It’s All About Synergy in Pragmatically Serving Clients . . .

After a year working with LeadingAgile, its time to move on . . . as I mentioned in a blog written a number of months after I started working with the organization:

And should irreconcilable differences emerge in our journey ahead, how we continue (together or separately!) will be anchored and guided by our cause of serving our clients and their business outcomes!

Nonetheless, we remain anchored in “serving our clients and their business outcomes”.

Originally posted at on April 20, 2016.



Transformation! Agility! Antifragility! Scalability! Sustainability! . . . All conjure up different sensations!

Coaches are catalysts for fostering success by partnering with clients in advancing their business outcomes. Fundamentally, coaches are students of Human Nature and Human Dynamics in the context of the Human Condition . . . Reality!

As Tom Landry elegantly expressed: “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

Some coaches leverage organic or mechanistic approaches, emphasize dynamics or mechanics, and use platforms or programs, there simply is no “one way”!


Knowing Mike (@mcottmeyer) and Dennis (@dennisstevens) for many years, we’ve often entertained the potential of collaborating. And on many occasions, it almost happened! However, after Mike and Dennis founded LeadingAgile (@leadingagile), I (@SAlhir) only became that much more intrigued.

As I continued to work with other dear colleagues, including Mark Ferraro (@mark4ro) and Brad Barton (@Brad_Barton), serendipitous events fostered the convergence of my path with LeadingAgile.

Much of Mike’s, Dennis’, and LeadingAgile’s transformation experience is captured in the LeadingAgile Way and much of Mark’s, Brad’s, and my transformation experience is captured in Conscious Agility.

After my announcement regarding working with LeadingAgile, many clients and colleagues queried: How do you reconcile your experience with Mike’s, Dennis’, and LeadingAgile’s experience? My reply: One doesn’t reconcile, but integrates unique experiences — to pragmatically serve our clients and their business outcomes! It’s all about Synergy!


LeadingAgile’s transformation experience is captured in the LeadingAgile Way using a Compass, Roadmap, and Journey.


LeadingAgile’s Compass expresses a “worldview”. It describes four quadrants formed by the intersection of a Predictive-to-Adaptive dimension and Convergent-to-Emergent dimension. The Predictive-to-Adaptive dimension describes a company’s values. The Convergent-to-Emergent dimension describes a company’s customers’ values.

  • The Predictive-Emergent quadrant focuses organizations on building trust.
  • The Predictive-Convergent quadrant focuses organizations on becoming more predictable.
  • The Adaptive-Convergent quadrant focuses organizations on reducing batch size.
  • The Adaptive-Emergent quadrant focuses organizations on fully decoupling teams.


LeadingAgile’s Roadmap expresses a macro-level transformation approach; and includes:

  • Define the Strategy, which sets the destination and defines an end-state vision with a focus on Structure, Governance, and Metrics & Tools.
  • Lead the Transformation, which guides expeditions progressively through basecamps with a focus on forming teams, train teams, and coaching teams.
  • Prepare to Go Alone, which sustains the change with a focus on assessments, targeted coaching, and sustaining artifacts.


LeadingAgile’s Journey expresses a micro-level transformation approach using expeditions and basecamps. An expedition is a vertical slice of an organization (Portfolio, Program and Delivery & Service teams) that is taking part in a journey from a current state to a defined basecamp goal. A journey is the specific path an expedition will take to reach the next basecamp goal. A basecamp is a specific milestone for an expedition undergoing a transformation.

  • Basecamp 1, Getting Predictable, focuses on stabilizing teams.
  • Basecamp 2, Reducing Batch Size, focuses on flow across teams.
  • Basecamp 3, Breaking Dependencies, focuses on decoupling teams.
  • Basecamp 4, Increasing Local Autonomy, focuses on team autonomy and adaptive governance.
  • Basecamp 5, Investing to Learn, focuses on innovation.

Basecamps 1 and 2 are in the Predictive-Convergent quadrant of the Compass, basecamp 3 is in the Adaptive-Convergent quadrant of the Compass, and basecamps 4 and 5 are in the Adaptive-Emergent quadrant of the Compass.


