Open Space facilitators

owen owen at
Thu Feb 25 04:45:21 PST 1999

>Is conveneing a session whilst facilitating the event abandoning (albeit
>temporarily) the role of space holder. Is it confusing for the participants?
> I have seen Harrison doing it although that was at an OS on OS for
>facilitators.....ANy responses?
I don't think there is any hard and fast rule here -- very few such things in
Open Space, but keeping first things first and being attentive to you comfort
level are critical -- I think. The first thing is the recognition that your
only real job is to preserve the safety of the space -- holding space in other
words so that the participants can do their jobs, whatever they may be. In a
truly contentious group this will take every ounce of focus and presence you
can muster. Convening a session of your own under such conditions is, in my
experieince, risky at best. The problem is obvious. As your attention is drawn
to your session, you will inevitably become less present to the group as a
whole. There are times, however, when everything is going along just swimingly
and the total participant body takes responsibility for the space. Under these
circumstances, do your thing.

One final consideration. No matter how comfortable I may feel, I have never
done a session in the first part of the Open Space. If it is a two day event I
wait for the second day. This accomlishes two things. First, it gives me time
to be sure that the space is really safe. Secondly, by the second day, folks
seem prepared to accept me as just another participant -- which I guess is also
an indication of the safety of the space.

Harrison Owen
7808 River Falls Drive
Potomac, MD 20854   USA
301-469-9269 (phone)
301-983-9314 (fax)
email owen at
Open Space Institute website
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