After a great weekend in Seattle for the ALT.NET Open Spaces event (aside from a slight error in judgement on Friday night as depicted in this blog post), the two coworkers and I discussed how we could bring the experience of Open Spaces back to the team in Tulsa. We decided that instead of just giving a few talks about some of the things we took away from Seattle, we would bring the experience itself to the team.

At the end of our team meeting on Monday, we laid out some paper and pens and asked members of the team to write up topics that they wanted to discuss. It started a bit slow, but within minutes we had eighteen topics on the wall. The variety of topics was excellent, most of which targeted a different subset of the team. It was great to see the team come up with such a nice list of things for the team to discuss.

We then drew a grid of time slots on the whiteboard and asked the team to put their initials on the topics they wanted to attend. As the papers filled up, we started aligning them into the grid based on popularity and expected duration. We tried to keep all of them to an hour but some of the topics were given ninety minutes based on the content.

We had to negotiate on some of the topics to fit our time slots, and combined a couple of similar discussions into the same time period so that we could maximize our coverage over the next few days. Some topics were brought up that are timely to an upcoming release of our software, so those were given a slight priority in the schedule.

Overall, I was very impressed with the contributions by the team. Topics included things like “maximizing the use of Resharper”, “What are unit tests”, and “How can we test better?” With the large number of topics on the schedule, we’re hoping that we can set aside a couple of days a week (maybe Tuesday and Thursday over lunch) to continue with more discussions. I’ll be sure to post a follow up as things unfold over the next week.