Use our tools to "Face, agree and resolve together" - Have conversations for change and drive continuous improvement

Use integrative retrospectives for continuous improvement

make conflict productive

agree to something better

gain momentum on success  

The words from the video

Hey my name’s Martin West 


Without question, the fastest way to optimize an IT service delivery business is through continuous improvement. It’s pretty straight forward when you think about it. If systemic conflict or lack of alignment is the major source of constraints, and you continually improve your business by removing those constraints. And you do this at a faster rate than your competition. Then you can be assured that you will deliver more value to customers and end up leading the market. 


After 20 years and leading many multi-million dollar IT delivery programs for top consultancies, vendors and customers, I’ve become highly adept at finding solutions and resolving complex multi-sided issues. However due to systemic conflict, I felt wins were unnecessarily tough to achieve.


In search of a more effective model, I returned to university to study conflict and resolution. The result was I qualified as a mediator and started Neutral Advocate to bring resolution solutions to IT delivery organizations and their customers.


In this presentation, I will outline the invisible forces limiting your growth. Make the case to focus on continuous improvement and I will explain why this is the most important goal today for IT service firms. 

I will deconstruct our methodology that will help you achieve that goal a lot faster. I have offers of a free software trial and a workshop that I hope you will take me up on.


Now I’ve made assumptions. You’re good at what you do. You’re recognized as a strong leader within your organization and beyond. You have successful strategies to achieve your goals. Yet you’re not satisfied. Achieving what you achieve should be easier. You feel that too much value is left on the table especially in negotiations with clients, and you have a vision for a better way.


You are not looking for an outside organization to do this for you. You’ll want to build out these practices internally and empower your people and teams to lead. 


The Bottom line is that you would like your business to be more effective at winning and maintaining clients. And you get that continuous improvement through addressing these largely relational and work process constraints is the fastest way to achieve it and beat your competition. 


We have a method called “structured conversations for change” that outlines the key principles for achieving alignment 


  1. Firstly CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT - we offer an approach and tools to surface, negotiate, and connect to remove constraints to value delivery
  2. Secondly for RESOLUTION CULTURE - Learn and measure help you establish the culture you need to continuously improve
  3. Thirdly BUILD BRIDGES - this is ongoing work where you become the prize, and you leverage agility & resolution to balance power relationships with clients 

Want to LEARN MORE - I hope you will register with us to have a conversation… 


So it begs the question, why do we focus on resolving relational and work process constraints to achieve continuous improvement? We don’t have to. There are plenty of other ways we could approach this goal. We could help with lean or agile practices. Maintaining a strong talent pool or building a great culture. Why resolution? Why that goal? Fact is, without resolution in relationships, none of those other things are particularly effective. 


Through experience, I’ve learned that resolving these constraints is critical to making progress. If we respond negatively or avoid conflict leaving constraints unresolved, it bites back creating dysfunction. When we welcome it, get curious, see it as an opportunity. It helps us build bridges, alignment, connection and success.


This insight for me is pivotal - it represents the choice every leader makes every day.


I asked 80 business unit & Agile leaders how unresolved systemic conflict i.e. operational and strategic not personal conflict, how it impacted them, they told me

  1. It creates constraints that are normal part of daily life, that are deep & structural
  2. The impact is broad, lost deals, failed projects, difficult relationships. It frustrates change AND
  3. We don’t have a clear path to success. And therefore largely conflict remains unresolved in most firms.

Continuous improvement is about incremental small steps. It starts with something that we do regularly like retrospectives but with a twist. We’ve expanded the role of retrospectives so it has all the components necessary for teams to drive continuous improvement - we call it “integrative retrospectives”. It has 4-parts: Set & Agree targets, Gather data and generate insights, build solid action plans and finally for the stakeholders to align through working agreements.


We’ve identified a 3 step plan for its introduction:

  1. Firstly Start by surfacing and then resolving constraints with one or two successful teams.  
  1. Secondly With success: Add new parts. Firstly add “agree targets” to achieve target-based retrospection.  And then with success add “align through agreement” so broader constraints that limit action plans can be resolved.
  1. Then thirdly Expand to more agile teams using the same model.

So over a short period without major effort, you will find that as leaders, coaches, and teams you are collaborating on making deep change. You are achieving continuous improvement one step at a time.


Before starting this journey with Neutral Advocate, my fear was for the rest of my working life I'd be in an environment where I enjoyed my role. Yet success was much harder work than it need be, it was taxing, satisfying when you won but never a pleasure or joyful. 


I felt it was ineffective, a poor investment of time (despite the pay). AND for that level of effort, I felt I should have had more impact and delivered more value. I get it if that’s similar to how you feel. 


We traced back the problems. A lack of clarity, connectedness and alignment in internal operations. And not having an approach that cuts-through the market so you can be the prize. These inhibitors mean that despite your success, you feel overworked, feel the pressure to still do more and have been under-rewarded for what you done.


These small incremental steps are a game changer. You can use them to build a shared understanding  of what’s constraining delivery effectiveness. You can invite teams to demand change to remove constraints. You can 


  1. be open to offers. 
  2. bring harmony through CONFRONT, negotiation and meeting unmet needs.
  3. focus on experimenting, learning and change. And with us, you can 
  4. adopt a set of powerful facilitator tools for each part of the integrative retrospective process. 

We have a platform to design many “structured conversations for change”.  Our first offering is “integrative retrospectives”. These tools can be used to align your business to optimize value delivery. This is priceless, for your people, teams, clients and your organization. Like any great leap forward, there is a first mover advantage. The most benefits go to the first organization in every niche to have these qualities.


You feel you’re ready to take the next step. Believe me, It’s not about approvals or prioritization. It’s about starting. Start with an experiment. And then use the results to create the support to continue.


If you are curious I hope you’ll consider taking the time to talk with me about how to achieve continuous improvement. Become the prize with your clients. And improve your margins. We encourage you to start small, target continuous improvement and work towards exponential impacts.


Good first steps are Talk to us, signup for a free trial, and sign-up for a free workshop. 


I encourage you to Do it now! Because there really has never been a better time to move to a leadership position in your markets. 


My name’s Martin West. AND I HOPE you’ve found this video useful.

Copyright 2020 Neutral Advocate Ltd