[OSList] OpenSpace Agility: How Agile can be successful. First Workshop in Germany, June from 13th to 15th

Daniel Mezick via OSList oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Wed Mar 9 06:30:24 PST 2016

Greetings All,

Wow what a thread. In the open space.

I'm grateful to everyone who has replied to Birgitt's inquiry here so far.

Birgitt asks: how we can reconcile Open Space with Agile practices?

More specifically, Birgitt asks, how we can reconcile the holistic 
nature of Open Space with the reductionist nature of Agile practices?

The answer is very simple: use a humane approach. Use OpenSpace Agility. 
Or better if you find it.

In OSA, we do require something of those formally authorized leaders.

We do require that they exercise their authority, to name a clear 
/direction/, like this:

"...our direction is Agile... in service to continuous improvement."

Next, in OSA we also require that those authority figures clearly define 
the "guardrails." The /limits/. The very /rules/ of the game. In very 
/EXPLICIT/ terms. So everyone can be /SAFE/ in this common knowledge, of 
the /limits/.

The guardrails in OSA are the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto:
Link: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

Teams learn the 12 principles. They then conduct EXPERIMENTS with 
practices, within the wider context of the clearly defined direction, 
and those clearly defined guardrails.

Importantly, this next part is KEY: It is absolutely ESSENTIAL: Leaders 
refrain from pushing or mandating or coercing specific practices.

Because that's totally evil, OK?

Because it KILLS any potential for genuine self-organization, for 
genuine self-management, and for genuine higher performance.

Because it's a fraud.

In OSA, leaders simply do not do this.

The mandate of practices truly is truly a form of cruelty. It causes 
real suffering.

Martin Fowler, an Agile Manifesto signatory, said as much in 2006.

The Agile Imposition- A 2006 essay from Martin Fowler. Quotes:

“…Imposing a process on a team is _*completely opposed to the principles 
of agile*_ software, and has been since its inception..”

“…Imposing an agile process from the outside *_strips the team of the 
self-determination which is at the heart of agile_* thinking.”

“… imposing agile methods introduces a *_conflict with the values and 
principles that underlie agile methods_*.”

“…I’d rather have a team work in a non-agile manner _*they chose 
themselves*_ than have my favorite agile practices imposed upon them.”

“…So I hope I’ve made clear that *_imposing agile methods is a very red 
flag._* ”-Martin Fowler, Agile Manifesto signatory. Written 2006, the 
“Agile Imposition” blog post, Martin Fowler

Wait. You can respectfully disagree with this wisdom if you want.

But if you do, I respectfully submit that YOU are part of the wider 

I submit that YOU are in fact an enabler, and enabler of suffering. And 
some very low performance thereby.

Here is a very fine example of the very real suffering that happens if 
you PUSH Agile practices on people, without their consent:

"The sweeping 'Agile transformation' that is currently underway at MIT’s 
Information Systems and Technology office is one that is unprecedented 
in its scope and backlash from employees...."

...the comments at the bottom are like, people just literally crying out 
in pain. (You might want to skip to the bottom to examine these.)

So Harrison, there you go. Could it be?

"...Could it then be that SCRUMMING is working much too hard? Might it 
be better to carefully note and study what we can do naturally before 
trying to improve it? We could then take all that as a "base" -- and who 
knows where we might end up?"

Hell yes! I join you. Let's find out.

And that why thereis no mandate of Scrum or any other practice in OSA. 
Right? Because it makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER.

Because doing so is in complete opposition to the values and principles 
(and in fact the very spirit) of the thing.

In the open space.

Things can quickly get corrupted, and unravel. So in OSA, we have and 
hold a very strict ethos, the intent of which is to make sure the OSA 
method never gets diluted, polluted or corrupted, so that no one, 
anywhere, ever, is harmed by it:

"Attempting to use invitation (and specifically the inviting Open Space 
meeting format) to persuade, convince, or otherwise /influence anyone to 
do anything in an Agile adoption without their explicit consent/ is 
/*not*/ in alignment with the spirit, purposes and intent of the 
OpenSpace Agility technique." Reference link: 

Still dubious?

OK. What I am about to say next is as serious as a heart attack:

Authority figures in the Agile community who are entirely SILENT on this 
issue of mandated-Agile-practices are literally part of the problem. 
Perhaps THE problem.

The deafening silence of authority figures enables and perpetuates this 
problem, which has now become an epidemic worldwide.

Instead of exercising their authority in the community to DEVALUE the 
horrific mandate of practices, and thereby improve conditions, these 
authority figures are in fact suggesting, through their silence, that 
the mandate is good. That the illness is health. That coercion is 
goodness. That it is wholeness.

That it is great!

As Birgitt has clearly pointed out, silence is very much a form of consent.

I join Birgitt and say YES-- especially the silence of real authority 
figures in a group. That's real consent right there.

BIrgitt and many others on this thread point out that the leaders in a 
group (those that hold the real authority) are absolutely essential in 
sustaining any ongoing, legitimate, authentic transformation.

And no where is this more true than in the Agile community, where 
coercive PUSH is routinely validated by authority figures, through their 
silence. Through their tacit consent. Even as the value of "pull" is 
exclaimed as a high Agile virtue.

