January 31, 2020

Being Open to Open Space (Plus Free Scrum and Open Space Poster)

Openness is one of the 5 Scrum Values and in this blog post we want to take a closer look at this particular Scrum Value and how it relates to Agile Transformations when it is elevated from a Scrum Team level to an organizational level. We invite you to order the complimentary Open Space or Scrum Poster or join our follow-up conversation The Power of Open Space in Agile Transformations


Being "Open" in Scrum has many different important facets. For example Scrum requires transparency among the team members as well as the Scrum Team being part of the wider eco-system in an organization. Openness allows the Development Team, for example, to share obstacles in a Daily Scrum. Scrum Team members can also be open about work, relationship, progress as a team or collaboration. They are also open to learn from and with each other. Sprint Retrospectives might be one thing that comes to mind, but learning also means new knowledge and ideas about the product, for example in Sprint Planning, the refinement or crafting a Sprint Goal. Openness hits all aspects of inspection and adaption and is not reduced to a single view. For example stakeholders might falsely think that openness is simply a task board.  There is of course much more to it.

Scrum PosterOpenness impacts collaboration and facilitation and only if multiple forms Open Spaceof openness are in effect, a higher degree of trust emerges. 

Learning, facilitation, collaboration, progress, obstacles and exploring new ideas are as instrumental for organizational transformation as it is for Scrum Teams. Trust between the leadership and the Scrum Teams are key to success. 

Open Space is a liberating structure, but a very important and powerful one to me. The Agile Alliance recommends Open Space as the meeting format within organizations. Open Space is frequently used by conference organizers like me for many years. We started using Open Space first during the Agile Day 2009, over ten years ago, and it was an instant hit ever since. 

Using Open Space as a meeting format a gathering of leaders, business domain experts and Scrum Teams alike, allows for maximum collaboration, autonomy of work, crowd-sourcing and taking responsibility. Open Space is shockingly simply but just like Scrum, not necessarily easy to do. It requires true servant leadership as a facilitator and an open-minded group of people experiencing Open Space the very first time. The results are often proof of a highly productive meeting and the outcomes evidence to continue with Open Space.  

If you haven't yet, try Open Space in your organization, maybe even use it to structure your agile transformation, like we do with the agile transformation kata. Be open to get help from an experienced OpenSspace facilitator and be open to learn from others. Set the right tone for Open Space and use all the elements of Open Space, just like Scrum.