What can happen when passionate leaders come together to collaboratively steer the business. Passionate open space sessions as core to how we (Rally, and now our BU Value Stream at CA) steer our whole business. As an agile company (not just agile product development or R&D), we hold quarterly steering meetings in which leaders from across the business come together to see the whole of our business, develop shared understanding of our strategy and current challenges/opportunities, and commit to the company initiatives (above and beyond departmental work) that will help us succeed in that strategy. (When we were Rally, these meetings included the top 20% of leadership in the company. So, when we reached 500 employees, these meetings included 100 participants.)
As a part of these meetings, we use Open Space Technology in the afternoon, so that the group can decide what conversations need to occur in order for us to get to decisions.
I've been both facilitator and participant in these meetings for years. Those open space sessions have been some of the most passionate, exciting collaborations I've ever seen. A few stories will illustrate different flavors of these sessions--short-term problem-solving, debates about our longer-term strategy (I love that people weren't afraid to take a long view), imagining the future and having the customer in the room tell you how wrong you are. The democracy at work--the CTO was never listened to any more or less than the engineering manager or accounting director in the room. Arguments about True North for the year. Passionate debates about how to limit corporate WIP.
Through the stories, I would describe what has made this work--what in our culture, the role of excellent facilitation. And how--having matured these practices--we've been able to bring them to the larger Business Unit we are not part of at CA Technologies.