#lru2010 Conference Report

#lru2010 Conference Report

[From the Archive: Originally posted at Amplify.com Dec 18, 2010]

The first London Rightshifting Unconference took place Friday December

17th from 12 Noon through to circa 6 PM, at London City University, EC1. This is my report of the event.


As this was an unconference, our first order of business was to find
a structure for the day that suited all attendees. After a short
discussion, we settled on a kanban-like backlog of session headings, each of nominally twenty minutes (and open to revision throughout the day). At the end of each twenty-minute session “slot” we then chose the next most interesting / important item, by consensus, for the next session (given a ten-minute break). This seemed to work well (although time did not allow us to address every item in the backlog).


  1. 30-Minute Run-through Of Rightshifting Basics
  2. Experience Reports (from the Field)
  3. Barriers to Introducting Rightshifting e.g. Fear, Uncertainty and Doub
  4. Alternative Views
  5. Introductions
  6. Desired Outcomes for the Day / Next Steps 7. Overcoming “Well-known” Myths
  7. Measurement
  8. Dreyfus Model

Sessions as they Happened

1) 30-Minute Run-through of Core Rightshifting Ideas

By popular demand, I myself (@flowchainsensei) hosted this first session, with the aim of refreshing folks’ acquaintance with the concepts of the Rightshifting idea, including the Marshall Model. Given the degree of conversation that ensured, the group decided to continue for more than the allotted thirty minutes. The session centred around a slide deck I had presented to the London Limited WIP Society earlier in the year (see: The Bigger Picture)

Key points emerging from this conversation

Rightshifting is an awareness campaign, founded on Sir John Whitmore’s ARC principle.

  • Not only do most executives not realise the massive scope for improved effectiveness within their organisations, but most people working in those (relatively ineffective) organisations will never have experienced life in more-effective organisations, nor even realise that these exist. Absent this fundamental awareness, Rightshifting suggests that few people will see any need to take responsibility for doing something about the relative ineffectiveness of their own organisations, let alone commit themselves to taking any action(s).
  • Rightshifting is not another method, or solution. It does not tell organisations WHAT to do to become more effective, only that significant gains are there for the taking. In my travels, seeing hundreds of tech businesses, the common theme has been the lack of engagement with the desire to do anything about the status quo (almost universally, a significant, unappreciated level of ineffectiveness as an tech organisation or tech business).
  • With the Marshall Model, Rightshifting describes the challenges facing tech organisations contemplating a journey towards significantly improving their effectiveness, and how that journey will be a series of punctuated equilibria.

2) Experience Reports

Some folks have already been using Rightshifting ideas and the Marshall Model in conversations with clients and customers. This session invited folks to share such experiences.

First up: Ant Clay (@soulsailor) of 21Apps related his very recent experience (this week!) of presenting the Rightshifting curve and the four mindsets to one of his current clients. I personally found it both interesting and gratifying to hear the extent to which his clients (senior managers) quickly embraced the Rightshifting idea, and in particular used the vocabulary themselves to better articulate and discuss their business strategy and aspirations for the business (along with the role of technology therein).

Ant also took this opportunity to address (in part) the backlog item “Alternative Views”. Given his company’s focus on Sharepoint as an Enterprise solution, he explained his view of how Rightshifting helped 21Apps articulate their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and Positioning to their clients.

Following on from Ant was Grant Rule (@pg_rule) of SMS Exemplar, who related the tale of his company’s two-year association with a major European technology manufacturer in trying to help them get a major organisation-wide improvement programme off the ground. This engagement has been using Rightshifting throughout (and latterly the Marshall Model too) as the glue with which to build a consensus on change amongst all the many and varied stakeholding groups involved.

3) Introductions

In this session, the ten attendees took turns to introduce
themselves, explain their interest in, and use for, the Rightshifting concepts, and talk about what they’d like to take away from the event. In summary, most folks attending are “tech” people, including a couple of CTOs, some consultants, some coaches, and others, all with a common interest in understanding what makes for an effective technology business and a desire to help such organisations also understand the massive latent opportunities for improving effectiveness.

4) The Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition

Liz Keogh (@lunivore) presented this excellent session, relating her experiences of applying the Dreyfus Model with some number of her clients, most notably, at Screwfix Direct Ltd. After a short summary of the purpose and levels of the Dreyfus Model, Liz provided us all with some very useful hints and tips on applying the Dreyfus Model in the real world. Given that the Marshall Model is subtitled “Dreyfus for the Organisation”, the latter was of particular interest and value to me personally.

Note: The Dreyfus Model generally has five levels, whereas the Marshall Model has seven. This difference is intentional – can you think why this may be so?

5) Wrap-up

In the wrap-up session, we had a wide-ranging discussion wih the general aim of ensuring that everyone attending had got as much out of the day as possible, filling-in any remaining gaps or omissions.

This wrap-up session included a brief conversation around next steps for the Rightshifting movement, not least regarding the future of #rshiftchat, our regular weekly Thursday evening tweetchat (presently suspended until the New Year). NB If you have any ideas or preferences for building the Rightshifting community, and movement, including the future of #rshiftchat, please get in touch, or preferably, comment on this thread.

We also discussed the possibility of another unconference in London next Spring, as well as similar events in other geographies soon.

My thanks go to all who braved the nasty weather to attend and contribute, and my special thanks to Dr Andrew Tuson, David Chan, and City University for providing such a fine venue, and support.

As ever, I am happy to provide more information, explanation, etc, as well as welcoming your input and comments.

– Bob


This is just a short list of the references I heard mentioned during the event. If you’d like to understand why they were mentioned (e.g. context), please get in touch.

Note: there are many more (book) references on my website. (Attendees – please help me out by adding further references via comments on this thread).

“Dirty Little Secrets” ~ Sharon Drew Morgan
“Coaching for Performance” ~ Sir John Whitmore
“The Marshall Model of Organisational Evolution” ~ Bob Marshall
“Managing Transitions” ~ William Bridges
“The Satir Change Model” ~ Virginia Satir
“The Unfreeze/Change/Refreeze Model” ~ Kurt Lewin
“Great Boss, Dead Boss” ~ Ray Immelman

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