Mapping Open Space

Reporting in from BlawgThink2005 today, where I’ll open a space this afternoon that will stretch on into tomorrow, an Open Space unconference inside of a more traditional conference.

Had a great conversation with Olivia Woodard of MindJet, a very cool bit of mapping software. In the old days we captured proceedings from Open Space meetings in MS-Word. Lately we’ve been using weblogs more and more, for the linking and ongoing support that sort of platform offers. I think MindJet must be the future of this documenting.

Consider that a large-ish group gets together, posts 50-80 issues, discusses and documents all of them, and all the proceedings are then loaded into a MindJet-type map. Over the next weeks or months, they continue to develop and refine their map. Next time they meet, they don’t start with a blank wall, they start with their map. They post new nodes and assign meeting times and spaces to the nodes. They meet, keep refining and expanding.

And when they’re done, they turn some of those nodes in to action items that can be aggregated and tracked using Gyronix’ ResultsManager. Ongoing Opening. Ongoing Vision. Ongoing Learning and Support Space. Ongoing Management, Results and Documentation. Ongoing Practice.

Looking forward to working on an invitation and open space for MindJet and Gyronix users, and seeing what they can map and make together.

Opening and Offering, in Spite of Everything

Chris posted this from Pema Chodron, which I like so much that I’m reposting the whole of it. In terms of Open Space Practices, Chris links it to the Offering/Holding Practice. You’ll see that Pema also makes reference to open-hearted.

“Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that’s the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself. And maybe if you have strong addictions, you just go right for your addiction to cover over the bad feeling that arose when that person said that mean word to you. This is a mean word that gets you, hooks you. Another mean word may not affect you but we’re talking about where it touches that sore place— that’s a shenpa. Someone criticizes you—they criticize your work, they criticize your appearance, they criticize your child— and, shenpa: almost co-arising.

At Gampo Abbey it’s a small community. We’re thirty monks and nuns there. You have a pretty intimate relationship there, living in community. People were finding that in the dining room, someone would come and sit down next to them and they could feel the shenpa just because this person sat down next to them, because they had some kind of thing going about this person. Then they feel this closing down and they’re hooked.

If you catch it at that level, it’s very workable. And you have the possibility, you have this enormous curiosity about sitting still right there at the table with this urge to do the habitual thing, to strengthen the habituation, you can feel it, and it’s never new. It always has a familiar taste in the mouth. It has a familiar smell. When you begin to get the hang of it, you feel like this has been happening forever.

Generally speaking, however, we don’t catch it at that level of just open space closing down. You’re open-hearted, open-minded, and then… erkk. Right along with the hooked quality, or the tension, or the shutting down, whatever… I experience it, at the most subtle level, as a sort of tensing. Then you can feel yourself sort of withdrawing and actually not wanting to be in that place.

This reminds me that our work around the quadrants is a pulsation from Open-Hearted (inside, individually), then doing our best to maintain our opening even as we are seeing and hearing (and ultimately saying) things in the organizational world, then bringing those things out as organizational openings (space for others, offered and held), which we try to sustain even as we take specific actions. So we are ultimately practicing open-hearted offering, even as we are seeing, hearing, and doing things in the world. It makes for a full day.

The Physics of Invitation

Okay. The last posting is all wrong. A good start, but really rough. My resident physicist has straightened me out on several points, though there have been moments where I got some good shots in and really made her think. When your partner is a former particle accelerator jockey, not losing too bad is a win in my book.

One of the more important distinctions she’s made for me is the one between Newtonian and Quantum physics, the former is the big stuff and the latter the small. Quantum leaps are actually quite small, as it turns out. Along the way, it seemed that we might be looking at a marriage between the big and small, organization vision and structure might be Newtonian and individual passion and action might be more mappable to quantum theories. That got complicated in a hurry.

As we keep tossing Einstein’s equation around, we come up with lots of potential mappings, but Jill keeps making me make sure it ALL works… and so far it doesn’t. This doesn’t dim my view that some thing of E=mc^2 *does* map to our work in organizations.

My Bodanis reading (see last post) is bogging down a bit, but today I picked up a new book at the library: User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, by Tor Norretranders. In the first two pages of preface he notes the radical shifts in our understanding of “information” which we now measure in “bits.”

“Eureka!” says I.

