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from the OpenSpaceTechnology/OSLIST worldwide email listserve...

Do we have a Micro Open Space Format and what might its components be?

I am thinking deeply micro, eg 6 people

Chris Macrae

I stumbled upon a very simple format that I've been using for shorter meetings with fewer people. Say 1-2 hrs and up to 6 -8 people.

At the start of the meeting everybody who has a topic writes it on a piece of paper, announces it briefly, and places that piece of paper on the table. When no more topics come up, dialogue begins. We look at the potential topics, and dcide where to start. People can break into groups or not as they choose, most of the time we tackle all of the topics together. Once a topic has been dealt with, you can put that piece of paper aside.

The good thing about this format is that it takes almost no time to do the agenda planning, and the agenda is visible to everyone, as is the progress since the number of outstanding items on the table keeps shrinking.

I'm not sure why, but this works much better than writing down the agenda on a piece of paper. I should probably note that I use this format with people who are already used to open space meetings - that may be part of the reason why it works for us.



...everybody who has a topic writes it on a piece of paper, announces it briefly, and places that piece of paper on the table.

dear alex,

a table ? a table between ?
a table at the place instead of space ?

a table in a workshop works as a level
to hide what is below,

in my experience it seems important
to give the own topic something like a farewell
putting it in public on a wall
which is in a distance to my place

there, distant from me,
the self begins to work on the topic
which seemed the mine
but is not more the mine
it got its freedom to develop itself
in the space of public engagement

?? !!



...I've facilitated a few Open Space conferences with ten or fewer people, and one to three days in length.

 I did not make any particular changes in what I do (except have a translator
for the one in Russian). The group decides whether to meet as a "committee of the whole" or divide into smaller groups--usually some combination of the two--it is indeed self-organizing and self-managing.

I have used the exact process that Alexander describes for setting the agenda for meetings that follow an Open Space conference in an organization. It is a different dynamic than writing the agenda up on one sheet of paper, and the group decides whatto address first. Some topics which are not addressed directly are handled in other discussions, and any which are left unfinished are carried over to the next meeting.

Working in a conventional "facilitator" role, I feel the need to re-design for every different kind of meeting. But when what is wanted is self-organiz ation, OST is a simple and effective way to allow people to self-organize. And I bill the client anyway.




When I do a follow-up meeting with a client, maybe 2 or 3 hours, we may be at their workplace--for one current client, there is no alternative to the table. But I do put the posters on the wall, for exactly the reason you mention.


I'm intrigued by the possibility of using open space for our weekly staff meetings, but I'd like to read more about how OS works for short meetings (ours are usually about an hour) and with very small numbers of people. Does anyone have suggestions?


It works just the same as for large meetings. I have long been an advocate of using OST for staff meetings, and have seen it work in a couple of places. When I worked in government we used it as a process for our unit of 10 people on a bi-weekly basis. Most of them time, the group stayed together, but a few times we had breakout groups form where we needed to work on specific projects (like job description reclassifications or allocating training budgets). We toyed with the idea of posting the reports from these meeting on the staff intranet, but the tools were too cumbersome to use at that time, six years ago. In the end, we mostly posted updates and reports on a staff bulletin board in our work area.

These days, I might turn to collaborative software like a wiki or project weblogs to keep folks informed of progress and extend the staff meeting OSTs into asynchronous time so that work could continue to unfold through the week.



I have seen OS work well in the Staff Meeting arena. Although typically what happens is that the Opening of Space becomes rather truncated in terms of time. After all, the people have taken the trip on a number of occasions. But an essential core usually remains. 1) Sit in a circle with nothing in the middle. 2) Take a moment at the start to silently acknowledge each other -- and catch your own breath. 3) Focus the group -- announce the theme. Maybe something like, "What are the issues and opportunities we confront this week?" Post the issues, and get on with the business -- works just like usual. Mention of The Principles and The Law was largely gratuitous, as signs bearing both were a permanent fixture in the meeting room.


Hi Jennifer, You might be interested in reading some information on the Conscious Open Space Organization at http://www.openspacetechnology.com/articles_2.html In the work we do, we have found that to go into short OST meetings without a long one first does not work very well. It simply results in self managed meetings but with no real open space for creativity, wonder, imagination and so on to flourish. However, when we start an organization with a long OST meeting ie: a retreat of 2-2 1/2 days and they engage in the real feeling and power of being in Open Space (using the vehicle of a good OST meeting to get to that feeling and that quality with no name), then short meetings seem to work. The biggest challenge is in between the OST meetings. First, so much information gets generated at the meetings, so much passion gets stirred up, and so many actionable items are identified that groups often get frustrated in figuring out how to move it all forward in the organization (definitely felt after the 3rd or 4th meeting). The second challenge is finding a way to be congruent with OST during the times between the meetings.

Sometimes groups end up being really frustrated if they are not prepared for what might happen because there is a huge shift in everything that takes place, beginning with a lot of disatisfaction. I like to let the groups that I am working with know that if they get started on frequent OST meetings that everything might change. As a consultant, I have knowledge of the power of OST and its interface with the greater Open Space. I feel that I have an ethical responsibility to provide as much information as I can that this is about more than just doing meetings in OST but is about BIG and unpredicatable change. I am a strong advocate of the Conscious Open Space Organization so I certainly love it when people inform themselves and then say YES.

Blessings to you and to all with whom you make Genuine Contact, Birgitt

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