Opening Small Spaces

owen owen at
Tue Dec 15 02:45:28 PST 1998

At 05:20 PM 12/14/1998 -0800, you wrote:
>I have been pondering a question on the opposite side of the Day 2 bounce.
>(Thanks for the great term, Jay)  Recently, with several potential
>clients where I've mentioned OS, I've heard, "oh, we did that a
>while ago and it didn't work."  When I dig a little deeper, what I
>frequently find is that people spent a few hours in a larger meeting in
>"open space."
>And yet there are many stories of small spaces working well and making a
>difference.  I have heard most of those stories from practitioners.  Most of
>the stories I hear of OS "not working"  come from potential clients, often
>describing small spaces.
>So, I wonder what makes the difference in opening small spaces.  Is it the
>resonance of the theme?  The "tightness" or "looseness" of the community?
>The context in which the space is being opened?
>Anyone have some thoughts on this?
>Peg Holman
Peg, I think it may be all of the above. Personally, I usually refuse to do
a "little Open Space" for the very reasons you site, and also those
mentioned by Chris Kloth. If it is worth while doing, it is worth while
doing well. There are exceptions. for example when a group has used Open
Space before, particularly if they are "old hands" a little open space (an
hour or less) works out quite well. Another situation I would go for is
when there are no alternatives. On several occasions i found myself in
rather interesting spots where a lot had to be done very quickly and the
alternatives were just unthinkable -- like seriously bad. Open Space works
just fine. So the two factors i would mention are experience and urgency.
given plenty of both go for the short ones. Otherwise, otherwise. h.

And for sure, NEVER try to "demonstrate" Open Space. It's a real bummer and
definitely doesn't work at any level.

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