Roland Dürre
Saturday April 23rd, 2016

New Barcamps is What the Country Needs!

Now I know why my enthusiasm about barcamps is dwindling …

PM_BannerDiese Woche war This week, I was invited to attend the first (!) barcamp organized by one of the really huge German world concerns in their enterprise building. The “anti-conference” was announced as an experiment and was about “modern leadership principles“.

They wanted to try something new and invited around 50 internal employees and a few external persons (one of whom was me). Almost all of the concern employees were young “high potentials”, among them many personal assistants of directors or persons responsible for a sector of product.

With respect to the degree of freedom, the barcamp was a little restricted. For instance, the “feet principle” and the roles of “butterflies and bees” were intentionally not formulated. When I asked about those, the organizers told me they had been afraid that this would have been a little too much innovation – a fear that I do not happen to

But: the event was an extremely good experience.

To me, it seemed that, after a short phase of scepticism, all participants were really enthusiastic and active. And that it was a great thing for all parties concerned. Not one of the participants had actively prepared for the event by writing a presentation or some such! Consequently, all session givers formulated their problems, anxieties and experiences spontaneously after having spent only a short time pondering. And that really found its target – in the sessions, we always worked on topics that seemed really important and very exciting.

I, too, again, learned a lot and was truly glad to have been there. In particular, I now understand far better how huge concerned work today when it comes to leadership and management. As an extra knowledge increase, I also realized that, today, it is actually no longer the rule that new products need to be found useful by the customer.

In fact, first and foremost, it is all about evaluating where and if there are under-provided sectors on the market (product-free spaces), yet where the majority of persons who have been asked think they might need it.

As soon as this requirement is met, all you have to do is come up with a good marketing strategy and a concept that will make a basic scaling and good profit (production costs / price acceptable for the buyer) possible. I was actually a little taken aback when I heard that the usefulness of a product no longer plays any role when it comes to creative planning.

However, one (indirect and), for me, very important realization was (and this is why I write this article) that this “concern barcamp” made me aware of why I get more and more tired of barcamps:

The longer you have had a barcamp, the more people come with topics they prepared at home. They no longer formulate what is on their minds spontaneously and/or in the context of what actually happens.

pmcamp3Unfortunately, this is a tendency I see more and more often in the once so much-loved PM-Camps that, so far, I have always remained true to. And when I am there, I mostly stay in the coffee room and talk to the many great persons present. Also, it seems to me that, as the years go by, other barcamps have more and more “ready-made” session, which causes the anti-conference to slightly differ only in one respect from the good old classical conference: its format-based freedom.

Here is a possible solution to the problem:

a) communicate in no uncertain terms that it is better to let the moment determine what happens on a barcamp and have sessions develop from the individual and shared situation and

b) make the planning phases more iterative and “shared” (i.e. just fix the sessions for the morning after breakfast, then reflect in the forum for a short time what is going to happen and what should be continued).

To be sure, the constant tightrope walk between individually (alone) and collectively (together) and between agile and planned in advance is certainly not something easily done. But that does not mean we should not keep trying.

(Translated by EG)

2 Kommentare zu “New Barcamps is What the Country Needs!”

  1. Thomas Michl (Sunday April 24th, 2016)

    Auf den Punkt gebracht! Dafür ein herzliches Dankeschön.

  2. Ich lasse meinen Koffer zuhause … (Michael) - PM Camp München (Tuesday May 24th, 2016)

    […] diesmal nichts „Vorbereitetes“ zum PM-Camp mitbringen. Frei nach @RolandDuerre, der in seinem Blog wieder zu mehr Spontanität bei BarCamps aufgerufen […]

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