Michael Herman
Inviting Agility

 
 
 
Just back from a two day training session I gave in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to 10 First Nations youth and four government workers. The bunch of them are in the midst of planning an Aboriginal youth conference for the end of November in Winnipeg one day of which will be held in Open Space, of which I will share more later, as they have a pretty cool approach worked out.

But I wanted to relay one story about how fast it is to actually open space. During both days of this training we did a lot of work in Open Space. I opened the first day and for the second day, I asked for a volunteer, for anyone who wanted to practice opening the space.

The shyest youth of them all ended up volunteering much to everyone's surprise. I sat with her and covered the basics of the opening: walking the circle, things to say, process, principles and law, etc. etc. I referred her to a script that we had and she underlined the most important parts. I mostly told her not to worry, because what ever happened it would work.

When it came time for her to open I was confident. I played the role of the sponsor, introduced the theme and introduced her as the facilitator.

Immediately I saw that it was not her way to do it the way I did it. She simply sat in her seat and said: "Welcome to Open Space. Our theme is where and when will we open space. You will put topics on the paper in the middle and post them on the wall. There are four principles, and one law. (she read them). When you're ready we can start."

And then she sat in her chair, looking at the centre of the circle and waiting. Her opening had been about one minute long.

People were a little taken aback but nevertheless, they started posting topics. In ten minutes we had eight topics. She waited very patiently until everyone was finished posting and then said "okay. Time to start."

The work got underway and it was fine, of course.

Afterwards I remarked that that may have been the shortest opening on record, and I thought of Harrison's constant mantra of finding one more thing not to do. In the closing circle I pointed out that although her opening was very non-standard and wou8ld need to be more substantial for a group that did not know about open space, it was the perfect opening for a group who has worked in OST before. There is no need to put on airs about the process. Once you get it, all you need to do is get down to work.

That was my learning.

Cheers:

Chris