David Cox dwcox at
Wed Sep 2 12:59:37 PDT 1998

My name is David Cox and I am a dept chair (and prof of ed) at Arkansas State
Univ.  I attended an OS training event in August in Maine with Harrison Owen
and Sue Inches.  I have just joined this listserv.

I am getting ready to hold my first Open Space.  I have sold the concept to the
Vice President for Academic Affairs.  He is willing to trust me with his annual
retreat for Academic Affairs Sept 17 (all day) and Sept 18 (half day).  The group
is about 25 in number.  About 7 Deans are included in the 25.  I don't want to
mess up (at least not big time) my first time out of the chute.

I have four questions I would like some help with.  (I have e-mailed both
Harrison and Sue, but I don't their schedules.  They may not have time to get
back to me.)

(1) As it stands right now attendance at the retreat is expected and not
voluntary.  I would prefer it be voluntary but I don't think I can sell the Vice
President on that.  As a manager he expects his people to be there. I can see
that the Law of Two Feet is honored during Open Space, but am I making a big
mistake by not insisting on a voluntary retreat?  If the retreat itself is not
voluntary should I back out?  Will it work to honor voluntary participation during
the retreat?

(2) With only a day and a half to work with, am I okay to ask for written reports
at the end of day 1?  (I'll print overnight and do the prioritization, convergence,
action stuff on the morning of day 2)

(3) Is there a rule of thumb for how many breakout spaces and rooms you plan
for during a one and a half hour session?  I know the book says 5 breakout
rooms for 100 people, but what about rooms AND spaces.  When I prepare the
time matrix, how many breakouts (post its with time and location) do I have for
a particular session (e.g., 10:30 to 12:00)?
For a group of 25, 4 breakouts, 3, 6,?

(4) If you folks recommend (for example) 4 breakouts per session and I have 3
sessions in day 1, that allows for 12 issues to emerge.  What would I do if
more than 12 issues surfaced?  Isn't it important for everyone to get their stuff

I hope somebody out there can give me some quick guidance.
Excitement combined with a little anxiety has set in.
Thank you so much!

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