Come join our twice-monthly Mental Model Dōjō community events to experience our work at Agile OD!

Every month we explore one each topic from our two current development themes of Modern General Management and Corporate Innovation.

Each event is hosted online on Zoom as one-hour sessions and offered in two time zones. The sessions are in group coaching and forum format facilitated by Agile OD coaches. Participation is free.

Upcoming Forums

Listen to the Middle Managers Blues

The truth is, almost all of us are middle managers, and we sing the blues. Sandwiched between up and down and left and right, everyday is a struggle against the many constraints of the workplace.

Same old, same old, that’s how it is; the sense of powerlessness and resignation, that’s how the blues sounds. Or not?

With humor and empathy, how about we embrace the blues and see light in it? Change from the middle? Bring it on! Expanding one’s circle of influence? Sounds like a promising personal challenge. Sense making and seeing the organization from a systems perspective, or how about putting on an anthropologist hat? It’s one thing to sing the blues, another thing to have the awareness of our blues, and play with it. Who said we can’t have fun at work? 🙂

In the dōjō session we’ll do a three chairs of empathy exercise to deeply empathize with ourselves and fellow middle managers. And diverge, converge – thereafter openly discuss how we can make our day-to-day life at work less miserable and stressful, and more fulfilling and rewarding. I think we can use some group self-therapy; join us!

Reference reading:


  • Session A: Nov 14 (Tue) 08:00 SGP, Nov 13 (Mon) 20:00 US EST, 19:00 CST, 17:00 PST
  • Session B: Nov 14 (Tue) 18:00 SGP, 14:00 DXB, 12:00 PAR, 11:00 LON

Managing Smart People,  Managing Quiet People

When it comes to the topic of how to manage disengaged team members in my (Coach Takeshi) executive coaching sessions, I see two patterns. On one end of the spectrum is the “quiet” people; i.e. people who leaders perceive as passive and instruction waiting. On the other end of the spectrum is the “smart” people; i.e. people who leaders perceive as holding high esteem of their abilities and sometimes causing complications in teamwork, including withholding and closed behavior*.

I think almost all leaders come across these two types of people (in varying degree of course) at some point in their careers managing teams. Therefore I believe managing smart people and quiet people are each important targeted management skills that every leader would find useful to anticipate and develop.

In my coaching sessions, some executives have found breakthrough in this topic with better feedbacking skills, e.g. Radical Candor. Other coachees have found the Delegation, Empowerment Spectrum helpful. And there are many more mental models that leaders can pick and choose in devising their own ways of embracing these two types of challenging people. Come join our session and let’s explore together.

Note*: I am aware of the impression of passing judgement and the risk of stereo typically labelling people as “smart” and “quiet”. Nonetheless oversimplification is sometimes helpful in facilitating thinking exercises so forgive me.

Reference readings: (1), (2)


  • Session A: Nov 21 (Tue) 08:00 SGP, Nov 20 (Mon) 20:00 US EST, 19:00 CST, 17:00 PST
  • Session B: Nov 21 (Tue) 18:00 SGP, 14:00 DXB, 12:00 PAR, 11:00 LON

Forum Calendar

Modern General Management

About the forum

Managing teams and organizations in today’s accelerating world is nothing but complex. Whether you are a project lead, division head, country manager or CxO, the ability as an “integrator” of people and processes across different domains of expertise and technology is key.

This is a broad skill – it’s general management, with a modern twist. Let’s take a fresh look at general management in today’s context; come join our forum and learn and explore with us the wide range of Modern General Management KSAs (knowledge, skills, abilities) adaptive to the needs of our evolving world.

Each forum will have a short featured topic sharing, followed by a plenum or small group discussion.

  • November 2023 | Featured topic: Listen to the Middle Manager’s Blues | 60 minutes | Sign up ⊳
  • Session A: Nov 14 (Tue) 08:00 SGP, Nov 13 (Mon) 20:00 US EST, 19:00 CST, 17:00 PST
  • Session B: Nov 14 (Tue) 18:00 SGP, 14:00 DXB, 12:00 PAR, 11:00 LON/li>
  • December 2023 | Featured topic: Knowing to Stop | Pre-register ⊳
  • January 2024 | Featured topic: TBA | Pre-register ⊳

Corporate Innovation

About the forum

Intrapreneur, internal startup, innovation lead – why is it so hard to “run” innovation in the corporate setting, why can’t we innovate!? Agile and the ambidextrous organization were supposed to be the solutions, but now they feel like a distant dream. From both the designated innovation agents and sponsoring stakeholders, we hear the struggle. Corporate innovation gets easily sucked into the “business as usual” vortex; it almost feels like the enemy is within.

