, the results are both interesting and surprising.

Closing the learning loop with customers and users

How often do you get feedback from real users and customers in an iteration?

How often do you get feedback from real users and customers in an iteration?

The two biggest risks to any investment in a new initiative is not how much it costs or when it will be done; but reducing the uncertainty of will it get cancelled and will anyone use it? The way a user tells you that they like your product is they use it. Customers tell you that they like your product by sending you money for using it.

If you’re not talking to the people ultimately responsible for the success of your products, how can you know if you’re creating something they deem to be valuable and worth sending your their hard earned cash for the honour of using it?

“The most expensive way to find out if something works is the build the entire thing, then find out if people use it.”

Involving customers and users in your development process helps to close the learning loop with the people that matter in making your product a success. If you are serious about co-creation get them involved!

What gets measured gets done — Peter Drucker 

How do you measure the impact of work in an iteration?

How do you measure the impact of work in an iteration?

Understanding the results and impact of our efforts should be the key focus for any high performance organisation and team. Sadly too many teams live in a world so disconnected from business/customer/user success that they only focus on their own inputs and outputs not outcomes.

Organizations that see technology and software development as a cost centre simply care about how much work gets done, not how effective that work was in achieving our ultimate business/customer/user goals. Teams also tend to fall in love with their process… how great and efficient their process is — often its all they want to talk about.

Stories complete is a vanity metric to make you feel good or get management off our back. Velocity, lead time and cycle time are process metrics. Information gained and economic value captured are outcome metrics. Velocity, lead time and cycle time tells you how well your process is working, not how effective the team has been about achieving business outcomes — bottom line impact for our efforts.

High performance teams understand the difference between vanity, process and outcomes metrics. They focus their one metric that matters to solve problems aligned to our current goals — which may be process or business focused depending on the problem they are trying to solve.

Frameworks for decision-making, evaluation and investment

How do investment decisions get made in your business?

How do investment decisions get made in your business?

Death by steering committee or HiPPOs handing out orders to implement — you decide. Engaging teams by framing problems to solve, rather than order to take, has a huge impact on how leaders can encourage teams to work in an innovative way.

Creating a framework for making decisions based on the ambiguity that is inherent when innovating and operating in conditions of extreme uncertainty is a critical factor for high performance teams. No one person can be expected to get it ‘right’ every time.   The goal of using economic frameworks such as Cost of Delay or WSJF is not to provide a magic number. The goal is to force people to expose and explain their assumptions behind why they came up with that number. The added advantage with exposing assumptions is that they are shared, testable, and we can create experiments to exercise those assumptions in learning loops.

It also means that we can start to create and link economic information back to business outcomes to provide a common language that is universally understood across the organisation — money!


The new business case isn’t a hundred page document with well crafted numbers and arguments as to why your idea is the best. It’s a runway for testing and learning all our best ideas to find out what what works, and what doesn’t.

When you are putting together your next business case, try using the following principles to set up for success;

  • Get across functional group together that understands and represents the organization
  • Map ideas out at speed using a canvas (like business model or value proposition canvas)
  • Treat the canvas as a living document, updated regularly based on the learnings from testing out your ideas
  • Test ideas with real customers and users — close the learning loop together
  • Optimise to reduce the uncertainty of building something no one wants and stop wasting peoples time
  • Create a framework for the evaluation of ideas for future investment.
  • Set investment boundaries around time, effort and scope to build in feedback loops for course correction or close.

Further references

Watch my talk on Blow Up The Business Case on InfoQ

Blow Up The Business Case was the final session in a series of three webinars with my co-authors and I. You can check out Joanne Molesky presenting ‘Financing Alternatives for Software Delivery‘ and Jez Humble talking about Running Agile Programs At Scale on O’Reilly website. All these ideas and more are discussed in detail our book, Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organization Innovation At Scale

Mental Models for Agile Adoption


Following being invited back to the Agile Lean Europe (ALE) unconference in Bucharest this year, I thought it would be a nice idea to share the presentation Jo Cranford and I gave at the inaugural unconference in Berlin in 2011 on ‘Mental Models for Agile Adoption’.

