Nice Open Space story by Diana Larsen on the OSLIST
Last week, we held the 7th annual Agile Open Northwest conference in Portland Oregon.
The Facts: Theme: Agile Vision for Agile Practitioners
Duration: 2.5+ days (+ represents holding the closing activities after lunch on the third day)
Registration: 246 people registered including organizers, volunteers, sponsor representatives, attendees, etc.
Circle Set-up: 3 concentric rows (inner 60, middle 70, outer 80) about 60-70 ft (~ 20 m) in diameter
Attending: ~190 people sat in Opening Circle, others drifted in (or out) over the course of the event, only a dozen badges had not been claimed by the end of the conference.
Marketplace: We posted sessions one day at a time over the three days.
Session times: 16 over three days - 6 on Day 1, 7 on Day 2, 3 on Day 3
Sessions possible: 208 + more outside pre-arranged times or spaces
Sessions held: ~140
Session spaces: 13 (9-11 were filled during any one session time, fewer in the evenings and early morning)
Session length: 60 minutes + 10 minutes to move between sessions
Location: http://leftbankannex.com Converted aeronautic machined-parts manufacturing shop, 14,000 sq ft on two floors with a mezzanine. Lots of concrete, metal, windows, and vast empty space repurposed for events. Very industrial chic and highly configurable. The event coming in the day after ours was a huge Bar Mitzvah.
Experiments: We tried it with a “crew” of OS facilitators, so everyone could attend sessions, secure in the knowledge that someone(s) somewhere was attending to the space holding needs. It mostly worked, there are a few aspects of this I’d change. Harold Shinsato was one of the crew members. He may have more to say (or not).
My role: Organizer of the OS crew, participant, bumblebee, butterfly, board member.
The best part: On the last day, I brought my 4-year-old grand-daughter, T. She had been on the exploratory visit last fall when the co-chairs chose the facility, and I thought she’d like to see it all decked out for the event. Also, her Mom needed time to do a few things that are made difficult with a 4 y/o in tow. I feel blessed that I knew bringing her wouldn’t cause a moment’s concern to any of the other board members, chairs, or organizers. What a great community!
T was interested and a little overwhelmed. I’m not sure she’s ever been with such a large group before. She spent most of the day shyly curious and quietly observing, getting her bearings. The buffet breakfast was a treat for he, so the day started well. She sat intent through "morning announcements” as member of the OS crew welcomed everyone to the third day and facilitated additions to the marketplace. She attended three sessions and butterflied during the two session times before lunch.
She was fascinated by the lunch break with many tables of 8 people locked in deep discussions. “What are those people doing?” We explained the delight of being able to talk about something you care about with other people who care as deeply…people that you might not otherwise see often. T considered this for a moment, then nodded her affirmation.
We moved to the closing. She and i found chairs in the circle, as a facilitator started it off, asking about sessions attended, giving participants time to announce actions going forward, etc. Toward the end, I asked her father to come sit with her. I needed to move into a different place in the circle to receive the microphone and close the conference space.
I had been sitting in my new seat only a few minutes and my colleague was still facilitating the harvest, when, spontaneously, T began running around the outside of the circle, defining the space, inadvertently causing those who were standing outside to move closer into the circle. Her shoes hit the floor creating a rhythmic tattoo and an energetic boundary around the community. She made 5 or so circuits. I sat in awe , feeling my eyes moisten and goosebumps rise on my skin. Then, it was time for me to take the microphone.
Walking into the circle, as I accepted the mic and began to say a few words, I felt her small hand slip lightly into mine. Each person said their short, last comment and I invited them to stand and look around, to see who remained and remember those who had to leave earlier. She continued to walk the circle with me. Together we invited everyone to turn around and step out into their futures, closing the conference
Completely unprompted, from her own instinct, she provided the perfect reminder that all we do contributes to the world of future generations. She was totally present and, in her way, invisible, as she held space for the very first time.
From a very fortunate Grandma,
comEnvisioning a world where everyone at every level of the organization can say, "I love my work; this is the best job EVER!"