“I moved all of my meetings to come here. It was worth it!” Rita Breen, Anthem.

When the Project Brilliant team sat down to identify what we wanted to accomplish in 2020, furthering agile mindedness in the community was top of the list.  Aside from the training that we offer, we wanted to engage in conversations with people from all backgrounds on the topics that mean something to them. And the idea for Project Brilliant Labs was born.  PB Labs is a day long Open Space experiment in which we explore a topic of deep meaning to agile success.  We chose the Open Space format for the simple reason that it allows us to connect and create with individuals in the community.  

For those of you not familiar with Open Space, participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions around an impactful central theme. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas to the event. The day’s content is what each person shares, and the outcome is what everyone will create together. The day is creative, productive and full of surprises.  It is an exciting opportunity to learn, express ideas, and contribute to what is coming next. 

Open Space events have specific principles:

  • Whoever comes is the right people,
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could happen,
  • Whenever it starts is the right time,
  • When it’s over, it is over,

Laws:

  • The law of two feet:  If at any time you are not learning or contributing, use your two feet to move to another session,

And roles:

  • The bumblebee flies from group to group cross-pollinating discussions,
  • The butterfly may float between groups often not contributing but rather taking it all in.

These principles, laws, and roles are important to note as they contradict commonly observed social norms but contribute significantly to creating a circular space with no head and no tail in which each participant has his/her own room to learn and to grow.  

Our first PB Labs was conducted on Friday January 31.  About 15 people came together from various industries, roles, and backgrounds to discuss leadership and culture.  After a short introduction to the Competing Values Framework and Leadership Agility, we opened the marketplace for individuals to suggest sessions.  Such topics as “If agility is the journey, what is the destination” and “Defining new metrics for a traditionally command and control environment” were put up on the board, more than two thirds of which were led by non-Project Brilliant employees.  Individuals came away with fresh perspectives and ideas from their peers to take back to their respective workplaces, as well as new connections. “I really got to collaborate with peers who help leaders emerge and grow. Now I know the world is filled with wise, talented people living with a purpose, powerfully.” Jon Jorgensen, Project Brilliant. 

From all accounts it was a successful experiment!  “Project Brilliant provided the agile community with a profound open space opportunity to dive deeply into topics that really matter.  I look forward to the impact that PB Labs will have on the agile community. Thank you for the opportunity to learn and connect!” Michelle Jones Thompson, RCI.  We look forward to hosting more PB Labs events in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. If you are interested in participating, please contact me, Kristen@ProjectBrilliant.com