Conscious Agility — with roots in the real-world practice of Conscious Capitalism, Business Agility, and Antifragility — is a design-thinking approach for business ecosystems that integrates awareness with intuition, orientation, and improvisation so that individuals and collectives may benefit from uncertainty, disorder, and the unknown.

While many business movements strictly adopt a single perspective — some focus on the so-called “softer” aspects (dynamics) while others focus on the so-called “harder” aspects (mechanics) — Conscious Agility remains agnostic and embraces an all-inclusive viewpoint, integrating relevant perspectives yet keeping the “human element” paramount.

Not to discount any particular movement, but any myopic viewpoint often obscures reality and the importance of the “human element;” and while all business movements would readily argue that they don’t elevate their “particulars” over the “human element” — experience leads us to conclude otherwise!

Furthermore, the transformation (and the business outcomes) and the AutoVin transformation are two unique transformation journeys that exemplify Conscious Agility among other experiences!


A Conscious Agility initiative is a cycle of “fundamental change” (or renewal), which is uniquely organic, simultaneous, and holistic in addressing a business perspective, organizational perspective, and culture perspective while being business or industry domain agnostic and technology agnostic, and open to being combined with other approaches.

A Conscious Agility initiative is organized into a cycle of phases (which are generally sequential but may overlap), which are composed of conversation clusters, which are composed of conversations. Conversations occur in any order and as many times as needed to ensure the overall objectives of the phase are achieved and that they are oriented towards addressing one or more questions that activates how people relate to one another and how people behave with one another.

There is absolutely no rigidity, but complete and utter flexibility, in how the phases, conversation clusters, and conversions are used in a Conscious Agility initiative. And the scope of an initiative is completely flexible to a whole enterprise or any subset of the enterprise.


Edgar Schein defines Culture as “a pattern of shared tacit and interconnected assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.”

Conscious Agility relies on the following foundational concepts, which are rooted in Edgar Schein’s definition of Culture:

  • An Ecosystem is a collection of stakeholders, including their environment.
  • A Stakeholder is an entity who impacts or is impacted by other stakeholders.
  • Stakeholder identity encapsulates awareness and ownership. Identity should not be confused with ego, which is focused only on the “self”!
  • Awareness involves stakeholders being conscious of themselves and one another.
  • Ownership involves stakeholders embracing how they impact or are impacted by other stakeholders within the ecosystem.
  • Values are tenets that stakeholders consider meaningful. Individual stakeholders unite based on compatible values.
  • Purpose is the reason or “why” stakeholders form an ecosystem. Individual stakeholders unite around a shared purpose.
  • Value is worth that stakeholders’ experience. Individual stakeholders unite with an orientation towards co-creating value.
  • A Conversation is an exchange between stakeholders. Conversations are purposeful, value-oriented, and values-based. A Conversation Cluster is a collection of conversations.
  • A Canvas is a description of reality.

A Conscious Agility initiative cycle includes the following phases: Define, Create, and Refine.


The Define phase focuses on fostering awareness of stakeholders, envisioning an improved way of working together, and establishing clarity around the initiative. This includes:

  • Establish a Design Team, which launches the initiative with a team of individuals who represent the stakeholders within the ecosystem.
  • Discover a “minimal” Ecosystem Definition, which establishes design team ownership of a path forward toward an improved way of working that is considerate of all stakeholders.


The Create phase focuses on achieving greater awareness, intuition, orientation, and improvisation by evolving the ecosystem; enacting shared experiences, while also integrating stakeholders. This includes:

  • Enact Experiences, which exercises and evolves the new way of working.
  • Integrate Stakeholders, which exercises and evolves a new way of organizing.


The Refine phase focuses on ensuring stakeholders have sufficiently evolved the ecosystem to nurture continued success, allowing for the initiative to draw to closure. This includes:

  • Embrace Experiences, which ensures that the new way of working is embraced by all stakeholders and reflects stakeholder experiences within the ecosystem.
  • Nurture Stakeholders, which ensures that the ecosystem has fully integrated the new way of organizing and is nurturing all stakeholders.


What is the synergy between the LeadingAgile Way and Couscous Agility?