In mapping Einstein’s equation, there is no need to map Energy, we know that organizations run on people power, perhaps more specifically, personal passion. People gotta care. No care, no go. Next, building on this notion of bits as the measure of information, it occurs to me that information is organizational analog of Mass in physics. And as bits now move along fiber optic networks, on the web, on the phone, from whiteboard to eyeball, it follows that top speed for bits in organization is same as for particles and such in physics: the speed of light.

Still have to work through all the “math” tonight with Jill, but everything seems to hold quite well. Consider: If no additional Energy is added, as organizational mass, the mass of information that is an organization, continues to grow, the speed must slow down. Conversely, if more and more Energy is poured in, remember Energy might be personal or financial or probably some other kinds too, but as it rises, either you generate lots more information or you generate lots more speed. All depends on whether the information you already have (mission, vision, grapevine, procedures manuals, email system, website, brochures and the rest) are able to handle the speed.

I think… when we say we want Action in an organization, what we usually mean is that we want mass the velocity of work to increase (or the ease to increase) when we add new Energy, rather than just getting more talk or other “information.” Or… we are creating some new information, a new pile of bits, some new story, and we want Energy, in the form of passion or cash, for instance, to increase, rather than the alternative reaction, which would be that everything just slows down.

Since this latter increase in information usually causes a decrease in speed, rather than an increase in Energy, herein lies some of the payoff of Invitation. Think of invitation as a super-slimmed down, low-bit, strategic plan. As the mass of the plan is reduced, its speed must automatically increase OR the Energy to drive it must be much less than for the old, bit-heavy “plan.” So, same Energy, more velocity, more action.

And there you have it, the beginnings of a General Theory of Invitation, or the Physics of Open Space, the latter being simply the skillful practice of Invitation in Organization.

The Physics of Organization

I’m reading David Bodanis’ biography of Einstein’s famous equation. In a word, the equation says that that Energy (E) and Mass (m) are interchangeable, convertible like currencies, at a fixed exchange rate, the square of the speed of light (c^2). It says that the invisible world of Energy is constantly transacting with the visible world of Mass.

So what does this have to do with organization? The invisible world of personal passion, opening, storytelling and invitation is constantly transacting with the visible trappings of shared supporting structures and individual actions. Okay, fine. This we sort of already knew, though you wouldn’t know that by watching how we run most businesses. But now it has me wondering about the resulting dynamics, and also about the velocity (the equivalent of c^2) of organization.

What is Energy in organization? Passion, Story, Invitation? And what about Mass? Number of people or some measure of their ‘weight’ as empowerment. As Energy is used up, does Mass increase? As passion and invitation are exhausted, do new structures, actions and capabilities show up? Is Passion and Invitation automatically created when Structures are broken down and action blocked? Yes, I think so.

So what then is the velocity of organization? And is it a physical constant, a limit, like the speed of light? Light is a pulsation, between electricity and magnetism, what Bodanis describes as a little swirling pulsation between the two. Electricity, power, supporting Action. Magnetism, passion, attracting like Invitation.

So progress in organization means refining the pulsation between invitation and action, making organization so efficient that it hums. Or sparkles. Makes me think I was on quite the right track seven years ago, with Inviting Organzation Emerges, when I suggested the highest strategic question in organization is beyond “business model,” beyond “speed,” and even beyond what I suggested as “inviting.” The ultimate question it (still, more than ever) seems to be: “How Light is your organization.”

This is one of those days when it’s really good to have a PhD particle physicist turned organization development consultant in the house. And as luck would have it, she’s coming home a bit early today! Maybe she can help translate the actual equation. Much as I usually think such exercises are just silly, there just might be something valuable in this one, so long as it can stay grounded in the original science.

Open Space Practices

Last night was one of those “go to bed, have an idea, get up and get a pen, go back to bed, get up again with the next thought, go back to bed, puleeease can I not have another insight, oh good I do see now that I’ve got enough of it staked out that I can sort out the rest in the morning, maybe now I can finally sleep…” sort of nights.

