What’s an Open Space un-conference and how will it work?

Open Space is a fun way to make sure the event will matter to you.

The Open Space format has been used more than 60,000 times in at least 124 countries, involving millions of attendees over the past 20 years, so it obviously “just works”.

(If you just want to see how it “feels” like, skip to the sample videos of similar events, at the end of this text)

What it means, in two bullet points:

✔️️ It’s all about discussing
Bring your own burning questions, listen to those of others, participate in a lot of discussion sessions and get even smarter than you already are – together!

❌ It’s not about bringing presentation slides or “talks”:
Nope. You’d be kicked out. Seriously. There are plenty of nice conferences to apply for as a “speaker” – #AgileCrete Coach+Dev Camp just isn’t one of them.

What it means, a bit more detailed:

  • An unconference is a participant-driven meeting. In other words: you decide what topics you want to talk about, and work on, with whom – instead of hoping a “speaker” will address that topic at least briefly.
  • Open Space (“Open Space Technology”, OST) is a specific form of an unconference that starts with an empty schedule. No times are set, no rooms are allocated, no topics are mandated, no separations made between “speakers” and “audience”. All participants work out a schedule by suggesting, planning, holding and evaluating sessions, collaboratively.
  • Since everything is created collaboratively by the participants, obviously it matters which people feel invited, and how to “call” them together. You can find the “call” for AgileCrete here.

What it means (the colorful version):

How does a day look like?

  • Typically, small groups of participants have their sessions in breakout rooms (or wherever they want to).
  • Periodically, everybody gathers again in the large, central space to share the “harvest” of their sessions with everybody else, e.g. by creating a gallery of all session results.
    Imagine that flow of people like an inhale-exhale rhythm, with the central space being the “lungs”.
  • All over the day, depending on harvests and ideas,  sessions might be merged, created, canceled, – that’s the magic of unconferences, it works every time, no single mastermind needed!
  • The unique feature of AgileCrete is that participants can extend the sessions into the afternoon excursions. We’re excited about trying this out!

Ok, but…

Yes, it only works in practice. In theory, it’s a total disaster!

So, aren’t there any rules at all for our sessions, workshops, …?

To maximize what you can get out of the unconference, simple rules apply. Wikipedia summarizes them nicely:

  1. Whoever comes is the right people
    …reminds participants that they don’t need the CEO and 100 people to get something done, you need people who care. And, absent the direction or control exerted in a traditional meeting, that’s who shows up in the various breakout sessions of an Open Space meeting.

  2. Whenever it starts is the right time
    …reminds participants that spirit and creativity do not run on the clock.

  3. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
    …reminds participants that once something has happened, it’s done—and no amount of fretting, complaining or otherwise rehashing can change that. Move on.

  4. When it’s over, it’s over
    …reminds participants that we never know how long it will take to resolve an issue, once raised, but that whenever the issue or work or conversation is finished, move on to the next thing. Don’t keep rehashing just because there’s 30 minutes left in the session. Do the work, not the time.

  5. Wherever it happens is the right place
    …reminds participants that space is opening everywhere all the time. Please be conscious and aware.

Plus, the Law of Two Feet:

If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.

How does that look like? Some videos

A few sample videos: explanations, impressions, look & feel