[OSList] Whatever happens...

Michael M Pannwitz via OSList oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Tue Feb 2 09:17:07 PST 2016

Dear Stuart,

in my facilitation practice and that of many others, there were always 
preparations made for more issues than would be held by the places and 
timeslots. Almost always, there were additional breakout space planned 
and could quickly be set up when the need arose during marketplace or 
later. Beginning times are more limited but regularly participants would 
creat additional beginning times before, during and after the "regular" 
beginning and ending times of the day.

In a multiple day event which then also has several gatherings of all 
participants for evening news and morning announcements (in a three day 
event that would be 4 occasions: first evening, following morning, 
second evening, second morning... not (officially) on the last evening 
before the third day which is reserved for Action Planning (also called 
Action Space)... ok, in a multiple day event pariticpans are invited to 
post additional issues at each of the 4 occasions in this example AND 
throughout the entire event (this would require the posted issues to all 
remain on the bulletin board throughout the event).

In this way you might have many more isssues and the need for spaces.

When you have a "regular" planning process before the event with a 
"planning group" including the sponsor, questions such as number of 
spaces, length of breakout sessions (sometimes these are of different 
lengths and since they are not from lets say 10 to 11:30 but only have 
beginning times such as 10, 11.30, 14, 15:30 etc leaving it up to the 
specific requirements of the breakouts)... ok, if you have a planning 
phase, lots of these details are worked on in the planning group and 
noty "set" by the facilitator all by him- or herself.
(For issues coming up after all the published space is used up, 
typically extra postits for additional spaces are published after all 
the published space is used up... this always worked but it needs to be 
planned for so everyone involved can quickly arrange/set up the 
spaces... a good example is the large os with 2000+ participants back in 
2003 in Wuerzburg where we had "predicted" 150 issues spread over three 
time slots requiring 50 "spaces"... it turned out there were 220+ issues 
requiring 75 spaces... fortunately the whole spaces set up was done with 
numbered balloons spread all over the venue (in an "orderly" way), so we 
just added numbers 51 through 75 and let the participants set up the 
additional spaces (the large team on the premises did not have to help 
other than blowing up the balloons and numbering them and attaching them 
to 1kg sand bags to keep them from floating wherever).

Over the years, the bulletin board has changed from earlier versions 
(such as the one your tried) to a version that only has times across the 
top and no room slots, the room slots arranged through postits that have 
the time and room symbol and can be stuck to the issues (and, of course, 
easily moved to other issues... or the issues being moved from one 
beginning time to another),

That provided for more flexibility doing away with any need by anyone to 
rearrange a structure, the structure itself bein easily modiefied by the 

This might all sound pretty complex... once you are into it you will 
notice, or at least I have, that participants thrive in that kind of 
environment: Space and time are theirs, and it seems to provide just the 
right conditions for the force of selforganisation to have a balle: No 
or very little control.

In your example your move to just let the participants figure it out is 
the best thing you could have done and as far as I know its also the 
only thing you could have... you would have never figured it out 
yourself for them. I would not have predicted that they would do what 
they did in your case BUT when they ran into some trouble (at least to 
the observer) they were already well advanced into the field of 
selforganisation and solved it in some unpredictable way (be prepared to 
be surprised) which was their structure that nobody could have thunk up 
for them.

Greetings from Berlin and keep having productive fun!

PS: Even if you dont read German you might profit from looking at "Meine 
open space Praxis" which is also available as ebook with loads of bright 
colour pictures showing a myriad of bulleting boards, market place and 
such esoteric stuff. Go here
> https://www.westkreuz-verlag.de/de/Meine-open-space-Praxis

ebook (pictures really come well as compared to the printed version
> https://www.westkreuz-verlag.de/de/Meine-open-space-Praxis-E-Book

On 02.02.2016 17:20, Stuart Turner via OSList wrote:
> Dear Harrison
> Thanks for the suggestion. It being the facilitator’s decision to
> decide the number of spaces and the number and length of the
> time-slots when creating the marketplace has never felt comfortable
> whether I was facilitating or watching someone else. It seemed the
> facilitator needed to do more than minimal thinking and could
> actually be considered planning/predicting, when who knows what would
> happen, how many sessions would be identified, etc.
> I know people facilitate this in different ways, and my experience
> might be considered an invitation for others to share their
> experience of doing this. I haven’t seen anyone invite people to
> create more spaces or time slots on the agenda before but have seen
> them emerge without being on the marketplace.
> I did consider whether to have another space when creating the
> initial marketplace but once I opened it to the group I didn’t think
> of facilitating making an adjustment.
> I also haven’t seen many additional topics be created after the
> initial marketplace has been created.
> I’m wondering if anyone will share when else, acting as a
> facilitator, they might invite a modification to the marketplace.
> Stuart
> On 2 Feb 2016, at 10:51 pm, Harrison Owen <hhowen at verizon.net>
> wrote:
> Small suggestion Stuart... next time you find yourself cramped for
> time/spaces just invite everybody to create more time/space. No
> hassle. No haggle... Just announce your issues, take a blank post-it
> (you will need some blanks) describe a time, choose a space (the
> Piano, patio, bar for examples) and post it on the wall. No sweat and
> you will have plenty of time for a break.
> ho
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>  -----Original Message----- From: OSList
> [mailto:oslist-bounces at lists.openspacetech.org] On Behalf Of Stuart
> Turner via OSList Sent: Tuesday, February 02, 2016 4:33 AM To:
> oslist at lists.openspacetech.org Subject: [OSList] Whatever happens...
> Yesterday I facilitated a two-hour open space at the end of a
> training course for 30 people. I explained the principles, the law,
> etc. and described the marketplace. The marketplace had four time
> slots across the top and four locations down the side. After they had
> filled the marketplace with about 25 sessions, they asked me what
> they should do. I said “It’s up to you”. They started swapping the
> headings so times now went down the side and locations went across
> the top.
> Thinking of the many suggestions to "get out of the way” and “make it
> obvious you’re not an authority”, I decided to take a bathroom
> break.
> On my return I approached one of the spaces to find several of the
> sessions pasted on the wall. I turned to look at the marketplace to
> discover only the time slots and locations remained. Each location
> had all its sessions stuck on the wall.
> Whatever happens, I thought.
> After noticing there was some confusion about trying to discuss all
> sessions at the same time, conversations moved to become about a more
> defined topic (at least of few of which were not one of the topics on
> the wall).
> The closing circle had about half the participants speak, with many
> sounding quite enthusiastic about their experience and what the theme
> meant for their organisation. I noticed many of the people were
> directing their summary to the most senior person in the room. Some
> even referred to that person specifically “I don’t know if I should
> say this while the boss is here”, and similar comments.
> I wondered whether the space was beginning to close at that time.
> Perhaps I could have done a better job of facilitating or explaining,
> during the introduction. Regardless, it’s probably the only thing
> that could have happened.
> Stuart _______________________________________________ OSList mailing
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Michael M Pannwitz
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