What’s an Open Space UNconference and how will it work?

What is an Open Space UNconference?

What’s an Open Space UNconference? (Executive version)

✔ It’s all about conversations that matter
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 speakers bringing presentation slides
Nope. Please. Don’t. Seriously!
There are plenty of nice conferences to apply for as a speaker – #AgileCrete Coach+Dev Camp just isn’t one of them.

What’s an Open Space UNconference? (Photonovela version)

How does a day at #AgileCrete look like?

First thing in the morning: a marketplace of questions and topics

You, like Anna in this picture, queue up to get 20 seconds to tell everybody what your burning question and topic is. No arguing, no defending, no criticizing, no voting – just tell what’s on your mind and what you would like to discuss with others. Afterwards, you stick your PostIt to the wall.

After everybody had their 20 seconds and posted their sticky to the wall, we’ll have a huge gallery of session topics – and yours is as important as everybody else’s. There will be no voting, but a marketplace of topics now…

If you want your session to happen, nothing can stop you. Your topic won’t be “downvoted”, “excluded”, “postponed”, or whatever. On the contrary: reviewing what others have posted, you might find out together e.g. that you could merge your sessions and deal with your questions in a larger context.

Without any “mastermind” telling people what to do, they’ll start discussing and negotiating: sessions are merged, split up, created, scheduled and re-scheduled… – until there’s a timetable emerging. As it always does.

Voilà. A schedule for the first day. And after each session, people might rearrange it again, simply because they can – and because they don’t need permission to think about it, and just do it.

Then, until noon: Sessions, sessions, sessions! (plus: refreshments)

Typically, small groups of participants have their sessions in breakout rooms.

As you can see, you’ll be sitting in a circle, not staring at a stage. Discussing your questions, not waiting for a “speaker” to accidentally mention them.

After each session, the large, airconditioned central space is waiting for you, with beverages and snacks. You’ll tape the “harvest” of your session to the walls & windows to share them, collectively creating a gallery of all session results.

Have a drink, take a breath, and look at what others have discussed, in other sessions… Imagine that flow of people from and to the central space like an inhale-exhale rhythm, with the central space being the “lungs”.

All over the day, depending on harvests and ideas, sessions might again be merged, created, canceled, re-scheduled … – that’s the magic of unconferences, it works every time!

Light Lunch

In Crete, in June, you don’t need a big lunch. It just puts you straight to sleep and just makes you feel uncomfortable in the warm weather. You do need some food to get you going though, so we’ll be getting some light lunch to keep us going.

Light lunch at AgileCrete

Afternoon Sessions

Participants from last years told us the morning sessions were not enough. They wanted more Open Space sessions. On top of that, this year, AgileCrete meets SoCraTes! There’s just more content to cover.

As such, in 2018, we’re extending our schedule into the afternoons, with sessions that will continue after lunch (and a break).

Dinners, in the evenings

Cretan dinners are special. Food is ordered and shared by the whole group, which allows you to experience a diversity of tastes you simply can’t have when you’re eating on your own.

Ok, but…

Yes, it only works in practice (in theory, it’s a total disaster!):

What’s an Open Space Unconference? (Legal and academic department version)

  • 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 right on our home page.

So, are 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 Mobility:

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