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Agile Open Space

Open Space Technology (OST) is an approach to purpose-driven leadership, including a way for hosting meetings, conflict minded peace building, conferences, corporate-style retreats, symposiums, and community summit events, focused on a specific and important purpose or task — but beginning without any formal agenda, beyond the overall purpose or theme.

The main idea came from observing that people used to have most of the conversations beside a water cooler machine, coffee machines, and so on. so people started considering this as a way maybe to shift meetings to something similar to that concept where people feel more like discussing stuff they’re passionate about.

Open Space Technology

Imagine a conference without a predefined agenda, people go around with topics and then whomever group picks it. or people can leave a group to another interesting group. you can use the (2 feet)

  • The Law of 2 feet:
    It’s a law that permits the individuals to leave a room or join other rooms for discussions. so if you feel you’re not contributing to a discussion then you can take your feet and just leave that room. maybe, if you’re interested in something else, then take your feet and just head to that one.

Rooms usually would be constructed in a certain way to help facilitate process, it would be big space people usually would sit in big circles then the spread, then markers and notes would be available for all to reach.
Some companies actually do some kind of architecture to provide that atmosphere for the process.

Example of kick off of a discussions in OSTs

During the discussions, anyone in the group can pick up a note and might say i have this concern and this might be a solution to it, so he sticks a note with room meeting and tells people whoever wanna join is welcome, and
to encorage that solution should not always come from team leads, but from the indinviduals.

5 Main Principles that OST depends on

  • Whoever comes is the right people
    Only people interested in that topic, are in that room.
  • Whenever it starts its the right time
    Being on time might not be the good thing here, coming from the idea that you can’t force creativity, instead, creativity creates its own time.
  • Wherever it takes place, its the right place
    pool, gardens, meeting room, or wherever proposed by individuals.
  • Prepare to be surprised
    Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. if something wrong happened dont argue it, blame or anything, just take main points and move on.
  • When it’s over, it’s over
    you don’t have to time box something (of course no going down the rabbit hole as well), whenever its done its done and then you move to the next thing.

“Without passion, nobody cares. Without responsibility, nothing gets done.” Harrison Owen

Participation Roles:

There are main roles in this process that are common to appear and they’re allowed to happen, but they’re not like assigned or something similar to that.

  • Bee: People who jump around looking for a topic they might like in different rooms and then after finding the right place they would share knowledge from other rooms and then stick theirs until its done (unless the law of 2 feet was used there)..
  • Butterflies: Being pretty and attract other people and conversations to themselves.

Of course, just like any other process, it takes time to adapt to them but two important things I’ve seen that might come up and the reaction to them really matters which are (invitation, and authorization).
You invite people, you dont force, if no one attends the meeting you have to really accept that fact and know that only interested will show up and at least you’d learn that you don’t have enough people motivated for that certain subject.

The other one is Authorization, where whoever calls the shot have to pass the ball to whoever is trying to implement the process. that means no micro-managing, no poking progress very soon, no nagging, trust whoever takes control and go with the change (to a certain extent of course).

And at the end of each open space session just like any other discussion process, there’s a session where summery is provided with what was talked about, the result, who attended and report back to organizations with proposals and results.

The main goal of this process is to create self-organizing individuals, try to increase productivity and motivation in the team. but, that doesn’t mean that this process can be implemented in all industries or companies, experimenting this process is really important and might bring big improvement but forcing it, is not the way agile works.

Open Space is the only process that focuses on expanding time and space for the force of self-organisation to do its thing. Although one can’t predict specific outcomes, it’s always highly productive for whatever issue people want to attend to. Some of the inspiring side effects that are regularly noted are laughter, hard work which feels like play, surprising results and fascinating new questions.

— Michael M Pannwitz, Open Space practitioner

Great thanks to Astrid Claessen, all content was a summary of a talk she gave in a meetup session.

To read more about this checkout the links below:

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Abidul Ramadan

Abidul Ramadan

I write about my experiences wether it was tech or about solution and hacks of life.

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