"The utter simplicity of OST contrasts starkly with the results commonly achieved." - Harrison Owen
I find that the largest amount of disbelief that FAST Agile™ could possibly work comes from individuals that are unfamiliar with Open Space Technology or uncertain in the power of self-organization. Please spend some time to familiarize yourself with OST by reading the recommended book below, or reading the snippets I have taken from the book and copied below, or attending an Open Space Conference e.g. Open Agile Northwest or perusing the OpenSpaceWorld.ORG website, or all of the above! If in your reading your interest is at least tweaked and you have a willingness to experiment, Harrison Owen will have done his job and you are ready to read more about FAST Agile™.
- A real business issue
- High levels of complexity
- High levels of diversity (in the group of participants)
- The presence of passion and conflict
- A sense of urgency
- Voluntary self selection (this is covered in FAST by the fact that you have chosen to work in a FAST Agile environment. The tribe accepted you, and you accepted the way they work.)
So - does not this sound like every software project you have been on? Can you see why I feel that OST is a great fit for Agile development? I hope so.
Well-functioning self-organizing systems are naturally productive of peace and superior performance.
If our organizations lack purpose and power, it is obviously time to reorganize - and reorganize again. And when events show every indication of spinning into oblivion, we redouble our efforts to assert, or regain, control - layering controllers upon controllers upon controllers. I propose that it is not that we are doing something wrong, but that we are doing the wrong things.
Enter Systemic Thinking. When searching for enhanced performance, we must consider the whole system, including all of its relations with the surrounding environment. This marvelous idea has enabled us to begin to comprehend the mind blowing complexity of the Human Systems of our lives. However, when it comes to the successful conclusion of our search for high performance, the systems approach in its various manifestations (e.g. Business Process Re-Engineering) leaves something to be desired. In fact it might actually be seen as an exercise in futility.
First time participants in an Open Space often find it very confusing because everything appears to be happening in an orderly, productive fashion and no one is in charge. And yet somehow orderly and purposeful work takes place. Issues are raised, groups are formed, useful discussions occurs, ... actions are initiated, all without the benefit of The Leader, or indeed anybody - Taking Charge
Leadership emerges at the confluence of Passion and Responsibility
Self-organization drives inexorable toward High Performance
In the world of self-organizations all the "heavy lifting" of system design and implementation is taken care of by the system itself.
AT&T had spent ten months designing a pavilion to be built on the outskirts of the Olympic Village. Unexpectedly, an opportunity was offered of a prime location but they would have to move quick to take advantage of the opportunity.
Using OST, a $200,000,000 structure was designed, starting with a blank sheet of paper, and ending with working architectural drawings. Actually, this was a re-design, occasioned by major changes in plans and circumstances. The previous effort had taken 10 months, and thus the group had managed to do in the two days what they knew, on the basis of prior experience, would take 10 months. Figuring roughly, this comes down to a 15,000% increase in productivity, and the executive responsible described the outcome as "magic".