Michael Lanyon's Blog Notes and thoughts from LanyonM

A Participant's Conference - DevOpsDays Chicago 2015


Last week was DevOpsDays Chicago 2015, my second DevOpsDays Chicago as a co-organizer. We learned a lot in our first year, and I feel that we improved substantially this time around. The anecdotal feedback over the past several days has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s bolstering to feel that outpouring of appreciation after putting in so much effort. My experience as an organizer was much improved as well. We avoided bike-shedding as much as possible, more clearly divided responsibilities, and did our best to improve on our shortcomings in 2014.

There are most certainly aspects of the event that we can and will continue to improve upon. We have started the post-mortem process and will be publishing both the 2015 and 2014 post-mortem documents. Keep an eye out for that.

I wasn’t planning on typing up my thoughts about the conference, but a post by Carolyn Van Slyck has been on my mind…


"DevOpsDays is a participant's conference"

I’m not sure where I picked up the idea, but I recall saying it in our organizer Slack channel during the run-up to the 2014 event. It is not a platitude. It is at the heart of what makes DevOpsDays an amazing conference series. Open Spaces are typically a new experience for first-time participants and sometimes even dreaded due to the apparent chaos of unstructured time, but every anecdote I heard this year about Open Spaces was it being the best part of the conference.

It was my honor and responsibility this year to open the conference. It was with incredible pride that I was able to ask everyone to look down at their badge and see that they are a participant at DevOpsDays, to say that the DevOpsDays community values respect, inclusiveness, and diversity, to say that DevOpsDays is a safe space and remind everyone to be cognizant, and finally to say that whether or not they realized it at the time, their contributions to the community would be valued and respected.

These statements are backed by our Code Of Conduct. Originally introduced by DevOpsDays Pittsburgh, this code has become the template used by DevOpsDays events. It conveys a strong belief that is strongly held. As a participant I have spoken up when I have felt the code is violated. As an organizer, it was and is a guide for the tone to set.

I also introduced Open Spaces, and while I’ll never hold a candle to Patrick’s introduction I tried to extend the tone of respect and inclusiveness into the four principles of Open Spaces:

  • Whoever comes is the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over

I heard these statements repeated throughout the afternoon as if to confirm that it is indeed okay to leave an Open Space you’re no longer engaged with or continue an Open Space that isn’t over. Yes, absolutely.


Experiences like Carolyn’s are what I and my co-organizers had hoped to nurture. A supportive community that isn’t just open to dialog, but actually encourages communication and sharing. At the end of DevOpsDays Chicago 2014, I felt like I’d submitted a huge PR to critical OSS that I’d been using for years - exhausted, but happy. This year, I feel pride of stewardship and for being part of something that is helping make peoples’ lives better.


I’d like to thank the DevOpsDays Chicago 2015 participants, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and support folks. The community that we convene for just a couple days is why I wanted to organize once again this year. I’d also like to thank my co-organizers. It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if you weren’t all awesome.

The DevOpsDays Chicago 2015 Organizing Team