Harrison Owen gave a very insightful keynote speech at Scrum Gathering on OpenSpace and how we often think about management the wrong way.

(Part 2 of 5 blogs on the Scrum Gathering in Orlando)

He started with an explanation of how he has come to think about systems of people over his 75 years on the planet. There are two rules or heresies:

  1. All systems are Open
  2. All systems are self-organizing (at some level)

Someone asked the question of how to manage a company? Harrison replied that it’s the same as Open Space:

  1. Sit in a circle
  2. Use a bulletin board for what to talk about
  3. Market place for agreeing when and where to talk

What isn’t in the mindmap is how he invented this.  The story goes that he had a very successful conference with speakers and sessions, but he was told that the best part was the coffee breaks. So, when faced with the problem of organizing another conference with very little time, he decided to have one that was just filled with coffee breaks.  3 Martini’s later and open space was born.

How effective is Open Space? Harrison has the view that it can create astounding results by helping people reach agreement and resolve conflicts. He has seen this consistently time after time when running Open Space.

Mike Bria blogged about the Open Space the next day.