Category: Article Review

I have been studying the OpenAgile Primer. Even though I helped publish it and am actively working to improve the Primer and OpenAgile itself, there are lessons that can be gained from revisiting the concepts, terms, and insights over and over again. The OpenAgile Primer is a dynamic document that improves as OpenAgile grows and develops. Take that to heart as you read the outline below. I encourage you to study the Primer yourself and create your own summary. And when you do, let’s have a meaningful conversation about your own insights.

OpenAgile Primer Conceptual Outline

CHAPTER 1 – Foundations of OpenAgile

1) Truthfulness

“Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues” – Baha’u’llah
  • basic human capacity that everyone can develop
  • aspect of truthfulness
  • implications of truthfulness
  • how to develop truthfulness
  • benefit “truthfulness builds trust and leads to reducing excessive bureaucracy and chaos”
  • be aware of our own limitations (uses example of Six Blind Men and the Elephant)

2) Consultative Decision-Making

“We never undertook to do any thing of any importance which was likely to affect each other, without mutual consultation. We were generally a unit, and moved together.” – Frederick Douglass
  • a system for teams to take coherent action based on a unified vision
  • mindset for consultative decision-making
  • Rules of consultative decision-making
  • Unified Action

3) The Learning Circle

“Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back” – Chinese Proverb
  • a model of effective learning
  • Four steps: Reflection, Learning, Planning, Action
  • Four capacities: Detachment, Search, Love, Courage
  • Guidance

CHAPTER 2 – OpenAgile Process

systematic application of the Learning Circle


  • work is done to accomplish a goal
  • nature and importance of goals

Work in Cycles

  • Cycle is a step towards a goal with the purpose of producing value
  • Three rules of working in Cycles
  • 1) apply the Learning Circle to every Cycle
  • 2) work in Cycles of equal length
  • 3) work in short Cycles

Cycle Input: Value Drivers

  • definition of “value”
  • tip for articulating a Value Driver
  • work on Value Drivers in priority order
  • explanation of traditional value delivery (Project Management)
  • difference between Organic and Mechanical systems
  • application of the Learning Circle ensures that we continue to do valuable work

Engagement Meeting

  • start of every Cycle
  • review our Goal and the list of prioritized Value Drivers
  • break down Value Drivers into tasks
  • duration of the Engagement Meeting
  • Reflection during the Engagement Meeting
  • Learning during the Engagement Meeting

Cycle Plan

  • collection of tasks derived from the Value Drivers that we intend to do during the Cycle
  • awareness of our capacity to complete the tasks
  • a note about perfection
  • volunteering for tasks
  • commitment to the Cycle Plan

Core Types of Tasks

  • Calender Events
  • Repetitive Activities
  • Quality Problems
  • Obstacles
  • New Artifacts
  • commitment to the Cycle Plan

Inside a Cycle

  • completing tasks in the Cycle Plan
  • importance of maintaining a positive attitude
  • volunteering for tasks
  • tracking progress and Progress Meetings

CHAPTER 3 – The Participants in OpenAgile

  • only one role: the “Team Member” who does work as part of the Cycle Plan
  • there are “Paths of Service” – engaged participants who serve a team or organization

Paths of Service

Process Facilitator

  • help us follow rules
  • help us develop capacity to apply the principles

Growth Facilitator

  • grow capacity and value of the team
  • valuable input and output from every Cycle
  • prioritize Value Drivers
  • engage with Stakeholders

Advanced Capacities

  • Mentor, Tutor, Catalyst work outside a Team and provide Guidance
  • (Personal Reflection: Should this be reworded to “Advanced Paths of Service”?)

OpenAgile Teams

Self-Organizing Behaviour

  • volunteer for tasks
  • be open to following Guidance

Success Factors for Productive OpenAgile Teams

  • small number of people (less than 12 team members)
  • complementary skills
  • common purpose; commitment to the overall Goal as well as the Cycle Plan
  • have specific performance goals; be able to measure our results
  • agree how you’re going to work together
  • make and keep commitments; adjust our behaviour as we learn

Large Groups

  • communities and organizations can use OpenAgile to achieve goals that are beyond the ability of small teams
  • use longer Cycles
  • have Teams within the group that use shorter Cycles


  • recipients of the value being delivered
  • (Reflection: Should this be reworded to “co-creators” of value? Get feedback from the OpenAgile Champions)

Chapter 4 – How to Start?

  • get some people together, read the Primer, have an Engagement Meeting
  • but if you desire more preparation…

Before Your First Cycle

  • decide who will participate (strive to have people complimentary skills)
  • generate and prioritize a list of Value Drivers
  • give thought to the work space and tools for collaboration
  • what is your Goal?
  • Cycle duration and start of first Cycle?
  • do you need help from a Tutor, Mentor, or catalyst?
  • get Team Member training

Your First Cycle

  • be realistic
  • at first, you won’t know your capacity to make and keep commitments
  • it’s okay to feel awkward
  • get help from someone who can accompany you

The Most Important Advice

  • Just start!
  • systematic, incremental improvements are inherent in the system
  • you will get better as you go

You know that feeling – the one you get when you find the perfect job opportunity posted on the website of an organization you would love to work for, but then you find out that the deadline was yesterday. Sigh. That just happened to me. Again.

I get so frustrated with job searching online. I would prefer to get out and meet people, but I am often drawn back indoors because of the potential (some might call it an illusion) of finding a great job posted online.

I have career alerts set up on all the major job search websites, so I get the latest job postings that meet my criteria sent directly to my email. The problem is so does everyone else who is looking for marketing and communications jobs in the fields of corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or otherwise “green” jobs. I’m certainly not the only one responding to the job postings when they come along. How can I expect to get my resumé noticed by recruiters when there are two hundred other people trying to do the same?

Perhaps if I just stop looking, I’ll actually find a job.  That makes a lot of sense according to the Harvard Business Review blog post Need to Find a Job? Stop Looking So Hard by Peter Bregman.  Bregman says “Jobs come from being engaged in the world and building human connections,” so limit your online searching and applying to 1-2 hours a day. Then spend the rest of your time doing things you love with people you enjoy. And let the job find you.

These days, I’m spending my time with a small group of job seekers, who, just like me, were feeling lonely and isolated in our job searches. We decided that getting out and being with others who are in the same situation could make the job search more enjoyable. The support and encouragement I get from our little group gives me a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. And after my next job finds me, I’ll still have the friendships I built during this time.

An interesting article by Mark Goldenberg, the Director of employment, learning and social innovation at Canadian Policy Research Networks entitled “Think Outside the Box”. He says that Canada’s “third sector” has shown that social innovation works, if only the government would notice.

Here’s an interesting article by Isaac Sacolick entitled Top 5 Reasons Why Agile Development Spurs Innovation

He says “Following an agile software development process does not guarantee innovation, but following this development process does increase the odds of teams producing more innovation and innovative solutions.”

I agree with his 5 points, but I would add a 6th reason why Agile spurs innovation. Agile is a learning framework with truthfulness at it’s core. The more truthful the organization and members of a team are with each other, the deeper the learning. And the deeper the learning, the more innovative the approaches to development become. Take out the games, politics, hedging, and hoarding of information. Being authentic with other people is the surest way to freeing teams from the obstacles to innovation.

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