For some time now, Chris Corrigan and I have been thinking about how to talk and teach about the Practices that are at the heart of Open Space Technology. An early version of Open Space Practices lives in my wiki notebook. Last night I got a more rarified and practical spin on them:

  1. Being Open-Hearted… not just the act of opening, but the practice of being that way, resting in that state. The tool here is experience, our own life experience. The workshop conversation is about the life experiences that have opened our hearts, in gentle or devastating ways — and how we’ve managed to maintain various states of openness, in spite of everything. The vehicle is body (heart, perception); the product is care, a sense of personal passion.
  2. Telling Visionary Stories… not just any storytelling, but the practice of speaking of our visions, of putting words and giving voice to the scattered data, fuzzy patterns, and blurry sensations we have of what we want and what might now be possible. The tools here are maps and languages. Every department, team, family and function has its own set of words and pictures to hold them together. The more languages we know, the bigger and broader the story we can spin, the more people we can invite. The workshop conversation here is about Inviting Organization, a map and language for maps and languages. The vehicle is invitation (literally, “please join us…”); the product is organization, a sense of focus, future and desired direction.
  3. Offering (and Holding) Space… the offering is important, no push, no grab, just letting what we have, our attention and our space, be there for the taking, for the use and support of what wants to happen in front of us, and all around us, within the circle of space that we circle and name as “us” and “our time together.” The tool(s) here are structures, but specifically those structures that support movement, rather than restrict it. Rules, if you will, that say what we can do, rather than what we must or must not do. Shapes of organization that create, and offer, choices. The workshop conversation is about space and support for movement. The vehicle is Organizing Space (open markets); the product is inviting, a sense of support and opportunity for movement.
  4. Grounding… making it real. making it touch, as impact, and imprint, a difference. and making touchdowns. score! making tracks, traction, and action. taking the steps, in the space, aligned with the vision, as guided by an open heart. showing up. on the ground. The tools are actions, steps, or perhaps gifts. The workshop conversation might be about gifts and giving. Assets and Exchange. Self and Others. Ground. Ground that is bigger, less theoretical, more sensational than Common Ground. More like Ground of Being. Which brings us back to the first practice, and how we are being… Aaaahhhhh….. The vehicle is direct and personal responsibility; the product is peace, or satisfaction.

Chris will be teaching some version of these later this month in Vancouver. After that, I might just have to fly out there so we can sit together and write this all down in a short book. In the meantime, here is another installment of that volume, a brief guide for… Inviting Movement in Organization.

UPDATED: Nov 15 2005, noted in italics.

BlawgThink2005… Please join us!

Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy have put together a great group of speakers AND had the — what should we call it, courage? vision? wisdom? — to let them say their piece and then sit down in self-organizing work groups, for some active conversation with conference attendees.

BlawgThink2005 is a two-day event offering three tracks of speakers and workshops for most of the first day, and then a wide-open second day in Open Space. The value of the first day is that we’ll cover a lot of core issues. The value of the second day is that we’ll get to do something with those issues.

In Open Space, we’ll name our own working sessions — repeats, sequels and spin-offs from the first day — and tap into the talent and experience of everyone, including the speakers, on the issues and opportunities that are most important to us. It’s not enough to just hear new stuff. We need some space and time to take it in, process, plan, and work together with others to apply it in our own situations.

The official focus is legal blogging, but anyone interested in more general business blogging will surely fit right in and find plenty of learning and application. I’m grateful to be along for the ride, as the facilitator of the Open Space portion of the program. There is much to be done — and gained — in connecting the practices of Open Space and Blogging!

Join us for BlawgThink on November 11th and 12th, at Catalyst Ranch in Chicago! to register.

Report from Aspen

First, the hiking was fabulous.

Second, in The Conversation, the Open Space conference that was my reason for being there, we did two innovative things that bear reporting here, for future practice.

One of them happened very spontaneously. We convened for the opening at 3pm, built the agenda, and then started the first working sessions in Open Space at 4:30pm. Meanwhile, 15 or so of our 100 participants were battling weather conditions, airport delays and mountain traffic in hired vans, still trying to reach us in Aspen. So we called them on cellphones and gave them the first session discussion topics. They had their sessions in the vans!

The other innovation was part of the program design, in response to the sponsors’ request for “some structure” and “panel discussion.” How did we build a structured panel discussion in the middle of Open Space? We picked the five panelists from participants, but not until just a few hours before the “discussion.” We asked them to talk about their experience at the conference, everything that was being accomplished, and also to look forward at what was yet to be done or discussed. We put them in the center of the room, rather than at the front. And we did it at the end of 1.5 days of Open conversation, the evening before what would be the closing half-day for action planning.

It worked perfectly, in that we allowed for panelists to tag or be tagged by others, so that those center seats could rotate. After a couple of rounds, the panel broke down, into one big circle with a talking stick. The structure gave way to community. We heard ideas, insights and appreciations from many people, which did an excellent job of setting up the next conversations, convened on the last morning. Next time, I’d put 6 chairs in the middle and use that empty chair as invitation to come join, and the signal that somebody should leave the panel.

