Opening the Space at Closing

Linda Stevenson stevensn at
Mon Dec 14 12:45:53 PST 1998


At the close of a two day Open Space for a division of a governmental
agency in Michigan I drew Harrisons hypothetical diagram (from the OS
training workshop) to explain what the possibilities are after the initial
Open Space event, namely, do-its, get more info and then do-it, or get more
info and do a mini-Open Space.  This diagram drawn on a flipchart looks
like a neural network depending on the outcomes of the initial Open Space
as well as the outcomes of the do-its and the more infos.

During a late lunch hour on day two the proceedings had been printed up
from the use of lap-tops and copied.  So after drawing Harrisons diagram, I
distributed the copies of the proceedings and asked participants to take
about a half hour to read the sessions through noting what each one thought
were possible do-its or more infos and then noting which ones of each they
personally had passion for and were willling to take responsibility for -
whether they had participated in the session or not.

When all had finished reading and making notes, sitting in the circle and
calling out one item at a time, we filled about six flip chart pieces of
paper with the do-its and more infos (about five items per flip chart
paper).  As each one was transcribed onto the flip chart I left room at the
left-hand margin to indicate which it was:  the do-its were symbolized by
a green rectangle that said do-it in the center and the more-infos were
labelled with a red triangle that said more-info in the center.  I left
room after the description and then drew a line across the page before the
next one was listed.  This was fast, furious, and fun with great

When all the lists were posted on a blank wall (which was the opposite
wall from the agenda which was still there from day one), I asked them to
peruse the wall and sign-up for each do-it and more-info they had passion
for and were willing to take responsibility for seeing it happen.

It was like a mirror image of opening the space and efficiently created an
action plan of about 30 do-its and more infos to take home with them.  The
group was about 25 people, and the CEO was not a control freak, obviously;
she thought this was effective as well as an opportunity for a few who
couldnUt attend to jump in when they returned.

We then did the traditional closing using a talking-stick about what was
different and what it meant. My guess is this would work with a larger
group as well as long as the CEO is really open to self-organization and
agrees to doing this ahead of time.

After the Open Space the tasks were listed on a shared computer drive and
are being deleted as they are completed; a separate planning meeting was
held around tasks related to planning issues; and the appropriate use of
more OS is in the works.

For those of you who may be interested, I did move from Michigan to
Colorado last summer, and the new address and phones are:

Linda Stevenson
609 Cascade Avenue
Boulder, CO 80302

telephone:  303-247-0946
fax:  303-247-0952
email:  stevensn at

The very happiest of holidays and hope to see many of you in 1999

 and to share a quote composed by Rumi and Shams

                Someone who doesnUt make flowers makes thorns.
                If youUre not building rooms where wisdom
                can be openly spoken, youUre building a prison.

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