Michael Herman
Opening Space for Business Agility

see also NonConvergence | ClosingAndConvergence | ProceedingsAlternatives

convergence and planning on day three, the last day of a 3-day open space

some of the following notes are specific to this particular situation, but most of this should be appicable and useful for any group of <80 people working to converge, prioritize and plan for action on <40 topic postings.

room setup, evening before we started...

7:30-9:00 in large group...

tabulating and clustering

9:00-10:30 in small groups to work on the following for each cluster...

10:30 - almost 12:00 in large circle...

Another version of VotingWithDots

For basic prioritizing at the end of a short meeting, I have done the following:

  1. Ask people to record their sessions on flipchart paper
  2. Post a news gallery
  3. Reconvene people in a circle
  4. Tell them they are amazing, look at all this stuff, can you believe it? etc. etc.
  5. Point elegantly to a pile of sticky dots in the middle of the circle.
  6. Invite people to get up, grab some dots, go read the news wall and place a dot on the posters they think represent the most pressing/important/intricate/helpful (your choice) ideas.

In my experience, if people know they are going to be doing this up front, and the invitation for the whole day is pitched as one that helps determine priorities, then this little exercise runs pretty smoothly.


how many dots to give participants???

"Nominal Group Technique" says that you take the number of items and divide them by 3 - each person gets that many dots -(15 items each person gets 5 dots) - one rule, you can't put all of your dots on one item - if the dots are used in this way it is very effective in showing those items with the most interest across the board.

Don Ferretti, from the OpenSpaceTechnology/OSLIST

from chris weaver in north carolina, as a derivative of what lisa heft did in san francisco...

decision-making, concensus, quick-polling of group -- WITHOUT THE DOTS

In a community school where I did my first seven years of OD practicum training (without knowing what it was), we used a consensus process called "fist-to-five" - holding up a hand and showing fingers - five being strong support and taking active leadership; four = strong support; three = it's fine; two = I have some reservations; one finger (careful which one) = I think it's a bad idea but I commit to not subverting it; and a fist, or zero fingers = consensus is blocked.

We used this tool both for decision-making (sometimes with over a hundred people), and also as a sort of a "check in" about an issue on the table, which sounds like the way you used the red, yellow, and green cards. As you mentioned, it was also our practice that anyone holding up two or one finger would be invited to share their reservations with the group so that a proposal could be re-worked. In our work I found this process to be enormously useful -- but I have never used it as a part of a convergence process. I am interested to learn more about how you used the three cards - was this only a whole-group tool, or did the smaller planning groups use it also?

-- fingers seem hard to see in large groups, though maybe not so important to see/count but to have people take a stand at one level or another.

could do step forward, sit, slide back, slide back and turn around.