LeadingAgile’s Compass and Conscious Agility’s foundational concepts are congruent “worldviews”.

  • Schein’s emphasis on “external adaptation” is operationalized with the Convergent-to-Emergent dimension and Value.
  • Schein’s emphasis on “internal integration” is operationalized with the Predictive-to-Adaptive dimension and Identity, Values, and Purpose.

Furthermore, the Compass as well as the Stakeholders and their Conversation Clusters and Conversations integrate these internal and external aspects.


LeadingAgile’s Roadmap and Conscious Agility’s phases are congruent macro-level transformation approaches.

  • LeadingAgile’s Define the Strategy with Conscious Agility’s Define phase.
  • LeadingAgile’s Lead the Transformation with Conscious Agility’s Create phase.
  • LeadingAgile’s Prepare to Go Alone with Conscious Agility’s Refine phase.

Specifically, as LeadingAgile’s Strategy focuses on Structure, Governance, and Metrics & Tools, Conscious Agility’s Ecosystem Definition (and Canvas) focus on these among other relevant aspects.


LeadingAgile’s Journey and the basecamps along with Conscious Agility’s Enact Experiences, Integrate Stakeholders, Embrace Experiences, and Nurture Stakeholders conversation clusters are congruent micro-level transformation approaches.

  • Basecamps 1, 2, and 3 relate to Enact Experiences and Integrate Stakeholders.
  • Basecamps 4 and 5 relate to Embrace Experiences and Nurture Stakeholders.

While this emphasizes a general congruence, there are other natural affinities among basecamps and conversation clusters.


As Stephen Covey emphasized: “Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way.”

Synergy is all about integrating, not merely reconciling, our unique experiences in order to best pragmatically serve our clients and their business outcomes!

And should irreconcilable differences emerge in our journey ahead, how we continue (together or separately!) will be anchored and guided by our cause of serving our clients and their business outcomes!



Exploring the Practice of Antifragility: An Antifragile Antifragility Book!

Henrik Martensson (@Kallokain) reviewed Exploring the Practice of Antifragility on

The eBook achieved #1 Best Sellers in One-Hour Business & Money Short Reads as well as #1 Hot New Releases in One-Hour Business & Money Short Reads on Amazon soonafter it was released!

You can learn more about the book at the Exploring The Practice Of Antifragility website.


First disclosure: As of the 5th of December 2015, I am a contributor to this book! I do not have a financial stake in it, but I do wish the book to succeed, because I believe the idea of antifragility to be important. I won’t review my own contribution, of course, but stick to the things I have read by the other contributors.

Henrik is forthright in emphasizing that he believes that “the idea of antifragility to be important” and won’t review his own contribution but stick to the things he has read by the other contributors!

The eBook will Evolve

Second, Exploring the Practice of Antifragility is itself antifragile! The book is a Kindle ebook, and like all Kindle books, it can be updated with new material from time to time. This means the book itself can evolve according to pressure from the environment, i.e. reviews and sales data can actually make this book better over time.

Thus, if you buy the book, think of a way to improve it, and write about it in a review, your wish might come true. While this is possible to do with all Kindle ebooks, I do not think too many of them make good use of it. When Si Alhir, one of the editors, told me about the book having planned updates when he invited me to participate, I found this to be a very attractive feature.

Henrik emphasizes evolution of the eBook via updates! This was fundamental in deciding to use the Amazon Kindle platform.

We were heavily guided (and influenced) by Seth Godin’s (@ThisIsSethsBlogAdvice for authorsMoving on, and The Domino Project!

The eBook is an Anthology

Third, the book also features another very important property of antifragile systems: Variation!

The book is an anthology, with essays written by very different people, who have very different backgrounds, and who do very different things. This means you won’t be interested in everything, but, if you are interested in antifragility, there will almost certainly be something in it that you find very interesting.

Henrik emphasizes variation and anthology! This was fundamental to the “exploring” and “kaleidoscope” aspects emphasized in the title of the eBook.

The eBook is Practically Useful and Highly Useful by Offering a Different Perspective

Fourth, the book was practically useful to me! Two years ago I began building an antifragile organization. We are now more than 350 people. One of my book projects is a book about the organization, and I have struggled with explaining, in a simple way, the difference between the antifragile organization, and fragile organizations in the same domain.

