About Open Space

Agile Coach Camp is an unconference using Open Space to bring together people interested in helping software development organizations and their business partners get better at mastering their craft.  A wide variety of topics get explored each Camp.

What is Open Space?

Open Space was discovered by Harrison Owen as a means to self-organize meetings and conferences around what mattered most to people. The basics of holding space are simple, yet powerful. People come together around a high-level topic or need and create their own agenda; then people gather into groups to brainstorm, debate, or otherwise discuss the topics proposed on the agenda, known as the marketplace. The overall Open Space event is opened by a single facilitator.

This marketplace is created after the space is opened and the following principles and 1 law are reviewed:

“Whoever comes are the right people.”
“Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.”
“When it starts is the right time.”
“It’s over when it’s over.”
“If you are not learning or contributing, feel free to move to a place where you can learn or contribute.” This is also known as “The law of two feet”

People generally attend the entire length of time set aside for a session, but some will continue on with that topic with others passionately interested in further conversation. Additionally some people will go from session to session cross-pollinating ideas between groups (known as bumble bees), while others still will flit and listen in as their fancy takes them (known as butterflies). All of these are OK and encouraged. This is what makes open space wonderful.

At the end of the first day, we’ll come together for an evening news to share some of the big ahas we have learned. At the end of the Camp, we close the space in the same circle in which we opened it.  We also have a retrospective to find out improvements we can pass on to the next Camp.

As you register, and to prepare you to experience the most out of Agile Coach Camp, think about what you are passionately wanting to learn and share. Be prepared to discuss this, but don’t plan to have an agenda to lecture folks on a subject. You need to be open to dialog; as you propose topics for the marketplace, you are basically agreeing to hold a space and facilitate a discussion on the topic at hand. There is no expectation that you are an expert in that area and often these topics are problems coaches are looking to solve.

If you are new to Open Space and want to learn more whether as a facilitator, host or participant, here are some things for you to review before arriving:

  1. Read Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology User’s Guide.  A brief version can be found at http://www.openspaceworld.com/users_guide.htm
  2. View http://vimeo.com/25251316, a 16-minute video of a telephone company
  3. View http://bit.ly/I2v6mm, a TedxTalk by Harrison.

Prepare to be surprised!

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