The Christmas yuletide I know for many is a time for deep reflections and connecting with friends and family we have not seen or perhaps not spoken to in a long while. Mine was no different.
So I took my boys (six and eight years old) with me to go visit an Aunt during the holidays. In one corner of her house, she has an old television set – the type with the protruded back. Upon running around and sighting the TV, the boys inquired, “Daddy, what kind of TV is this?” I had to quickly go into my cathode ray tube science lessons explaining why the TV had been manufactured that way and that the same technology was used for computer monitors, automated teller machines, video game machines, and video cameras.
Upon sober reflection after the striking question, I realised I could not blame them at all for not seeing a TV like that since they were born. They were used to seeing flat screens since they learnt to say their first words. Incredibly, so much had changed over the last ten years, especially on the technology front. With fast-changing technology and innovation, futurists have predicted further changes and we are seeing daily the rise of new technology, groundbreaking discoveries, and new products.
Another chapter of my reflection took me to roles and ways of working that hitherto did not exist. For someone with a technology background, ten years or so ago, we did not have application developers, social media managers, Uber drivers, driverless car engineers, big data analysts, or drone pilots just to name but a few.
There was no such thing as an ‘Open Space Conversation’ as a widely used tool for a new way to solve problems through conversation. The thought stuck with me for days about the impact of these new technologies and ways of working on my kids and the next generation in a developing country or emerging market like ours.
One thing stood out for me – one we can further build upon, one that will remain relevant regardless of your generation band (Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, etc.) or whatever market or industry you are in (Oil & Gas, Financial Services, Educare, Telco, Governance and Leadership or Agribusiness). Open Space is the in-thing for you. I highly recommend it.
What is an Open Space?
The concept of an Open Space is a way of bringing people together and empowering them to chart or blaze a path toward progress on topics of their choosing.
It is an informal self-organising event with a participant-driven agenda. It is built on the spirit and ethos of Agile. Participants are introduced to the ‘Five Principles and One Law of Open Space Technology’ and encouraged to put as much of themselves into the day as they feel comfortable doing while embracing these principles;
- Whoever comes are the right people
- Whenever it starts is the right time
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
- When it’s over, it’s over
- Wherever it happens is the right place
These principles are held bound by one law which we Agilists call the “Law of Mobility” which says that “if you find yourself in a situation where you are not contributing or learning, move yourself to a place where you can”.
When I got introduced to this, I was pleasantly surprised there was an informal forum and a new way of working such as this. My immediate reaction was that Leaders and Executives should begin to have a rethink how they play their roles especially in an era where prioritisation and value are key ingredients and involve the people. In Agile ways of working Leaders must decide with the people, not for the people. The latter has become a cathode ray tube TV, followers will not watch that anymore.
We tried one right here in Ghana. Experimental as it was, the outcome was great. Our challenge areas were Governance and Leadership, Business, Arts & Culture, Media and Family [social fabric]. The participants who were from all walks of life created and voted up their topics of interest and subsequently preferred solutions after which lessons learned were shared.
The application of this and its benefits cannot be underestimated. Simply put, there are uncountable quick wins. There’s no better time than now for a transformational mindset.
Everything is changing – customers are, generational priorities are, industries are, technology is, cars are, TVs are, only those who are willing to adapt, experiment and embrace new learning at scale will succeed.
Cheers to an awesome, agile 2022 – see you at the next Open Space Conversation.
Kofi Blankson consults for Agility For All. He is a Certified Agile Leader and digital technology enthusiast with 13-years’ experience in banking.
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