A 2-Day, Immersive Event:

About The Open Leadership Symposium:

Scaling Business Agility

Scaling business agility is not simple, but real success is achievable though the use of Open principles, and by the use of patterns and practices based upon them.

Open social technologies include ways-of-working frameworks, meeting designs, interaction protocols and more. All of these enabling Open social technologies share a set of core characteristics that make genuine and lasting business agility possible:

  • They are invitation-based… not imposition-based
  • They are published under an open license, not a closed one 
  • They are free to modify and extend… they are never ‘set’ or ‘finished’
  • They are based on principles– rather than rules – as outputs & results vary by application and context
  • They promote the distribution of clear decision rights, not the imposition of a central plan
  • They are designed to be modular and combinable, rather than monolithic and inflexible. Open social technologies invite recombination and design innovation
  • They promote self-management, not ‘command-and-control’ 
  • They promote human autonomy, rather than human dependence 
  • They encourage dynamic, by-agreement partnerships, not the imposition of static reporting structures
  • They support free-will promises and agreements, rather than authoritarian impositions
  • They align with the idea that organizations are complex and adaptive living systems, rather than machines

This is the world’s first and only leadership symposium on how to apply Open principles, patterns, and practices to achieve agile and digital transformation, and genuine business agility.


These eight Open patterns embody Open principles and inform your practices and overall approach. These are the eight patterns that make Business Agility at scale possible.


Open patterns and practices are those methods that engage the attention and energy of your workforce and improve employee engagement scores. Here are the key patterns:

  • Leadership Invitation. Open methods favor an opt-in (“pull”) approach rather than an imposition-based (“push”) approach to org-level change.
  • Proceeding By Explicit Agreement. An organization of individuals is largely defined by the implied and expressed agreements that those individuals enter into. Open methods make these agreements explicit.
  • Clarity of Authorization. In the Open approach, the delegation of responsibility always includes the clear and explicit delegation of the authority that is needed, to actually execute and deliver.
  • Boundary Management. Especially with respect to authority and authorization, when using Open methods, boundaries are clearly defined by executive leaders, are open enough to generate self-organization, are explicitly communicated, and are carefully maintained.
  • Use of Protocols. Open approaches clarify communication and understanding via protocols, which are small, shared agreements about how essential interactions are structured.
  • Whole-Group Process. Open methods favor whole-group process over closed-door decision-making. To the maximum extent possible, Open methods have a bias towards “getting the whole system in the room” to validate assumptions, gauge overall group readiness, and obtain validated, org-level alignment before proceeding.
  • Empirical Approach. Organizations are more like living systems than they are like machines. Acknowledging this reality includes recognizing the need for frequent iterations of experimentation and “learning-by-doing.”
  • Common Knowledge. Often associated with transparency, common knowledge is up-to-date shared information that everyone in the organization knows. The generation of common knowledge is essential to coordinating very large groups at scale.

Employee engagement is correlated with positive business outcomes. Employee engagement is absolutely essential to any success you may have in achieving transformational change.



Microsoft MTC, 5 Wayside Drive, Burlington MA 01803

Phone: 781-487-6400



Benefits of Attending the Open Leadership Symposium

  • Learn how to reduce your consulting spend on transformation by up to 70%, by engaging the workforce you already have
  • Learn how to achieve genuine and lasting business agility by leveraging Open methods, Open leadership, self-management, and much higher levels of employee engagement
  • Get qualifying certifications and related discounts on continuing education in the domain area of Open leadership and Open patterns and practices. (Click here to learn more about Open certifications.) Get ahead of the curve
  • Hear case studies and experience reports from practitioners and executives using Open leadership methods today to improve customer satisfaction, employee happiness, and measureable business outcomes
  • Connect with peers in your industry who are using Open methods today to improve talent retention and acquisition, drive positive business outcomes, and manifest genuine and lasting business agility. This is the world’s first and only leadership Symposium on how to apply Open methods to achieve agile and digital transformation
  • Gain access to theideas of the leading thinkers and voices of the emerging Open movement. Connect with the leaders who are creating the patterns and practices that lead to success with agile and digital transformation
  • Learn about sources of further learning and skills development on Open methods such as Open Space, Agendashift, Clean Language, OpenSpace Beta, Inviting Leadership and more


Open Leadership

This conference is all about getting results through Open Leadership methods. Open methods of leadership leverage the power of invitation, to engage employees in service to creating strongly positive business outcomes. This is the leadership symposium where you’ll find out exactly how to do this, safely and pragmatically. You’ll hear case studies. You’ll learn the patterns. You’ll find your peers here, the new kind of leaders… who have done it. Your peers, who are actually doing it. Your peers, who are now teaching others how.

And so: this is a very different kind of conference, a Symposium on Open Leadership and business agility. This 2-day event is focused on Open leadership, tools, techniques and principles.

Inside this symposium, you engage, and make connections.

It is here that you will find the others.

This is a 2-day, deeply immersive, learn-by-experience Leadership Symposium on Open methods and enabling Open social technologies such as OpenSpace Beta, FAST-AGILE, No Limits Self-Management, Open Space, Inviting Leadership, Clean Language, Agendashift, and more. At this event you’ll engage deeply with experts and peers, across two full days, and make real connections as you learn to identify and use Open methods in your own leadership work.

The methods that actually work, at scale.

“Transformations can’t be accomplished without others helping voluntarily, and people don’t help unless you engage them first.” -Geoffrey Moore, ZONE TO WIN


Click here to learn more about Open tools and techniques

Inside this Symposium we have assembled some of the world’s foremost authorities on the design and use of Open methods for achieving enterprise transformation. These speakers and Workshop leaders are de facto experts on self-management and Open principles as applied to agile and transformation at scale. These experts on Open can and will show you how to safely and pragmatically bring lasting, high-performance business agility to your enterprise.

