Ending In Open Space

(NOTE: This lesson assumes you understand the Open Space meeting format.)


At the 2016 AGILE ISRAEL conference event, I was honored with an invitation to keynote. Six hundred people in one room. Kind of scary…

….I asked for a show of hands: “…how many of you here have ever attended a meeting of at least one day, where the progress of the Agile transformation itself was inspected by everyone in the room?” About 40 hands went up.

Then I asked “…please keep those hands up. Next, how many of you have attended such a meeting, where absolutely everyone affected by the Agile transformation was invited, not just the ‘higher ups’ ?? ”

Thirty-four hands went down, leaving only 6 people remaining. In other words, in Israel, about 1% of all Agile adoptions are ever inspected by the-group-as-a-whole.

Is it smart to include and engage everyone in the overall process of changing?

Consider these fundamental aspects of Agility:

  • Empiricism
  • Experimentation
  • Iteration
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation
  • Pull
  • Self-management and self-organization


This kind of begs the question: how is it that we can successfully implementing Agile in an enterprise, without applying these Agile ideas to the enterprise transformation itself?

The answer of course is that we can’t actually be successful without taking an Agile approach to Agile transformation.


The very best way to get valid data on the progress and status of the Agile “transformation” is to invite everyone to inspect the progress.

A very excellent idea, and the one I am suggesting now, is to make sure you are periodically “ending in Open Space.”

In a previous lesson I told you to Start in Open Space and I gave you good reasons why. Now let’s discuss ending in Open Space.


If you get in the habit of “ending in Open Space,” the following good things are going to happen:

If the whole organization knows that an Open Space (“all hands”) meeting is going to happen in a few months, and that the whole Agile thing will be inspected there, by everyone, they will “suspend disbelief” and “act as if” and “pretend” the experiment with Agile practices could actually work. (If you are several years into your “transformation,” then the inspection is about your current state and the experiments you are doing. You are doing experiments- aren’t you?)

Because Open Space is an invitational (“opt in”) meeting, you’ll be able to see who attends and who is absent. This is very valuable data.

  • At the Closing Circle, you’ll be able to see who is really feeling passionate and responsible about the process. Many (if not most) of the people present at the Closing Circle are the very people who care the most about the success of the Agile transformation effort. These are the people who can and will propel the effort forward.
  • The Open Space meeting will generate a tremendous level of self-management and self-organization. Discussions in the meeting will provide rich detail on what impediments need to be removed at the enterprise level.
  • The Open Space “all hands” meeting provides a closure point for an “enterprise iteration of learning and progress.” Without that punctuation-point, the group can and will suffer from one.endless.experience.that.never.ends.

People are junkies for progress. So create a punctuation point. And an ending. An enterprise-wide iteration that begins and ends in Open Space.

An ending ends one thing, and starts another. Endings create beginning. And then we go again.

Iteration. Inspection. Adaptation.

At the enterprise level.

With everybody.


Agile Coaching Lessons:

[<- Previous Lesson]   [Next Lesson–>]

[Table of Contents]



If you find value in these essays and find yourself curiously drawn to them, consider investigating OpenSpace Agility, and/or  following me on Twitter and/or joining the OpenSpace Agility group on Facebook