Todd Nilson solved the problem for me, writing about Nicholas Taleb’s triad schema. It was exactly what I needed. I can borrow the idea, adapt it for my own book, and it will work beautifully.

Si Alhir made the connection between antifragility and the OODA decision loop from John Boyd’s Maneuver Conflict, which I find interesting, because the antifragile organization I am deeply involved in, directly uses many ideas from Boyd.

Again, Boyd’s ideas are echoed in Todd Nilson’s: “ … the purpose of the community trumps all else.”

I also enjoyed reading Elinor Slomba’s piece about sustainability, connectivity, and diversity, and how to use simple free tools to collaborate over the Internet.

Valuable ideas I can use in my own work. Highly useful.

Also, Slomba’s ideas about cascades the properties of aggregated and distributed systems are practically useful to me. I recently released a book about reducing lead times in the book publishing business. The method I wrote about, and use to write my own books, applies the same ideas.

Slomba has given me a slightly different perspective, which will help me express the ideas in a simpler manner in my own books.

Henrik emphasizes how he’s benefit from Todd Nilson‘s (@toddnilson) and Elinor Slomba‘s (@artsint) contributions! This was fundamental to the “practice” and “kaleidoscope” aspects emphasized in the title of the eBook.

The eBook Uses teh Ideas it Proposes — An Antifragile Antifragility Book!

So, I give this book five stars, because it actively uses the ideas it proposes, because it will get better over time, and because it was practically useful to me immediately when I read it.

Thank You, Henrik, for expressing the intent/purpose of the eBook much more eloquently than Donald E. Gould (@DonaldEGould) or I!

From Agility to Antifragility

Some reminiscing . . . When some said its about #Agile, we said its about #Agility!

Some reminiscing . . . When some said #Agile is about “Speed,” we said its about Responsiveness (OODA)!

Some reminiscing . . . When some said #Agile is about “the Team,” we said its about Scale (small and large)!

Some reminiscing . . . When some said #Agile is about “Transition,” we said its about Transformation!

Some reminiscing . . . When some said #Agile is about “techniques” & “frameworks,” we said its about “dynamics” & “mechanics”!

Now . . . it seems that #Agile may only now be closing in on #Agility!

But Now . . . it is no longer *merely* about #Agility, but #Antifragility!

Agility is all about inspecting & adapting, but Antifragility is all about adapting & evolving!

Please see the following for background . . .
Antifragile, Flexibility, Robust, Resilience, Agility, and Fragile
The Emergence of the Antifragile Organization
The Triad: Fragile, Robust, and Antifragile
Antifragility: From Details to Nuances [LinkedIn]
Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility Workshop

Exploring the Practice of Antifragility

An Antifragile Antifragility Book!

In Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (2012), Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) introduces Antifragility.

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile.

Please see the following for background . . .
Antifragile, Flexibility, Robust, Resilience, Agility, and Fragile
The Emergence of the Antifragile Organization
The Triad: Fragile, Robust, and Antifragile
Antifragility: From Details to Nuances [LinkedIn]
Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility Workshop

Panel/Webinar Conversations – Practice Beyond the Rhetoric

Throughout 2015, various conversation panels focused on exploring the practice of antifragility (that is, Practice Beyond the Rhetoric) — hosted by Barry Bettman (@barrybettman), Si Alhir (@SAlhir), Russ Miles (@russmiles), and Ross Girardi (@Consciousmgt) — as well as share experiences and offer perspective on how to apply antifragility through the following questions:

  • How have you interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility?
  • How have you translated your interpretation into practice?
  • What are the results and impacts of your efforts?

All the recordings are freely available — featuring:

eBook – Exploring the Practice

Based on our ongoing exploration, we (Si Alhir (@SAlhir) and Donald E. Gould (@DonaldEGould)) share a kaleidoscope of perspectives . . . Exploring the Practice of Antifragility (Amazon Kindle eBook) and a website. . . with all proceeds from the work going to a charity!

