Michael Herman
Opening Space for Business Agility


For 1.5 hours... The process I have used often and do not call open space has the following elements:

-Broad topic for discussion pre-determined by sponsors (e.g. how do we apply the insights of the morning presentation.)

-I then stand at the flip chart and ask for discussion topics and "initiators", people who will volunteer to start/lead a discussion. (No topic without an initiator, like Open Space.) I record the topic and the name and assign a location, or a flip chart. This takes 15-30 min or so, depending on the size of group. It can work up to 100. (Have folks post topics either takes too long or there is no wall.)

-Then participants are free to choose which discussion they want. I don't usually invoke the principles and law per se, but encourage some of the same freedom with various statements.

-Sometimes I use report forms or discussion guides and sometimes not depending on the intent. (I am working with a client who wants to generate ideas for policy change, but is not ready to engage the groups that emerge in moving it forward. They want ideas and a good discussion.)

-Sometimes there is a brief report back, depending on the intent.

-I do this for one "round" of discussions, one managed start time.

This is usually with a sponsor who only has 1.5 hours or so for the discussion at hand. It enables some self-organization. People usually like it better than other ways to enable group discussion. It works to generate some energy. It is not Open Space Technology (even if I had people post their own topics) from my perspective. It is still managed by the facilitator. There is some but not much space for real self-organization by the participants.

Hope this helps


Larry Peterson Associates in Transformation Toronto, ON, Canada 416.653.4829


This evening I was privileged to conduct a 30-minute OST event ...for The Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana.

There were about 60 people present. The theme I announced was a little idea that came up after hearing the director of the Center saying his biggest problem was restoring hope to people. The idea was to help one person everyday. That might be with larger projects like painting a room at a women's shelter, or smaller ones like giving a smile to someone who needs one.

It was simply posters and markers and the stampede that Harrison has warned us about.

This was during the residents' required every Monday evening meeting. Didn't announce any principles or the law.

15-20 topics were posted--thoughtful ones like the young man who talked about getting out of the way for people in wheelchairs or opening the doors for them, and the older man who talked of doing good things in secret.

They had about 5 minutes to discuss their topics in groups, then I rang the bells to get them back. A lot of people decided to not join groups. But 2/3 of the people by show of hands wanted to have more conversations on these subjects.

The closing was simply whoever wanted to report on their group or say something--in the three minutes we had.

It always works....

                              :-Doug. Germann