About Space

Background

Recent developments in complexity theory and agile methodologies have given us a whole new way of relating to reality and to work together in projects that are both fun and rewarding. Yet, there are some aspects that, although encouraged or supported in agile projects, are not specifically addressed. One key thing is the relational and human aspect of project work. Space is an agile project methodology that attempts to also address this dimension by drawing on our experiences with running projects in various fields as well as bringing in some relevant theories and approaches that address the missing areas.

What problems does Space solve?

Navigation in a complex adaptive system (as described by cybernetics) depends on two mechanisms, positive and negative feedback loops. This is an alternative to some other common ways to handle interaction and what is going on i.e. command & control, consensus and democracy. These other ways of interacting are one way or another damaging the innovative and productive milieu we actively want to encourage in agile projects. Space provides a supportive structure for giving preference to positive and negative feedback as a way of interacting as opposed to the other ways and thus helps to ensure that the project remains true to core agile principles and the complexity of creating truly innovative and awesome results.

Goals

Through the use of the space method, projects increase their likelihood of being

  • Successful
  • Innovative
  • Decrease employee churn

Individual project members are likely to experience the following benefits

  • Professional growth
  • Personal growth
  • Satisfaction with work
  • Better relationships
  • Increased creativity
  • More joy of creating

Influencing disciplines

Scrum

Scrum is the most popular Agile method used in software development projects today – for good reasons.

Lean kanban

This is the other agile framework that greatly influenced space. The focus on flow, limiting work in progress, continuous improvement (kaizen) and visualization are all essential elements in Space.

Qwan

Qwan started as a series of patterns for self-development developed by Louise Wersäll and Ulrika Danielsson. It has been used with great success in both private coaching and organizational development. There is an unfortunate tendency to neglect the developmental aspects of team and individual work in projects due to their temporal nature (a “project” that never ends is not a project). However most software developers tend to spend the majority of their time working in projects going from one project to the next. Even though it is possible to develop and educate oneself and in many ways improve team work due to experience working in a team, it tends to conflict with what is seen as “project work”. Space addresses this problem and Qwan provides a great set of tools to do this.

Jungian Psychology

Jungs brilliant formulation of personality types in terms of extraversion/introversion, thinking/feeling, intuition/sensing is very useful when looking at how similarities could work as common ground and source of strength rather than as an area where people step on each others toes and leading to stagnation while at the same time also helping to make differences a source of creativity, diversity and efficiency rather than a source of misunderstandings, conflict and isolation. Another key jungian concept that space embraces and supports is the process of individuation i.e. that there is a deeper sense of Self that seeks to realize itself and unconsciously drives each person to towards integrated wholeness and maturity in order to manifest one’s full potential.

Mindscapes Theory

Mindscapes theory (formulated by Magoroh Maruyama) provides an additional and very essential aspect to group dynamics and view of the personality. Mindscapes looks at epistemological preferences for thinking and reasoning and explains some of the barriers to embrace mutualistic reasoning in a very simple and powerful way.

Complexity Theory

Most of project work today are conducted in complex environments due constant change and high degrees of interaction and interdependence. Complexity theory is the discipline that studies such systems. Modern ecology and biology provides a multitude of examples of interdependent, self organizing systems and provide very good and easy to understand metaphors for working in projects. Complexity theory incorporates systems theory, game theory, chaos theory, cybernetics etc. While most agile methods today glances at complexity theory only a few ones (e.g. Cynefin) fully embrace the implications of Complexity theory. In Space, complexity theory is at the core of the approach which is exemplified by the additional feedback loops created by introducing other kinds of regular meetings, besides planning meetings and reviews, in a structured way into projects.

Consciousness levels in adults

Several current theories, partly overlapping, distribute adult individuals in consciousness levels, or stages of human development, reflected in their modes of action and ways of looking at things (cf Graves, Kegan, Wilber).

The most common consciousness level in global corporations is based on performance and effectiveness (organization as a well-oiled machine). There are at least two consciousness levels, further on in human development, and less common than the performance level: one is the pluralistic level (organization as a family) and the other is the integral level (organization as a living system with an evolutionary purpose).