If you are responsible for leading agile and digital transformation, this is your conference.



Who Should Attend

Any and all executives who are new to Agile, who are responsible for delivering a genuine business agility transformation, will strongly benefit from attending this Symposium.

If you have been through one or more attempts at Agile transformation in one of the roles listed below, you will strongly benefit from attendance:

C-level Executives: You’ve paid millions to transformation consultants, and have not realized the expected ROI. You are seeking a way to achieve immediately positive business outcomes. You are also looking for ways to effectively reduce your consulting spend.

Senior Vice Presidents: You are responsible for delivering a business agility transformation. And you are dubious of the standard approach of forcing frameworks and practices by “rolling them out.” You are looking for faster and better ways of generating a genuine and lasting business agility transformation.

Directors and Managers with Budget Authority: You are responsible for implementing changes at your scope of authority, substantial changes that must increase the flow of value to more customers. And do it faster. You are no longer happy with a mere 12% gain in KPI numbers. You are looking for at least five or six time that. You are looking for ways to do much more with much less. You suspect that engaging employees is part of the wider answer.

Executive and Agile Coaches and Consultants: You are looking for ways to deliver better and faster results for clients. You are looking for superior approaches, and ways to introduce these approaches to your clients and customers, so that you can play a key role in rapidly creating positive business outcomes.

Agile and Digital Transformation Leads: In your current role in your organization, you understand that employee engagement in change is essential, if that change is to be effective and lasting. You are searching for the best ways to reduce resistance to change by engaging as many employees as possible in the act, and the process, of changing.



The Masterclasses

PLEASE NOTE: We are offering deep-dive Masterclasses on selected Open tools and techniques before and after the conference. These Masterclass events are full-immersion learning experiences of at least one full day, where you learn the specifics of  selected Open method, engagement model or technique. Learn more about the Master Classes here. 


Arranging Your Hotel Lodging

Flying to Boston for the Symposium? We’ve got you covered:

You can arrange your lodging here.



“Transformation occurs through choice, not mandate. Invitation is the call to create an alternative future.” -Peter Block

The Speakers

The Keynotes, Plenaries and Workshop Leaders

We have quite a lineup of teachers and topics to investigate and choose from during the two days of the Symposium. Here are some Quick Links to help you see the scope of our teachers and topics at this event:

  • Mark Burgess– Conference keynote & Workshop Leader (Promise Theory)
  • Caitlin Walker– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (Clean Language)
  • Doug Kirkpatrick– Plenary speaker; Workshop Leader (No Limits Self Management)
  • Heidi Araya– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (The Agile Open Practitioner)
  • Mike Burrows– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (Agendashift)
  • Marian Way– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (Clean Language)
  • Niels Pflaeging– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (OpenSpace Beta & more)
  • Stacia Viscardi Heimgartner– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (FailAgility)
  • Mark Sheffield– Open Space Facilitator May 14 and teaching Inviting Leadership
  • Diana Williams– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (OpenSpace Agility)
  • Darren Terrell– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (Inviting Vision)
  • Michelle Holliday– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (Thrivability)
  • Dan Sloan– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (Open at Cox Automotive)
  • Ron Quartel– Plenary speaker & Workshop Leader (FAST AGILE)
  • Daniel Mezick– Event MC & Workshop Leader (SCRUM@SCALE and Inviting Leadership)



MARK BURGESS– Opening Keynote and Workshop Leader

Mark Burgess is a theoretician and practitioner in the area of cooperation and information systems, whose work has focused largely on distributed information infrastructure. He is known particularly for his work on Promise Theory, a theory of high-performance based on autonomous agents at scale. Promise Theory describes the interactions between autonomous agents within a system. It provides a semi-formal language for modelling intent and its outcome, which results in a chemistry for cooperative behavior.

Mark Burgess is emeritus professor of Network and System Administration at Oslo University College, Norway. He works as an advisor on science and technology matters all over the world.

You can learn more about the fundamentals of Promise Theory by watching this short 8-minute video. Click the video image or click this link to have a look:


CAITLIN WALKER– Workshop Co-Leader (with Marian Way)

Caitlin is a pioneer in the domain of Clean Learning and the developer of Systemic Modelling™. She is the author of From Contempt to Curiosity, which details many of the innovative and transformational projects that she has led across the U.K. and beyond.

She has developed modeling methods from small scale group development to at-scale organizational culture-change programmes. She designs and delivers tailor made learning and development programs for addressing diversity, conflict, leadership, managing mergers, and creating learning organizations. Caitlin resides in the U.K. and teaches the Clean Language methodology worldwide.


DOUG KIRKPATRICK– Plenary Speaker and Workshop Leader

Doug Kirkpatrick speaks and consults on self-management throughout North America and around the world. He also shares the message of organizational innovation through his best-selling books Beyond Empowerment and From Hierarchy to High Performance, via his TEDx talk, and numerous articles and posts. Gartner Research Director Mark McGregor wrote that “Doug is a leading expert in the field of organizational design.”

Doug Kirkpatrick served as the first financial controller for Morning Star, now the world’s largest tomato processing company. The founder introduced the startup team to the core principles of self-management, which they immediately adopted. At Morning Star, Doug learned that organizational self-management is real, it works and it drives superior business performance.

In 2008, Doug Kirkpatrick co-founded the Morning Star Self-Management Institute, with the mission of instantiating organizational self-management principles with effective education, tools, and practices.

