Openspace Agility: we implement Agile throughout the company (now with the manual!)

    Now that the level of understanding and application of Agile in Russia has grown, the problems that all Agile enthusiasts face when introducing this organizational culture have grown.

    The essence of the problem is simple: even if you admalize one or several small teams, they will still remain alien entities within the body of the company. A kind of virus in the cell that protects it and feeds it, but any attempt to exit it will be attacked and destroyed by the most powerful immune system: the bureaucratic hierarchical culture of your enterprise.

    While Agile remains in the framework of small teams - everything is simple. Maintaining the freedom-loving spirit of a startup or project on such a scale is in principle not difficult, since it is the most organic for a small team. But as soon as you scale up, you are faced with the need to transform organizational culture, and this is akin to the feats of Hercules - an epic task.

    History of NUMMI

    Among Lean-consultants, who were the first to taste the complexity of the cultural transformation of a business, there is a textbook example when too slow cultural transformation caused the collapse of a huge business empire.

    This is the story of the factory NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing) factory open automotive concern General Motors, together with Toyota in 1984. The idea was to adopt from the Japanese their famous Toyota Production System, which is now known by the word Lean, and Toyota, in turn, wanted to test how the implementation of its system with American workers was possible.

    The NUMMI factory existed from 1984 to 2010. And all this time it has been one of GM's best assets in terms of quality, low cost, discipline and morale. Her workers, by their own admission, still feel a sense of pride and happiness from the fact that they worked there. GM planned to take this successful culture and extend it to all its enterprises. But something went wrong.

    By the 2000s, when the number of executives in a company somehow confronted with the NUMMI culture had reached a critical mass. Culture became widespread and manifested in the form of GM's own production system, the Global Production System.

    And in 2009, the company GM declared bankruptcy.

    As acknowledged by the management, before its bankruptcy, the organizational effectiveness of the company has reached the best form for the entire existence of the company.

    But it was too late. Competitors have transformed before.

    It took the company 10 years to start taking the new culture seriously, stop criticizing it and 15 to introduce it. And the reason was only one. In the manual.

    1) The company's management (from higher to linear) did not believe in the need for transformation
    2) The company's management did not understand the essence of the new culture (for example, it came to the fact that some managers tried to learn from NUMMI’s experience simply by taking a picture of each square meter of the factory and copying it to their factories, not thinking about culture).

    The main conclusion from this story: the transformation of organizational culture must occur not only correctly, but also quickly.

    Openspace Agility - how to do it quickly and correctly?

    Agile is therefore called “flexible technologies” because there is no golden rule and a single exact formula for success - you have to adapt these principles to your team and your organizational culture, whatever color it is according to F. Lalu’s classification - red, yellow, orange or turquoise (although the latter is far more often not than yes).

    However, today, if you want to do it quickly and correctly, the approach Openspace Agility (OSA) will most likely suit you.


    If you are able to English, then you can learn more about this approach on the website: openspaceagility.comor learn about it from a variety of literature devoted to this approach.

    But in general, the approach consists of 5 steps:

    Step 1: Preparing leadership and organizations

    - Leaders must understand and define for themselves - what business goal they pursue when implementing Agile.
    - Leaders define the basic GENERAL rules and restrictions using the principles of the Agile manifest
    - Evaluate the current state, KPI and metrics, which will then be used to measure progress
    - Agile mass education is conducted - all interested parties should visit, the participation of the rest is actively encouraged
    - The principle of autonomy, self-organization and free choice is proclaimed: no Agile practices are imposed, but chosen by teams in accordance with their specifics and goals.

    Step 2: Initiation of the “Open Space” meeting process

    - A general meeting of OpenSpace is held. Leading - top management. This is the official kick-off.

    Step 3: Initiate Agile practices throughout the enterprise

    - Step selection and application of agile practices by teams. The main goal is general training of all levels of organization culture and philosophy of Agile. The main fruits of the step are increased efficiency, a huge leap in staff involvement, and the collection of metrics.
    Step 4: Finishing the iteration in the form of an Open Space meeting

    - the second meeting of OpenSpace in the form of retrospectives / prospectives. Discusses progress, success and failure, plans are made for the future. As a result of iterations, the processes and culture in the company become more mature.

    Step 5: Examination of the result and adaptation
    - the results receive detailed consideration by the teams, detailed plans for the next iteration of 45 to 100 days are developed.

    The main benefits of this approach are:
    - everyone from top management to the lower level of employees shares a common understanding of the process,
    - level of engagement as employees, and (most importantly!) leadership is high,
    -transparency provides immunity against distortion and distortions in ideology.

    And complementing all this with the joint work of all departments in Jira, DirectBoard and other similar programs is the most obvious.

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