Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Agile Egypt's 1st Open Space Experiment!

I like to call Agile Egypt's 1st Open Space Conference an experiment rather than a conference. It was really an experiment working in large group without having an agenda :) We were worried while preparing, anticipating and looking around during the upstream activities, but we had a lot of fun and learning throughout the day! It is awesome and unbelievable!

The dynamics of teams while cooperating and engaging in discussions and parallel activities were amazing. Some are moving around from team to another looking for something useful. One team closed up the topic in eager to participate in other one or two sessions before they time out. Two or three attendees had a lengthy side talk about a topic which wasn't on the original list. All of these are some notes of how dynamic and efficient the use of time was.

Let me summarize how it went:

Starting (30 minutes) 

First, we spent sometime explaining the concept of open space technology; the 5 principles and the law of two feet. Then, Mohamed Amr facilitated a group discussion about the topics that may be included during the day:

Sessions (2 hours)

We have split into 6 topics:
  1. Self-Organizing teams
  2. Agile and freelance developers
  3. Requirements in Agile
  4. Measuring technical dept
  5. Modeling Kanban issues in Diagrams of Effects
  6. Agile adoption success stories

Teams in parallel sessions

And this is me facilitating the Kanban modeling session:

To see more photos of this event, browse our event page on meetup.com

Summary of Sessions' Key Takeaways (1 hour)

The last hour was very informative. Each group facilitator prepared a list of key takeaways which he/she shared with the whole audience in 5-10 minutes. Some members found this not interesting, because 1) If they were interested in the topic, they would have participated in the session and 2) the intent was to share key takeaways, while some facilitators narrated parts of the discussions instead :)

What's Next?

I have done a brief evaluation at the end of the conference. All Attendees would like to attend similar meetups again. Most of them (about 60%) gave 4 and 5 (out of 5) to their learning experience in this meetup.

I have observed how dynamic the meetup was. Learning is guaranteed! If you disliked a topic, you can instantly switch to another, which is several steps away. The fact that we are all co-located made the movement so easy.

We are planning to do it again inshaAllah with one minor tweak: we will have one or two sessions predefined and announced in order to attract more audience. One of the things that makes people reluctant to attend is the fact that he doesn't know what the topics are!

Although this is done on purpose (not announcing any topics), we think that announcing one or two topics would be a catalyst to attract more people. Once they are in, they can switch to any topic anytime!