Open Leadership Tools & Techniques for Organizational Change

Organizational change is not simple. We know for sure that methods for change based on imposition of change do routinely fail. Therefore, Open methods and tools for organizational change have the following characteristics:

  • 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.

Promise Theory

Promise Theory provides important and essential scientific validation of the operational principles of scaling high-performance organization. Promise Theory asserts that promises, rather than impositions, are what actually scales. Promise Theory provides a sound theoretical foundation, one that is validated by hard science. Mark Burgess, the formulator of Promise Theory, is theoretical physicist by training who has written several important books that define the theory.

Promise Theory is the theoretical and scientific foundation of the Open approach. You can rapidly get up to speed on the theory by viewing these short visual essays. Each video is about 10 minutes long. Promise Theory is essential. Promise Theory formulator Mark Burgess is the Opening Keynote of the OPEN LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM.


Operational Tools, Techniques, Frameworks and Models

Inviting Leadership: Formulated by Daniel Mezick. A style of leadership that weaves invitations into the wider mix of leadership commands, leadership directives and leadership delegations.

No-Limits Organizational Self Management: A principles-based, organizational-design framework, formulated by Doug Kirkpatrick. An approach to organizational design that is built upon at-will agreements by and between individuals, groups, departments and divisions.

Open Space Technology: A meeting format and whole-group process, formulated by Harrison Owen. Open Space is a simple yet profoundly efficient way of rapidly manifesting development and transformation in organizations.

Agendashift: An Engagement Model and whole-leadership-group process, developed by Mike Burrows. Agendashift is a best-of-breed composition of elements, one that aligns leadership teams and entire enterprises on explicitly stated and desired outcomes.

Open Space Agility: An Engagement Model formulated by Daniel Mezick. OpenSpace Agility is used to facilitate enterprise-wide agile transformation, by engaging as many employees as possible in the ongoing process of changing and improving.

FAST AGILE: A method for building and continuously composing teams, formulated by Ron Quartel. FAST AGILE uses Open Space Technology and whole-group process to dynamically recompose engineering teams in response to rapid and ongoing change.

Open Space Beta: An Engagement Model and organizational-design-principles framework, formulated by Niels Pflaeging. OpenSpace Beta is designed for manifesting rapid and lasting improvement in enterprise-level performance.

Scrum@Scale: A business-agility framework, developed by Jeff Sutherland. Scrum@Scale is designed to manifest higher performance across an entire enterprise, beyond software. Scrum@Scale is infinitely scalable to organizations of any size, and based on a biological model (rather than a machine model) of organizations.

Clean Language and Systemic Modeling: A protocol and framework for highly efficient communication, developed by Caitlin Walker and her many colleagues who have built upon the pioneering work of David Grove. Clean Language creates the conditions for higher performance by streamlining communication.