What are Mental Models?

Our mental models help shape our behaviour and define our approach to solving problems, carrying out tasks and form the structure of logical reasoning. One view suggests mental models can be constructed from perception, imagination, or the comprehension of discourse.

What are mental ingredients to support Agile adoption within learning organisations?

How do we amplify what enhances adoption and break down barriers that inhibit it?

We attempted to explore ideas how mental models are at the very heart of success of organisational change and individual transformation.

Key concepts;

  • The difference of ‘Doing Agile versus being agile!
  • How Agile and Lean concepts are often interrupted as counter-intuitive
  • How we make mental leaps of abstraction
  • How are governing variables drive our action strategies
  • The ‘Theory of Action’ from Schon and Argyris
  • Double versus Single Loop Learning
  • Tools and techniques to improve outcomes
    • Left Hand and Right Hand Column
    • Personal Reflection

I don’t do Agile, I AM Agile!

Too often in agile software development we tend to use methodologies and all their components simply because the rule book says so. Why not select the tool based on the context of the goal your trying to complete.

Anything that you use that does not lead towards a direct value add to the final product delivered is simply an overhead and waste.

This presentation covers discovering what is the minimum amount of practices that are required to achieve the goal of delivering a product we desire – safely, quickly and successfully. Thus allowing us to start getting feedback and improving it.

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Tradition vs. Lean and Agile PMO and Organisations

We are in one of the most interesting and disruptive eras of business change the world has known. The landscape and competitive environment is evolving at rates we have not seen before, and it’s only going to accelerate. The average life expectancy  for an organisation is plummeting from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today, according to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University. At the current churn rate, 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.

Below I have included a deck contrasting the differences between traditional and Lean/Agile PMOs and organisations, outlining the value a Lean/Agile approach can bring. I have been able to extended the deck with the help of David Joyce and Ian Carroll in order to start a discussion on how the future can look for organisations as they attempt to scale lean and agile practices and principles across the entire organisation.

Even though traditional models of how projects, portfolios and organisations are governed represent thinking that originated in the 1890s with Taylor (fixation on efficiency and utilisation) and Gantt (of Gantt chart fame) they seem remarkably impervious to change. Our challenge for organisations today is that they need to change to keep pace with our ever evolving business environment, otherwise we can never achieve true business agility.

I plan to post deeper insights into each area over the coming weeks, however for now I will paint the boarder picture of where the majority of organisations are at today, and how they need to start changing and learning to move forward and be competitive in this era of disruptive change.

As W. Edwards Deming said, “Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival”.

Key concepts;

  • How traditional PMOs and organisations are setup
  • Legacy mindset that are alive and still driving the majority of portfolio/organisation behaviours
  • Comparisons of traditional and lean/agile mindsets
  • Principles of lean and agile portfolio/organisation management
    • Organisational structure
    • Annual vs Incremental funding (Beyond Budgeting)
    • Limiting Work in Progress i.e. its only matters how many projects you finish, not start.
    • Managing and visualising capability
    • Coping with portfolio complexity through experimentation and validated learning
    • Removing the concept of projects and focusing on continuous delivery of value
  • Benefits of lean and agile portfolio/organisation management

ProductTank at Google Campus

I was delighted to be invited to present at October’s meetup of ProductTank at Google Campus to share my experiences on what drives individuals, teams and collaboration in successful product development organisations.

ProductTank London is the original meetup for Product Managers throughout the city, and with over 1,100 members and 150+ attending every event. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Dharmesh Raithatha, Senior Product Manager at Mind Candy and Will McInnes, Managing Director at NixonMcInnes.

Dharmesh shared really interesting insights into how creating a shared vision, understanding and culture in an organisation is key to ensuring the success of the business, especially when you are a company like Mind Candy that has experienced rapid growth in a short period of time.

