barcamps and PM Camp (2) – Why They Are Such A Success.

Being one of the initiators of PM Camp, I will start by writing a series of articles with information and advice on barcamps and PM Camps. Simply because PM Camps are such a great thing and such a huge success. And because I will be truly happy if their number continues to grow!

I already told you how everything started for me with respect to barcamps. Today, I will tell you why I enjoy them so much.

Why are barcamps such a huge succes?

During a barcamp, everything depends on the people attending it. The realization and the success of the barcamp, the joy and delight, the quality of discussions and of the results, the degree of knowledge increase, the development of consensus, the experience of meeting new persons and the building up of new contacts – all of these things and much more cause people who attend to share their experience and knowledge.

All participants together take responsibility for the success of the “Camp”.

The same is true for the PM Camp. That is how we call our barcamp for Project Management (PM). “Project Management” is metaphorical for leadership, management and entrepreneurship. Actually, PM Camp wants to reach out to people who are prepared to take responsibility and to shape our social future together with other persons.

We have now come to the stage where PM Camps already take place in many locations. This September, there will be one Berlin #pmcamp13ber. The November PM at Dornbirn of 2013 will already be the third of its kind after 2012 and 2011. And this year we also already had PM Camps in Stuttgart #pmcamp13str, Vienna #pmcam13vie (this was the second time there) and in Bad Homburg #pmcamp13rm. And there will probably also soon be one in Hamburg.

Each PM Camp is organized by a local “organization team”, usually consisting of between three and five persons acting as honorary hosts. Together with the PM Camp protagonists and friends of openPM, they plan, communicate and prepare the event and try to organize everything as best they can.

The ideal number of participants is said to be between fifty and a hundred. You have to look for suitable locations, which is not always an easy task. In order to avoid collisions, the date must be coordinated with the other PM Camps. You have to find sponsors who pay part of the cost, yet do not wish to dominate the entire event. Thanks to these sponsors, the price for the participants can be kept low and still the PM Camps remain independent.

Where it makes sense, the organization team will also invite the rare impulse speaker, keeping in mind that the major part of a PM Camp must remain free of speakers. After all, the participants are supposed to shape “their” conference.

Organization teams also like giving their PM Camp a “motto”, thus communicating their “mind-set”. In Stuttgart, the message was “Humans Are Not Resources”   and in Bad Homburg it was “Enterprises, Responsibility, Knowledge“. In my opinion, these are all very beautiful statements.

Once a year, the representatives of all organization teams meet with the PM Camp core team protagonists. These are the persons who organized the first PM Camp at Dornbirn in 2011, thereby initiating the PM Camps.  Currently, the core team members are Eileen Hörtreiter, Dr. Eberhard Huber, Dr. Marcus Raitner, Roland Dürre and Dr. Stefan Hagen.

The Dornbirn PM Camp of 2011 was planned for DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). It turned out to be a very nice experience, thus motivating many friends – as well as ourselves – to repeat the event on a yearly basis and transport it to as many regions as possible.  We never dreamed that this one PM Camp might have so many other PM Camps following in its wake in so many more locations.

On the whole, PM Camp wants to be a face2face movement supplementing openPM. Besides the virtual platform #openPM, we also organize meetings “where you see each other”.

Usually, a PM Camp will be two days. During the day, you work hard, in the evening of the first day, you party hard. Some participants meet as early as the evening before the PM Camp starts for a walk&talk or cosy chat – simply in order to meet old friends and get into the mood for the PM Camp.

Then the day comes – and the PM Camp actually takes place. You meet at the agreed time and place, perhaps do a little “ice-breaking”, remind everybody of the central barcamp rules (“what happens is right”, “over is over”, “law of steps”, “freedom”,…) – even though most of the participants already know them. And then we start! “Consumers become producers” and in no time, you have a wonderful session schedule.

Here is another summary note: PM Camp and barcamps are such a success because they actually are self-organized and self-determined, both with respect to content and timing!

These sessions are the central piece of all PM Camps. For the participants, it may well be beneficial if they prepare in advance by thinking about topics important for them. That would enable them to have their own session as early as their first PM Camp. In order to give you a little help, my next article will describe what happens in a session.

(Translated by EG)

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