Last Friday and Saturday I attended Agile Open Belgium 2009 in Ghent.
This was an open space conference attended by 50 agile enthusiasts from Belgium and the Netherlands.
It was the first open space conference I participated in, and I must say, I really enjoyed the format.
What is an open space?
The name comes from Open Space Technology (OST) and is a method to run meetings of groups of any size.
The first activity of the group is sitting together in a circle and agree upon the four principles and one law:
Whoever comes is the right people
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
Whenever it starts is the right time
Whenever it’s over, it’s over
The law of two feet : meaning whenever you feel you’re not contributing or learning during a session, you can leave and attend another session.
After this, every attendant can propose session topics of which he wants to share knowledge, or learn more about. These get posted on the wall. Next we do dot-voting. Every attendant places a dot on the sessions he wishes to attend. This gives the organizers a general idea of the possible number of attendants. The sessions get scheduled and locations are assigned.
At this point the open space can start, and attendants wonder off to the various sessions.
Because there’s no designated speaker in a session, the group has to start the discussions on its own. Self organization is the key concept. This brings in a certain dynamic and invites everyone to share knowledge. It feels very different than classic seminars and conferences where most attendants just sit and listen to the speaker in front.
I met a lot of people and got some great new insights. Many thanks to the organizers Peter Janssens, Patrick Debois and Koen Van Exem.
Agile Open Belgium 2009