Will also put across a number of compelling arguments related to how so many organisations still remain closed, siloed, slow to change, and deeply hierarchical. He described how work places need to progress to become supportive, open, conducive to creativity, motivating, and fun while focusing on values that support a higher social consciousness and benefit over shameless and hungry profiteering to support a few individuals pockets. He has captured his thoughts in his recently published book called Culture Shock.

My presentation was focused on motivation, along with ideas on teams and organisation culture and values. I also included a couple of exercises and tools I use to visualise and surface these behaviours when working with groups.


One of my favourite books on the subject of motivation recently has been Dan Pink’s Drive, where he covers concepts behind extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from factors outside an individual, typically financial incentives. Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure. Intrinsic motivation is based on taking pleasure in an activity rather than working towards an external reward.

The key factors for those that are intrinsically motivated are:

Purpose – a clear vision and shared understanding of what needs to be done
Autonomy – space and support to achieving results using techniques and approaches under their own control
Mastery – interested in mastering a topic, rather than just learning to achieve ‘good enough’

Tribal Leadership

Birds flock, fish school, people “tribe”.

Tribal Leadership is a concept captured by Dave Logan and his team, which is based on research conducted over a 10-year period with 24,000 people across 24 organisations from around the world. His argument is what makes the tribe more effective than others is its culture. Tribes generally consist of between 20-150 people and have 5 stages of cultural significance.

Stage one – people are socially alienated, and the theme of their words is that life has given them a bad deal, so it’s ok to do whatever it takes to survive.
Stage two – people do the minimum to get by, show almost no initiative or passion, and engage in passive-aggressive behaviour.
Stage three – people engage in anything that’s going on, with energy and commitment, but when you listen closely, they talk mostly about themselves and focus on appearing smarter and better than others. They think they’re focused on team concerns, but their actions show their interest is personal. People tend to form two-person relationships, so if they manage of group of ten, they have ten relationships.
Stage four– teams are the norm, focused around shared values and a common purpose. Information moves freely throughout the group. People’s relationships are built on shared values. They tend to ask, “what’s the next right thing to do?” Their language focuses on “we,” not “me” – and are ready for genuine partnerships.
Stage five– the theme of communication is limitless potential, bounded only by imagination and group commitment. People in this culture can find a way to work with almost anyone, provided their commitment to values is at the same intensity as their own. (Unlike Stage Four, the focus isn’t on “our values” but on resonant values.) There is almost no fear, stress, or workplace conflict. People talk as though the world is watching them, which may well be the case, as their results are making history.

True leaders can talk to people at all levels, however people in each level can only move up one level. It is the responsibility of leaders to nudge tribes to the next level. Great leaders introduce tribes to one another – bring people together from tribes unknown to themselves and one another in order to create amazing things.

Presentation Slides

Lean Startup, Kanban and Continuous Delivery: practices and principles to create the ultimate value creation machine

My presentation with Ian Carroll from our ThoughtWorks Quarterly Briefing where we shared our experiences of using Lean Startup, Kanban and Continuous Delivery practices and principles to support organisations in building their ultimate value creation machines.

Lean Startup Kanban Continuous Delivery


Startups. 4 people in a room changing the world. Fluid, optimised, responding dynamically to changes in the product based on detailed customer data to drive value and build their proposition. No bureaucracy, no waste just beauty.

Agile. 10 people in a room fighting an organisation. A system, bloated, ridged and wasteful. Challenging a business to change its perspective on product development and deliver amazing products.

While it sounds like Cinderella and the ugly sister, both have lessons to learn from one another. Principles are as important and useful in established companies as they are in the startup world. Lean Startup is not just about how we can create an amazing product – its about how we can learn from the results of our efforts to improve everything we do. Agile is an iterative and incremental approach to software development. Lean is a customer focused value creation process.

They are all ultimately searching for an answer to the question “How can we learn more quickly what works, and discard what does not to build ultimate product that our customers love?”