Dialogue at end of OS

Larry Peterson lpasoc at inforamp.net
Tue Sep 1 06:28:46 PDT 1998

Diane et al:

Only in very small groups have I encouraged people to report back verbally
to the whole group some of the outcomes of their Open Space discussions. I
let the written report do the report back for larger groups (over 25). With
300 I would certainly not have verbal group reports. I would also use the
computer software from task if selecting top priorities is required by the

As you know, I work hard with the sponsors to get clarity on the parameters
for action before the Open Space event. They state those at the beginning
and at the end so that some things are clearly actionable. If there is a
need and desire for the sponsors to comment on what actions they will take
as a result they can do that. However, I always close the space at the end
of the "self-organizing" part and before the convergence. Then in
convergence, I use a variety of approaches to clarifying next steps.

With a recent client, a large pharmaceutical and a 500 person event, the
Plant VP and the senior team (the sponsors) caucused over lunch after a
converging process done in intact teams. The teams took on those issues
where they had freedom to act with great enthusiasm. They determined their
own priorities. There was no whole group priority setting. The VP "walked
around" to get a feel for how they were addressing the issues. He then
thoroughly read the reports (some 75) and at lunch met with the division
leaders who had participated with their teams.  The issues that required
senior team action were reviewed by this sponsor group over lunch and they
then made specific commitments after lunch to the whole group.

There were no verbal report backs, except that of the senior team. There
would not have been time or energy for verbal reports. In fact, I think
they would have boring and dispiriting at that point.

When the teams got back to the plant, they will full of energy and began to
pursue their ideas and plans with the participation of the appropriate s
enior team members.

As for the closing of the Open Space "self-organizing part", I have stopped
putting the mike in the center of the room for large groups, particularly
if there is a time squeeze. I have had some difficult experiences with
people monopolizing the mike--those that really like to preform in front of
a crowd. This has left others dispirited. So, I now do the "Oprah" thing at
the closing of groups over 300 if the time requires. I become the talking
stick with the mike and pass it through the group, making eye contact with
everyone and giving it to those who want to talk. It worked well with the
pharmaceutical plant, still evoking some amazing comments form some very
shy new employees, people of colour.


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

lpasoc at inforamp.net

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