I've been in many conferences, and without an exception the best part of every conference was the time I had to talk 1-on-1 or with a few people about some subject that really interested me.
This normally started in the hallways, during the coffee breaks. We started talking and suddenly we realized that we had just missed the start of the sessions. The conversation would go on and eventually some of those would continue over dinner.
I've met more people during conferences this way than by any other method. Conferences are excellent for this. You have lots of people with the same interest in one place, start talking and before you know it you have found people with which you can discuss the most difficult problems you've faced. Sometimes others pitch in with a solution, sometimes you just get a bunch of friends that share the same interest.
This effect, of getting to know people you did not know before, is what we are trying to create in this year's Scandinavian Agile Conference. That's why we have an Open Space (aka Open Space Technology) day in our schedule. Open space is the format that allows for the best networking to happen.
In the Open Space anyone can suggest sessions in the morning's "marketplace of ideas". This means that those people are committed to host a 50-55 min session about a specific subject. That does not mean that they want to explain the subject. The best Open Space sessions I've been in are those where the host just asks a question and the conversation flows from that.
For those more technically inclined an Open Space session can be an opportunity to explain a hard technical problem you are facing and have others pitch in to help you solve it or explore possible solutions that you were not aware of.
The Open Space sessions where I've participated have all been excellent learning opportunities for me, but some have been breakthroughs! Most importantly, in each Open Space session where I have participated, I've been positively surprised how people that may be reluctant to participate at first, end up participating actively and having lots of fun in the process.
Come to the Open Space in Scan-Agile. Listen. Teach. Meet your community!
You can start building your Scan-Agile community today! Just go to Twitter and use the tag #scanagile. All of us on twitter will be able to find you and, who knows, maybe even create a joint-Open Space session before the actual Open Space day!
Come on, join the community!
Photo credit: Peter Kaminski @ flickr