About Open Space

You've heard of bar camps and unconferences...meet the start of them all! Agile Open Northwest runs on Open Space Technology (OST).

Way back in 1983, Harrison Owen made a discovery. He had spent a year organizing an international conference and, when it was over, everyone agreed that the best learning, information sharing and networking had occurred in the coffee breaks! Hmmmm.

After giving that some thought (and drinking two martinis), Owen went on to originate Open Space Technology, an approach to organizing meetings that allows groups of all sizes to self-organize, create an agenda and solve complex problems.

Over the last 20 or more years, the Open Space movement has grown to the point where many entire conferences have organized on its principles. Working with specific strategies to encourage and direct participation, groups of up to 2000+ people successfully self-organize around complex problems, held meetings, and publish results.

What a great fit for an Agile conference! OST delays all decisions about what sessions will be held, when they will be scheduled and who will attend them until the last responsible moment. If you have ever signed up for particular sessions in a traditional conference months in advance, only to discover that your needs and interests had changed by the time you got to the event, you'll appreciate the value of this!

Opening Space

The opening session of Agile Open Northwest takes place on the first morning with everyone attending. Your commitment to arriving at the beginning and staying until the end of the conference will ensure we build on conversation after conversation.

During the opening session, a host will explain the Five Principles and One Law of Open Space. If you have questions, volunteers and hosts will offer answers.

The Five Principles

  • 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.
  • Wherever it happens is the right place.

The Law of Personal Mobility

If you find yourself sitting where you can't learn or contribute, move yourself to a place where you can.

Creating a Session

After the introduction, we will invite those who want to convene a session to come forward and present it. It's a simple process. You don't need to prepare papers, slides, or flip-charts. You will simply step forward and briefly describe the session you propose. You'll include just enough information to let people decide whether to attend - and no more. Generally, you need less than 30 seconds.

After presenting a summary of your proposed session, you will select a time and place from those available on our wall-display and post a notice there. As each person does the same...Voila! The agenda is born!

We ask that everyone attending our conference show up for the opening. It's important. You'll listen to the presentations and take note of those you would like to attend. As you listen, you may be inspired to present a session yourself. There are no deadlines or time limits: simply step up and describe your idea for a session.

Attending Sessions

At the end of the presentation, you will browse the notices on the wall and sign up to attend any sessions that interest you. Signing up for a session is optional. You may attend any session you like and even move between sessions (according to The Law).

Adding Sessions

You may add a session to the schedule at any time during the event by posting information about it in an available slot in the agenda. We'll have periodic announcements of any new or rescheduled sessions, but it's a good idea for all participants to keep an eye out for schedule changes as well.

Additional Info

For additional info, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

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