Thursday, 16 May 2013

Free Jam

Have you ever felt bored in technical conferences? Long talks, presentations that did not hit your spot, although the topic sounded interesting. Hey, we are engineers, we want to build!

This idea came to me from the Open Spaces. Open Space is a great way to have dynamic discussions around the topics. The whole nature is, that people are voting with their feet and it’s ok! The process of free jam is so simple, that it made me almost embarrassed to see it working.

All workshops, presentations, etc are coming from the people inside the organisation. There are absolutely no pre-selections. Before the event itself, there was a whiteboard, in a very popular place where people are passing by on daily basis. With the post-it notes, people could propose things they wanted to learn about and things they were ready to present. This is only preliminary input for the session itself.

In the session, there were numbered tables. We called those tables “resources”. There were also three white boards

- the Wishlist, here people could write what they wanted to learn more about.
- Ready to Rock, in this one, there were things were a presenter had volunteered for.
- There were two things in the last one.
- WIP, if people had chosen a topic they could reserved the table here. There were columns as many as tables.
- Done. Things that were ready.

When there was enough people around the topic, they could choose a free table. They worked around the topic as long a they wanted and when they were ready, they freed the resource for the next session.

And what kind of topics were there? Learning coding skills, playing with the gerrit, presentation about Cloud Technologies. etc. There were no limitations how and what you can have there.

How this all came together? Extremely well, there were almost no hassle at the beginning and people were enjoying their time to learn new things. Should we do this again? Absolutely YES.