What Do We Want to Have Happen?

Here are the logistical details:

  • Monday 12/09/2019
  • 12 noon EST to 3PM EST (6PM to 9PM CET)
  • ZOOM Link and logistics: COMING SOON


The world is creating very high demand for approaches to organizational change the actually work. What we have been settling for is, clearly, NOT WORKING.

Approaches that are Open are part of the solution here. Open approaches value human agency and deep engagement.

Here is the basic idea:


The term Open Social Technologies describes a diverse and growing set of protocols, frameworks, and models designed to promote engagement and participation, both in the specific context of change and more widely in the course of everyday work. Being Open, they are easily and inexpensively transferrable, repeatable, and reproducible; as patterns, they work both on their own and in combination, the combinations often inspiration innovation. Typically, they are characterised by a sense of invitation and outcome-orientation, both of those essential also to leadership development.

The need both for these tools and for our movement arises from the repeated failed attempts to achieve cultural and process change through imposition, an approach that isn’t merely outdated, misguided, or disrespectful (and it is all of these things), but counterproductive. Goals such as excellence, agility, innovation, alignment, and learning can be achieved only through engagement and participation, and in this context we reject imposition and coercion as incongruent both with those goals and our values.

The Open Leadership Network exists to promote the use and further development of Open Social Technologies in the workplace and to their respective practitioners and communities of practice both individually and collectively.


We now have 18 courses online, and a real conference (now on its 3rd iteration,) and a community that is just now beginning to manifest itself. The rest is really ‘under construction.’

But we do know one thing: what we know for sure is, 

It’s time to bring an unambiguous, super-attractive vision of the future into the Open story.

We’ve raised awareness of the harm and folly of imposed approaches. And that’s good. But it’s based on the past, and that’s bad. But we have our eyes on the future, and that’s good….
And so: now it is time to develop a shared vision. 
What do we want to have happen?

On 12/09 we will be in an open space were we will attempt to answer this question.

After the event, we will take a shot at building out some actions and a 90-day plan.

Getting to Know Everyone: 
Not everyone knows each other here, so it is very important to introduce and describe yourself on the bio page for the event, found here:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EPNpaUnN7B63Deev_FSvkUZ2y4KKTQibqBrb17G20sQ/edit?usp=sharing

Also, it is essential that you express in that document anything that you are truly interested in discussing. What it is you want to have happen?

Please just write down the things you might bring into the event to discuss; this way everyone can get a sense of what might happen at the event itself.


The rest of this is long, and optional. A summary of the history so far. I totally understand if you choose to skip it.

But if you care about the history up to this point, and are not 100% familiar with it, you might enjoy reading it. 

The history of this effort goes back almost 8 years now. 

See you soon !

Many of you know the history of the effort to bring on Open ideas in the Agile indusyry, but many of you do not, so here it is. 
It starts in 2011. Over eight years ago…
NOTE: Many of the people at the Berlin Symposium were aware of this story, and also very well aware of the plans for a pivot away from past-tense storytelling and into future-tense storytelling (you know who you are)
But not everyone here knew these things in Berlin, and not everyone knows them now.
So here is the story. The full story. The history. Some it has been….quite….challenging.

The Origin Story…..
====================================================================The actual interpersonal event from 2011 that TOTALLY WOKE ME UP was this one: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/danielmezick_agile-activity-6590878510049480704-jNSN====================================================================
It’s 2011. I’ve been doing hashtag#Agile coaching for about 5 years.

I think I know what I’m doing.

I’m in the men’s washroom, washing my hands. I’m at a client. 8 teams, all new to Agile. I think it’s going great. We “rolled it out” to these teams, thinking we were doing them a favor. Training, coaching, etc. All push. We never asked. So. The washroom. I’m there. Alone. And this fellow named Anatoly comes in, & starts washing HIS hands. I know him, he’s a software architect.

But he doesn’t say hello. So I do. “Hi Anatoly, how are you doing today?” I ask. He responds slowly, looking at me indirectly, slowly, through the mirror. “Oh,” he says in a thick Russian accent, “YOU want to know how I am doing?” “Yes” I say. So he grabs a paper towel & slowly turns around, and pauses, and says… “Agile sucks, and so do YOU.”

Stunned, I mumble…”why?” “Why? Because no one cares what I want, or what I think. Because this crap is forced. Because no one cares about my ideas.” “Because no one asks. Because no one in management gives A SHIT. ” And then he very precisely flings the paper towel into the trash. “And so Daniel: have yourself a very nice day. Goodbye.” And he walks out, and I’m standing there in silence, red-faced, staring into the mirror.
OSA and the wider idea of Open, was born from THAT one.very.awkward.conversation.

A painful conversation.
It woke me up.

0. 2011-2012. I wake up from the shock of that exchange with Anatoly in 2011, and develop OpenSpace Agility, over about 10 months, with several clients agreeing to try it. It works awesome. I start tweeting some leading questions into the Agile-space: here are some of those 2012-2013 Tweets…..by the time of these Tweets I had done OSA inside 3 different organizations…,





1. 2013-2016:

In 2013, people in France are listening to my Tweets. I get invited to keynote the Global Scrum Gathering Paris with the subject “Open Agile Adoption and Invitation-based Change.” By then, I had done before/after Open Space waves of about 90 days in several orgs and it went GREAT. The keynote went great too. There were 600 people there who received the keynote with the message about inviting-not-imposing.
After that, for several years, I was very polite, and very kind, and very courteous, and very gentle about getting the inviting-vs-imposing idea out there. 
On social media.

