os with the military

Virginia visions at interlynx.net
Thu May 27 16:28:51 PDT 1999

>We wish to share this story just to let you know that if Open Space can
>so well with the military, and so well for such detailed work, that it can
>work anywhere.
>As some of you know, Virginia Burt (landscape architect specializing in
>sacred spaces and healing gardens) and I, Birgitt Bolton, (organizational
>learning consultant specializing in potential unlimited through Open Space)
>have joined forces in a number of projects in which I (Birgitt)  facilitate
>an Open Space Technology meeting (often preceded by a story telling
>to engage a community group/stakeholder group/company in developing their
>ideas for their landscape (yes, I mean physical landscape). And then
>Virginia has considerable data from which to do the landscape design for
>land, based on what the client group really wants, really has passion for.
>We have learned a considerable amount about how well using Open Space
>Technology delivers data detailed enough for a landscape architect to use
>do her work. When I do the Open Space, I view myself as having two
>"clients". The company and Virginia. If I have the Open Space set with the
>right theme and have done a good job with both the organizational givens
>the landscape givens, the data flows directly to that which Virginia needs.
>The theme and givens are key. I view it as getting the "toboggan" going
>the right hill. If I get the toboggan going down the wrong hill, we might
>have a great meeting, but we won't get what Virginia needs to do her
>This is Open Space at its best for product development or for planning.
>Virginia and I will be presenting a paper about the magic that is possible
>at the Canadian Council of Planners in Montreal Quebec in June. They are
>very intrigued with the use of Open Space for detailed and prioritized
>Anyhow, our client group this last time were the military. No
this was not
>an open space to look at issues and opportunities for transforming the
>military (alas) but for me it was the next best thing. The landscape to be
>developed was 102 acres at one of their most important national
>institutions. The open space took place while there was a gathering of
>leading military officers from across the country which also meant that it
>was a time of lots of military ceremonies on the site while we were there.
>There were 60 people that took part in the Open Space. 7 generals, a
>brigadier general, some colonel's, several commandants, etc, etc. Mostly
>men, mostly older, many with education as engineers. Just the sort of mix
>that I've heard tell Open Space will not work with. A few women in the mix,
>a bit of age diversity with some younger cadets. Mostly people used to
>command and control. Very steeped in being used to being obeyed.
>We did a story telling evening prior to the open space. To honour the past
>and present before looking at the future. The history of the land we were
>looking at was so steeped in tradition, ceremony, history and memories that
>conflict was expected as very differing passions abounded. I had been told
>ahead that we would experience much conflict. For many,no change was
>For others, they knew that survival depended on looking to the future. So,
>after supper, I had these very dignified persons meet in a circle. And then
>used process facilitation methods to do the storytelling. I placed a group
>of my favourite stones in the centre of the circle, invited the
>to choose a stone (which they each did) despite mumbles of touchy feely.
>asked the individuals to look at the stone to see what it revealed to them
>about their memories of the landscape. From this they each  were to tell
>story to a partner, and then to the group as a whole. Everyone
>Wonderful stories surfaced. No one dominated. And the stories continued
>after the closing of  the circle. And the man we were told would be most
>cantankerous spoke of his amazement at what had happenend. And how moved he
>The following morning we opened the space. A lot of detail had to be given
>because of the "givens" about the landscape and I had moments of
>about information overload for the people. And then in the middle of
>the four principles, there were three rounds that went off from a howitzer
>(sp?). Explosive. I was walking the circle. The windows were open. And then
>there was bagpipes playing. And I continued with the opening to these
>background very military noises, opening space for the generals, the
>colonels, etc. And the young people who make their declarations of
>"unlimited liability" willing to give their lives for the country. And we
>had a grand open space. Everyone participated fully. We had lots of
>compliments about a wonderful day and a wonderful process. Virginia and I
>even received hugs. There were excellent discussions. No conflict.
>In one case, a topic went up that everyone thought was a sure thing to move
>forward because it was the sort of thing that was traditional. It received
>no votes. In another case, another topic was put up that had no one but the
>leader attend the discussion. He wrote a report, with my encouragement and
>when it came time to vote, it was one of the top vote getters. Much to his
>amazement. Open Space at its best. Be prepared to be surprised.
>Virginia received so much excellent data for her design that she will be
>able to cater to the passions of the participants and thereby not have to
>"sell" her design after the fact. The last design she did in this way
>received unanimous approval. No rejections by a "planning committee" or a
>design that was put on a shelf. It is being implemented. We are sure the
>same will happen with this one. And this way of combining Open Space with
>landscape architecture or any other planning or product development allows
>Virginia to have a master plan ready for the client group 40 days from the
>start of the process. No long waiting period for the client, but a plan
>while passion is still running high.
>Kindest regards,
>Birgitt Bolton and Virginia Burt

>From  Thu May 27 19:44:31 1999
Message-Id: <THU.27.MAY.1999.194431.0400.>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 19:44:31 -0400
Reply-To: lpasoc at inforamp.net
From: Larry Peterson <lpasoc at inforamp.net>
Subject: Re: Help: Teens and OS
In-Reply-To: <1e59559a.247d7232 at aol.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Jay:  I have led 4 open space events specifically aimed at teens. One was
with high school students who got the day off school to focus on their
response to community issues. The others were with Church groups. One
Anglican group of teens prepared input into a strategic planning process for
the church in 2.5 day open space and made both video, artistic and computer
record. I have been in conversation about an event for 600 teens from a
church in summer 2000.

It works great with teens. They love it!!


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

lpasoc at inforamp.net

-----Original Message-----
From:   OSLIST [mailto:OSLIST at LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU] On Behalf Of Jay Vogt
Sent:   Wednesday, May 26, 1999 11:50 AM
Subject:        Help: Teens and OS

Hi all:
I am talking with a respected community health program that brings 200 teens
together with their 50 adult advisors for three days every summer for a
leadership retreat about the possibility of doing a day or more of this
in Open Space.

They are very excited about it but are skeptical (isn't everyone?) that it
will work with teens.  They have asked me for cases, for articles, and for
phone numbers of folks who have used it with teens.  If you are willing and
able, please post, or email to me: brief case summaries, phone numbers of
contact persons, and/or references to written material to help me settle
their jitters a bit.

Thanks in advance for your help.  Open Space would be GREAT for these folks.
Best, Jay

Jay W. Vogt
166 Hubbard Street
Concord, MA 01742
(978) 371-3134 - Voice
(978) 287-5431 - Fax
jaywv at aol.com - Email

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