Photo Credit: @elight
This last weekend Arlington Ruby hosted our semi regular unconference known as Ruby Retrocession. Or RetroRuby when you have a character limit.
As is normal in an Open Space event, we held a retrospective at the end. I thought it would be good to write some of that up. To help me remember, or perhaps help someone else who is participating or organizing something like this.
We wanted to supply coffee, lunch and an after party/social event. We did this...mostly.
We had good coffee in the morning, but failed to get any for the afternoon. The morning Coffee came from Northside Social and was pretty tasty, we just got too caught up in running things that we should have delegated to someone to run and get things at the right time.
This brings up a good point. I think in the future I would find one volunteer who's sole responsibility is coordinating food. They can delegate, but it's their job to make sure it gets done. That person shouldn't be doing anything else other than attending. They would also have a means to pay.
I had a blast picking up the tab for 100 of my closest friends at El Pollo Rico, but it would have been smarter to have someone else there to swipe the card.
Explain better up front
The second most valuable feedback we had was to explain what the expectations are. With the format we had it is on the participants to get value out of the events. We needed to explain that better. A few points:
- Rule of two feet: If you are in a session and it is not helpful -- get up and go. It's not insulting to anyone for you to leave. It's better to get up and wonder out than pull out the computer and reading email.
- Coordinate smaller groups. If there something in particular you are interested in, or need help on -- ask folks. See if you can get a little side group that can hack on something or discuss a narrower topic. This needed to be encouraged more. Perhaps some dedicated space for just this. Also a time for people to announce what they are working on or need help with.
Structure on the Newbie Track is a good thing
The newbie track had much more structure, and it turns out that is a good thing. I had almost nothing to do with it (aside from being volentold to help with one of the sessions) and it was all Allison and Kalimar. They really did a fantastic job. All the feedback we got from the beginners was glowing. The only comments were that an in-between complete beginner (no clue about the command line) and beginner at ruby (programed before just new to the ruby eco system) would have been helpful for some folks.
To all the volunteers and sponsors we had this year, you guys rock. Thanks. Without your help we couldn't have pulled this off.