Learning and Constructive Creativity in Open Space LO29267

From: hms (hms@alaska.com)
Date: 10/05/02

Replying to LO29203 --

During the week of September 11 this year, we (the Alaska Dispute
Settlement Association and co-sponsors) hosted "Becoming a Peacemaker"
Open Space Conferences on the Kenai Peninsula, in Anchorage, and in
Fairbanks. Don Dwiggins commented with an appropriate grin that if he'd
been able to come, he'd probably have brought tabbouli -- and inquired:

>So, how'd it go? Learning minds want to know...

Hi Don and Loers,

The September 11 Open Space conferences went perfectly! <G> How could they
go otherwise with "the four principles" and "the law of two feet?"

For those of you who don't know, in Open Space this is the law of two

* If you feel you are not contributing something or learning something,
please feel welcome to move on.

These are the four principles:

* Whenever it starts is the right time
* Whoever comes is the right people
* Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
* Whenever it is over, it's over

To read more about Open Space, here is a web site with mirrors in 9
languages done by volunteers: http://www.openspaceworld.org .

Don, I only attended the Open Space conferences in Kenai and Anchorage.
For both, attendance was on the low side of our hopes: <20. In the context
of the day, a theme other than "Becoming a Peacemaker" likely would have
been more compelling to more people, I think. <G?> Those of us who
participated, however, found the conferences learningful and meaningful
both substantively and process-wise.

Actually, last night I just returned to Alaska from the Pegasus Conference
in San Diego, "Leading in a Complex World." I'm guessing there were
600-700 paying participants.

In the plenary sessions there they used a "World Café" format. Small
groups were gathered at round small tables, and the tables were all
gathered pretty closely together. The facilitator and organizers
controlled the theme, framed the theme variously with presentations (and
on one morning theatre!), and controlled the timing of movement between
communication modes including: conversation at the tables, comments to the
full group, occasional movement between tables, and presentations.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Pegasus Conference. It touched me to the core.

And comparison is interesting. Here are a few observations.

* Regularly recurring subtle themes of the Pegasus Conference were about
paradigm shifting, transformation, and distributed leadership.
Process-wise, even with the World Café format, the Pegasus Conference was
much more top-down than Open Space. I think it's arguable that Open Space
format is more about living paradigm shift, transformation, and
distributed leadership. Open Space is less choreographed.

* The Pegasus Conference, to me, seemed wonderfully attended. Attendees
from fields of business, education, government, other sectors and many
countries were quite sophisticated.

* I could only infer the energy it took to organize the Pegasus
Conference, but to me it seemed huge. Coming from rural-ish Alaska, I was
impressed and delighted to experience it. The cost of the conference was
intimidating; impossible for most people with whom I regularly associate
in Alaska. Impossible for me, too, actually. I could only think of the
systems archetype "Success to the Successful." Open Space can be done on a
shoestring budget for people on relative shoestring budgets.

Don, I'm sorry you and others weren't able to join us in our Open Space
conferences. <G> Maybe next time! I did meet John Dicus and his wife
while at the San Diego conference. Met some other luminaries, too. That
was great.




"hms" <hms@alaska.com>

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