AROUND THE WORLD IN 90 DAYS
THE FIRST OPENSPACE - WHAT CAN WE IMPROVE IN THE NEXT THREE MONTHS?
On March 5, 2019, our invitation went out to our colleagues. We really didn't make it easy for ourselves when it came to the exact wording. On the one hand, we wanted to convey how important the topic of transformation to self-organization is to us. On the other hand, we wanted the desire to participate in the process to take over by itself, so to speak. No one should get the idea that it's just "the next pig in the poke" again. At some point we had finished formulating our invitation, which was of course based on voluntariness. The tone was relaxed, typical F7. And the text was on the whole serious, but simple. Here is a small excerpt:
You want to join in? If you want to join us in moving F7 forward, we invite you to an OpenSpace meeting on March 22nd at 9:30 am. Participation is absolutely voluntary. The meeting does not have an agenda, but it does have a topic frame: "What can we improve in the next three months?"
To our great delight, all colleagues said yes. Again, such an "AHA" effect! If you provide an environment that is based on voluntariness, but guided by seriousness and consistency, then everyone wants to participate because they really feel taken seriously.
On 03/22/2019, the time had come: our first OpenSpace started. On this day, we were all full of enthusiasm for work. First, the basics of OpenSpace were discussed. The basis was theOpenSpace beta transformation approach, which builds on the BetaCodex. In it, the set of principles for joint, cooperative work in an organization is applied in the form of self-control and on the basis of decentralization. I see the 12 laws of the BetaCodex as essential. They can be understood as the ideal learning aid for deepening the principles of organizational self-organization and agility.
The topic identification for the first OpenSpace at F7 took place partly in advance. However, during the meeting, additional abundant topics were added. In the end, there was so much to keep the colleagues busy that it always took four sessions with a fixed timebox at the same time to somehow get through the first day.
A hard and an enlightening day. I can still remember that in one session the topic of "salary negotiations" was discussed. Self-organization was picking up steam. It did something to me: at first I got a fright. This is actually a CEO issue, isn't it?! Nonverbally, I was clearly told by the participants "Trust us, we'll handle it". Again such an AHA effect. Self-organization is also self-control in all areas.
Since I cannot describe the whole day here, it should only be briefly noted that another day with a consolidation and results orientation followed, as well as two more "Deep Dive" appointments to deepen the BetaCodex principles, but also other topics, such as agile working and requirement engineering.
Following the concept of OpenSpace Beta transformation, the second OpenSpace meeting then took place on June 25, 2019.
TANDEMS AND FLIPPING HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH BICYCLES OR MAYA THE BEE
At the beginning of the 90 Days Transformation, we learned two techniques that were, or rather still are, essential for change in our organization: Tandem Conversations and Flipps. I mention hereafter these two tools only as examples important for us. There are many other tools that are very helpful for transformation. However, in my opinion, Tandem Conversations and Flipps lead to tangible change very quickly, which keeps the overall RPM tremendously high.
If a colleague has identified a topic for him or herself that can be of value to the organization, then he or she looks for a tandem partner to work on the topic. The tandem meeting takes place in an open round, interested colleagues can participate. However, it is a prerequisite that the other participants can contribute something to the tandem and, in the best case, also bring expertise, i.e. are familiar with the topic at hand.
If change requests or ideas arise from tandems or other formats that develop over time (e.g. knowledge camps), these are "tried out" as flips in the organization. If the change proves successful, the innovation may then be adopted by others in the organization. Flipping means trying things out and then either discarding or adopting them, depending on the results.
WE FORM TEAMS
I had mentioned that Peter had advised us to form teams. Now the time had come, but not because we had specified the formation of teams, but for a completely different reason: Our colleague Simon had a new customer on the table as a product owner and now wanted to implement the experiences from the OpenSpace. He formulated the wish to form his own team with which he could work permanently. After a few rounds of discussion, it was then clear that we all wanted teams - and we wanted them now.
Each team had its own room in which all team members could work together. The teams found themselves surprisingly quickly. It was not just a matter of sympathy, but also of sensible compositions so that the customers could expect optimal performance from the teams.
The next AHA effect for me came right away. This was a facet of self-organization! By not controlling, the result was better than if the management had exerted influence. And whoops, where are our "departments"? They "abolished" themselves. We had structurally collapsed the pyramid, formed cells and took a seat in a peach. Now all we had to do was let the BetaCodex genie out of the bottle.