Agile Open

One new idea that emerged during the European XP Week trip was to organise Agile Open – an open space weekend on Agile (in Software Development and otherwise) in spring 2005.

Marc Evers and I discussed this idea with several people during the xp days and afterwards (Marc also blogged about this ). The idea is, that we’d like more time to explore topics that come up during xp days and regular conferences in depth, and have a place where people from around Europe (and possibly elsewhere) can experiment with new sessions and show them to various xp-days organisers. Most XP days (even though they’re completely independentently organised) now have a session submission and review process. This works pretty well, although something kept nagging me. Duncan Pierce spelled it out clearly to me after XP-days London:

We’re reviewing session descriptions, instead of sessions.

Even though we’re trying to be independent and objective, it is much easier to trust someone you know with organising a session than someone you don’t know. I talked to some peope who thought about organising a session for this year, but didn’t get around to it. The threshold to start is quite high if you’ve never done it and are unsure about your facilitation skills. I’m starting to get more comfortable with it myself, based on the good feedback I’ve gotten over the workshops I’ve been doing. Even with experience though, getting a session accepted at a conference remains a somewhat mysterious process.

At XP Day Benelux we nevertheless had many new presenters this year. I hope next year we’ll have more new presenters, helped by the Agile Open – we’re thinking of an open space conference, where the program is decided on by the particpants at the start of the conference. We are looking to grow an overview of supply and demand with respect to workshops on Agile. With a stimulus to present session ideas before Agile Open, as well as questions for sessions from people with only a question or problem and no idea on how to organise a session around it.

One thing we’re already looking for from the demand side is more technical and entry-level sessions for XP Day Benelux.

Another reason to organise Agile Open is a recurring theme in many ongoing discussions: how to sustain a viable agile consultancy business, software house or corporate department. These questions are currently mostly debated at the bar or local user groups (and Mary Poppendiecks’ XP2004 keynote). I believe it is worthwile to go in-depth on this theme with a larger crowd.

We now seem to have a critical mass of people who want to co-organise, as well as participate so we’re going ahead with it. I’m going to send out a mail with a cost-estimate and details so far tonight to those who reacted until now. If you’d like to participate or co-organise or know someone else who might be interested, please contact me or Marc directly. We’re looking forward to make this event a reality and expand the ideas we’re having so far!

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