NOTE: Click here to investigate Doug’s 90-minute Workshop NO LIMITS: ORGANIZATIONAL SELF-MANAGEMENT AT SCALE



HEIDI ARAYA-– Plenary Speaker

With over 20 years of experience in a wide range of industries and roles, Heidi brings a pragmatic approach to her work leading transformation in organizations through the use of Open methods. Heidi is currently Director of Agile Transformation at Tenable, a cybersecurity firm based in Maryland.

A passionate and vocal champion of the Open movement, Heidi trains and speaks at events and conferences worldwide. She also co-hosts a very popular virtual-video meetup series for Agilists you can learn more about and sign up for, at www.coachingagilejourneys.com. Her forthcoming book is The Agile Open Practitioner: Growing High Performing Teams.

You can connect with Heidi on LinkedIn or on Twitter.


MIKE BURROWS- Plenary speaker and Workshop leader

Mike Burrows is an expert in implementing outcome-oriented business strategy and agile/digital transformation. He is the pioneering formulator of Agendashift , an engagement model based on Open principles. He has authored three books for decision-makers with budget authority for agile and digital transformation, Kanban from the Inside , Agendashift and Right to Left.

Mike Burrows has been honored with awards like Brickell Key award for his community contribution and service to the business and project management community. He and his team at Agendashift help organizations in keeping their strategy and vision aligned with the culture of continuous transformation and co-creation.

NOTE: Click here to investigate Mike’s 90-Workshop, LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF OUTCOMES, a Workshop on the Agendashift Engagement Model


MARIAN WAY– Workshop Co-Leader (with Caitlin Walker)

Marian is an expert in delivering complex ideas to diverse audiences. She has taken the genius work of David Grove around Clean Language and developed a series of learning modules that bring Clean Language to a worldwide audience.

Marian is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention UK, world leaders in Clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She has authored or co-authored three books on the use of Clean Language for personal and corporate transformational change.


NIELS PFLAEGING– Plenary Speaker and Workshop Leader

NielsPflaeging is a passionate advocate for a “new breed“ of leadership and profound change in organizations. He is the formulator of Beta. Beta or BetaCodex is an organizational design framework, or organizational model created in 2008 by Niels and others. It built upon the pioneering work of the Beyond Budgeting Round Table (BBRT). Beta is a mindset that is based upon a set of 12 principles which are opposed to the principles of “Alpha” (“command-and-control”, “management”/”Taylorism”/“pyramid, steered organization”). The Beta principles were derived from case study research in the early 2000s, and enriched with insights from organizational theory, systems theory, social psychology, and business sciences. www.BetaCodex.org

OpenSpace Beta is a model for engagement and Very Fast Organizational Transformation formulated by Silke Hermann and Niels Pflaeging. OpenSpace Beta is designed for manifesting rapid and lasting improvement in enterprise-level performance. 

His latest book is the OpenSpace Beta handbook – an introduction to an entirely new way of bringing about organizational change. As a consultant, Niels has been strongly involved in transformational change projects for organizations both in Europe and the Americas, since 2006.  Expect to be surprised, inspired, and invited to reflect on both the practice and theory of agile, performance systems, organizational design, and change. 


STACIA VISCARDI HEIMGARTNER- Plenary Speaker and Workshop Leader

Teaching and coaching Scrum for over 12 years, Stacia is a Business Agility Coach, a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) & Coach, a noted authority on Scrum, and an author of The Professional ScrumMaster’s Handbook.  Stacia was one of the very first Certified Scrum Trainers in the USA, taught by Ken Schwaber himself.

Stacia is an expert on enabling high-performance business agility through the application of Open principles.  Her forthcoming book FailAgility provides a set of guidelines and specific step-by-step advise on what to do, and what not to do, when the goal is enterprise-wide improvement.



MARK SHEFFIELD– Open Space Facilitator & Master Class Instructor

Mark an Agile coach, certified trainer, and author of two books organizational change. He focuses on explaining and then implementing invitation, opt-in, and pull when coaching Agile to executives, teams and organizations. Mark has been training, coaching, and launching Agile teams since 2013 and has over 20 years’ experience developing software solutions.

In 2015 he co-authored The OpenSpace Agility Handbook, which describes an engagement model for leveraging invitation and Agile principles when implementing organizational change. See www.OpenSpaceAgility.com for more information.

In 2018 he co-authored Inviting Leadership, a tutorial and reference guide for making the shift from leadership delegation, to leadership invitation. See www.InvitingLeadership.com for more information.


DIANA WILLIAMS– Plenary Speaker and Workshop leader

Diana Williams is an agile and executive coach. She has over 8 years of experience delivering enterprise level Agile coaching to executive leaders, management and teams. She is a passionate learner and teacher, holding eight different certifications including the OpenSpace Agility Certified Trainer credential.

Her teams recognize significant productivity gains, improved quality, and better predictability. She is empathic with her teams and stakeholders, helping them achieve things they did not realize were possible.

When Diana is not coaching teams or leading projects, she helps lead Agile community as a Board member of Agile Indianapolis, and she is very family focused. She especially loves spending time with her grandchildren. As a mother and grandmother, she is an advocate for women working in technology.

Click here for Diana’s 90-minute Workshop on OpenSpace Agility


DARREN TERREL– Plenary Speaker and Workshop leader

Darren is the Vice President of Enterprise Agile Coaching at Project Brilliant. As a senior transformation specialist, he has worked with executives and Agile teams for many years and has a breadth of experience in creating the conditions for agile and digital transformation in the private and public sectors.  Darren is a pioneer in the practical application of Open patterns and practices to facilitate real agility in large organizations. He serves as a board member for the Agile Cincinnati and is also a co-organizer for Agile Ft. Wayne.

