warm-ups/appreciative inquiry

Chris Weaver chris at springbranch.net
Mon May 28 01:56:15 PDT 2001


This thread from a few weeks ago was important to me, and I have a new story
to contribute.

On Saturday I facilitated an orientation day for 36 participants in a
lateral-entry teacher-education program.  It was the first meeting of a
cohort that will be together every day for six weeks this summer and monthly
throughout their public-school teaching assignments next year.

I pondered long and deep about how to design the day.  I wondered whether to
do an all-day OS, or to devote the morning to AI "discovery process"
interviews and small-group gathering of themes.

In the end I chose the latter.  My reasoning was that the people did not
know each other at all, and were not responding to an invitation - they had
signed up for this graduate-level program and would arrive, weary from their
current work in the schools, and waiting to see what this was all about.  No
invitation, no "decision-time of yesterday" issue.

I believe it was the right choice for the circumstance.  As I had expected,
the energy in the opening circle held plenty of chaos but also plenty of
caution.  My introduction was brief, and I passed out to them interview
guides, with seven open-ended questions about their personal histories,
powerful learning and teaching experiences, and their dreams of where this
program will lead them - a "what do you really want" question.  They had an
hour to conduct their interviews in pairs, and the shift in energy when they
spread out over the whole space and began to tell their stories was

For the second hour they met in groups of 8 to first share highlights from
the interview stories and then to write down some themes and guiding
questions.  We reconvened before lunch, with one person from each group
reporting out.

After lunch, I facilitated a straight OS with three 40-minute sessions.  I
always fill my space-time matrix with an abundance of options, and this was
the first time I have ever had to scramble to add several new space options
on post-its to keep up with the agenda-creation; the 36 participants posted
28 topics.  40 minutes was of course too short - the discussions pushed the
schedule fifteen minutes later, as they managed the conversational energy to
vacate their spaces for the new groups to begin.

In the closing circle people expressed deep appreciation for the whole day,
and for their first taste of Open Space (it was brand new to everyone).
There's no way to know for sure, but I believe that had I held the whole day
in Open Space that the results would have been less satisfying.


S   P   R   I   N   G   B   R   A   N   C   H

Opening the Space for Inspired Collaboration
P.O. Box 8234 / Asheville, NC 28814 / USA
Phone: 828 225-0007 / Fax: 828 225-0303
http://www.springbranch.net / chris at springbranch.net

F   A   C   I   L   I   T   A   T   I   O   N
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