Michael Herman
Opening Space for Business Agility

 
 
 

Agile/XP Universe Conference 2002, Open Space Track

Some Very Rough Facilitator Notes

UPDATE: Roughly eight years after the story I tell below, I was facilitating a board retreat for the Agile Alliance and board members were explaining to me the lasting significance of what we did at this first conference. One of the things the Alliance developed was the Agile Open program, that makes small grants for seed funding for regional conferences to be organized in Open Space. Some other folks started a long-running series of Agile Coach Camps that gather in Open Space. And many years later, something called "Open Jam" continues as an evolving descendant of the Open Space track described below. Not to mention the many Scrum Gatherings and Agile Days and other conference events spawned by this first one, or all the open space meetings that those attendees went home and opened on their own. This really was the beginning of something...


 Subject: hybrid ost at agile software conference (long, fun, wiki)
 Date: Wed, 07 Aug 2002 00:39:46 -0500
 From: Michael Herman <mherman@globalchicago.net>
 To: OSLIST <OSLIST@LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU>

here's one for the archives. traditional conference. four days. 200-400 expected when planning began. 330 showed up. workshops. tutorials, which are paid for in advance. academic papers, juried in advance. programmers from around the world. keynote speakers. a number of industry gurus. and 2 days of ost spread over last 3 days of the conference. opening after lunch on day 2, the official opening day of the conference, after morning of 3 keynote speakers in darkened room and powerpoint slides FULL of text, graphs, numbers. "birds of a feather" self-organizing special interest groups held during lunches at one end of the dining room. open space 'closing' scheduled on 4th afternoon AFTER the 'farewell' series of keynotes. carpeted walls that resisted long-term sticking even by 4-inch heavy duty duct tape. no invitation written, except for posting of 4 principles and one law on teh conference website. minimal upfront discussion with conference planners responsible for ost 'track'. no conversation with rest of program committee. have i said anything that gives you any hope that this has been a fantastic couple of days, with one day left tomorrow???? <grin>

the group is agile software alliance and extreme programming universe. the conference theme is 'a conference for sharing and learning about agile software development processes -- HOW LITTLE CAN WE DO AND STILL BUILD GREAT SOFTWARE?'

...getting a little brighter, now, eh? they are a group of consortia and developer companies and individual programmers who work by this manifesto...

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Through this work we have come to value:

 Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
 Working software over comprehensive documentation
 Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
 Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

in short, these folks are working in open space, or nearly so, everyday. they have things called 'standup meetings' every morning. what we would call morning news. they work in 'iterative cycles.' each cycle starts with pairs of programmers each selecting a 'story card' that is a programming task and spending a set time (hours or days) working on that task together, then reconvening as a team to report results at the end of the session. then picking new cards, reshuffling pairs as needed, where roadblocks prevented completion. they rewrite their overall project plans every three to five work days. they talk a lot about how to get planning-driven IT groups to be more agile. they talk about moving at the speed of change. heartening stuff, no?

anyway, this is what we're up to...


day one - workshops, tutorials, academic papers all day

day two

day three

day four - (still to happen)

other observations

WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY? HAVE I BROKEN EVERY RULE IN THE BOOK?

some things that have made a difference...

opening


some other observations from closing day, today...

some other things that we thought might be next step into openspace...