Opening Space at Microsoft PDC
Jack Martin Leith
jack at jackmartinleith.com
Fri Jun 13 11:24:09 PDT 2008
Delighted to get your email and to see both blog comments.
Please have another look at www.jackmartinleith.com/?p=232 where you'll see
my response to the two numbered points in our second comment (also pasted
below for the benefit of OSListers).
And please accept my apologies for getting hold of the wrong end of the
Jack Martin Leith
Creating the new. Enriching the world
Bristol, United Kingdom
Mobile: 07831 840541 (+44 7831 840541)
email: jack at jackmartinleith.com
*Jason Olson writes further:*
Also, as I mentioned in an email to you, there are two areas that concern me
regarding Open Space as it currently exists for PDC:
1) Due to the size of the conference (and the fact that Open Space is just
an un-conference within the larger conference), there isn't a current plan
to have attendees vote and prioritize the sessions they want to see talked
about (which, unfortunately, removes some of the agile nature of Open
2) No current support for an attendees submitting a topic he's interested in
but doesn't want to speak about or moderate himself.
As you can imagine, this has me concerned as both of them are departures
from the Open Space model. I would love to have a chat here with you and
your readers on ways that we can avoid this (or if we should even be
worrying about it). The biggest key is that I don't want to take a great
model like Open Space and butcher it because we didn't actually "grok" the
true purposes behind Open Space.
*My response to Jason's two posts:*
Jason, thanks very much for clearing up my misunderstanding.
With regard to your two concerns, neither of the practices you describe
forms part of the vanilla Open Space model as described by Harrison Owen in
his book, Open Space Technology: A User's Guide.
In fact most Open Space facilitators don't even suggest that very similar
sessions are merged – this is left to the session leaders (convenors, hosts,
whatever you like to call them) to manage themselves.
Regarding your second point, Open Space is very much about people taking
responsibility for hosting a session. Otherwise Open Space is little more
than a brainstorming meeting: "I think this is an interesting idea, but I
don't care enough to do something about it."
I'm sure other Open Space practitioners will have more to say about both of
2008/6/13 Jason Olson (DPE) <Jason.Olson at microsoft.com>:
> Thanks for the email Jack! I commented on your blog post directly to make
> the conversation more public. My wording may have been a bit unclear. There
> is no creating of the agenda ahead of the conference. This is something that
> is created onsite, at the conference, by the attendees and for the
> attendees. This also enables me to avoid having us (Microsoft) try to
> "dictate" what can or can't be discussed. This should be an agile process.
> The part that concerns me right now (and where we currently deviate from a
> typical Open Space), is that there is no "attendees vote for the sessions
> they would like to see and we use that to determine what is presented."
> Because of the potential number of people involved, combined with the fact
> that this is merely a smaller unconference within a larger conference, I'm
> not convinced that it would work. So, currently, it's largely "first come,
> first serve" when people sign up for an Open Space session. Also, there's
> really not a supported model for submitting a session you want to hear
> about, but have no clue who can moderate/or discuss the session in general.
> As you can imagine, these two changes make me a bit uneasy considering the
> departure from what makes Open Space great.
> Of course, I would love to hear feedback from you and others if this is a
> big deal (and if we should even worry about it), or if we should avoid this
> and find a different way for the prioritization and participation to occur.
> *Jason Olson***
> Technical Evangelist | Visual Studio & .NET Framework Evangelism |
> *From:* jackmartinleith at gmail.com [mailto:jackmartinleith at gmail.com] *On
> Behalf Of *Jack Martin Leith
> *Sent:* Friday, June 13, 2008 9:11 AM
> *To:* OSLIST
> *Cc:* Jason Olson (DPE)
> *Subject:* Re: Opening Space at Microsoft PDC
> Big thanks for the heads up.
> I've just blogged it here: http://www.jackmartinleith.com/?p=231
> As you'll see, I'm questioning the decision to create the agenda ahead of
> the conference.
> Best wishes,
> Jack Martin Leith
> Creating the new. Enriching the world
> Bristol, United Kingdom
> Mobile: 07831 840541 (+44 7831 840541)
> Skype: jackmartinleith
> email: jack at jackmartinleith.com
> 2008/6/13 Harrison Owen <hhowen at verizon.net>:
> Seems like the folks at the annual Microsoft Professional Development
> Conference are intending to open a little space. Definitely cutting edge,
> innovative – Cheers for Microsoft. For the details go to:
> Don't have any idea who is doing it, but I am sure they will have a grand
> * * ==========================================================
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