Eyes wide open and overflowing with learning.

That is how I felt after I walked away from my first multi-day Open Space event – the 2014 Agile Coach Camp in Indianapolis. I had never experienced an “unconference,” so it was very cool to see how everything emerged organically. The attendees themselves created the agenda each day and a lot of “hallway” conversations took place. The event embodied empowerment and I have since attended at least one Open Space event each year.

Which brings me to 2018. I would like to share an Open Space event that my friend and colleague – Emilio Perez – and I are hosting: The Agile Coaching Summit in Chicago. Friday 10/19 will be an evening networking event and the Open Space will be Saturday 10/20 and Sunday 10/21.

If you’ve never experienced Open Space, here is a quick rundown on how it works…

There is a grid – called the marketplace – with one axis listing locations (Room A, Room B, The Couches, etc) and the other axis listing time slots (10:00 – 10:50, 11 – 11:50, etc). For each cell in the grid, there is a blank space.

This is where you come in. If there is a burning topic on your mind that you’d like to share, a challenge you are facing at work or a question you’d like to discuss…simply write that topic on a sheet of paper, announce it to the group and place it somewhere on the grid (For example… Topic: “Should a Scrum Master participate in the retrospective?” // Time: 10:00am – 10:50am // Location: Room B). That means if people want to talk or learn about whether Scrum Masters should participate in a retrospective, they could go to Room B at 10:00am.

There is also the Law of Two Feet (or Personal Mobility). This means that if you are not learning or contributing or finding value at a session, you are encouraged to find a place where you can learn or contribute or find value.

There is more to Open Space than the Law of Two Feet and the marketplace, but it is inherently simple and relies on self-organization. The open format brings a lot of passion and engagement because the attendees themselves create the agenda that interests them the most.

So whether it’s your first Open Space or you are a veteran, please join us… and bring your topics!