Small Group OS

Birgitt Bolton birgitt at
Wed Feb 10 19:28:36 PST 1999

Hi Joe,
In doing OS I always start from a point that is the ideal situation and then
realize that much of what I need to work out is not in that ideal. Now for
your example. OS in small groups can work well. The synergy is not the
same.People do not feel so free to bumblebee and butterfly, although this
still surfaces---mentioning the difficulty for this in the opening and using
humour about it usually helps. In a small company people will feel that they
have to be there. Nothing you can do about that. And in every small group I
have worked with, when they get up to the wall to choose, they don't want
to. They want to stay together. Rule of thumb---don't interfere. Sometimes,
they find a way of repositioning everything on the wall so that they can
stay together. One group of 7 that I had moved all 21 of their topics and
reallocated time slots to them so that they could all stay together for all
of them---and just spend a few minutes in each. I thought it was impossible.
they did a great and productive job. Another group worked things so they
stayed together for the first session and then realized that if they were
going to get everything covered, they would have to split up. and they did
in a number of configurations, including a few times of 1 person only. that
person didn't mind and lots got done.

>From my point of view as a facilitator, I like to avoid situations when
possible of less than 12. Mostly because I like my own energy to dance (very
selfish) and being of that extroverted nature that gets energized by a
group, less than 12 doesn't do that for me. I find it flat. They don't. I
do. Talk about selfish!

All the best,

Warmest regards,

Birgitt Bolton of Dalar Associates
55 Ravina Cres., Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
 L9G 2E8
phone: 905-648-5775  fax: 905-648-2262

    -----Original Message-----
    From: OSLIST [mailto:OSLIST at]On Behalf Of Joe
    Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 12:20 PM
    Subject: Small Group OS


    Are there any special considerations when using Open Space with a small
group within a small company--say 7-12 people?

    I have colleague who runs a small sporting goods store.  She is a
remarkable person who won a national Entrepreneur of the Year Award awhile
back.  She has taken pains to grow her business through growing her people,
and is quite interested in trying OS for an all day planning session on how
to further develop the business, respond to new conditions, etc.

    I have used OS several times with medium size groups of very diverse
people from different organizations. And, to repeat the question, am
wondering if the situation I've described is any different.  For example,
the first concerns that come to my mind is how to set up meeting so that
people are there  because they want to be rather because they feel they have
to be....

    I'd appreciate your thoughts and experiences.

    Joe Szostak
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