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Okay…here it comes. The (draft) new practice workshop DESIGN... see below for what ACTUALLY happened...

First, this is truly about deepening four practices, it is married closely to the quadrants map, it invokes a deeper practice and experience of somatics and it's about Open Space. It's lighter on OST experience, for two reasons: first, having three quarters of the workshop devoted to preparation and awareness is about what the real life energy and attention budget is like in doing OST. And second, it's been my experience that OST events within trainings lack the real world passion that comes from being invited and responding to a day or two of Open Space on issues that matter. Putting the OST at the end of the workshop hopefully means that people are prepared to be in OST the way folks are in real life…charged up and ready to go.

I've made this design more explicit about practice and Dave Stevenson is with me. He has practiced and studied somatics all over the place and so we've built that into the workshop.

This is all based on the Quadrants, so get your pen out and start drawing along…

Day One – Morning Frame: PURPOSE, practice of inviting

The morning is about noticing how invitation works both from the receiving end and the issuing end.

We begin with introductions, and drawing the agenda up on a flipchart, using the quadrants. We'll add to this map over the two days together.

We begin with stories of invitation, noticing what invitation feels like and where it lives in our bodies. We can use the example of the practice workshop invitation. Why did you come? What part in you responded to the invitation?

Dave will give background about where invitation lives in the body and how we are physically when we bring ourselves fully into something. We'll break into pairs to discuss this question for ten minutes: Why are you here? What in you compelled you to come? How are you open?

After a ten minute pairs exercise, we'll debrief and reflect some more on the somatics of being invited.

Then we take a break.

After the break, we look at the practice of issuing invitation, trying to write invitations that get to that authentic spot we just talked about. There is a bit of a story here about how important invitation is to OST in general, but also about how the practice of inviting sees you through most of what the world throws out.

So the exercise now is to take a few minutes on your own and write three invitations:

1. An anti-invitation, where you actually don't want the person to accept it. ("We should have dinner sometime?" …while shaking head!)
2. Writing an invitation with a hidden agenda ("Why don't you come to this event if you want this reward")
3. An authentic invitation ("What if this conversation changed the way we lived our lives?")

We might just do the third. At any rate, there is a period of silent reflection and work and then small groups of four or five where people share what they have noticed, but especially focus on the invitation that rocks…what makes those invitations compelling?

We bring these back to the big group and share the juicy questions and stuff we notice.

Then it's lunch time!

DAY ONE – afternoon Frame: STORY, CULTURE, VISION, practice of opening.

The practice of opening is the act of bringing intention into being (purpose through to collective structure) by using vision and story to open us collectively to purpose and then to lead us to birth structure.

So we start with the story of the Inviting Organization, and do the quadrants to show how OST works by opening space for spirit, evolution, self-organization….the practice of opening finds it's home in your map.

The exercise is for each participant to tell the story of OST. What is it? What if you were a natural practitioner of open space, what would you say to explain it?

Small groups reflect and discuss this and then we have a larger group discussion, where Dave talks about the somatics of opening.

Then we have a break.

After that, I tell Harrison's story of OST, and a few of my own stories of where it has been used. This is to introduce people to the culture of OST, so that if they choose to join the practitioners community and Harrison pings them, they know who's ringing. This is very much a "sit around the fire and listen" kind of story, in the best tradition of cultural initiation. Welcome to the cult!

The next exercise here comes right at the end of the day and is designed to bring vision into play through inviting a future for ourselves and encouraging overnight dreaming. We ask each person to imagine where they might be practicing open space in their life, organization or community. I'll have people do this reflectively and then invite them to discuss this in natural groups.

We end the day with evening news, and my benediction taught by Ojibway elders to young ones as they fall asleep…think about the most beautiful thing you saw today…introduce that into their dreams and encourage them to play with vision overnight.

DAY TWO – morning Frame: STRUCTURE, practice of holding.

Begin with morning news and then right into a conversation about the role of the facilitator in Open Space: trust, empowerment, control, holding space. Again from Dave, some somatics around holding and letting go, without getting too sexual!

The exercise in the morning is to reflect on where you practice holding space in your life and to notice where my trigger points are around letting go. This is reflection followed by small group discussion (maybe pairs) and then whole group conversation.

Then a break.

After the break, we go through the anatomy of an event including the initial contact, pre-meeting, logistics preparation, event day one, event day two, event day three (non-con) and follow up. This becomes an interactive nuts and bolts conversation. Now that we've spent a little more than a day preparing, we can actually think about the OST itself now. This is like real life in terms of our attention budget.

Over lunch the invitation is to think about the real life opportunities that are ripe for an Open Space.


DAY TWO - afternoon Frame: ACTION, practice of practicing

After lunch it's the day two Open Space: Where and when and how will we open space? A couple of short time sessions. Here 's where it all comes together...putting into practice inviting, opening and holding: the practice of practicing. Then a wrap up and out the door.

That's it.

Easy to see how this can be expanded into four full days, with full on somatic or zappy exercises fully integrated into the practice workshop.


Day one
Drawing the quadrants and overview of the practices

Day One

PURPOSE: looking at opening...why it matters in Open Space
Small groups: where do opening practices show up in your life
Debrief small groups


STORY: inviting...the evolution of inviting org story
Noticing invitation...small groups
Visioning exercise: see yourself opening space, cpome tomorrow
prepared to plan one.


Day Two

Morning News

STRUCTURE: the role of the facilitator
Small groups conversation on where holding shows up, and what holding
space means
Some stuff on OST logistics


ACTION: grounding all this in open space

Open Space: where and when will we open space...groups works on their
invitations together

Closing circle

That's the two day version.  There is LESS open space for two reasons:
first, it gives one a real sense of what it is like to actually plan a
real OST event, whereby there is a lot more attention on preparation
and the event itself is almost secondary.  This is consistent with the
approach of "if you want to do OST, read HO's book, if you want to
learn the practices to support it, show up here."

The other reason is that this also supports learning in a more
structured way where people support the beginnings of practice in
small groups with one another, AND it provides time for dialogue with
the larger group as well.

Also I have found the OST's in training sessions, even ours (!) to be
misrepresenting the power of the process because a) they are
contrived, and there is not really alot of passion around the theme
and b) they are too damn short.

To make it four days means a lot more somatics and deeper explorations
of the practices AND a full day OST.  Juicy.

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Last edited March 30, 2005 11:58 am CentralTimeUSA by MichaelHerman
© 1998-2019 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