Have you ever had a chance to ask whatever popped to your mind? We did! On June 4th Kanbanery Team took part in Unconf 2016 – an Open Space Technology Conference in Krakow. This time we discovered topic does Agile=Happines?
What is so cool about Open Space Technology Conferences?
There is no agenda, no plan or list of issues to cover. Everyone can create a topic and contribute to the program. It works this way: at the beginning of the conference everyone together creates a time-schedule. Anyone can add a topic or a few topics that he or she would like to talk about. There is no space to be bored. Then the topics from the schedule are discussed in groups, a few at the same time. You can decide which theme is most interesting for you and just join the conversation. In the same way, you can leave it anytime and switch to another group.
(Sic!) Questions everywhere! 🙂
In a few minutes 35 completely different topics proposed by the attendees appeared on the wall. There was no judgment whether a question was worth it or was good enough to be discussed. However most of the people were inspired by the main question “Agile = Happiness?”. It was not an easy assumption, however, and it opened our minds and encouraged everyone to think out of the box and question our assumptions.
What we loved about the Unconf 2016?
- Unusual form – Open Space Technology;
- Audience – we could meet 115 Agile passionates. Most of the attendees were Agile practitioners and those who just were just making their first steps to work in this environment: developers, testers, designers, Scrum Masters, product owners, leaders of Agile teams or managers from the IT industry. Or people from the other businesses, who are excited about leadership, good management and self-development;
- Thanks to other people we could work together to solve our problems or address our concerns; it was enough to list our topics on the wall and in a few minutes we got a bunch of experts willing to help us and share their knowledge;
- No time to be bored – there were 35 topics to discuss, so whenever you felt that you don’t bring any value to the discussion or you are not interested in this area, you could just switch to another room, no hard feelings :);
- Atmosphere – as we already know, there are no stupid questions, during the Unconf there was also one more rule – there are no stupid answers. Everyone was treated with respect and had a chance to prove his point.
What have we learned?
- An Agile approach is not only for Software Teams but also for anyone who wants to see visible changes in their everyday life. I don’t know how about you, but I have heard so many times in my life that Agile methodology might be used only in IT. During the conference we discussed many different usage of Kanban, Agile & lean methods, not only at work but also in everyday life (e.g. in life goals, trainings, wedding plans or whatever that pops into your mind and needs to be organized);
- People love to talk and share their ideas with others, so why not use it to broaden our minds? If you are too busy to read books, go to a course, or study but you have a everlasting desire to develop why not talk with other people? It is the simplest way to gather all of the needed information and ‘know how’. Don’t put yourself into the work-home loop. Try to find time to discover the world with others for there are many things still waiting for you to experience outside of your comfort zone;
- We met so many people who were dissatisfied with their results, who are looking for new ideas to increase their productivity and what is the most important – they never ever heard about Kanban! So we have an opportunity to spread around our knowledge :).
- Lean UX can help us to build the products that users love. This time Joanna Ostafin took us to the Lean UX world and taught how to ask the right questions, build hypotheses and test our products before we invest in them.
There is no one right way to do retrospectives and seek for improvement. Magda Firlit showed us how to use Disney’s Strategy during retrospectives, problem solving meetings, impediments services for individuals and other situations in which this tool might apply.
Why attendees loved about the Unconf 2016?
As our whole team is composed of Kanban passionates we were curious if other attendees have the same perception about conference. So, we asked our new friends about their opinions.
“For me, the Unconference format is a chance to *be* Agile rather than just talk about matters pertaining to the topic! I think that’s the really powerful thing – you can say, ‘Look – you’ve seen how self organisation works! Now go and try it!” Proof from direct experience beats theory for me.”
John Cieślik-Bridgen, Director of Engineering Culture at Estimote, Inc.
“You get to see how good you know something yourself, as you try to explain it to others. You also get to open your eyes to what processes, methods and truths others are subscribing to. Just as traveling around the world expands your personal horizons, going to unconferences, expands your awareness within your working environment.”
Victoria Wagman Enthusiastic Entrepreneur
“Unconf was my first open space technology conference. I wasn’t sure how it would be, what kind of people would come, what power we would see. But it was really amazing – a lot of energy, proactivity… and real lean approach in leading a conference! The agenda was really flexible and, the most important… created by participants, so we could choose the best topics for us or proposed something else”.
Joanna Ostafin, Lead UX/UI Designer & Co-founder at Project: People