OSLIST: Re: Thinking about OPEN SPACE

Harrison Owen owen at tmn.com
Fri Dec 3 05:33:07 PST 1999

At 10:54 PM 12/2/99 +1100, you wrote:
>Just some thoughts following on from some of the recent discussion on
>the net about how Open Space can/could/should work.
>I think I have learnt to use Open Space with great simplicity.
I find myself very comfortable with what Brian says -- but I also know that
there are lots of ways to Rome, and each traveler will have different
requirements along the way. From where I sit it is less about the "right"
way to do things -- knowing that the "way" will vary constantly as the
facilitator, client and situation varies. What might remain a useful
constant is an effort to keep the space Open and Fresh. In this regard, I
have found a simple practice to be very useful. Each time I open space, I
think of one more thing not to do. Since Opening Space for me begins the
moment you think about it, and continues till it's over -- whenever that is
-- there are a lot of opportunities not to do something.  Long ago, I laid
aside warm-up exercises and ice-breakers in Open Space 'cause none of that
seemed to have any useful effect -- except maybe to give me something to do
when I was feeling a tad nervous.

But recently, I have tried the same "not doing" approach before and after
the Open Space. This has nothing to do with lack of interest, or
un-willingness to spend more time/energy. I think, it is really about focus
and presence. What I am finding is that time spent with my self clearing
out crap and getting myself here if not all there sort of thing is most
useful. When focused and present (as much as I can) time and a specific
program -- as in meeting for a day afterwards or whatever -- become less
important. It may be nothing, it may be 5 minutes, or it may be a full week
of intense dialogue. And all that has happened.

I guess the point is that I have never truly know in advance what i was
going to do. For a long time that bothered me, and it certainly bothered
the client. But truthfully, any plan that I ever made up-front didn't quite
happen. So might as well not do it to begin with. I think.


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