Most devopsdays events are a combination of curated talks and self organized conversations. The self organized content is known as “open spaces”. Open Spaces give attendees the opportunity to talk about anything they’d like. A person might suggest a topic they want to learn about, or one they feel like they can help others with. The topics range widely, from highly technical, to pure culture, to board games for networking.
Principles (from Wikipedia on Open_Space_Technology):
While the mechanics of Open Space provide a simple means to self-organize, it is the underlying principles that make it effective both for meetings and as a guidepost for individual and collective effectiveness.The open space rallying cry is:
The Law of Two Feet — a foot of passion and a foot of responsibility — expresses the core idea of taking responsibility for what you love. In practical terms, the law says that if you’re neither contributing nor getting value where you are, use your two feet (or available form of mobility) and go somewhere where you can. It is also a reminder to stand up for your passion.
From the law flow four principles:
- Whoever comes is the right people
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
- Whenever it starts is the right time
- When it’s over, it’s over
Open Space Mechanics
Since the meeting is supposed to be self-organizing, the conveners put their energy not in running the meeting but creating a setting that gets everyone’s creative energy flowing.
You may ask people to put their name on sessions they want to attend. More than one session per slot is OK… (law of two feet ). This gives conveners an idea of how busy their session is going to be. It gives participants an image of how the break-out session is going.
People may shuffle sessions around, or merge sessions as they are deciding where to go. Have a wiki where people can record outcomes of sessions, or provide paper forms for note-taking during sessions (recording who attended, a summary of the session and outcomes/questions for further work) that you can collect into a ‘book of proceedings’.
The facilitators’ role in this bit of the conference is to answer questions, and make sure everyone has the materials they need to run their break-out session. They do not (in principle) intervene in the sessions - the participants are supposed to self-organize.
Closing: Have everyone back in the circle. A simple and effective way to close is to have the participants pass a ‘talking stick’ around, and let them (briefly, e.g. in a sentence or a word) say what they feel about the day.
Bumblebees and butterflies: Bumblebees internalize the law of two feet quickly, and constantly flit from meeting to meeting, pollinating, cross-fertilizing, and adding richness and variety.
Butterflies may never get into any meeting. They are focal points of quiet and beauty. If you watch them, every once in a while you’ll see them engage in conversation. Those conversations often are significant.
(from Pono consultants)