First, this is a conference billed as, “Open Space.” A term that can be over-used today on the conference circuit. Why can an “Open Space” conference be a hard sell to your boss and the accountants? Well, think about this… the philosophy behind this type of conference is something like, “Whoever attends are the right people. Whatever gets discussed is the right thing.”
Yikes. How artfully agile. I can see this term starting to get abused (as our intrepid Chicken above has shown!), just like the attempted “branding” of the word Agile, Agile 2.0, Web 2.0, or whatever (but that is for another day).
Go ahead and do some google searches on it… get educated. I will provide a Mike Vizdos short version for you below.
So why attend a conference run in an “Open Space” manner?
First, it is fun.
You have a great chance of networking — and more than just at a usual conference. You may even bump into our fearless-black-turtleneck-wearing-leader.
You will start the day by the people in attendance creating the sessions for the next few days. It is really cool to see. Emergent is a great description.
The good thing is anyone can contribute. The bad thing is anyone can contribute. Ahh… but here is the power of an Open Space… people “walk” with their feet from session to session. There are concepts of “butterflies” and “bees” (no bird and bee discussions allowed), where people can walk from one session to another and not feel guilty. And learn a lot. So, if someone is solely passionate around a topic, and nobody else gives a crap, people get the picture immediately (smile). Don’t worry, if you are headed to a good Open Space, all of this will be explained to you.
This type of conference runs in a very “zen like” fashion (to an outsider) — with those damn bells ringing for pavlov-session-changes — for a while and then everyone gets together at the end to discuss what should be done going forward (some may even call it a retrospective, another cool agile term). At the end of each day there are usually small groups that get together to discuss various topics — including the maturation of barely and hops at local pubs. Fun stuff. And, great if you are on an expense account. Even if you are paying for it out of your own pocket, life is usually grand.
Now…. like everything “agile” — this can be abused. Why do I continue to harp on this? Because, as this idea starts to take off, it will get abused. People will call stuff “Open Space” and run it very unstructured (which, if you get the point, “Open Space” is very disciplined). People will go to crappy ones and get a bad taste in their mouths, much like people do when they go into a Scrum team hacking away and calling themselves “agile”.
Will this week be worth it? I’d say yes. I am about to spend my own cash to go (if I can get a seat). It will be run… sorry…. facilitated… by some of the best in our industry. From what I can tell by the buzz around this coming week, it also seems like there will be a lot of great people to learn from (and with).
If you are going to the Scrum Gathering and would like to report in, please let me know and I will post an update later this week. Contact me and I can make that part happen if anyone is interested (you can become an implementingscrum.com roving reporter… wow… imagine the fame!). And if you are going… do me a favor and help get the word out about this site. I’d sincerely appreciate it. Finally, walk around humming a great tune (see “Strange Brew” — “CooooO uh o o uh oo uh ooooo”.)
November 13, 2006More:
December 13, 2006