Rightshifting and Quintessence 

Long-time readers of this blog will already be familiar with the concept of rightshifting. 

Shifting an organisation to the right (i.e. in the direction of increased organisational effectiveness, and towards the quintessential) is not for the work-shy or indolent. Yet the rewards are massive. 

Whilst the Marshall Model provides a general framework for such rightshifting, there’s not been a detailed roadmap describing the shifts necessary to acquire such improved effectiveness. 

My most recent book, “Quintessence”, provides just such a roadmap (or blueprint). It details the shifts in collective assumptions and beliefs necessary to become a highly effective knowledge-work organisation. Shifts of which significant outliers such as Zappo, WL Gore, Morning Star, Semco, and a host of others have demonstrated the benefits.

Go take a look and gaze in awe at what is possible in the way of improvements. 

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub).

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing and Reflecting On the Organisation’s Collective Assumptions and Beliefs. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub).

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). 


It’s long been observed that folks commissioning i.e. product developments have a natural tendency to believe that quality costs money. Which is to say that they tend to believe that a higher quality product costs more to develop and deliver into the market. Even though Phil Crosby put the lie to this fallacy decades ago with his observation, detailed in his book of the same name, that “Quality is Free”.

So it is with effectiveness. I’ve met many folks who unwittingly assume that having their organisations become more effective is going to raise costs, and involve increased time, attention and effort.

Again, nothing could be further from the truth. Highly effective organisations run more smoothly, more predictably and with higher productivity and significantly lower costs. This is, for me, the essence of effectiveness.

How about you? What comes to mind when you hear the term “increased effectiveness”?

– Bob


Some folks tell me they find the titles of some of my blog posts a tad irksome, to say the least.

I can sympathise. I myself am often conflicted between penning titles that might garner reads (a.k.a. clickbait) vs risking irking some readers. I guess that’s the nature of (anti)social media as we now know it.

But there’s a reason I continue to risk irking some.

The Surprising Purpose of Anger

Therapists will remark that although such titles might trigger an emotional response – such as feeling irked, or worse – from readers, the trigger is separate from the response. And the response to triggers is completely within the control of the reader.

So, yes, my titles are sometimes calculated and designed to trigger readers. Given them the opportunity to introspect on their propensity for responding, the nature of their responding, and the needs they have that are not being met (cf. Rosenberg, 2005).

You might say irking some is a public service. 🙂

– Bob

Further Reading

Rosenberg, M.B. (2005). The Surprising Purpose of Anger: Beyond Anger Management: Finding the Gift: A Q&A with Marshall B. Rosenberg. Puddle Dancer Press.





How often do you approach an endeavour with some prior discipline or structure in mind?

Is it just for your coding endeavours, or do you take the same or similar disciplined approach to all your endeavours?

For the sake of clarity, we might consider Scrum, Kanban and Personal Kanban as examples of such “disciplined” or “structured” approaches. Personally, I’ve applied Javelin (nee Jerid) to all my endeavours, since circa 1994.

Note: You can find details of the Javelin approach described in an appendix to my recent book, “Quintessence“.

– Bob

There’s a zillion self-help books out there, but there’s also a zillion people not reading them and probably not much interesting in helping themselves, either.

So it is with organisations. There’s a zillion organisations out there, and I see no evidence of any of them much interested in helping themselves. Although, in the case of organisations, I know of only one book specifically aimed at enabling organisation to help themselves: Memeology.

“Please, just attend to my needs”

This is the silent plea of everyone in your organisation (and everyone in our lives, for that matter).

Silent because of fear of appearing weak or needy. And silent because those in need rarely realise they have unmet needs, let alone realise that their needs could be attended to.

Are you hearing their requests? Are you doing something, anything, about them?

How would you feel if your heartfelt pleas continually fell on deaf ears? Do you care how others might be feeling?

– Bob

Dynamic Work Design from MIT

Nelson Repenning at MIT has come up with a general approach to knowledge-based employees finding and fixing issues, and make improvements, in real time (video).

