One of the earliest Jul 2012 Open Space artefacts I can find
Stanly Lau
May 23, 2016 · 4 min read

I was inspired by the high amount of discussions, ideas and engagement in CITCON (see part 2) that I decided to try Open Space for the following month’s meetup in May 2012. At first 25 attended, then 8, then 13, 15, 28, 25, 20, 30, 34, etc. I continued to use my office as a venue at the beginning and shared the organising work with my colleagues, Stuart Turner and Darren Lai (then).

Breakout session. Making use of every inch in our office as spaces.
30+ people is a stretch, we need to find an alternative venue!

Sometimes, we were invited to use a larger venue like Credit Suisse, Microsoft (had a whopping 60+ people turned up!) and PayPal. We were trying to find a long-term venue that can host up to 60 people. The real switch came when IDA Labs @ National Design Centre started and the friendly folks there can sponsor their venue for free community events.

First time at IDA Labs in March 2014 meetup. Much more spacious!
June 2014 meetup organized by Farid (in light blue, left)

The venue at IDA Labs last until I received news from Amol Pradhan in Barclays wanted to sponsor their venue for the regular meetups. After a few times at Barclays, we decided to switch there as it can hold more people well seating in a circle and also attracts Barclays’ staff.

First time at Barclays, Aug 2014 meetup
Did you spot Michael Feathers?
Sometimes we do have small turnout

As of April 2016, Barclays venue is unavailable and thanks to the folks at IDA, we can continue to use either IDA Hive at Sandcrawler or IDA Labs at NDC for long term basis.

Mar 2016 meetup at IDA Hive

Open Space is very effective in connecting people based on their shared interest in a short amount of time. It is also a place where people can experience what self-organising is like. Over the years, I heard some people got inspired and tried something similar in their company which opens up their communication. Here are some feedback from past meetups:

very interesting and relevant discussion topics and interaction, love it!

i really liked the open format of the discussions and how everyone can chip in with ideas and comments.

Highly informative. Curve was mildly steep for an absolute Agile virgin but Open Space “technique” was a great way for domain experts to share what they know/experienced.

A few who told me they’re introverts were surprised by their ability to speak in front of a group and they somehow forgot their fears in that environment.

The Open Space meetups were also less attractive to some. A few shared it was common to find novice topics and the Agile experience of most attendees weren’t high. Furthermore, the uncertainty of the topics before the meetup made it hard to determine the value of time investing in it.

We’ve thought about doing something different but we continued with Open Space for two reasons. First, it eases organising, and second it supports growing of volunteers from the community to run the events independently from me. At least these were the consideration back then in the past. Since the start of 2016, the regular meetups are fully run by a group of volunteers without my involvement. Who knows what new changes they’ll bring? =)

In the next part, I’ll share how we grow volunteers that gave rise to the organising group for regular meetups you know today.

See Part 4

Stanly Lau

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