Yet these are known challenges and there are many examples in the world of people who have been able to breakthrough; from top-down, bottom-up and from the middle. There’s almost a tradesman like characteristic in these people; they are influencers, instigators, hustlers, hackers, masterminds. Current and aspiring corporate innovators, come join our forum to explore and learn from each other the business of inside-out innovation.

Each forum will have a short featured topic sharing, followed by a plenum or small group discussion.

  • October 2023 | Featured topic: Managing Smart People, Managing Quiet People | 60 minutes | Sign up ⊳
  • Session A: Nov 21 (Tue) 08:00 SGP, Nov 20 (Mon) 20:00 US EST, 19:00 CST, 17:00 PST
  • Session B: Nov 21 (Tue) 18:00 SGP, 14:00 DXB, 12:00 PAR, 11:00 LON/li>
  • December 2023 | Featured topic: VUCAO | Pre-register ⊳
  • January 2024 | Featured topic: TBA | Pre-register ⊳

Get Updates

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Past Forums

Post-session recording: MMDojo How to healthily storm
MMDojo Forming Storming Norming Performing of Agile Teams
Sep 13, 2023 Growing Critical Thinkers forum
Sep 7, 2023 Art of Influencing forum

After Notes

September 7, 2023

Coach Ramesh Nava and I had a wonderful time with the #mentalmodeldojo community yesterday discussing the super interesting topic of the “Art of Influencing.” As host I obviously am in-the-know of the topic, but every time we have these dōjō sessions my eyes are opened with new perspectives from participants and yesterday was no exception.

Influencing in the organizational context goes up, down and sideways (boss, team members, stakeholders, internal & external partners) and it was fascinating to hear so many real life examples of the struggles of influencing rigid, impatient and resistent people at all levels of the organization.

I found that putting the organizational lens on influencing quite helpful: when we think of influencing, we tend to focus on the very moment of influencing itself, i.e. when you are speaking with somebody.

Yes that point of conversation is very important, and with active listening, empathy and suspending judgment, we can have a much more rich and meaningful dialogue beyond convincing and persuading.

However, I think we overlook the crucial fact that a conversation can’t happen without the opportunity of the conversation in the first place. And those opportunities rarely just happen – we need to set up them up. And I believe this effort, is an integral act of the art of influencing.

What surprised me next was the reaction from the participants when the word “inviting” came up in exploring this part. Inviting somebody to the conversation table, inviting people to a space of learning, exploration, co-creation – I think I heard a whole bunch of “aha!”s in the room!

So influencing starts before the point of conversation, at the point of conversation; and then how about afterwards? Yes, this perspective leads to the insight that the art of influencing is to be played as the long game. I like to express this part as creating a feedback loop: after a great conversation, create another opportunity to speak and see how things are and iterate the dialogue.

We often hope that people will keep their word and act on their promises, but I find that inaction is often not a product of unwillingness. And you can’t blame them for their inaction: because people’s memories fade, priorities shift and situations change. With that understanding and compassion, approaching people and having another heartful conversation becomes a natural act of follow-up. I think people with the ethos (presence, gravitas) are great at keeping that flow going.

Thank you Andre Rubin Santos, Hidemi Takano, Prarthana Alley, Sebastian Bahner, Sorcha Millican-Nagle, Minh Vo, PhD, Morteza Ahmadi, Dr. rer. pol. Monika Friedrich-Nishio, Ranil Perera, Rahmawati Hardian, CHRP (and others, apologies for the omission) for the wonderful time learning together.

– Coach Takeshi

That inspiring and influential leader we stare in awe. Without telling, selling, persuading and convincing much, they consistently sway people in their way. How do they do that? What’s special about them? Can we become one? What does it take to learn this art of influencing? Let’s explore.

Reference reading: (1) Aristotle’s Influence Model, (2) How to Influence, Not Manipulate


  • Session A: Sep 7 (Thu) 08:00 SGP, Sep 6 (Wed) 20:00 US EST, 19:00 CST, 17:00 PST
  • Session B: Sep 7 (Thu) 18:00 SGP, 14:00 DXB, 12:00 PAR, 11:00 LON
Aug 8, 2023 Session A/B Delegation Empowerment Spectrum
Aug 17, 2023 Session A/B Waterfall Agile

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