Click here for Darren’s 90-minute Workshop on Inviting Vision



MICHELLE HOLLIDAY— Plenary Speaker and Workshop Leader

I am a consultant, facilitator, author and researcher. My work centers around “thrivability” — a set of perspectives and practices based on a view of organizations and communities as dynamic, self-organizing living systems. With this understanding, we recognize that we can create the fertile conditions for life to thrive at every level – for individuals, for organizations as living ecosystems, for customers, community and biosphere.

My research, perspectives and practical experience are brought together in the highly acclaimed book, The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World, as well as in a popular TEDx talk and an online slideshow with close to 65,000 views. I also publish reflections regularly in my blog, Thoughts on Thrivability, and on social media.

With a Master’s Degree in International Marketing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Russian Studies, I bring a diverse experience base to this work. I spent the first part of my career in brand strategy, working internationally for Coca-Cola and H.J. Heinz. The second part of my career focused on employee engagement, consulting for a range of organizations in Washington, DC. More recently, as part of the global Art of Hosting community of practice, I’ve designed and hosted hundreds of transformative conversations for clients and the public, from 5 to 500 people. Now, after living in 19 cities, including Moscow, London, Paris, New York and a small town in Scotland, I combine brand strategy, employee engagement, hosting and more in my home base of Montréal and around the world.


DAN SLOAN– Plenary Speaker and Workshop Leader

Dan Sloan is an Enterprise Coach and ‘ways of working’ advocate at Cox Automotive, a global automotive services and software company focused on transforming the way the world buys, sells, owns and uses cars. This organization uses Open patterns and practices such as Open Space to foster employee engagement and high performing outcomes. In his role as Enterprise Coach, Dan helps orchestrate the ongoing application of Open principles while strengthening the capabilities needed to sustain a strategically aligned and adaptable enterprise in partnership with senior leaders, and the extended enterprise practitioner & coaching teams. Dan brings over 25 years of experience in a number of roles, including software product & engineering, business leadership, agile coaching, and organizational change.


RON QUARTEL- Plenary Speaker and Workshop Session Leader

Ron will tell you his life purpose is to “unleash the human spirit in the workplace.” He loves all things software and nurturing business/development harmony in particular.

His agile and Extreme Programming journey started in 2002, and over the years he has built strong technical skills and a deep understanding of agile methods. He has put this to use in several roles during his career: developer, development manager, and agile coach.

In 2014 Ron had an epiphany of a new way of working. A way that makes self-organization inescapable rather than just paying lip service to the concept. This method aligned with his vision and has been his passion ever since.


DANIEL MEZICK– Plenary Speaker, Workshop Leader, and Designer of the Open Leadership Symposium

Coaching executives and teams since 2006, DANIEL MEZICK is a ScrumAtScale Trainer, an expert on business agility, and an author of three books on organizational change. A frequent keynote speaker at industry conferences, Daniel’s list of clients include Capital One, INTUIT, Adobe, CIGNA, Pitney Bowes, SIEMENS Healthcare, Harvard, and dozens of smaller enterprises.

His books include  THE CULTURE GAME , which describes 16 specific patterns that extend Agile ideas across the organization, beyond software; the OPEN SPACE AGILITY HANDBOOK , which pioneered the Open Engagement Models concept for agile and digital transformations; and  INVITING LEADERSHIP: Invitation-Based Change in the New World or Work™, which introduced the concept of Invitation-Based Change and introduced the domain of Authority Studies. INVITING LEADERSHIP published in 2018 and upon publication it reached #1 on the Amazon bestseller list in the Organizational Learning category.

Daniel’s enterprise consulting practice is built upon the core concepts found inside these books. He conducts workshops based on these books, and also offers enterprise Agile coaching, Agile training programs for teams, and management consulting. You can learn more and contact him at www.DanielMezick.com.

Day Two, May 15:

The Leadership Symposium Workshops

May 15 is the second day of the Symposium and is the day when the Workshops listed below are presented. Some of these Workshops are offering a Level 0 certificate of completion from the Open Leadership Network.

Quick Links to the May 15 Workshops:



The Open Leadership Network Certifications

The Open Leadership Symposium is produced by the Open Leadership Network or OLN. The OLN is the certification body dedicated to spreading the Open patterns and practices that enable genuine business agility. Your ticket to the Symposium includes Membership in the Open Leadership Network. Your membership in the OLN includes valuable discounts on certified Courses that are delivered in classrooms and online.

In addition to your Membership discounts, participation in a specific Workshop earns you a deeper discount on the next-level certification training in that subject, from that instructor. If for example you participate in the No Limits Self Management Workshop from Doug Kirkpatrick, you will earn a Level 0 certificate of completion in that subject, and also receive a very substantial thirty percent discount on the Level 1 certification class scheduled for delivery online, by Doug, after the event in June or July.

You can learn more about the certification programs of Open Leadership Network here.

The detailed descriptions of each of the May 15 Workshops on Open Leadership are listed below:




NOTE: This Workshop includes a Membership-level certification in OSA from the Open Leadership Network, and a 30% off discount on the Level 1 (Associate Level) certification course, which you can attend online after the Symposium. Learn more here.

OpenSpace Agility (OSA) is a safe, pragmatic and repeatable  technique for getting a rapid and lasting business agility transformation. It works with the framework you are currently using, and OSA can be added at any time. OSA is used to actively engage as many employees as possible in your org-level change program.

For executive leaders, OSA is an Employee Engagement Model and A-B-C template that operationalizes the core values of Lean, namely: respect for people, and continuous improvement.

For executives who are truly committed to these values, OSA represents a simple, effective and very efficient way forward.

