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 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.

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 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 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