- Paperback: 130 pages
- Publisher: Freestanding Press; 2 edition (October 16, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0984875336
- ISBN-13: 978-0984875337
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The OpenSpace Agility Handbook Paperback – October 16, 2015
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I received the book at the Agile Alliance Agile Conference in August 2015. I attended a talk by Daniel Mezick called "Scaling Agile With Open Spaces" not entirely sure what I would get from the talk. This book was the best piece of swag I got from the conference and here is why.
I am a fan of Harrison Owin's Open Space Technology (OST) for creating change through open discussions of important topics. When I read Openspace Agility Handbook I was really pleased how they take the core philosophies of OST and the Agile Manifesto and combined them. It was the first agile transformation framework that I have read that stayed true to the tenets of The Manifesto.
Daniel Mezick first and foremost focuses on human choice. It is through respecting the individual's choice that we eventually gain buy-in from from all individuals. Daniel emphasizes several times that we need to respect peoples choice to find flaws in what we are doing that encourage engagement. Peoples objections become a way to engage and create leaders who take charge of the transformation.
Choice and encouragement may one of the primary themes of this book, but there are a lot of other note worthy things.
The hole process starts with 60 days of education and coaching. It is designed to get initial understanding, buy-in, and opinions.
It then uses OST as an opening meeting designed to allow people to gather understanding and owner ship of agility within their organization. This meeting does not have mandatory attendance. That is part of the power of this approach. This meeting will draw those who feel strongly for or against the introduction of agile thought within the organizations. This aligns with the OST Principle "Who ever comes is the right people." It also ensures powerful conversations.
From that initial meeting there is a 100 day process where people are allowed to experiment and play with adding agile thought processes within their work. This time period is designed to allow all those involved to discover what they do not know and seek help. Most importantly it allows all involved to form opinions about what it means to be a more agile organization.
There is another OST meeting that works as a company wide retrospective. This meeting also has optional attendance for the same reasons the previous one does.
It ends with a 30 day period designed to help the people in the organization take full ownership of its transformation.
The book is an easy read and was easily digested. It focuses on the people more then any process and is designed to work for various sized businesses.
Where the book falls short is that it makes the process sound easy, despite warning that it might not be. It also does not address with any detail concerns that can arise in larger organizations. Things like distributed workforce or multiple shifts.
Despite those short comings, I feel the book is well worth the read. It is an original solution to the problem of transformation, and its human centric approach is very refreshing.
The OSA Handbook is exactly what the title is referring to: a simple, readable guide to using a loosely-framed structure for empowering people to solve the business problems that they are presumably being paid (or volunteering) to solve.
I doubt this information would be valuable to a solo-preneur or garage-based start-up of less than 30 people. Only when there are enough people with a critical problem requiring immediate attention and likely deep-seated change in thinking, would this OSA framework be relevant and productive. Sorry if that's not you and your org!
OSA brings value to the table inside of complex adaptive systems with the appearance of being on the very edge of chaos and implosion. This handbook spells it out to a reasonable level of granularity in layman's terms (by layman, I mean the uninitiated to Chaos Theory or Human Systems Dynamics.) But, it won't tell you specifically what to do, to save your particular organization. That is what you have people in your organization for. (Failing that, if you just 'must have' 3rd party input on some of the 'Hows' and 'Whys' of implementation beyond everything the Handbook has already laid out in detail, I suppose you could turn to the people in the OSA community for more pointers and tips on how to apply this to your case in point. They are found, unsurprisingly, at openspaceagility.com)
By introducing the key elements of OSA (ie. Respectful Invitation, Opt-In, Free-Exchange, Adaptation) the Handbook helps you unleash the willingness of your organization's people, which can translate into successful, continuous improvement at scale. The definition of terms, metaphors and graphics generously provided throughout the book make it an easy read.
It assumes very little or no prior knowledge of Open Space Technology and while the topic of defining agile is still very controversial, the book's development and presentation of core concepts around cultural transformation, (or change management) lends itself to all levels of expertise in agile.
The base assumption is that there can be a synergy between Open Space Technology and any flavor of agile framework, because the approach you take to adopting a framework is not mutually exclusive to the substance or values of said agile framework.
I think the book said it better. Read it. Try it in your organization. Repeat as needed. Don't panic.