With OpenSpace Agility, you can expect:

  • A dramatic reduction in the coaching & training costs of implementing your Agile program
  • A genuine, rapid and lasting Agile transformation
  • A dramatic increase in employee engagement scores
  • A dramatic increase in stakeholder satisfaction and potentially, genuine stakeholder delight
  • Predictable, reliable, repeatable, EVIDENCE-BASED improvement in overall results

Each OpenSpace Agility cycle has just 5 basic and repeatable steps. These steps are:

  • Step 1: Leadership and Enterprise Preparation
  • Step 2: Initiate the process using an all-hands “Open Space” meeting
  • Step 3: Initiate Agile practices across the enterprise
  • Step 4: Complete the process in Open Space
  • Step 5: Inspect Results and Adapt

At first glance, OSA seems like a simple enough process. However, like most things, there is nuance in the actual implementation. I have been primarily using OpenSpace Agility when doing work with my clients. There have been great successes, and more importantly, many insightful learnings. I have found that there are many ‘small’ details that help make the OSA experience more enriching. Join me in this interactive session as I share my experiences and learnings with you.  

Click here for Diana Williams’ bio.






Clean Language is a communication protocol based on Open principles. The basic concept is to reflect back the language of the sender, to help determine exactly what it is that the sender means to communicate. Clean Language in a highly efficient, non-intrusive, opt-in communication protocol that is designed to encourage higher functioning in individuals, groups and organizations. Clean Language is gaining influence throughout the world as an effective tool for realizing enterprise-level improvement. The Agendashift engagement model, for example, is based in part of the Clean Language and Clean Questions protocols.

We’ll start with: ‘What would you like to know before we begin?’ A simple Clean way to start any group interaction. We’ll go on to explore personal experience of ‘drama’ times when you’re in contempt of yourself or others, and it limits your commitment and your creativity. From a felt sense of being in drama, vs being open and curious and in a position to learn, we’ll explore when it’s advantageous to be in each position. From here we will play with some Clean tools for moving into cooperation and collaboration. As a result of this Workshop, participants exit this learning event with new tools for clarity in communication.

What You Will Learn:

  • What is Clean Language? What is a Clean Question?
  • How can I immediately put Clean Language to work, in pursuit of higher performance?
  • How can I leverage Clean Language and Clean Questions to accelerate immediate improvement in my organization?
  • What are the key outcomes from the use of Clean?
  • What is the best way to socialize Clean Language across my organization?

Click here for Caitlin Walker’s bio and here for Marian Way’s bio




Here is my definition of Business Agility: the capacity of a business organization to respond to change, in service to positive outcomes, for the business and for the living community it touches.

Business metaphors often describe the organization as a machine. But machines are not alive. Organizations are populated with people. And people are alive. Organizations are living systems too, and recognizing this brings us closer to the reality of how real business and real business agility works. 

At the root of every major problem we face – individually and collectively – is the need for a new way of understanding ourselves, our work and the purpose and patterns of our lives. In contrast to the still-dominant mechanistic paradigm of the Industrial Era, an expanded story is emerging, this time with life solidly at the center of its plot. This new narrative invites us to see our organizations, communities — and even all of humanity — as dynamic, self-organizing, living systems.

To embrace this view and to operate effectively within it, you need to understand how to support a living system’s ability to thrive — its thrivability. In this session, you are introduced to the Thrivability framework from Michelle Holliday and her book.

You’ll learn how to:

  • View your organization as a living system
  • Apply the living systems model to your leadership work
  • Build a set of leadership competencies that leverage the living energy of your organization

Click here for Michelle Holliday’s bio




Scrum At Scale is not simply the most likely future of Agile, it is the most likely the very future of work itself. Created by Jeff Sutherland, Scrum@Scale is an Open framework that can infinitely scale agile and digital transformation across enormous global enterprises. It can scale to organize an enterprise of any size and any scope. Ironically, that is because Scrum@Scale implements a “scale free” organizational architecture. And this is one of the reasons why Scrum@Scale is the most likely future of work.

If you are looking to create and scale great business agility across your organization, this is your Workshop. 

What you will learn: 

  • What is a “scale free” scaling framework?
  • The 5 KEY differentiating features of Scrum@Scale, which make it unlike every other scaling framework in existence today- including yours
  • The 7 absolutely core things you need to know before you implement Scrum@Scale
  • What you must do as your VERY FIRST step when you implement Scrum@Scale
  • How to handle your context: those remote teams, executives always traveling, 15,000 employees in 7 offices, spread across 3 countries, etc.
  • How to engage all of your employees in the change
  • Resources you can use tomorrow: The Ready for Scrum@Scale Checklist and more

Click here for Daniel Mezick’s bio




NOTE: This Workshop includes a Membership-level certification in No Limits Self-Management from the Open Leadership Network, and a 30% off discount on the Level 1 (Associate Level) certification course, which you can attend online after the Symposium. Learn more here.

This workshop explores the lessons learned from vanguard companies as they unleash the power of organizational self-management. New organizational models link mission-critical processes to individual stewardship without the need for burdensome traditional management and hierarchy. Interest in organizational self-management is bubbling up throughout the world as more leaders recognize the strategic opportunities available when organizations can focus on execution rather than bureaucracy.

What You Will Learn:

  • Learn How to Create a Highly Scalable Enterprise Without Human Bosses, Titles and Position Power
  • Learn How to Drive Organizational Agility, Innovation and Leadership through Organizational Self-Management
  • Learn How Organizational Self-Management Can Create Strategic Business Advantage
  • Learn How to Slash the Costs of Management, the Least Efficient Activity of Any Enterprise

What you’ll remember:

After engaging in this workshop, you will be able to see the costs and pitfalls of traditional hierarchical bureaucracy more clearly than ever before, and appreciate the often unnecessary burden that it places on all of us in our daily lives.

