In OpenSpace Agility we hold that it takes about 60 days to get ready for Open Space at scale.
For example, in a typical organization that will invite 200 or more persons to the event, we need at least 45 days (about 6 weeks) to properly socialize the event. Before that, we need at least 2 weeks (about 15 days) to prepare the formally authorized leadership, plan the Open Space Theme and Invitation, and so on.
Smaller OSA implementations have been successful starting with far less lead-time. While it is possible to get solid results with less preparation, in OSA we hold that preparation is essential. For this reason 60 days is recommended for executing on the pre-work necessary to have a great event.
One dimension of the pre-work is the creation and sending to the Open Space Invitation. When a process-change is being introduced, it is essential for those affected to have enough time to process “what it all means.” We therefore provide enough time (ideally, about 45 days) for all invitees to examine the Invitation, consider it, discuss it with friends, and decide whether to participate – or not.
Preparing for OpenSpace Agility (OSA)
- Experiment: WORK WITH THE WILLING
- Experiment: LEADERS GO FIRST
- Experiment: MAKE MEETINGS OPTIONAL
Here are some guidelines for OSA consultants to suggest, and for enterprise leaders to consider. Each of these actions is 100% aligned with OSA and as such, each action helps everyone to prepare.
Preparing for OSA: WORK WITH THE WILLING
Training in Agile methods usually precedes the first Open Space event in OSA, called “OST-1.” Participants need to be familiar with Agile ideas and the general plan to try them, in advance of that first big Open Space meeting. Why not limit each class to a capped & maximum participants, and then issue an invitation to everyone and see who says YES to that invitation? WORK WITH THE WILLING means exactly that: invite everyone and work with the participants who respond a specific deadline, or (even better) limit the attendance to the first N participants who respond. Now you are working with the willing people, and you know who they are.
Preparing for OSA: LEADERS GO FIRST
If enterprise leaders are unwilling to do their leadership work in an Agile way, how credible is their interest in using Agile methods for continuous improvement? Answer: Probably not very credible at all. Leaders can go first. Leaders can use a Kanban board to make work visible, have a daily Scrum-like meeting, and present a demonstration of their work to subordinates at the end of each month. LEADERS GO FIRST literally means “leaders go first in terms of working in an Agile way.” In so doing, leaders make work and plans visible to the entire enterprise- visibility that helps everyone understand intent, plans and results. In OSA we invite the leaders to try Agile methods for 3 or 4 1-month iterations, as an experiment to be inspected. An experiment. To be inspected.
Not lifelong commitment!
Preparing for OSA: MAKE SOME RECURRING MEETINGS OPTIONAL TO ATTEND
Some executives may be unable or unwilling to commit to a small Agile experiment like LEADERS GO FIRST. If they are unwilling, this is usually not a good sign. However, there may be very good reasons why not. In such cases, OSA practitioners are advised to ask executives if they are willing to make one or two meetings optional to attend, again as an experiment. This is actually an smaller WORK WITH THE WILLING experiment. It’s a way of getting practice and experience with the entire idea behind OpenSpace Agility, namely this one: when all the willing people are choosing to be there, great things can and will happen.