open space and convergence

Larry Peterson lpasoc at
Tue Nov 3 06:33:03 PST 1998


As we talked in person, I still see what happens in what has been called
convergence as being different from what happens in the more
"self-organizing part" of an event which feels to me is more like Open
Space. I don't think the metaphor of individual, group and corporate works
because the more guided sessions I lead after the self-organizing pare not
always about corporate convergence. They are sometimes about identifying
individual learning and strategizing to apply that learning back home--if
Open Space is being used as part of a learning event or a conference where
people are not nor will be "corporate". I have "converged" the reports from
the self-organizing part into teams rather than the whole organization.
That client wanted to strengthen team development and priority setting. The
teams set priorities for their own work based on the Open Space reports,
and there were many teams with 500 people. They covered many of the reports
and did have the freedom to continue work on those back at the

I also see people using many different types of processes for the focusing
of the energy that has emerged. Trees, mind-maps, priority setting (in a
variety of ways), small groups (self-selected usually) or "another" opening
of the space. There is some self-organizing, but it is usually much more
guided. The facilitator is "up-front" giving directions or facilitating in
most of those approaches. If the facilitator is giving directions every 1.5
hours, then to me the form is much more like Real Time or Future Search.
The content may very well be different---focusing on the energy/spirit that
has "emerged" or now exists in the room rather than the ideas per se
(except those that are doing mind maps). However, the relationship of the
facilitator to the group is different, from my experience, than that of
letting-go.  The "edge of chaos" at the wall of Open Space makes the
framing of the content it less guided by facilitator.

I have had real success closing the Open Space and then moving into a
processes that helps participants focus their energy and determine next
steps. Following that with a "closure for the event process" works well for
me, but I do not usually use the "talking stick" then, although I have on
occasion. I do not use a talking stick process for morning and evening
news. The closure for the event all depends on where Open Space is
positioned in the event.

Lets keep this conversation going as I also know the desire to see every
thing as Open Space when we are focusing on spirit and energy in its many


Larry Peterson
Associates in Transformation
41 Appleton Ave., Toronto, ON,
Canada, M6E 3A4
Tel:/Fax: 416-653-4829

lpasoc at

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