Four Core Principles of Dynamic Work Design

  • Reconcile activity and intent.
  • Connect the human chain through triggers and checks (i.e .Escalation: when and how.
  • Structure problem solving and creativity.
  • Manage “optimal challenge” – problems are useful as signals, and create useful “tension”.

Further Reading

Baskin, K. (2018). The 4 principles of dynamic work design. [online] MIT Sloan. Available at: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/4-principles-dynamic-work-design [Accessed 21 Jan. 2022].

http://www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Discover Dynamic Work Design with MIT’s Nelson Repenning. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJwU-MZckTk [Accessed 21 Jan. 2022].

Paul Taylor

Believing in the good of humanity is a revolutionary act – it means that we don’t need all those managers and CEOs, kings and generals. That we can trust people to govern themselves and make their own decisions.

Rutger Bregman

It looks like this pandemic is, for the UK at least, coming to end. In terms of a narrative arc the story of Covid-19 started with people stockpiling toilet roll, hand sanitiser and eggs and ended with confirmation of something we had guessed long ago – that those who create the rules for the little folk rarely stick to them.

People really are shit aren’t they? Left to our own devices social order breaks down and we reveal ourselves to be self-centred, selfish and uncaring.

Except there’s little evidence that’s the case.

Whilst the media has delivered us a daily stream of bad behaviour – with even community street parties…

View original post 730 more words

Product Development Success

What constitutes “success” in the product development arena, and how might we quantify it, or even measure it?

What is the ultimate unit of measure for success?

Some folks say it’s “life cycle profit impact”. But it really isn’t. Nobody gives a hoot about profit (cf. Deming’s First Theorem). Nor do all but a few take a long term (whole life cycle) view of the products in their product portfolio.

In my experience, the ultimate unit of measure for success in product development is the wellbeing of the folks involved. In particular, the personal wellbeing of executives and senior managers with skin in the game. And to a much lesser extent, the personal wellbeing of the middle managers, developers, and customers (most often in that order).

Of course, nobody wants to talk about this, least of all the beneficiaries. So the measures of success remain undiscussable, and spurious proxy measures such as profit are introduced to lull the unwary and naive.

– Bob

Further Reading

Think Different. (2019). Your REAL Job. [online] Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2019/11/11/your-real-job/ [Accessed 21 Jan. 2022].

The Key

The key to quintessential effectiveness resides in looking at organisations as systems. I.e. systems thinking. And nobody is up for that.

Put another way, improving the performance of silos in isolation only makes the overall performance of the organisation worse.

Not Up For Systems Thinking

Owners and proxy owners (executives) aren’t up for it because of the effort they assume will be required to convert all those not up for it, to being up for it.

Managers aren’t up for it (in those rare cases when they’re actually aware of the idea) because they assume it threatens their wellbeing and their control over their local fiefdoms (silos).

Consultants aren’t up for it because:

  • a) They assume their customers (i.e. managers, see above) won’t like it.
  • b) They don’t understand it.

Coaches aren’t up for it because their remit does not extent to the organisation, being rooted in the performance of individuals (and vey occasionally, teams).

And employees aren’t up for it because:

  • a) They don’t give a damn (disengaged).
  • b) They don’t see the success of the organisation as having anything to do with them.

What Does It Mean to Look At Organisations As Systems?

[I’ll complete this section if there’s any demand]

Where Do The Benefits Come From?

[I’ll complete this section if there’s any demand]

– Bob

Am I the only person in the world interested in improving the effectiveness of organisations? In making organisations better places to work, better places to play, better places to learn? Is it just me? Most days it seems like it is.

Needs or Wants

Don’t give folks what they want, nor what you think they need, nor even what they think they need. 

Give them what they really need. It can take time, effort and skill to discover what they really need (a.k.a. the “Mafia Offer” – Goldratt 2015), but it’s the only legal path to sustained success.

Further Reading

Goldratt, E.M. (2015). It’s Not Luck. Gower Publishing.

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