Short Open Space inside Larger Meeting?

I answer a lot of open space design questions, mostly about departures from standard practice. Here’s one from a recent email exchange, about doing a small/short open space inside a larger meeting/group:

…great that you’re reading the [ost] user’s guide [by harrison owen]. You’ve got too small a time slot to do anything but confuse people if you call what you’re doing “Open Space” but it’s very fair to tell them that you’d like to invite them into a process that’s *informed* by OST. That said, the things to focus on are the basic mechanisms… invitation, circle, bulletin board (post what’s most important), marketplace (room to move around and make choices for themselves), personal passion and responsibility for maximizing their own learning and contributing.

Forget about everything else, like going around and having everyone introduce themselves. If you ask what’s most important to everyone, what they want to be sure to discuss and address with some of the others who’ve gathered with you, read those out with their names, and post them on the wall — the group has done exactly that usual going around exercise, focusing on those folks most likely to take the lead (cuz they already have). Also, since you’ve appeared to ignore doing this obvious going around exercise, everyone will do some tiny version of that in their breakouts, all by themselves. No need for you to impose it on them and slow the beginning of the work. I say this as just one example of all the other things to NOT do.

Oh, and just have fun with it. As long as you don’t call it “Open Space Technology” (complete with drumroll), then it doesn’t “have to” be anything… it can just be a process that you cooked up, informed by, inspired by, OST. Simplest process that could possible work… for your meeting, at this moment.

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