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A Sample Script for Opening the Space

This script is something I first distilled from Harrison Owen's OpenSpaceTechnology/UsersGuide (available at any good bookstore). Over the years I've added my own notes. It helps me remember what really needs to be said in the opening of the space, and what really does not. I don't think I've ever opened the space without a copy of this in my back pocket, but that's just me. I HIGHLY recommend getting the OpenSpaceTechnology/UsersGuide and working out your own process. In the meantime, here are my notes...

Sponsor's introduction

Welcome and Introduction

State the theme

A Little History

Descibe the Process - How this is going to work today

The Four Principles

The Law of Two Feet

Veteran Strategies

(some suggestions sometimes offered for shorter spaces, with thanks to OST veteran Giles Hopkins, sometimes I make an extra poster with most appropriate items from this list)

Jumping In


...beneath and beyond the opening briefing

Guiding Metaphors

Guiding Intentions

Answers to every question

Key Questions and Instructions


Opening Script Updated and Divided for Three Training Workshop Participants to Open the Space Together

Sponsor's introduction
Three minutes... to tell the story of "how we got here" ...whatever that means to them.  


Welcome and Introduction
Look around circle/bounding the space
What do we know about who's here? ...nobody knows, everybody cares, nobody in charge, everybody skilled

State the theme
Summarize comments by host/sponsor/client organizer, see 'opening remarks' notes


Descibe the Process - How this is going to work today
Invite those who want to, and nobody has to
Identify some issue/opportunity related to our theme
Something you have real passion for and will take personal responsibility for starting the conversation about it
Don't have to be an expert with answers, need to care enough to ask the question and start the conversation
If nothing occurs to you, fine -- if more than one, post them on separate pages
In a minute, ask to come forward, grab the paper and markers
Write your topic and you name
Read it out -- "my name is ... and my issue is...."
Post it on the wall so everyone who shares your interest can find your conversationa


The Four Principles
Whoever comes are the right people don't need 100 people and the ceo to do good work...need the people who care if nobody comes, might be a bad idea, or just bad timing you might be the only one who knows enough to deal with it or see its importance take it as just another piece of information, spend time on it yourself or move on
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have be prepared to be surprised, be very dull if everything always went as exipected forget coulda, woulda and shoulda and go with the flow of what is here and now
Whenever it starts is the right time -- spirit and creativity don't run on the clock
When it's over it's over if you finish in ten minutes, don't rehash for another 50...move on when it's not over, it's not over...so you might have to move, but don't have to end

The Law of Two Feet
You have the right and the responsibility to use your two feet to go wherever you need to in order to maximize your own learning and contributing today.
When mind wanders, take your body with it... stay whole!
If you're not learning or contributing...go someplace else -- don't waste time.
Means if you aren't enjoying where you are, it's totally your choice to stay or move on
Law is death to egotists and speechmakers
Creates bumblebees who cross-pollinate and butterflies who create space to just be


Jumping In
Can't learn to swim from the side of the pool -- time to jump in
Identify an issue or opportunity for which you have some real passion
Think of a short title and write it with your name
Read it out -- my name is... my issue is..... -- no speeches required or allowed
Post it and come back to circle

Clear a path to get to the wall
Sign up for everything that interests you, even if more than one during the same session
Conflicts...can combine, move or bumblebee, but conveners have final word on it
On your own, take responsibility for your own meetings/times, bells don't ring until closing
Go to your first session as soon as you're done signing up

...beneath and beyond the opening briefing
Guiding Metaphors
hero's journey
treasure hunt, nobody knows
blowing bubbles
bubbling cauldron
creeping ivy
room to work

Guiding Intentions
be with, be open, be space
expanding our now, nobody knows
presence invites presence
what if it all really works?
open invitation, unconditional offering
room/right to make own choices
less is more
have fun, play

Answers to every question
what do you want to do?
great, why don't you take care of it?

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Edited August 22, 2016 9:14 pm CentralTimeUSA by MichaelHerman
© 1998-2017 Michael Herman and www.michaelherman.com, unless signed by another author or organization. Please do not reprint or distribute for commercial purposes without permission and full attribution, including web address and this copyright notice. Permission has always been granted gladly to those who contact me and say something about themselves, their work, and their use of these materials. Thank you and good luck! - Michael