The Conversation event was a great success, by all accounts. Two accounts of The Conversation, one from the event and one from the vans, were published in newspapers and are posted in my wiki notebook.

Rocky Mountain High

Reporting in from Aspen, Colorado, where I will be facilitating The Conversation, a large-ish Open Space Summit on the future of what it means to be Jewish in America in the 21st Century. Where else to have this visionary meeting, but on the mountain top? Some interesting innovations built into the program, to be reported on later this week.

Aspen itself is absolutely gorgeous. I always breathe better in Colorado. I love it here. So much more space, room to breathe. My theory is that the mountains make us more aware of how far we can go up, but whatever the reason, it’s working for me. Looking forward to having Jill here later in the week.

Meanwhile, there’s a big climate change conference finishing up just before we start. Al Franken almost ran me over coming around a corner in the hallway today. Theresa Heinz Kerry standing next to me at the front desk as I was checking in. And Al Gore passing by later this evening. Too bad they’re not working in Open Space!

Oh yes, and I guess the John Denver festival is just wrapping up, down the road a piece. Woohoo!

Social Networks Grow in Open Space

Andrew Rixon has posted an excellent view of how networks grow in Open Space meetings. Before and after social network map diagrams show clearly the impact of the meeting. He also offers a white paper for download. This is the inside of view of what I wrote some years ago, that Open Space brings organizations back to life.

I’m off to Aspen, Colorado, to facilitate a little of this network growth, and then a few days of walking around in the mountains (the other kind of open space!) with Jill.

Open Question

Here are some musings from Doug Germann about OpenSpaceTech

I must confess to you that I am at a loss to describe to you this meeting. We come to it and meet in a way that shares more of us than we ever planned to share, and it makes us whole; it reveals our beauty-individually and as a community. It causes us to go our and do something we thought larger than us, beyond our reach, but there it is, being done. And when we come away, we come away changed profoundly and surely, and yet we are unable to put in words in what way nor prescribe a way for others to get there.

And yes, that’s pretty much how it is for me, too. It’s all the little aligning and connectings that take place that clearly, if still mysteriously, support new action. I like Doug’s line too, about “What if conversation is how we consciously evolve?”

The Beginning of the End?

Already it seems to me that New Orleans must someday be called the beginning of the end.

The city of almost one half million people is among the poorest in the nation. I can’t remember if it was 25% or 30% living below the poverty line, compared to 17% in Chicago and 9% nationally. Clearly we have not been able to eliminate poverty in how many years of government initiatives in this direction. So how could we ever wipe out its implications in the 2-3 days warning before the storm?

Everywhere we look, people are criticizing FEMA, but the primary response is supposed to be directed by state and local governments. And on a practical level, even in the poorest places, evacuation and relief must come from local associations. Where are the church buses? If they all got out of town full-up with people, that would be perfect, but I suspect not.

RFK Jr. and some others have decried 44% federal cuts in flood management and prevention funding in the last few years, and of course the National Guard is already quite busy in Iraq. People have been questioning those decisions for the last 3-4 years, and rightly so. It would be better to have had the funding and people committed to this scene, already knowing 4 years ago that this was one of the 3 top disaster potentials in the whole country.

And yet, if there is a failure in the whole scheme, it must be on the evacuation side. The buildings were always going to get creamed, but the people should have been out. Everyone is blaming the federal government, but much of what needed to happen is simply beyond the reach of government. And will be more and more beyond reach in the coming years.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert has already suggested that New Orleans not be rebuilt. I can’t ever remember agreeing with the man, until now. What he says makes some sense. We have limits, physical and economic. Period. Even if we manage to clean it up and rebuild, it’s still 8 or more feet below sea level and still sitting in the path of massive storms. This is the 6th in 100 years. It’ll go down again and again. This time or next time, no matter, one of these days we’re simply not going to have the money to rebuild.

We’re not going to have the money to do a lot of things at the federal level in the coming years. We’re going to lose our grip on drug and other healthcare costs, the value of the dollar, the price of oil, the solvency of social security, the rate of immigration, the ravages of a rising sea and shifting tectonic plates. If 9-11 made it all to clear that we are actually part of the rest of the world, Katrina (if not already Iraq) will teach us that we are not in control of much of it.

The only solution must be an active cultivation of individual, personal and direct responsibility and contribution. Everybody pays attention. Everybody helps out. Everybody is responsible for getting and keeping themselves out of danger. And everything that the federal government does is gravy.