Expanding the Community – Invitation

If you would like to contribute your perspective on Antifraiglity, please contact Si Alhir and Donald E. Gould, as we’ll be updating the Exploring the Practice of Antifragility eBook quite regularly!

Anyone may contribute a 1/2 to 3/4 page answer (or a few sentences) to each question:

  • How have you interpreted Taleb’s concept of Antifragility?
  • How have you translated your interpretation into practice?
  • What are the results and impacts of your efforts?

Contributors are acknowledged on the eBook cover and referenced on the eBook’s website . . . and . . . all proceeds from the work go to a charity!

The objective is to sufficiently contributes your perspective, but not necessarily fully elaborate it!

If you would like to contribute your perspective on Antifraiglity,
please contact
Si Alhir and Donald E. Gould.

We are grateful for Nassim Nicholas Taleb!

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Tweet

Product Details — #2

Product Details — #1

Amazon Best Sellers — #2 Best Sellers in One-Hour Business & Money Short Reads

Amazon Best Sellers — #1 Best Sellers in One-Hour Business & Money Short Reads

Amazon Hot New Releases — #1 Hot New Releases in One-Hour Business & Money Short Reads

The November-4-2015 Antifragility Panel/Webinar: Antifragility and Sun Tzu’s Art of War

Sun Tzu‘s Art of War is a classic treatise on “human nature” — the strategy and tactics surrounding conflict!

There are many translations of this classic — including Lionel Giles and Samuel B.Griffith among others!

And there are many forums exploring this classic — including James Gimian’s Victory Over War, Gary Gagliardi’s Science of Strategy Institute, and Thomas Huynh’s Sonshi among others!

Gary Gagliardi (@StrategyGary), Lisa Nemeth Cavanagh (@lnemethcavanagh) and Si Alhir (@SAlhir), and Semira Soraya-Kandan (@SemiraSK) emphasized the connection and synergy between Antifragility and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War when they contributed their thoughts to the Demystifying Antifragility: Beyond Agility Workshop and follow-on panel conversations!

On November 4th, 2015, Mark McNeilly (@markmcneilly) and Becky Sheetz-Runkle (@BeckySheetz) of Sun Tzu Strategies (@SunTzuStrategy) explored Sun Tzu‘s Art of War and antifragility.

The recording is available here and see here for all Antifragility Panels/Webinars!

For more insights see Sun Tzu Strategies and here.

Recognizing and acknowledging another’s Humanity

Had the pleasure of being with Donald Gould (@DonaldEGould) on 5 Nov 2015 and had the opportunity to recognize his humanity . . .

Don’t just show kindness in passing or to be courteous. Show it in depth, show it with passion, and expect nothing in return. Kindness is not just about being nice; it’s about recognizing another human being who deserves care and respect.
(Colin Powell)

Encourage people to visit Donald’s blog SERENDIPITY AND EPIPHANIES. Thanks for allowing me to be present and thanks for sharing, Donald!

Antifragility and Coaching (ICF)

Appreciate the opportunity to deliver a teleclass on Antifragility and Coaching for the International Coaching Federation (ICF) . . . you can learn more here and here.

Reality (Slide 5)

Interacting with Reality (Slide 6 – 12)

Coaches are Stressors

Coaches are stressors who creatively provoke clients!

Agility and Antifragility (Slide 13 – 18)

Antifragility is about gaining from stress — see here for more about Antifragility!

An Antifragile Coach is a coach who evolves by gaining from stress!

An Antifragility Coach is a coach who uses Antifragility, that is, who uses stress to creatively provoke clients so that they may may maximize their potential.

Antifragility Coaching involves using Antifraiglity, that is, stress to creatively provoke clients so that they may may maximize their potential.

Antifragility and Coaching (Slide 19)


The October-7-2015 Antifragility Panel/Webinar: Social Business and Digital Transformaiton

On October 7th, 2015, David Cushman (@davidcushman), Anne McCrossan (@Annemcx), and Todd Nilson (@toddnilson) explored social business & digital transformation and antifragility.

The recording is available here and see here for all Antifragility Panels/Webinars!

For more insights see Faster Future and David’s blog as well as Emergent Code and Ann’s blog.