OS convergence (yet another flavor)

Larry Peterson lpasoc at inforamp.net
Wed Sep 2 06:32:18 PDT 1998

Dave:  I love the skits and have used them for feedback from Open Space
converging discussions after closing the self-organizing part in church
groups when there was time. I have also encouraged "reports" be developed
in a variety of media. I have had groups develop choirs, murals, masks and
all that was needed was having the materials in the main room.

On the weekend I led an Open Space for a gathering of progressive social
activists from across the province. They were not a "group" but this was
the beginning of a networking effort with large number of organizations
linked through the participants. Any form of voting or setting priorities
was not appropriate for this group either as they had no organized
"collective" agenda. So, convergence was done in two ways. Individuals were
asked to read the "book" of reports and identify where their personal
energy for action was and what their next steps might be. We then met back
the whole group and had participants identify topics for "sector"
discussions--with topics tied to individuals willing to lead the
discussion. This is not truly "Open Space" but has some of its character.
I've used it lots of time when there was not time to fully Open the Space.
They came up with 3 topics, had great discussions and made some brief
announcements about next steps during the final closure for the event

I usually have 2 "closures" during an event--Different than others I know.
I close the use of Open Space (at least the self-organizing part) before
moving on to convergence which is more guided and takes many forms
depending on the needs of the group. Then, I work with the sponsors to
close the whole event. I find this changes the character of the
convergence. It is more guided, with more up-front facilitation, than Open
Space. I have often Opened the  Space within other events and I find
closing the less guided approach enables people to make the transition more
easily to the more guided facilitation.


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

lpasoc at inforamp.net

>From  Wed Sep  2 14:59:37 1998
Message-Id: <WED.2.SEP.1998.145937.0500.>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 14:59:37 -0500
Reply-To: dwcox at pawnee.astate.edu
From: David Cox <dwcox at pawnee.astate.edu>
Subject: Help?
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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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