And to be clear, I don’t see this as a step back, but a step forward for us all, albeit a long and difficult one to make. Or maybe it’s a very short one. What can you do? Who do you know? Everybody knows somebody down that way. Six degrees of separation might mean that we’ve all got a one-in-six chance of being the ones on the front line. And there are going to be more than six shots fired.

We’re all in this together. And last I checked, despite the wobbling, we are still a democracy, which means we are the federal government. All of us. Let’s get it in session! …and get it in gear! This end must be our beginning.

The Dangers of Mixed Mode

Recent consulting conversations have me thinking about meeting design, group dynamics and productive work. Research meets practice in a short article I’ve just adapted from the writing of Bob Rehm and Merrelyn Emery:

The self-organizing workplace and Open Space approach run on the group dynamics researched by Wilfred Bion over fifty years ago. Bion discovered that when people come together they establish a group quickly. We see this all time in Open Space when a diverse group with sparse existing connections quickly comes to know itself as a “team” or “community.”

A group or community is not just a collection of individuals. A group is a separate entity with its own dynamics and behaviors, and it operates on certain assumptions. Bion observed that, at any given time, a group operates out of only one of two possible modes. The group is EITHER in a productive work mode OR a basic assumption mode.

Fred and Merrelyn Emery applied Bion’s insights to workplace design, in their search conference and participative design processes. This adaptation of their writing extends these insights to the design and practice of OpenSpaceTech meetings and events.

As soon as the facilitator or leader “steps into” or otherwise “takes control” of the process, even for the most well-meaning interventions, everyone starts deciding, moment-to-moment if they will submit to being “in control” or dare to step “out of control.” In that moment, the momentum of productive work and felt sense of active, personal responsibility are in danger, as everyone has to choose between what they personally understand as productive work on the task and the structure that is being imposed by the leader or facilitator.

Why force that choice? Why intervene in productive work?

Read More…

The Conversation Gap

According to a study by Career Innovation, four out of every ten talented employees have an issue they want to discuss with their manager, but feel unable to do so. Their survey research shows that these employees — talented folk but significanly less engaged — are three times more likely to leave as a result of this ‘conversation gap.’

The free report describes the issues they want to discuss and the why they don’t. The $120 report explains what to do about it. Reading only the free report, I do see that they suggest that the ‘gap’ can be bridged in many ways, but they’re all one-on-one interactions. That said, most of the conversations that people want to have are “future” conversations and I can’t help but notice that the theme or purpose of almost every open space event I facilitate is some form of “Issues and Opportunities for the Future of…”

Many many of these ‘future’ conversations that are missing in organizations come up easily, naturally and automatically in the course of working in open space on the future of various parts of the organization. When managers invite conversation on the future of the organization, employees have a better shot at working out their own future questions, and asking them in the context of larger, shared futures. No wonder engagement is so high in Open Space!

via Management Craft

Living a Life of Invitation

Chris Corrigan has posted this from biologist Varela, via leadership guru Jaworski, in the latter’s book called Synchronicity:

“When we are in touch with our ‘open nature,’ our emptiness, we exert an enormous attraction to other human beings. There is great magnetism in that state of being which has been called by Trungpa ‘authentic presence.” Varela leaned back and smiled. “Isn’t that beautiful? And if others are in that same space or entering it, they resonate with us and immediately doors are open to us. It is not strange or mystical. It is part of the natural order. “

Chris links it to our work on the practices of Open Space. I add it here because it fits in so well with my recently posted bits about “action.”

More About Action

Two weeks ago I facilitated the first-ever Omidyar Network members conference in Open Space. After the conference, we started a discussion thread called “What I loved about this conference.” Anne Marie Bellavance posted this comment, which is a perfect example of how “action” happens after an Open Space meeting.

I loved meeting Dennis and Tony from Kaboom, so much so i returned home knowing i wanted to participate in a Kaboom build [community-built playspace] asap. I was reading the local paper last Friday, and discovered this article profiling the groundbreaking of a new recreation park in the town next door. The head of the committee happens to be the Athletic Director at the college I used to work for. I emailed him this morning asking if they would be interested in a Kaboom build ~ he responded immediately with a enthusiastic YES.

My first Kaboom project has begun

So often we seem to operate under the impression that the facilitator, the leader(s), or more mysteriously “the organization” does something to make action happen. Mostly I find that organizations don’t take action. People do.

The best any leader can do is invite and support it. That is exactly what Open Space Tech does, invite and support. Then, as Anne Marie is demonstrating, the action is easy.

