Report on an Open Space

Chris Corrigan corcom at
Fri Oct 15 13:43:59 PDT 1999

Just finished a two day OS (held over three days).  It was little
diffcult setting it up because the sponsor had an agenda which needed to
be replaced.

Initially, the sponsor had designed the program to be a traditional
conference format, with 30 minute presentations all the way through.
This was quickly determined to be unworkable, and so they contracted me
to help them develop the conference in Open Space.  The problem was that
several presenters were already booked, and couldn't make any of the
agenda setting sessions.  We solved this problem by setting up a
presentation centre in one part of the main meeting room, and by
scheduling all the presenters in there before hand.  When it came time
to set the agenda, discussion groups were scheduled in various places,
and particpants had the opportunity to take in a presentation or attend
a discussion group.

Because the presentations were 30 minutes in length, the whole
conference had to be divided into 30 minute sessions.  Discussion groups
were encouraged to take as much time as they needed of course, but in
reality, most people felt pressured by the time lines.  I don't blame
them.  I usually set these things up so that discussion groups have at
least an hour, or at the minimum, 45 minutes.  In the end, people got
the hang of it, but not without some prodding.

I provided every participant with personal agendas which were used to
take notes in the marketplace.  That way the had a "dance card" they
carried with them, and were able to check where they wanted to be next.
If you would like a copy of that tool, email me off list.

In general, the process went well.  In fact any of the problems created
by applique-ing OS onto the predetermined agenda were alleviated as they
process took over, and people realized that they were free to move

Ninety five percent of the cenmference participants, as well as myself,
were First Nations, and several remarked on how nice it was to use a
very old technology (the circle) to get the job done.  I referred to
this in the opening, and it put alot of people at ease to see a meeting
room set up in a circle, with someone facilitating who knew how to use
it.  Others appreciated the fact that the agenda was open and not set by
the government who made up one of the sponsor groups.

Just another report from the firing line...


Chris Corrigan
108-1035 Pacific Street
Vancouver, B.C.
Phone:  604.683.3080
Fax:    604.683.3036

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