My first Agile Coach Camp was in Atlanta back in 2013. That’s where I first experienced Open Space. I don’t recall exactly the sequence of events that led me there but I remember that the event was recommended by Paul Boos and we ended up going together. I also recall the very first paper I read about Open Space was Michael Herman’s Open Space Technology: An Inviting Guide which was recommended by Doc List. In this guide, Michael writes, “In Open Space, everything starts with an invitation.”
I believe invitation is at the core of the Open Mindset.
A few years later, I was introduced to the work of Harrison Owen by Daniel Mezick and his work on Open Space Agility. Daniel and Mark Sheffield co-authored, Inviting Leadership: Invitation Based Change which I highly recommend.
After studying more about Open Space, facilitating a few and participating in events at Agile Coach Camps and the Open Leadership Network (OLN), I couldn’t shake the idea of the Open Mindset. Yes I experienced Open Space events however I wanted to understand the mindset behind Open Space. Similar to the idea of the Agile mindset that I learned from Ahmed Sidky. Also, reading Dr. Carol Dweck book on Mindset.
Fast forward to late 2019, I participated in World Open Space on Open Space (WOSonOS). The theme was, “The Ineffable Spirit of Open Space”. During the event, I had several conversations about the idea of open space as a mindset (I will refer to as The Open Mindset) and Open Space Technology (I will refer to as the Open Space event).
These conversations gave me some assurance to the question I struggled with for sometime which was what happens first? does an individual need to change first in order to change or have an impact on the system or organization (The Open Mindset)? or does the system or organization has to change first in order to change or have an impact on the individuals in it (Open Space Technology)?
One of the elements in Open Space that I think is underrated is “Be prepared to be surprised”. This idea is similar to Dweck’s growth mindset that she popularized and described in her book, Mindset. The Open Mindset is a growth mindset just like the Agile mindset is a growth mindset.
The answer to the question I struggled with of what happens first was there all along. In Open Space, change happens simultaneously and that’s the essence of The Open Mindset. It’s about community-driven change that impacts the system or organization at the same time. That’s the Open Mindset and it all starts with an invitation!