Thank You

A while back, I posted here the four things that people tend to say when I work with them or their organization. I can’t resist posting this bit of yesterday’s thank you note from a recent client, as it lines up so well with those earlier claims.

…thanks again for your elegant facilitation and gentle nudgins into self-organize…it was a very enjoyable experience and it exceded all of our expectations for success…in fact, one of senior members of our community said to me on the street later that eve, (in his french accented english):

“at first i thought if i saw another flip-chart, i would throw up!…but really, that was the best meeting i have ever attended in our community in the last 20 years”

I love this last part… open space as the antidote for flipchart sickness!

The Nature of Action

Almost everybody who calls about working in Open Space these days wants it to lead to some sort of “action.” Sometimes they want to design it in and “make it happen,” but here’s a good example of how real action often happens…

A couple of months ago I facilitated a one-day meeting with a middle-to-senior sort of group of about 20 people. The focus could be described loosely as “get all of these great ideas to market.” They’d been working in “product” teams for a year and a half. I challenged that structure in the invitation and design process, but they assured me that they wanted to keep these teams into the future, beyond this meeting.

We set up the day as a big chunk of Open Space followed by one round of breakout sessions for their “product” teams to turn the day’s ideas in the direction of “action.” When that session happened, the energy dropped off quite a bit. Conversations wandered. Almost no notes were taken. Some wondered if the whole day had been wasted. The “lull” in energy lasted for some weeks after the meeting. The proceedings didn’t get sent out as had been promised. Teams treaded water or failed to meet altogether.

Then somebody determined to send out the proceedings. I helped draft a few questions that invited engagement on various levels. The conversation started to churn a bit. The original Space had given the old structures every chance to succeed, but everyone could see that something more was needed. Then that something happened.

With widespread agreement, the old “product” teams were dissolved and new “product development” functions created in their place, without sacrificing people or progress. What could have been called a failure for “no action” at several points, suddenly opened into a whole new way of doing business.

The new structure more directly supports current needs and actions. It builds directly on all their past work. As it turns out, it also looks a lot more like Open Space than did the old one, adopting such concepts as “temporary teams” and “open invitations.” Energy is rising, conversation is flowing, and new actions are being taken.

Awareness Through Movement

The Feldenkrais Method teaches awareness through movement, so it’s fitting that I should be here in Indiana facilitating part of the annual practitioners conference in Open Space, which is also all about awareness and movement in organization and community.

We opened this morning with a decided local adaptation of the standard Open Space approach: we did a 1.5-hour “Awareness Through Movement” lesson. The gist of this was lots of easy, gentle, flowing sorts of movements, individually and as a 100+ person community. The moves are very similar to the rolling turning sitting standing moves that little kids use when learning to stand up and walk.

Immediately after the lesson, I felt great. I recognized the sense of power, confidence and presence I felt in body as a very very old, but not a regular everyday, sort of sensation. It reminded me of how I must have felt when I first learned these moves. Learning to stand and walk must have been a HUGE rush! And this method seemed to be tapping into just that early moving moment. Fabulous!

And then we went on to have 100+ people post more than 20 topics for the future of this professional community, some of which they are right now in the next building discussing and exploring and documenting for their annual business meeting tonight. Members Conference: More and More (day three)

On the last morning, things started a bit slowly, owing to late nights and the cumulative effects of lots of working and learning, oh yes, and perhaps eating and drinking over these last few days.

Morning News conversation went quite long. Included inside of that, we “re-opened” the space for new “action” sorts of topics — things that needed to be started with some clear next steps, or conversations that wanted to be finished before we left. After that slow start, the room really buzzed with the action groups that I finally called back together a bit later than scheduled. The closing circle focused on “What did we love about this conference.” Those thoughts were blogged live, via wi-fi connection. The rest of the proceedings are getting filled out here. Already people are beginning to look at repeating in Chicago, and also in Rio, Uganda, and Los Angeles.

One of the most amazing dimensions of the three-day meeting is that with 40 people in the room, working all day in dozens of breakouts, we used only one flipchart pad. Most of that use was by me in setting up the room for the opening on day one. Because we have an active online workspace and lots of laptops with wi-fi capacity, almost all of the work was captured and will continue to be processed in the online space, much of it posted in places other than the main “proceedings” repository, as well. More than any other Open Space meeting I’ve ever facilitated, this meeting and this work really is not going to end.

More and more, this high level of performance is possible in almost any working community and organization!