Create the Conference You Need at Open Space

Join us for Open Space at the gathering!
A group of Scrum Alliance Gathering attendees stand in front of a wall with a schedule of sessions listed

The date for the Global Scrum Gathering Portland + Beyond is quickly approaching, and there’s a full agenda of sessions, fun, and activities ahead of us. There’s much to look forward to, whether you’re a first-time attendee or have joined us at a gathering before.

A fundamental element of the gathering, Open Space is an invitation to all attendees to collaborate and develop their own unique program and sessions for an afternoon. These sessions run parallel to the full gathering program, so you can come and go between the gathering sessions and Open Space as you please. 

Portland's Open Space will take place on Tuesday, May 9. Open Space will be facilitated by someone with experience in the technique, so rest assured you'll have the information you need to get started. Don't miss the opening circle to get all the info.

What Is Open Space?

Open Space is a participant-led experience. It’s everything you love about the informal chats in the hallway between conference sessions, the exchanging of ideas at the coffee cart, and the impromptu conversations with other agilists that end up solving an urgent issue. The answers, insights, and ideas you get from these interactions are some of the most memorable takeaways from a gathering. In Open Space, these spontaneous conversations take center stage.

A group of Global Scrum Gathering attendees participate in Open Space

To get started, join us in Portland for the opening circle, where you’ll create the day’s program using Open Space technology - don't worry, if you've never been to an Open Space, we'll make sure you have what you need to get started! We’re inviting all attendees to join together to create and lead the sessions they want to see that day.

How It Works

Scrum Alliance invites you to join other people at the gathering to create, schedule, and carry out parallel sessions during our Open Space. If you want to propose a session, but you’re not sure what to propose, just ask the group a question about something in your agile journey or something you're curious about. Other people who share your passion for that question will make time to join you to work together finding answers and solutions.

There will be space and time for as many sessions as you need. You can also make space for longer sessions if you need. Some people may choose to prepare a session in advance, although we encourage you to trust yourself to respond in the moment. We think that’s how the best sessions come about.

If you find yourself in a place where you're neither contributing value nor getting value, then we ask you to use your mobility to move to another session or place where you are contributing or receiving value. In Open Space this is called your “law of mobility.” There’s nothing wrong in leaving a session that does not spark joy for you, and in fact, staying in place is the problem. Moving elsewhere to follow your passion and responsibility is what makes Open Space valuable for everyone. We ask you go where you either feel passionate about what is happening there, or where you feel enough responsibility for what is happening to carry it through.

What to Expect

The magic of Open Space is that it offers a few principles (and the one “law of mobility”) with just enough structure for everyone to create the program. Come as you are and prepare to be surprised because no one can predict what will develop in an Open Space, but we can promise that it will be exactly what you need to happen because you will be creating it.

The facilitator will be with you in the opening circle to open up this space and throughout the day they’ll hold that space open so that it belongs to everyone. In the opening circle, the facilitator will explain our theme, the principles of Open Space, and the basic structure in the opening circle, and then the process and the outcomes are up to all of you. The principles and structure of Open Space will help you to trust and tap into your passion and responsibility to get the most value from the experience.

Open Space Technology runs on two fundamentals, passion and responsibility. Without passion, nobody is interested. Without responsibility, nothing will get done.- Harrison Owen, “Open Space Technology a User’s Guide”

Prepare to be surprised, even if you’ve already been to Open Space. The classic Open Space format will focus on simplicity so that nothing gets in the way of the passion and questions you bring.

Open Space Origins

Open Space can be traced back to the 1980s when it was discovered by author, photographer, and consultant Harrison Owen while he was organizing a large gathering of facilitators (he said he discovered it, not created it, because the principles of Open Space have always been there). He noticed during conferences that there was a lot of excitement in the unplanned coffee break. All the conversations, connections, and exchanging of ideas that can come from those serendipitous interactions that are spontaneous and occur outside of the planned programming. What if a conference or gathering was essentially all coffee breaks? Not in the literal sense, but in the sense that you gather together, the space is held for you, and you create the sessions and the program you want. 

Please join us for Open Space at GSGPDX23. We invite you to join the gathering community to fill an open space. Turn the blank schedule into a participant-driven program.

Haven’t Registered for GSGPDX23? Register Now!

While PDX has come and gone, we're looking forward to the next gathering. Learn more about Global Scrum Gathering 2023 Amsterdam.

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