On Persuasion

I define persuasion as “a manipulation you realize took place 4 hours ago.”

Persuasion is a very subtle form of manipulation, a more sophisticated attempt to get someone to do something.

Can invitation be used to persuade, or even manipulate? Yes, it can. Persuasion is by definition subtle and indirect. Persuasion does not quite feel like manipulation, perhaps because it can (and often is) presented as a kind of invitation.


“Do want the red one or the blue one?”

This is an attempt to invite the recipient to choose red or blue only, when it is entirely possible (and indeed, likely) that options like yellow, orange and chartreuse are actually available as well.

And that is why there is an explicit prohibition in OpenSpace Agility that says:

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.











Victor Turner & Elinor Slomba

In early July I took a meal with a friend in New Haven, Elinor Slomba. She’s a consultant, and an artist, and so much more.

It was 2013. Earlier in the year,  I was invited to give one of 3 keynotes at the Global Scrum Gathering in Paris France. And over the previous 3 years I had been quietly doing experiments using Open Space in Agile adoptions. So I planned to explain this work in Paris. I called it “Open Agile Adoption’.

As part of that work, I ended up finding and digging into some very interesting books along the way. I ended up at the author Victor Turner, an amazing cultural anthropologist who wrote a very interesting book called FROM RITUAL TO THEATRE: On the Human Seriousness of Play.

He wrote many other books as well. As I learned more, I started incorporating his ideas of liminality, passage rites and communitas into what became the Open Agile Adoption technique. I planned to present Open Agile Adoption in Paris in September, at the Paris Scrum Gathering. Remember, this is early July in New Haven CT, and I’m having lunch with Elinor Slomba.

So we get to talking. Not about the keynote, just stuff about our background, mutual friends, interests etc.

Then she says

“Yes, and my thesis in Cultural Anthropology was on liminality. Have you ever heard of Victor Turner?”

Now at this point we had not discussed Turner, or liminality, and any of that whatsoever. I hadn’t published any web pages or anything yet about the Open Agile Adoption technique. It was like she was reading my mind of something.

And I replied


And Elinor says “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.”

I actually had the book WITH me (reading it for the 3rd time) and I pulled the book out of my bag.

“You mean this book right here?”

From there, we both smiled and had a great conversation. I expained what I was planning to present Open Agile Adoption at the Scrum Gathering, in part to let her know I had been working on it for 3 years, and studying Turner for over 15 months.

In my walking around and talking to people, it is a rare day when someone is totally in sync with Open Agile Adoption and the various components in it. Here, I was enjoying the company of someone who HAD WRITTEN A THESIS around the very stuff I was studying and implementing inside Agile adoptions.

In light of the foregoing, I am offering you a set of links to Elinor’s essays, because they are excellent, and useful, and written from a place of understanding, know-how and expertise. I hope you enjoy them.

Essays from Elinor Slomba:

Remain Curious:


Outsider Wisdom:
Play Personalities:
Rubbing the Tree
Post Industrial, Long Enough:
Related Links:











If you work with people, conflict is inevitable. Even the most dynamic, productive teams experience conflict; disagreements arise, ideas collide, and passions about principles can be tested. This could possibly describe your relationship with a customer or two. A key question is: does conflict on your team or with a customer lead to resentment, rivalry or hostility? Whether you answer yes or no, what is the outcome you want and how can you achieve that?

Agile teams value responding to change over following a plan; collaborating with customers to meet their needs; and prioritizing individuals and interactions over processes and tools. A core component for being in alignment with these values is developing individual and team skills for handling conflict so it serves the desired outcome.

In this interactive program, participants will explore key skills for navigating differences and conflicts at work. You will learn a simple four-step protocol to follow for achieving outcomes that work for all parties involved.


Pat is an Agile and Executive Coach with FreeStanding Agility. She coaches leaders and teams in strategies to increase employee engagement, team alignment, and collaboration.  Her work integrates core principles from three key knowledge areas: the agile movement, conflict resolution and mediation, and the new brain research.  Pat’s professional mission is to guide teams and leaders in creating dynamic work places where people are engaged, productive, and innovative.

Pat earned a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Memphis in Tennessee, an MS from Miami of Ohio, and a BA from Marian University in Indianapolis, IN.  She has completed three years of NVC Mediation training, in addition to the 33-hour Dispute Resolution training at the Community Dispute Resolution Center in Cambridge, MA.  Pat is also a licensed consultant for The Paper Room System. She resides in Somerville, MA, which gives her easy access to the city and the beach.




Meeting Agenda:

6:30 pm Introduction

7:00 pm Food, beverages, and socializing

7:20 pm Main event

8:20 pm Done

8:45 pm Done Done

Meeting Location:

500 Staples Drive
Framingham, MA

Click here for DIRECTIONS

NOTE: This is a change in venue for September. We are in Framingham this month, not Waltham!

When you get there: The event room is located on the 1st floor. Enter the building through the main entrance after parking. Follow the AGILE BOSTON signs to the the meeting room







Note: This was the KEYNOTE session of the Global Scrum Gathering in Paris, France on 9/24/2013.

Most Agile adoptions are struggles, and often miss the opportunity to really make a big cultural change. The fact that typical Agile adoptions are mandated in the command-control style might be a factor. Another factor correlated with difficult adoptions might be the fact that the people who do the work have no say at all the selection of Agile practices. Another factor might be the fact that imposing Agile practices on a team is contrary to Agile principles and has been from the very beginning, according to Martin Fowler. We can do better.

Open Agile Adoption (OAA) is a repeatable technique for getting a rapid and lasting Agile adoption. It works with what you are currently doing, and can be added at any time. It incorporates the power of invitation, Open Space, passage rites, game mechanics, storytelling and more, so your Agile adoption can take root. A hypothesis of Open Agile Adoption is that increases in engagement drives increases in productivity, after a brief delay. The purpose of Open Agile Adoption is to increase levels of engagement on the part of everyone involved.

The core concept of OAA is the rite of passage, or “passage rite”. A passage rite is a cultural event (and a kind of social game) that helps people who have membership make sense of complex social transitions. Agile adoptions are complex social transitions.

We’ll cover the origin story of Open Agile Adoption (it begins in Boston), cover the concepts and facilities of the method, and take your questions. This presentation is the same one delivered to the 400 people attending the Global Scrum Gathering keynote by Daniel Mezick on 9/24 in Paris France.


About the Speaker:

DANIEL MEZICK is a management consultant, author and keynote speaker. He is the formulator of Open Agile Adoption, a technique for creating rapid and lasting enterprise agility. He is the author of THE CULTURE GAME, a book describing sixteen patterns of group behavior that help make any team smarter. The book is based on five years of experience coaching 119 Agile teams across 25 different organizations. Daniel’s client list includes Zappos Insights, CIGNA, SEIMENS Healthcare, Harvard University and many smaller enterprises. Learn more and contact Daniel at www.DanielMezick.com.




IMPORTANT: REGISTRATION WILL CLOSE 48 HOURS BEFORE THE EVENT at 6PM on 10/21/2013. If you plan to attend, make sure you register BEFORE THAT.


Meeting Agenda:

6:00 pm Introduction

6:30 pm Food, beverages, and socializing

6:50 pm Announcements

7:10 pm Main Event

8:10 pm Done (raffle)

8:20 pm Done Done


Meeting Location:

1 International Place (6th floor)
Boston, MA 02110




IMPORTANT: REGISTRATION WILL CLOSE 48 HOURS BEFORE THE EVENT at 6PM on 10/21/2013. If you plan to attend, make sure you register BEFORE THAT.