Click here for Doug Kirkpatrick’s bio




Agendashift is an Engagement Model based on Open principles and focused on outcomes and desired results. Agendashift is used to engage top executives and is used before you select yoru framework or approach. Agendashift focuses first on what you want– on your desired outcomes. 

This is a 90-minute workshop taken from the Discovery chapter of the Agendashift book, Every exercise is published as freely available open source, so you can take it with you. Agendashift and these exercises are designed to help you learn the language of outcomes, a vital ingredient in effective self-organization.

The Workshop Agenda:

  • Celebration-5W: A great workshop opener, a way to some create some business context for your workshop or team event
  • True North: A way for diverse groups to prioritise high level obstacles to effective collaboration “across the organization and beyond”, inspired by Lean and Agile, expressed in plain language
  • 15-minute FOTO: Turn those obstacles into outcomes, in your own words (and an introduction to Clean Language)
  • Plan on a page: Organize those fragmentary outcomes into something coherent and compelling

Click here for Mike Burrows’ bio



THOUGHT CLINIC: MAKING THE SELF-ORGANIZED “BETA” ORGANIZATION REAL, Through “Full Fledged” Very Fast Organizational Transformation, from NIELS PFLAGING

In this highly interactive session, Niels will discuss with us how to combine Open and open source social technologies such as Beta (formerly known as the Beyond Budgeting model,)  Agile, Lean, OpenSpace, and OpenSpace Beta into a fast & complexity-robust approach to transformation that works. Anywhere. There will be no lecturing, nor use of power point in this session. But lots of space for discourse and dialog. Be prepared to be surprised!

What You Will Learn:

  • Self-organization: How to organize for complexity, not against it – for human nature, not against it
  •  Decentralization & Leaderships: How to think about work & organizations more effectively, and appropriate a stern approach to organizational design
  •  Invite, do not impose: How to distinguish the good, the bad, and the evil approaches to organizational development, learning & change
  • Further secrets of Very Fast Organizational Transformation: How to make it happen in your organization, or with your clients

Click here for Niels Pflaeging’s bio




This 90-minute session on the principles and practices surrounding Promise Theory, a core foundational aspect of Open principles. This Worksho is facilitated by Mark Burgess, the formulator of Promise Theory. This Workshop includes everything you need to begin safely and pragmatically applying Open principles to enterprise-level digital and agile transformation at massive scale.

What You Will Learn:

  • Promise Theory concepts and facilities
  • What it actually means to “Think in Promises”
  • Why a promise is NOT a guarantee
  • Voluntary cooperation: a power source of energy and commitment
  • Applying Promise Theory to Machines…and Human Social Systems
  • Applying Promise Theory to large-scale agile and digital transformation

Click here for Mark Burgess’ bio




Dan Sloan is an Enterprise Coach and ‘ways of working’ advocate at Cox Automotive, a global automotive services and software company focused on transforming the way the world buys, sells, owns and uses cars. This organization uses Open patterns and practices such as Open Space to foster employee engagement and high performing outcomes. In his role as Enterprise Coach, Dan helps orchestrate the ongoing application of Open principles while strengthening the capabilities senior leaders, teams and the entire organization.

In this session Dan tells his story of the trials and trade-offs he encountered as he helped move the organization in this direction. Dan shares the progress and challenges along the way, and offers clear guidance on what to do- and what NOT to do.

What You Will Experience and Learn:

  • How Open patterns and practices are working at Cox Automotive
  • What worked, and what did not
  • How to incrementally introduce Open patterns and practices
  • How to work with executive leaders
  • How to keep it going
  • What to avoid and what to favor in terms of approach with senior leaders
  • Coaching from Dan: How to achieve an Open leadership approach in your organization by using some of the learning found here




One day in 2014, at an Open Space session at a large Agile conference event in New Orleans… Ron Quartel had the flash of an interesting idea. Why don’t we use Open Space as a way of scaling agile and digital transformation? I mean, we just managed to self-organize 800 people, to create a one-day conference event, in 20 minutes, using a process called Open Space that is totally in alignment with Agile principles!

Agile at Scale was the hot topic of the day. And the idea of using Open Space felt more “agile” than what a lot of other people were proposing for solving this problem. It felt like they were using command-and-control thinking to solve the challenge of agile at scale, instead of Open approaches.

Ron built FAST upon this initial seed of this idea. He created just enough structure for a easy and effective framework, built on Open Space Technology, to self-organize people around teams and teamwork. Ron will share how this self-managed teamwork-at-scale framework evolved through trial and error, when he applied it inside a major health insurance company in the Pacific Northwest. He’ll also share how FAST has since spread all over the world as a way to scale team and teamwork inside digital and agile transformations.

By attending this 90-minute session, you will:

  • Learn the basics of FAST and the benefits and advantages of using it to dynamically compose your teams
  • Learn about a specific case study and experience report of a FAST implemention in the Healthcare industry
  • Learn now to use FAST to attract top talent and improve employee retention, employee engagement, company culture, and business outcomes
  • Learn now to immediately implement FAST in your own organization
  • Connect with the community of innovators who are using FAST today

You can learn more about the FAST method, and Ron Quartel, via this link:




Author Stacia Heimgartner Viscardi introduces you to the modern essential competitive differentiator for individuals, teams, and organizations: Failagility. Success merely reflects a judgment at a particular point in time; today’s success may very well be tomorrow’s failure, and the same actions that led us to success yesterday may not be sufficient for success today or tomorrow. Organizations are imperfect because the people employed within are imperfect, and organizations can only be as agile as their imperfect people and teams. It is thus essential that all employees understand the Failagility Framework as a way to work within an imperfect world, improving resilience to shorten the distance between disappointment (failure) and desired outcome. Leaders must create the space to wholly embrace imperfection, try, listen and adapt, else the organization will stagnate in the status quo and eventually become irrelevant in the market.  

