Classic conference formats have both advantages and disadvantages. One advantage, for example, is that the schedule can be planned in advance, which (hopefully) ensures that the content of the conference is of a high quality and participants know from the outset exactly what they have signed up for.
However, one disadvantage that must be borne in mind when choosing this approach is that the classic conference structure tends to be purely based on the participants listening to a speaker at the front of a room. Full interaction, an interchange of ideas between the speakers and the audience and among the audience is left to chance or takes place during five minute Q&A slots at the end of the presentation.
New types of event formats such as Open Space, Barcamp and World Café have been created in response to the limitations of the classic format and out of the need to develop a new type of event format. In this case, the programme is not specified in advance, but is based on interactions between everyone involved. The participants are the main focus and they engage with the different themes in a spontaneous way. They also suggest their own topics for discussion, which are tackled together on a level playing field.
Barcamps enable you to become an active rather than a passive participant
The time and place of the barcamp are fixed and the event usually lasts two days. The first item on the agenda is to explore which themes will be introduced, by whom and in which form. This is known as session planning. Each participant is allowed to have his or her say, but there is naturally no obligation to say anything at all. However, each person is expected to contribute something, which is why barcamp attendees are, somewhat pointedly, described as contributors rather than participants. There are many ways to contribute, such as running sessions, giving a presentation, providing text or photographic documentation, posting information on social media etc, etc.
Barcamps can be run in a non-specific way, that is to say the theme is completely open, and they can also be based on a specific theme, for example StartupCamp, LiteratureCamp, BBQCamp, FireProtectionCamp and FoodBloggerCamp. In 2011 a team from Dornbirn in Austria initiated the first barcamp based on the theme of project management. PM Camp was born!
This idea quickly gained momentum and there are now PM camps in many European cities, including Vienna, Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Zürich and Barcelona. The fourth PM Camp in Munich will take place this year from the evening of 29/06 (get-together) to 01/07.
Positive feedback from the Munich PM Camp
As well as the core project management topics, typical themes that are discussed at a PM Camp include a broad range of peripheral subjects such as Agile methods, Lean management, post-Taylorist businesses, startups, New Work, organisational culture, organisational development, Work 4.0, knowledge-based society etc.
According to the positive feedback submitted over the past few years, the Munich PM Camp is particularly successful because of the open and constructive atmosphere that facilitates the exchange of ideas on equal terms both with people who think alike and with those who approach things from a different standpoint.
This interchange of ideas and viewpoints makes a barcamp a catalyst for change for all those who contribute. On the whole, participating in a barcamp will enable you to return to your own workplace fully energised with lots of new contacts, new ideas and new tools and you will feel motivated to try out something new and to initiate changes.
Spending time together in a PM Camp also produces practical results: the openPM platform is one such outcome, which was created to document all additional results.
As a global association for project managers we firmly support this format and are pleased when our candidates take part in a PM camp. We would therefore be pleased to receive any accounts of your experiences and impressions.
Further information on the PM Camp can be found here:
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