Only one problem: that approach didn’t actually work. Almost no one running the show listened, or cared. AT ALL.

Here is a video interview of the message from that period: it tells the story fairly well I think….https://www.infoq.com/interviews/dan-mezick-culture-game-2/

Here are some additional INFOQ articles from me on Open approaches, from that period also:

September 21, 2013: https://www.infoq.com/articles/open-agile-adoption-1/

October 06, 2013:      https://www.infoq.com/articles/open-agile-adoption-2/

October 25, 2013:      https://www.infoq.com/articles/open-agile-adoption-3/
…and so it was. 3 long years of slogging through the mud. Very slow progress….

2. Late 2016-2017: 

By 2016 it was drop-dead obvious no one in authority in the agile space actually wanted to prevent the forcing of change in organizations. Far from it ! Around this time I wrote a little essay about this, questioning the results and the intentions of the Agile industry.

An entire billion-dollar industry was now based upon coercion and imposing push. Although many well-meaning and well-aware coaches were not imposing change during this time, they had to stay away from large organizations to avoid it. This changed nothing and amounted to small, localized optimizations with zero system-level change in the Agile industry. The large orgs were calling the tune, as they are now, to this dasy. The huge consulting spend of the largest orgs is the dominant cultural force. This spending of hundreds of millions for coaching on forced “transformations” and strongly influencing the direction of overall Agile-industry culture. And norms.

The hundreds of millions spent on these services began to drive a very distorted set of cultural norms of the agile industry. A widespread tolerance for pushing, forcing and imposing or “rolling out” agile “transformations” in the largest orgs began to appear. A widespread tolerance. A culture of fundamental disregard-for-people took hold.
Around this time I started experimenting with a sharper tone, and much sharper and direct rhetoric online. It worked good at getting attention, so (ouch) I kept doing it. Painfully. But it was very tough work, work that I did not enjoy and still do not enjoy to this day. Progress was better but still way too slow.

I became discouraged, rationally questioning my own sanity and questioning if it was really time for Open ideas at all. Or if it might ever be. 

I strongly considered just totally giving up. Why not save that energy for the right time? But then I met Mike Beedle, an Agile Manifesto signatory. He very much liked what I was saying and doing. And he encouraged me. And we enjoyed discussing things with each other, philosophy etc, and became real friends. He promised to help 100%. And he totally did. So now we had an Agile Manifesto author on the team. 
That changed everything!

Here is something Mike wrote at that time to encourage me to keep going after I told him I was just totally going to quit. After I told him it just wasn’t time, and might not ever be….

December 21, 2017– Facebook post by Mike

“Guys, I have to give you a strong warning about a very dangerous individual that for many years now, has been asking a lot of provocative questions.  This trouble-maker rebel has dared the entire Agile industry to look at themselves in the mirror, and ask awkward questions, like…..”

Here is a link to a 70-person Open Space we did on the Theme, “How can we open space for more Agility?” Mike Beedle keynoted keynoted this “OSACON” event. August 10, 2017

Here is an essay from Mike where he himself expresses very grave concern about the dilution, pollution and loss of respect for people… in the agile industryhttps://medium.com/@mikebeedle/the-agile-movement-is-not-very-agile-4898a9adb684

So Mike helped keep it going.

In a big way: https://twitter.com/mikebeedle/status/804905754595590144

Sadly, Mike Beedle was randomly & very violently murdered during a senseless assault on the streets of Chicago during the evening of March 23, 2018. 
And I miss Mike Beedle….I know many of you do as well…https://www.scrumalliance.org/in-memoriam

3. Late 2017 to the present day

I kept slogging away. In late 2018 I was engaged as an enterprise coach in a large brokerage firm in Boston and experienced a distinct lack of alignment with my sponsor. At the time I took the gig, I was hoping for a chance to bring Open ideas to a very large organization. Based in the early discussions it certainly looked like it was going to happen, we discussed it, but when I showed up it became clear within 2 weeks that there was just no way. It was going to be all “push.” So I quit that engagement on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018. 

And everyone was happy again! Especially me.

That was the day I swore off working in large orgs unless they agree to using an Invited/Open/Open Space/OSA approach to change. Going in. That was also the day I started planning the OPEN LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM in Boston, with a delivery timeframe of May 2019. We attracted one hundred and thirty two people to that event and many of you were there, some traveling from the other side of the world to participate. The OLN was already being defined by then, attracting folks like Mike Burrows, Caitlin Walker, Doug Kirkpatrick, Stacia Viscardi, Heidi Araya, and many more. The Symposium was a natural outgrowth of the OLN idea. By 2019 we already had nearly 600 people in the OLN from taking classes in Open Space, OSA and related Open topics.

So the May 2019 event actually worked. Imagine that!

Then the Berlin event happened, which many of you here also participated in. 
And now the Tampa event coming up in February…. 

And so: here we are, questioning what we want to have happen next.

What Do We Want to Have Happen? This is the theme of the 12/09 event. 
I have absolutely NO IDEA what might happen. 

What we know for sure is, it’s time to bring an unambiguous, super-attractive vision of the future into the Open story. 

And start working at influencing the institutions. And the largest corporations. And the largest consulting firms. And the most prominent voices.

And start intentionally hacking the culture, and the story.

And start bringing the spirit of Open Space Technology to organizations everywhere. Not just Open Space, but **the spirit of** Open Space. 

So, we’ll see. 

What do we want to have happen?And what does Open Space have to do with it?

It’s now your turn to help define what’s next.

Your turn to now define: how it looks.

Your turn to now define: how it FEELS…

What do we want to have happen?

See you on 12/09