Whether you’re a team member or a leader, this workshop will introduce you to the exciting new Failagility Framework so that you may learn how to quickly move from one failure to another to eventually realize success, whether it’s in your personal or business lives. Our discussion and hands-on exercises will take us through the following topics:

  • Reconcieving failure to define Failagility
  • Exercise 1: Couldn’t or Wouldn’t
  • Understanding the Success Trap
  • Exercise 2: Success as a continuum
  • Exploring the Failagility Factor in Organizations
  • Exercise 3: Failing towards Success
  • Final: Leadership’s Role in Cultivating Failagility

Click here for Stacia’s bio


With ever increasing demands for being innovative and nimble, organizations need to be able to work on the right things… and do it quickly.  Otherwise, they risk being disrupted.  Organizations need vision!  Just as importantly, we need employees that can engage on achieving the vision.  

Born from the Open Movement, INVITING VISION is a framework designed to empower people to align around and move the organization forward.  It’s as stepwise procedure for leaders to engage the whole organization in creating and advancing a clear answer to the question: “Why?”

Here are some questions that the INVITING VISION approach can help with:

  • Are we working on the right stuff to “move the needle?”
  • Can we empower our employees to drive our vision?
  • Is the organization making progress towards the goals?
  • How can we be more responsive to change?
  • What ways can we communicate boundaries, values, and principles?

Everyone exits this Workshop with tool and resources including the following:

  • A set of checklists for leaders and coaches
  • A digital copy of Darren’s new book by the same name: INVITING VISION

Click here for DARREN TERRELL’s Bio


NOTE: This Workshop includes a Membership-level certification in Coaching With Consent from the Open Leadership Network, and a 30% off discount on the Level 1 (Associate Level) certification course, which you can attend online after the Symposium. Learn more here.

As Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters, we often find ourselves in environments where “Agile transformations” have been imposed on people. Such “transformations” fail to deliver promised results, and they often create disengagement and a sense of apathy in the teams we are tasked with helping. Through the use of Open Methods, we have a unique opportunity to stop playing “process police” and instead enable empowered teams through invitation. In this session Heidi will share specific methods and offer clear guidance on how to gain alignment, engagement and real improvement at the team level using Open techniques. 

Everyone who attends the workshop will receive a toolkit of techniques to improve team cohesion and teamwork, including:

  • Team Foundation: A list of suggested agreements, activities and discussions to set teams up for success and improve team bonding and teamwork  
  • Outside the Box: Inventive ideas to test in your team or company, to improve culture and engagement
  • Exceptional Meetings: Innovative meeting formats that will improve team psychological safety, participation and engagement
  • Guiding questions: A list of questions to use in specific meetings to improve alignment and outcomes

Click here for Heidi Araya’s bio



Intro to INVITING LEADERSHIP with Daniel Mezick

NOTE: This Workshop includes a Membership-level certification in Inviting Leadership from the Open Leadership Network, and a 30% off discount on the Level 1 (Associate Level) certification course, which you can attend online after the Symposium. Learn more here.

Engaging employees is essential to achieving rapid and lasting change, and invitations from leaders are a primary way to engage the workforce. The challenge is in how to safely and pragmatically balance the use of delegation and invitation to achieve the desired outcomes. Exactly how to do that is the focus of this introductory Workshop. If you are responsible for delivering on business agility through an agile or digital transformation, or if you provide consulting to those who do, this is your class. 

Click here to learn more about the Inviting Leadership book.

The successful leaders of today are finding ways to engage the entire workforce and focus the attention of the whole enterprise on higher performance. These leaders are pivoting their style from delegation to invitation

INVITING LEADERSHIP is your roadmap for implementing Invitation-Based Change™ in the new world of work. This Workshop introduces you to how to leverage genuine invitation to engage the workforce, and generate the positive business outcomes that come from self-managed teams. INVITING LEADERSHIP shows you how to do more with less. 

You will learn how to achieve the following goals:

  • Greatly increase employee engagement
  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Help your entire organization become more competitive and adaptive
  • Scale these business outcomes across the entire enterprise

INVITING LEADERSHIP is your leadership road map for achieving genuine and lasting business agility by applying Open methods to engage, motivate and inspire your people. 

What You Will Learn:

  • Learn the fundamental concepts and facilities of leadership invitation
  • Understand the link between delegation, invitation, employee decision-making, and genuine business agility.
  • Learn when to use delegation, invitation or a mix of the two approaches
  • How to use leadership invitation to get exponential growth in employee engagement and results

Click here for Daniel Mezick’s Bio

The Schedule

The Two-Day Symposium Agenda


The primary goal of the event is to create an opportunity for you to gather immediately actionable guidance, and take away several proven and immediately practical Open tools.

The wider intent of the conference is to expand the understanding of Open principles and the use of Open tools and techniques, in service to greatly improving the results of agile and digital transformation efforts worldwide.

In service to these goals, the Symposium design for the first day creates multiple ways for you, the participant, to size up and engage in the various learning opportunities available during your entire experience of the two-day event.

First, there are the short plenaries: most of the plenary speakers are teaching a 90-minute Workshop on the second day. Each plenary session therefore represents an opportunity to closely observe and size up both the value of the topic and the personal teaching style and overall delivery of each Workshop leader.

