Engaging our best thinking: the secret sauce of the agile canvas

When people come together and do a good job solving, deciding, planning or launching something, it's because they have engaged their best thinking.

I've had the good fortune over the past three decades to see groups do their best thinking together. I've seen it across industries and geographies, in communities and networks. From these rich and diverse experiences, I've noticed three unique practices that these groups engage.

Success Stories

They visualize the future they want to see. They visualize close and far into the future because they know that the clarity and depth of their passion will be equal to the length of their vision. Knowing the future is intrinsically unknowable, they realize that every future success and progress story they visualize acts as a powerful lens that reveals new and significant opportunities in the present. They see visualizing their desired future as a practice of presence rather than prediction or postponement. They stay continuously inspired.

Compelling Questions

They are continuously interested in what they don't yet know. They realize that what they don't know is always more important than what they do know. They pay close attention to every assumption, unknown and concern that emerge in the process. They translate every assumption, unknown and concern into a new question that drives some kinds of research, decision making, or both. They move forward in the direction of their stories one question at a time. They stay continuously realistic.

Energizing Sprints

They get things done every two weeks. They make sure they are working on their most urgent stories and questions. People take responsibility for planning the work and their work plans are completely realistic because they're based on the actual time and resources available. They seamlessly include other people in their effort when necessary and available. The process sustains the kind of tempo that gets stories done on time. They stay continuously productive.

People use their best thinking because of the high levels of engagement, learning and resiliency these practices produce. And because they use their best thinking, they are able to stay proactive and agile in contexts where complexity and change are constants.

Interestingly, the more people use their best thinking together, the more trust they organically feel in the group. Trust is vital because groups move in the direction of their conversations at the speed of trust. That's the secret sauce of the Agile Canvas process.

For more on the Agile Canvas, visit TheAgileCanvas.com