The History of OpenAgile

OpenAgile started as an idea based on the practice of Mishkin Berteig, an agile coach. In 2004, Mishkin was working with agile methods such as Extreme Programming and Scrum in corporate software development environments. While doing this work, he saw the possibility of extending agile methods beyond software, and the value of applying it to other types of work such as project management, operations, sales, R&D, etc. Mishkin searched for and found the general principles related to teamwork, effective feedback processes, and organizational development. At the time, Mishkin referred to this application of agile methods beyond software as "Agile Work".

Garry Berteig, the father of Mishkin, was teaching art and media at Keyano College in Alberta, Canada. Over the course of twenty years of helping students to become more sophisticated learners, he developed the Learning Circle, a model to help his students learn more effectively. The Learning Circle, which is explored in the OpenAgile Primer, was refined through constant application in this environment. (See for more examples of cyclical learning models.)

In January of 2005, Garry invited Mishkin to do a presentation to his media class about agile methods. In the course of the two-hour presentation, Mishkin described the framework of short cycles of work that deliver results and getting feedback in every cycle. Garry then asked his students to use this model on a long documentary film project (see for a short description). This documentary project used this agile approach to work and concluded successfully. Mishkin and Garry then started collaborating to see how to connect the work they were doing with agile and the Learning Circle.

In fall of 2007, Mishkin and Garry finished making a systematic mapping of the Learning Circle with an agile approach. At around the same time, in a conversation with another individual, Mishkin became convinced that this new model of working needed to be shared and in particular, shared in a collaborative way, like an open-source software project. Thus, the name OpenAgile was born. “Open” for “Open Source” - we hope that people around the world will contribute to further developing the OpenAgile method.

In the intervening years since the documentary project, OpenAgile has been used in a number of different environments including sales teams, software development, social innovation, and in the operation of the Berteig Consulting business.

In the spring of 2010, Mishkin, Garry, Travis Birch, Paul Heidema, and David Parker (members of the Berteig Consulting team) formed a non-profit organization called the OpenAgile Institute to guide the future growth of OpenAgile. In 2011 this Institute was incorporated as the OpenAgile Center for Learning in the Province of Ontario as a non-profit organization.