Software testing conference spotlight: Agile Testing Open Northwest

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Open space meeting format supports flexible agendas

Source:  Matt Heusser

At the start of the day, Diana Larsen, president of the Agile Alliance and of Future Works Consulting, "opened the space," describing the rules of the conference and setting expectations.

I was glad she did, because open space conferences, or "open space meetings," as they are called, are very different from traditional conferences. Instead of creating a long agenda and lining up speakers long before the event takes place, the agenda is created at the start of the meeting. This guarantees that the topics proposed are relevant to the attendees.

It also changes the focus. Traditionally, an expert prepares a talk months in advance and uses the talk to disseminate information. With the open space meeting format, proposers don't necessarily have solutions. Instead, they start with a problem, a desire to share ideas with others struggling with the same issue, or to build a solution collaboratively.

In short, where a traditional talk is planned in advance for an unknown audience, an open space meeting caters to the needs of those attending it.

My lesson learned is this: If you are forming an event to solve problems, an open space format may be more effective than traditional lectures.

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