a blog on sparkly devops.

Idea Generation Summary

Today we had a CoffeeOps DevOpsDays Silicon Valley Idea Generation event, and I had a ton of fun. I led an Open Space at Chef Summit last year which included an idea generation exercise and I followed that format.

We started off in normal SV CoffeeOps style chatting around topics. We then took a look at the current proposals, reading off the titles to prime the creativity pump. I had everyone take 5 minutes to just think about their feels and any ideas. Everyone wanted to start writing so I pushed a little on that. We ended up only “thinking” for 3 minutes.

Then, for 5 minutes we used postits to write down ideas, 1 idea per postit. If you want to host an event like this yourself, figure out what works for your group. The most important items is that everyone gets primed through some mechanism, the process is explained with supporting tools as needed (whiteboard, postits, etc), and everyone gets the opportunity to share.

Because I know the folks who showed, I forgot to explicitly express “This is a safe space with no stupid ideas”. Sometimes I go so far as to say “stupid” is banned. This is really important to level set expectations around communicating within a group setting especially with folks who may not know each other well.

Since we were a small group, I changed up the format from Chef Summit, and we each shared an idea and then discussed the ideas for that round. Time flew by so quickly that we didn’t get a chance to brainstorm through all of the ideas.

I did take a few minutes at the end to share Julie Gunderson’s Embracing My Sparkle Ignite. We had gotten in a discussion about what can be shared in 5 minutes. My feeling is that an effective ignite means that you distill down your content to the most essential. You might not say everything you feel on a topic, but you say enough to start conversations.

With the permission of my fellow attendees, I’m sharing some of the talk ideas that we came up with. If you are interested in adding your own, taking one of these and expanding on it, please do.

If you are taking one of the ideas, please update the spreadsheet and in the second column comment so folks know that you are planning on using that topic. If someone is doing an idea that you are interested in, just update the column with your name too. You might even consider reaching out and working together on the topic. Everyone has a different perspective, so it’s entirely possible that you’ll approach the same idea in completey different unique ways!

Note, that these are potential topics, not necessarily titles.

As a location, Crema Coffee Roasting Company has a great space, delicious beverages, gelato and friendly staff. I totally encourage folks in the South Bay to consider it as an option to do these kind of small group events.

About the Chef Summit

By the way, if you have the opportunity you should totally go to Chef Community Summit. It’s much smaller than Chef Conference, allowing for deep dives on subjects from training to community building, from developing for a specific product, to learning to contribute as a new person in a community. There is one in Seattle and one in London this year.

While the Chef Summit does give people the opportunity to connect with Chef engineers, more importantly it gives people the opportunity to connect with one another. A key pillar of Effective Devops is affinity; the strength of relationships between individuals, teams, organizations, and even companies. Within the context of describing work, it is generally broken down into 4 categories: reactionary, planning, procedural, and problem solving. I think there is a fifth category that is often overlooked: relationship work.

Relationship work is a catalyst, facilitating all the other kinds of work so that it shortens the time to get other work done, reducing communication barriers, and building trust based on regard. Summit is an opportunity for people to build and strengthen relationships between organizations allowing companies to cross-pollinate ideas and technology, work on building affinity at a larger scale than a coffeeops event.

Affinity is hard to measure. Even harder is measuring and exposing the value of relationship work. I see the outcomes in the community as companies host their own internal knowledge sharing events encouraging inter-company cooperation based off of stronger affinity. I’d love the opportunity to talk about this with others in upcoming open spaces!

Thank you, Linda and Jonathan for a great evening of shared idea generation and discussion. I look forward to your awesome proposals!