Open Agile Adoption Simplified

Here is Open Agile Adoption (OAA) in summary form: it’s not complicated….





  • Formally authorized leadership defines a 90-day period of time (minimum) for “authorized experimentation” with various Agile practices. Formally authorized leadership invites everyone in the organization to do this. The intent is to ENGAGE everyone.
  • It starts with an “all hands” (Open Space) meeting. This is a 100% opt-in meeting. The Open Space meeting format creates ENGAGEMENT. Everyone is invited. Everyone— in all affected business units and everyone– at all authorization levels, from high to low–  are invited. As a result, there is a huge mixing of people & ideas.
  • At that 1st Open Space, in the closing circle, everyone learns that there will be another meeting just like this one….in 90 days. Everyone learns that the organization is serious about inspecting results and making adjustments.
  • After the first Open Space, teams “suspend disbelief.”
  • After the first Open Space, teams “act as if.”
  • After the first Open Space, teams “pretend these practices can work.”
  • After the first Open Space, teams understand they are authorized ..and they then commit to experiments. They enter a period of “committed experimentation.”
  • The teams experiment with using any practice that aligns with the Agile Manifesto: the 4 values and 12 principles. This is the single constraint. There are no other constraints. This is a firm constraint- if an experimental practice obviously offends the spirit of the Manifesto it is out of bounds. If a practice does not align with the Manifesto, it is not a valid practice to play with during this 90-day period.
  • Other than this single constraint and the 90 days, there is no prescription of practices. Teams find practices that work– within the boundary of the Manifesto.
  • The emphasis is on learning…learning reinforced by formally authorized leaders. The emphasis is on learning what agile practices are and how to use them in a way that fits the organization’s mission, current position, and context.
  • Ideally, the formally authorized leadership team also experiments with Agile practices, like:  short daily meetings, iterations and retrospectives. This sends all the right signals. This tells a coherent leadership story.
  • After the 90 days are up, that period of experimentation ends— in Open Space. This “all hands”, 100% opt-in meeting is a look-back AND a look-ahead. One chapter ends- a new one begins.
  • The previous chapter is closed— and a new chapter of experimentation is opened. By that 2nd meeting, teams have unanimous agreement on what is working well, and how they want to work. And they start noticing what has to change.
  • A massively high volume of  self-organization occurs up and down the organization. The entire organizations begins a shift- a shift AWAY FROM mediocrity and TOWARDS excellence via continuous improvement.
  • Huge progress across the entire (invited) group is the result.

It’s really very simple. It scales. It’s not complicated.

Self-management (self-organization) at massive scale is deeply mysterious.

Creating the conditions for it to take place is not !!


Related Links:

Open Agile Adoption Home Page (link)













Is Mandated Agile a Reckless Gamble?

Placing a bet is not necessarily gambling.

Gambling is the betting of money at unfavorable odds.

Wagering is the betting of money at favorable odds.


The History of Agile Adoptions

The sample size across the entire worldwide Agile experience since 2001 is at least 13 years of mostly-mandated Agile adoptions, worldwide! That might be 1,000 attempts a year for 13 years. (This was written in 2014….)

If Agile-practice mandates actually worked, we would be able to point with pride to thousands upon thousands of verifiable and unmitigated success stories.


So for example, even with just a 20% win rate, we might be able to identify as many as 2,600 legitimate successes.

WOW-  TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED success stories worldwide. Great … right?

Not really!

If  a mandate works 20 times out of 100 attempts, and a consent-based approach works 80 times per 100 attempts, both can be said to work SOME of the time.

A 20% win rate is nothing to brag about.

If a mandate will work in about 1 out of  5 attempts, in the long run, it is a gamble- a bet at very unfavorable odds. You are a “4 to 1 dog against.” 4 out of 5 attempts (on average) will fail in the long run.

Are those actually good numbers?

Are we actually happy with that?



The Open Agile Adoption assumes human engagement is essential. It replaces the mandate with an invitation. It is an approach that succeeds in  greatly improving the odds for success in getting a rapid and lasting Agile adoption, by acknowledging the reality of imposed mandates and replacing those nasty mandates with opt-in invitations. The method includes leadership storytelling, the use of Open Space, deliberate experience design, game mechanics and more, all in service to the creation of rapid and more lasting Agile adoptions.


Related Links:

Open Agile Adoption (link)

The Ken Blanchard Companies revealed the shocking fact that up to 70 per cent of all change initiatives fail. The article:

Mastering the Art of Change (link)

Telling Them What They Want to Hear (link)

People, Then Practices (link)


Open Space Proceedings

Are you running a public conference with Open Space?

Are you looking to produce a great proceedings document?

Then, this post is for you.


Open Space Proceedings

Open Space proceedings in public Agile conference events do not … repeat,  do not.. have to be lame.

If you have attended a public Open Space event inside an Agile conference, you know exactly what I am talking about. The proceedings are often weak, hard to read, just kind of thrown together….or even non-existent.

Most public Agile conferences that have Open Space do not produce proceedings at all!

In 2011 in Boston, Agile Boston (see link below) did an event called Agile Day 2011. We had some speakers in the morning and did an Open Space meeting in the afternoon. For the Open Space segment in the afternoon, we created some innovations around the creation of Proceedings.

The method we developed is now known as the Agile Boston method. It is simple. It produces great proceedings. There’s a link at the end of this post, to a sample Proceedings document produced using this method.


Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.19.08 PM



  • We delivered a document with hundreds of pages, just THREE HOURS after the event ended. Before people were done with dinner  that night, they had a link to the 90MB Proceedings PDF in their In-Box.
  • Every single session’s report from the Open Space was in the document
  • The text for each session was searchable. You could search your own name and find the sessions you attended. You could search ANY word or name you were looking for.
  • Every flip-chart artifact created in each session was there, as a JPG, in the PDF.
  • We included the slides from every single speaker in the AM
  • We included the pre-conference web pages, describing the event
  • We included information from all the Sponsors

Usually, a copy, or image is made of the messy handwritten report from the session, and that just gets thrown into the proceedings. Maybe! And it’s not searchable.

The reality is that with Agile conferences, you are lucky if you get even this. Because normally, there are no proceedings at all coming out of Open Space events convened inside public Agile conferences.

Take a look at the Proceedings document we produced. You might be wondering how we were able to deliver this just THREE HOURS after the event. Everyone who attended the event received a document that had all the slides from all the speakers, a full description of the event, pictures from the event….and the Open Space proceedings….with searchable text…all in one neat package.

If you like the results, send me an email and I’ll gladly explain to you how we did this. There’s a few tricks. Other than that, it’s simple. Any conference producer using the Open Space meeting format can make proceedings this good.

The PDF doc is 90MB, and takes some time to download. After it downloads, skip to the last, bottom third of the document to see the proceedings from the Open Space. (The first 1/2 of the document contains sponsor info, speakers slides, and the conference description.)


Related Links:

Agile Boston (link)

Agile Day 2011 (link)

Agile Day 2011 Proceedings (90MB PDF, link)