The law of two feet
This rule states that if you are not contributing or adding value to the session you are attending, you can move elsewhere. There could be a session in which you can contribute more.
In fact, one of the peculiar characteristics of this conference is the freedom of moving among sessions, which is not perceived as rudeness or lack of respect.
We are bumblebees and butterflies
To explain the law of the two feet, we might use a metaphor: let’s think about the participants of an unconference as bumblebees and butterflies.
Bumblebees are noisy and move from one place to another pollinating and fertilizing; butterflies are quiet and continuously move to make participants feel comfortable.
This metaphor helps to understand how important the role of the participants is for the event’s success. Participants are no longer just spectators but real actors of the day.
Making participants aware of the importance of their role makes them automatically much more likely to contribute. The sessions, the moments of discussion, the unexpected situations make the unconference a successful event, enabling creativity, new perspectives, and new energies to be brought into daily work.
We have mentioned several times how the organization of the space is important for the success of the event. Therefore, special attention should be placed on it, especially when organizing a remote unconference.
So let’s see how the organization of space takes place in a live conference and how we have equipped ourselves to run it remotely.
A face‑to‑face event
For a face‑to‑face event there are some aspects to always keep in mind.
Location: we need to choose a pleasant place. The event we are organizing is out of the ordinary, but it will still be challenging, as it takes up the whole day. We are organizing an unusual event that will be demanding and will last a whole day. A well‑kept space immediately creates the right atmosphere and puts people at ease.
The location must certainly have a good Wi‑Fi connection and the spaces that we will describe below.
A room for the plenary session and the marketplace. The day is held in several rooms, but one of them must be big enough to host everyone for plenary sessions that take place at the beginning and end of the day.
The rooms. All the rooms must be equipped to facilitate any type of session. Therefore, it is necessary to have a projector or screen, a flipchart or a blackboard (or both), paper and pens, post‑it and paper tape, outlets, movable tables, and chairs.
Additional spaces. In addition to the equipped rooms, it is important to provide the space for spontaneous meetings that can take place between people who are not following sessions, or where lunch and coffee breaks are served.
So here we are: how do we organize an event whose spaces are so important, remotely? It can be done. We have experienced it and we will tell you about it.
For us, the unconference is a very important moment of the year and it is held twice a year.
On both occasions, we dedicate some time for a plenary session in which we present the year’s overview as well as last year’s, goals and achievements etc. For these reasons, it’s a precious appointment for us.
March 2020 was the designated month to host our unconference in our brand‑new very spacious headquarters. But it didn’t happen. So, let’s see step by step the tools and the planning that any company can experience, and greatly benefit from, as we did.
The day. We decided to split the event into two half days to avoid wearing headphones for 8 hours in a row and, above all, being too tired to give our contribution as bumblebees and butterflies.
The marketplace. This was really a big question mark. The beating heart of the event, that is supposed to be held together at the beginning of the day, needed to be changed.
Therefore, we decided to use a shared document and we opened the marketplace a few days before the event, in order to avoid confusion and waste of time on the day of the event.
Everyone had the opportunity to write down their speech and comment on the file, a little before the date of the event.
Then, we moved the agenda to Mirò, and there it was much easier to do a little bit of session exchange and reorganization of the agenda at the beginning of the event.
Mirò was a very valuable support tool as it made the use of the agenda easier and made workshops simple and fun.
An example was the workshop of one of our Product Owner, Edoardo, that you can read in this article.