Second, there is a whole-group activity called Authority Circle which we will explain and review right after lunch. This is an opportunity to learn and take away an immediately useful whole group Open meeting format; one that is focused on leadership. We will then explain and launch into another whole-group exercise called The Debate. This segment of the Symposium allows you to observe once again how those who will be leading Workshops on the second day handle the dynamic and surprising interactions that ensue during this whole-group exercise.

Third, there is the whole-group Open Space Technology event during the afternoon of Day 1. That is your opportunity to attend sessions, and even convene a session yourself. The Open Space offers the opportunity to make deep connections with members of this Symposium. It’s also your opportunity to interact with all of the plenary speakers who will lead the highly focused and interactive 90-minute Workshops schedule on the very next day. Throughout the first day, you will also interact with your colleagues and the wider membership of the event, exchanging your observations, impressions, and likely Workshop selections for the following day.

Fourth, many of the most popular of the Workshops on the second day will be presented twice. This affords you the maximum set of options for selecting your Workshops. On the second day of the Symposium, you are able to select three (3) of the Workshops from a list of a possible 15. You have maximum flexibility in tailoring and planning your total learning experience at the Symposium event. You can tailor and refine your Workshop choices, to receive exactly the kind and type learning you are actually looking for.

Lastly, most of these Workshops come with a Member-level certification from The Open Leadership Network. This is a discount that entitles you to a 30 percent discount on the full Level 1 class. These deeper continuing-education classes are available online after the event. For most participants, the discounts from the three Workshops attended on May 15 will often cover the entire price of your Symposium ticket.

Here is the schedule and Agenda for Day 1:


0900AMOpening Keynote: Promise TheoryMark Burgess: PROMISE THEORY
0940AMSet #1: A set of quick & lively 10-minute introductions of the Workshop topics planned for Day2 on May 15Heidi Araya (Coaching with Consent), Doug Kirkpatrick (No Limits Self Management), Michelle Holliday (Thrivability)
1010AMAM Break #1 (20 minutes)
1030AMSet #2: A set of quick & lively 10-minute introductions of the Workshop topics planned for Day2 on May 15Dan Sloan (Open at Cox Automotive), Diana Williams (OpenSpace Agility), Mike Burrows (Agendashift), Niels Pflaeging (OpenSpace Beta)
1130AMAM Break #2 (20 minutes)
1150AMSet #3: A set of quick & lively 10-minute introductions of the Workshop topics planned for Day2 on May 15Stacia Viscardi Heimgartner (FailAgility), Ron Quartel (FAST AGILE), Daniel Mezick (Inviting Leadership)
1230PMLUNCH (50 minutes)
0120PMWhole-Group Open Leadership Exercisefacilitated by Daniel Mezick
0200PMOpen Space Opening Circle; Theme: "OPEN LEADERSHIP? OPEN BUSINESS AGILITY?"Daniel Mezick is the Host, Mark Sheffield (co-author of the book Inviting Leadership ) is our facilitator.
0220PMOpen Space Sessions PART1, up to 10 sessions to pick from Entire Symposium body
0300PMOpen Space Sessions PART2, up to 10 sessions to pick from Entire Symposium body
0340PMOpen Space Sessions PART3, up to 10 sessions to pick from Entire Symposium body
0420PMOpen Space Closing CircleMark Sheffield
0500PM(All Symposium participants invited to walk to nearby complimentary beer & wine happy hour; then dinner at nearby restuarants via opt-in arrangements; with everyone on their own for dinner)




0900AMOpening RemarksDaniel Mezick, Master of Ceremonies
0915AMA set of quick & lively 10-minute introductions on the remaining Day2 Workshop topics not yet introducedCaitlin Walker & Marian Way (Clean Language), Daniel Mezick (Scrum At Scale), Darren Terrell (Inviting Vision)
0950AMAM Break (20 minutes)
1010AMWhole Group Activity: Workshop-Interest Voting and Workshop Room AssignmentsEntire Symposium body, led by Daniel Mezick
1030AMWorkshop Sessions (7 or more to choose from)Delivered by Workshop Leaders
1200PMLUNCH (60 minutes)
0100PMWorkshop Sessions (7 or more to choose from)Delivered by Workshop Leaders
0230PMBREAK (10 minutes)
0240PMWorkshop Sessions (7 or more to choose from)Delivered by Workshop Leaders
0340PMBREAK (10 minutes)
0350PMSymposium Retrospective, Gifting of Books and Certification Courses, and Formal ClosingEntire Symposium body
0445PM(All Symposium participants invited to walking-distance, Symposium-closing beer & wine happy hour) Courtesy of the organizers of The Open Leadership Symposium: AGILE BOSTON and the Open Leadership Network





Tickets include both days of the conference, lunch/snacks/beverages both days, and admission to all the Workshops. Tickets to this event steadily go up in price, little by little, as they are sold. To get the lowest price ticket possible, purchase your ticket as early as possible (or sooner.) If you send multiple people from one company, you can take advantage of our great Group Pricing:

  • FIVE OR MORE: Send 5 or more to get a price reduction of $60 per ticket
  • TEN OR MORE: Sending 10 to get a price reduction of $80 per ticket

The sooner you register for the event, the less it costs you to join the Open Leadership Symposium. Seating is strictly limited to 150 tickets, ensuring a very intimate meeting of the minds.


Following the Symposium we are offering Master Classes on selected topics after the conference. These are full-immersion learning experiences of at least one full day, taught by THE expert on the subject. These classes are scheduled for May 16 and 17, after the Symposium. The Master Class is where you learn the detailed specifics of  a selected Open method, Open engagement model or Open technique. It’s also where you get full-day or two-day access to the noted expert teaching the Master Class… and get every question you have answered. Learn more about the scheduled Master Classes here. 

Click the link below for the Symposium and/or Master Classes: