These are a few notes about my experience at OpenCon 2017. There are taken verbatim from the feedback form I submitted to the organisers; I was planning to write a longer piece immediately after the conference but I arrived home to the sad news that one of my beloved cats had passed away, so I had other priorities that week.
Do you have any comments on the Story Circle?
It was great! I’m really glad we did that. Some people were able to really open up and tell important things about themselves and it helped us understand more about where people are coming from. Making yourself vulnerable in that way is very difficult for some people, and I understand why not everyone chose to reveal much personal information and concentrate on their work instead, but there was still a great variety of stories in our group. Do this every year please.
Do you have any comments on your experience during your regional workshop session?
It was very useful to have the regional focus, because there was enough common ground that we could start working straight away. However, the obvious corollary to this focus is that we spent a lot of time with people with a similar background (and some of whom I already knew), so there was less opportunity to spend time talking with people from different backgrounds. It’s a tricky balance because I completely see the value of working on regional problems (the LatAm group seemed to have a great time!) but at the same time it takes quite a lot of space on the program away from opportunities to learn from people’s experiences that you otherwise might not encounter – which is one of the most important things about OpenCon.
Do you have any comments on the use of design thinking methods at OpenCon this year?
I was a big fan of the design thinking methods. Personally my approach to working on openness has changed over the past few years to a much more critical one, and I have little interest in the ‘solutionism’ that is too prevalent – i.e. people see a problem and dive right in to find a (usually technical) solution based on what they happen to know at the time, rather than taking the time to understand the situation more fully. Quicker is not always better. The design thinking approach is a really interesting way to work around this; even when it is used to find answers to problems, it centres the human experience and makes people think more carefully. Huge thanks to Lorraine especially for their work on this – the webcast was really useful to watch beforehand so I was already oriented before the session.
Please let us know any feedback, comments, or reflections on OpenCon 2017. We are especially happy to hear constructive criticism and how we may improve the meeting.
The doughnuts on Monday morning were a particular highlight. More doughnuts please. Also, three days of this is quite exhausting, so I still believe that a scheduled nap time would improve the meeting.