The first Agile related conference in Singapore, CITCON Singapore 2012 (Continuous Integration and Testing Conference)

A memory lane of the Agile community in Singapore — Part 2 (What inspired Open Space?)

In part 1, we talked about how the community and meetups were started. Here, I’ll share the main inspiration of Open Space Technology that lasted for more than four years of regular meetups.

The major event that influenced me in moving forward with Open Space is CITCON Singapore 2012.

CITCON Singapore 2012

CITCON (pronounced kit-con) stands for Continuous Integration and Testing Conference. It is a worldwide series of free Open Space events led by Paul Julius (CruiseControl co-founder) and Jeffrey Fredrick (CruiseControl committer). The planning for a Singapore event started as early as 2010 by my colleague, Bas and a few other people from NTU and Temasek Polytechnic but it didn’t work out. Then in 2011, Erwin Bolwidt (previously from Bank of America Merrill Lynch) and Mike Grafton (previously from Pivotal Labs) and I took over the organising work.

Mike on far right and Erwin next to him.

The conference format uses Open Space Technology, a type of facilitation technique that thrives on diversity and chaos driven by a common purpose, and begins without a formal agenda. CITCON starts on a Friday evening where all participants curate the agenda (Space/Time Matrix) for the breakout sessions on the whole of following day. We were fortunate to have Bank of America Merrill Lynch Singapore to sponsor their venue at Harbourfront. There was 120+ registrations and attendance were about 60 to 80. AFAIK, we have people coming in from Malaysia and Thailand.

Jeffrey and Paul create the space and shares the four principles and one law of Open Space

Open Space is based on four principles:

Whoever comes is the right people.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
Whenever it starts is the right time.
When it is over it is over.

And one law:

The Law of Two Feet

It says you are personally responsible for your experience in Open Space. If you’re in a group discussion that isn’t rewarding, use your two feet to walk to a different group where you can be engaged more productivity. There is no “authority figure” telling you what you can or cannot do, it is always your choice that has the power to change things.

Topic initiator announces her topic during generation

We were quite worried whether people would come up and initiate topics but the response was excellent. A topic can be a question to seek advice or a sharing about something as long you have the passion and willing to take the responsibility for it. When there were sufficient topics, attendees voted and created the agenda in space/time matrix.

Voting
Space/Time Matrix curated at the end of Friday. What happen to the topics that didn’t have a space? “Wherever it is, is the right place!”

The breakout sessions happens concurrently in different spaces throughout the whole Saturday.

Space/Time Matrix at visible area where people decides where to go
A session: Andy Marks giving CI In A Lean Startup World
A session: Paul giving Pair Programming Done Right

After the conference, the topics are recorded in the conference wiki and participants are invited to contribute the content. If you want to hear what others think of CITCON, Riju Kansal has written a post.

Thank you for joining!

The insights from this experience gave us greater confidence that Open Space could work well for regular meetups. In the next part, I’ll share how we got started.

Go to part 3

Stanly Lau

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