This past Thursday I experienced best facilitated Open Space ever. It was in the Hub Madrid and facilitated by Lotfi. I think I have taken part in few and at least facilitated partly two of them. But this time I kind of started to understand what open space can be. I am a fan of fluctuative and flowing programs in meetings, thus I dig open space.
Why this time the open space was a success? Let me try to analyze it a bit.
1. A clear calling question: This open space had a theme and it was ”How can I help you?” so it was not as open as universe but still left plenty of room for the participants.
2. Also the question was personal enough to make meaning for the participants. Everyone was asked to write their challenge on A4 paper. Where do I need help from these people. I wrote: How can I lead myself? When the theme was this personal everybody who wanted could either give or get value for sure
3. Then as we were about 30 in the space, there were 6 spaces and 2 rounds of 20 minutes each. So 12 people were chosen based on their eagerness to host a space. 2 persons voluntarily combined their sessions. And I think here was the key. No public combinations of sessions. First come first serve. And because the law of two feet was in place people could go where ever they wanted based on their interest. In the first round I joined a small talk about Sustainable Clothing industry.
4. Good facilitation of time. ”When it ends, it ends.” Lotfi informed the people in conversations about the time when 10 minutes were left, and also at the point of 5 minutes left. He went around to every circle and said the time left plus showed a little sign with the time that was available. The sign was good as I am a visual thinker, or seeing helps me to understand. Also having seen the paper we could without bigger interruption to keep our intense talks going on.
5. System with the stand. See the picture. People when presenting their case were standing on a little box. This reminded ms about the story of London marketplace where anyone can go and give a talk. It greated that image to my head.
6. Harvesting. Nobody was forced to share about their insights or stories but it was voluntary. It worked very well again. Some hosts shared with passion what they had got, and I am sure others walked home with good insights too.
7. Lotfi as a host and facilitator had very inviting energy and drive. I have found him to be a very positive and enriching in his interaction with others. No sarcasm that deminishes security and kills energy from him, but good open questions and encouragement.
What is exciting is that today I get to experience another type of Open Space, the BarCamp here in Strasbourg Project Factory. It’s organized by my friend Yann of Novelys. He participated in Learning Expedition in March and I also met him at the Team Academy Alsace Anniversary party last November. So very excited how this my first ever BarCamp will go.