The good news is that there is probably IS a path forward.

It has something to do with the emergence of a new narrative.

Something to do with new voices.

Something about the telling a new story.

A story about teaching and celebrating the humanity of invitation... 
OVER mandates.

About the humanity of opt-in participation... OVER coercion.

And about the virtue, and the thrill, and the humanity, of authentic 
/experimentation/-- the kind of experimentation which is at the very 
heart of Agile thinking.

Now to be clear, I suspect that there is absolutely nothing to do.

Or at least, one less thing to do.

In the open space.


Reference link:

On 3/8/16 6:35 PM, Harold Shinsato via OSList wrote:
> Thank you so much for posting about this topic, Harrison!
> And I'm so grateful for hearing Birgitt's tale. It has opened my mind, 
> and heart.
> If you didn't hear this story from Daniel, I'll offer it here. It is 
> my own *PAINFUL* experience with Capital A "Agile" in software 
> development. There is a huge amount of discontent in the Agile space, 
> even as it continues to grow and obtain mind share. Part of the way 
> that Daniel phrases it (and I do too) is that Mandated Agile is very 
> bad. Deadly. It crushes engagement. I think it has also been crushing 
> the true spirit of Agile.
> And what Birgitt is offering from her experience is amazing. I feel 
> humbled to have not recognized how applicable her story has been to 
> what I've been trying to work on with helping organizations. But 
> perhaps it has been my own journey especially the last month that has 
> awakened me so much more to Birgitt's phenomenal work. I have ordered 
> her book from Amazon (The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of 
> Leadership). And I hope to get to one of these workshops soon as well.
> For me - "Open Space Technology" - the tool - is amazing. Resilient. 
> But the "Tool" is not the point. The point is "open space". Our innate 
> humanity is what is opened in a good OS event. That's why it's true - 
> the biggest Axiom of all in this work - "it's all open space"!
> While I'm offering praise and thanks - I'd like to add Diana Larsen to 
> the mix. Her work at finding the real connection to the Spirit of 
> Agile - in connecting Agile to Open Space - has been a huge influence 
> on me. The AgileOpen program as supported by the Agile Alliance has 
> brought Agile coaches, practitioners, and learners together in Open 
> Space in cities around the world for 10 years now. It was only at two 
> Agile Open events this year - one in Seattle and one in San Diego - 
> that I've started to understand at an even deeper the powerful people 
> element at the heart of Agile. It's right there in the manifesto - but 
> it continues to be taken to greater lengths by practitioners and 
> explorers in the Agile space.
> Perhaps a couple elements in the Agile space that resonate deeply 
> (beyond of course the wonderful OpenSpace Agility) are the work around 
> "Mob Programming" and "#NoEstimates". Explaining these two things are 
> way beyond the scope of this thread - but returning what Birgitt 
> speaks to - it is how important are the holistic elements of our 
> connection to each other take us beyond any particular process. 
> Encouraging leadership in our community - not just the formal 
> management - is what makes things like "Mobbing" (multiple people 
> working together at one computer and one keyboard), and "#NoEstimates" 
> (which is never promising what we don't really understand but instead 
> focus on continuous delivery of value).
> These newer evolutions of Agility - do indeed maybe make "Scrumming" 
> working too hard. Though I do think Scrum can be helpful, the process 
> was never what made Agile truly Agile. "Individuals and Interactions 
> over Processes and Tools"!!!
>     Warm regards,
>     Harold
> On 3/8/16 1:03 PM, Harrison Owen via OSList wrote:
>> the middle of all that... but I do have some thoughts about Agile and Open Space.
>> I get that Dan and many others understand Open Space to be a useful tool/mechanism/means for "Agile Introduction." Agile Introduction, is of course, magic words for the initiated and obscure for some of the rest of us... Be that as it may... I agree. It works. AND....
>> Just to be a little provocative.... I might suggest that Open Space is not the tool (means, mechanism), but the context. Of course I should probably remove the capitals and just do "os" -- pointing to what for me is "the magic sauce." That would be the process of Self Organization. Or as I said (sort of) in some other place: Real Agility is the fully conscious and intentional realization of the power of self organization. So open space (small o, s) is simply the context in which everything happens. And things work much better (agile, effective, efficient, etc) when we cheerfully align ourselves with the way things are -- as opposed to "fighting the system" to make it the way we think it should be.
>> Could it then be that SCRUMMING is working much too hard? Might it be better to carefully note and study what we can do naturally before trying to improve it? We could then take all that as a "base" -- and who knows where we might end up?
>> Harrison
>> Winter Address
>> 7808 River Falls Drive
>> Potomac, MD 20854
> -- 
> Harold Shinsato
> harold at shinsato.com <mailto:harold at shinsato.com>
> http://shinsato.com
> twitter: @hajush <http://twitter.com/hajush>
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Daniel Mezick
Culture Strategist. Author. Keynoter.
(203) 915 7248. Bio. <http://www.DanielMezick.com/> Blog. 
<http://www.NewTechUSA.net/blog/> Twitter. 
Book: The Culture Game. <http://theculturegame.com/>
Book: The OpenSpace Agility Handbook. 

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