Noticing Inequity and Exploring the Problem in Open Space

Added to The Alliance

A recap of our July 10th event


In order to explore Growing Racial Equity in the Agile Community for Black Lives, it felt natural to use a design thinking approach. When faced with a compelling problem, it’s instinctive to want to offer a solution as quickly as we can. When faced with challenging problems around inequity, many may jump directly to how they want to help or what they could offer based on known means and ability. This, however, may not be the sensible thing to do, especially given the complexities of how inequities manifest themselves in daily life and the varied levels of experience and understanding.

We knew that an essential foundation to designing usable and sustainable solutions would require inviting people impacted by these inequities to share their differing experiences and perspectives. By exploring the problem together, we uncover whys, patterns, and systemic issues to help identify where to begin to make change.

Open Space Technology felt like the right flexible structure to convene a global community around complex problems of inequity for black Agilists. When we gathered, people shared how they now saw things from a new lens after the listening and empathizing that happened in our first workshop in June and named the inequities they now saw. Open Space allowed people to explore the complex problems they were most passionate about from doing that work.

The offerings highlighted the systemic problems we face in addressing inequities in the Agile community. People chose their own workshop. At closing, we learned what groups uncovered. Workshopping these problems left people hopeful at the end. Many stayed up to two hours past closing. They listened, shared struggles, learnings, and intentions; moreover, developed community – relationships.

Bulletin board
Source: Bulletin Board

We’d love to have you join us for the Designathon on July 31: please register here.

Agile Alliance Racial Equity
Image via Talia Lancaster @SketchingSM

[Banner image source: Snippet of responses to opening question]


About the Authors


Ellen Grove is the Interim Managing Director of Agile Alliance. Based in Ottawa, Canada, Ellen has been working in software development for over 20 years, moving from software testing to user-centered design to managing development teams to Agile coaching across all sizes and shapes of organizations. After many years of organizing and presenting at Agile events at home and around the world, Ellen was elected to the Agile Alliance board of directors in 2017.


April leads with empathy and courage while partnering with others to help unlock their full potential. Believes the path to authentic growth and change begins with invitation and a people centered approach. She favors a blended mindset of agile, lean, design thinking, open space and improvisation when engaging. April values connecting people to ownership of their needs and goals. You may find April coaching organizations, speaking at conferences, facilitating social change as a Design Action Lab partner, or mentoring youth.


This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.