A share -- my first 'paid' Open Space (longish)

Bridget Peake bpeake at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 20 03:22:23 PDT 2004

Hi Open Spacers,

I've been wanting to update you on my first 'paid' Open Space 10 days
ago, but have been so busy preparing for the volunteer one I did
yesterday (Creating the World We Want in Education -- which went fab), I
haven't had time until now.

Just to remind you, it was with the financial services division of a
large publishing company in the UK.  Forty-two people attended, mostly
accountants, from all levels of the organisation.  The anticipation in
the room before we began was palatable, and when we went around the room
to have people introduce themselves, most could barely squeak out their

And yet, as I stepped out the circle for them to begin creating their
sessions, you could feel the energy picking up.  One by one they came to
the centre and announced their sessions.  Although it was slow at first,
I waited and waited, knowing they were just warming up.  And I was
right!  We had 4 time slots and 6 spaces, with two more spaces in
reserve (just in case).  After a few minutes, it was clear we would need
them!  They filled every single one -- 32 sessions!  And the listening
that was in the space was amazing.  As they created sessions, they would
dynamically combine with others who had similar ideas.  They were asking
me about moving sessions and what should we do if there's a clash, etc.
When it was clear I wasn't going to solve the 'problem' for them, they
stepped up and made it work for themselves.

All day they came in and out of the main room energised and buzzing with
ideas and inspiration.  They created 69 pages of proceedings and 29
action groups to move their ideas forward in the business. Everyone took
a copy of the report home and they were so proud!  In the closing circle
everyone said what an amazing day it had been, they were not the same
people that were sitting in the circle 8 hours earlier.  It was magical!

Since the Open Space, they have spontaneously begun to have gatherings
at the beginning and end of the work day where people can get together
to discuss issues, the projects that were created, or any other topic
that they like.  Plus, another division of the company was using a room
next to ours on the day of the Open Space, and they were so interested
to know what on earth we were up to, they called the HR manager
specifically to find out.  Fingers crossed, we may be doing another one

What I got from this day was complete validation that Open Space does
work, it is exactly what I 'should' be doing and it offers a way for
people to step outside of their normal way of being and into the space
of passion and responsibility.  I love it and can't wait to do more!  As
an added bonus, my fabulous business partner experienced her first Open
Space that day, and she's hooked!  It's so wonderful to be able to share
the magic.

Thanks to everyone for your support!


P.S.  We learned an important lesson on the day as well -- always ask
the hotel how much they charge for photocopying!!  We nearly died when
they asked us to sign off the £670 bill for copying the reports!  Not to
worry though, the client was very cool, and we did not end up paying
that much for the copying.  That's one for the checklist, though!

Bridget Peake
Open Sesame
Unleashing the Potential

12 Leysfield Road
London W12 9JF
+44 (0) 7776 188 771
bridget at unleash-the-potential.com

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