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Seeing this conference coming together has been very interesting, not only because the subject matter is of great personal interest to me, but also from the standpoint of watching people self organize in the absence of a heirarchy so effectively.

Four key principles of Open Space Technology are :

  • Whoever comes are the right people.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • Whenever it is over it is over.
To me there exists a great deal of similarity between an Open Spaces event and a Scrum environment (Agile too). The free exchange of ideas is as important to an Open Space conference as it is to Scrum. When people talk at this thing, other people listen. No one shouts, "That is a dumb idea for a session." People simply choose not to go to a session if they aren't interested. There is a great deal of respect here, no one makes fun of you for asking a newb question. Mutual respect is also of great importance in an Agile environment. People who have been at this for a while (agile development) seem as willing to field basic questions like "How do you get buy-in for Agile Development practices?" (which is a question I'd like to see answered) as well as more complex questions like "How do you do distributed Agile?" (where team members may not all be co-located or even in the same country). "Whoever comes are the right people." To me, that statement could just as easily describe the membership of a Scrum team as the attendees of an Open Spaces event. You have to take it on faith that good will come of the conference unfolding as much as you have to trust your Scrum teamates will build the right thing and build it right when implementing a new feature your work relies on. You have to trust that management have hired capable individuals to work alongside you, and if they weren't passionate about developing software, then they probably wouldn't be there. Open Space conferences seem more rewarding to me than your run of the mill sit through 5 or so presentations and then maybe get to ask a question at the end. Here, you are part of the action. It is engaging, and you are always thinking about what you'd like to say next. This conference is way more relaxed (impromptu sessions can and are expected to pop up in the hallway or in the parking lot) than your typical conference and is better off for it in my mind. There is an emphasis on sharing information here (between as many people as possible) that you aren't going to see in a typical conference or in most situations in life. The conference itself is very engergizing because so many people are eager to ask questions and discuss Agile practices and so many seasoned practioners are passionate about answering those questions or asking questions of their own to explore new avenue of Agile Development. This looks to be a very promising event. Posted on Saturday, May 31, 2008 12:23 AM | Back to top

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