Bees, Butterflies and Ultralight Backpacking: Thoughts on Creating Open Space for the Orlando Scrum Gathering

We met Ainsley Nies for corned beef hash and crab cakes at Peter’s in Millbrae this morning. It was our second planning session for the Orlando Scrum Gathering in March, where Chris and Ainsley have been invited to host an Open Space for 300 agile souls, based on the strength of their performance as organizers and facilitators of last year's Agile Open California. I'm helping–well, mostly I'm sitting at Ainsley's feet in rapt attention, soaking up all I can about Open Space Technology, which I find fascinating.

A thought occurred to me while we were drafting the description for the conference website: how many structural parallels there are between OST and Scrum. Both have ceremonies. Scrum has roles, while OST participants may be described as "bees," "butterflies" and in some versions as "groundhogs." Scrum has artifacts, eg, the product backlog, the sprint backlog and the burndown chart. And OST has the Marketplace. Structurally, both are lean frameworks–they put me in mind of ultralight backpacking tents made with light, flexible but strong kevlar poles.

Ainsley and I had an interesting side discussion about the meaning of the word framework: We both think of a framework as providing strength and creating and holding space (like a tent), but it's a tricky word to use in a piece of writing, because many think of a framework as being rigid and restrictive.

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