of the Week
Journal | Issue #0111 | July 29, 2003 | 9,100 Subscribers
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Though I do spend much of my days in my home office
pounding out content, graphics, and websites on my PC,
my work in the virtual world does occasionally grant
me a much welcomed dose of adventure. For instance,
incognito as I begin this week's piece, typing from
a table in a sleazy diner, under overcasts skies, laid
over for 2 hours at the Cincinnati Airport in route
to the beautiful Martha's Vineyard. There I plan to
spend the week with my friends Rob Berkley and Debbie
Phillips of GroupMV
for fun, adventure, and some help developing plans for
my FacilitatorU.com project.
Preceding this adventure, I attend another last weekend,
participating in a
and strategy session
by CoachVille.com to
tease out challenges, opportunities, and ideas to help
them guide the future of their organization.
The session incorporated
Open Space Technology and was
facilitated by Nina East.
In this week's article, I share with
experience of this incredibly simple yet powerful facilitation
model as it's something you or your clients would likely
find surprisingly effective.
Note that details of our next offering of the Random
Acts of Facilitation Teleclass on September 8th-12th
are available for registration at the end of this article.
Also, with our "Getting
Full Participation" Facilitator's Guide
being well received, we plan to release our next guide,
"Intervene with Confidence" in a few weeks.
Also note that since we've changed the home page for
MFJ, you can still enter the site without a username
and password by clicking on the links at the top or
bottom of any issue. Or, enter the "Member Area"
from the home page by entering the following username
and password: username: sharemfj; password: today
If any of you have had interesting
experiences with groups as either a participant or as
a facilitator, please tell us about it. We may invite
you to interview with us to highlight your story as
a case study for a future issue.
Thanks for your support!
Space for Natural Evolution
overview of Open Space Technology for Facilitating Change.
Space Technology is an organic approach to facilitation.
It mimics nature by creating a simple structure through
the application of a few simple rules and allowing for
a free flow of communication between all its parts.
Inside this process, groups unfold in a seemingly random
fashion, but in truth, its participants interact guided
by their passions and natural attractions, the most
natural act of all living things.
According to Ann Stadler, Open Space expert, "[This
approach] creates the conditions so that the maximum
potential of the individual and the organization to
be realized. Open Space Technology captures the knowledge,
experience and innovation in the organization that is
not captured through less open processes."
to use Open Space
Space Technology is most effective when the following
of passion (conflict is an element of passion).
conflict is holding back the ability to change.
Where the situation is complex.
Where there is a high degree of diversity.
Where there is an urgent need to make speedy decisions.
Where all stakeholders are needed for good decisions
to be made.
you have no preconceived notion of what the outcomes
not use Open Space when you know the answer, think you
know the answer, or have to know the answer. Choosing
a theme for the event and who is invited (the broader
the diversity, the greater the potential for innovation)
are the most critical elements to consider.
with a Theme
Space Technology requires the group's commitment to
a clear theme. This serves as a focusing statement or
question for your gathering. It should frame the higher
purpose and widest context for your discussion in a
Here are some examples: "To build the best software
in our industry." "To become known for exemplary
customer service." "To create a company culture
that attracts and retains the best in the industry."
Those whom you invite to the event should be stakeholders
or have a specific contribution to make. All should
have passion for your theme. To help decide you should
attend consider the questions, "What are the expectations
and outcomes of the session and what will be done with
them? Who are the people affected by the theme?"
Also consider any constraints that may have an impact.
that this event will "let the genie out of the
bottle." Do not use it if you cannot live with
the consequences. Once it starts, it has to run, the
sponsor must play by the same rules as everyone else;
it is a sacred trust and must be honored or there will
technology can even be used for the business challenges
of solo-preneurs, providing they bring together a number
of their supporters, friends, and colleagues with a
sincere interest and commitment to their success.
energy, commitment and shared leadership.
accept responsibility for what does or doesn't happen.
plans and recommendations emerge from discussions
create a record of the entire proceedings as you go
Space Technology operates in accordance with the following
basic principles and truths.
These should be explained and discussed as needed prior
to kicking off the session.
- The Law of Two Feet. This
means that you take responsibility for what you care
about, standing up for that and using your own two feet
to move to whatever place you can best contribute or
learn. Use your "2 feet" to go where you feel
compelled to participate, to leave what you don't resonate
with, and to take a stand for what's important to you.
is the common ground that gathers participants to a
specific issue, they are reminded that they are all
standing together to address a higher purpose.
- Whoever comes are the right people. Whoever
is attracted to the same conversation are the people
who can contribute most to that conversation—because
they care. So they are exactly the ones—for the whole
group--who are capable of initiating action.
In one Open Space session, Rebock was holding, a janitor
from the building they were using was curious what was
going on and began explaining to some of them that he'd
sure like to see a safety shoe with Rebock insoles.
The company ended up launching a new product from this
input that now nets millions of dollars a year.
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
We are all limited by our own pasts and expectations.
This principle acknowledges we'll all do our best to
focus on the present time and place and release any
judgments we have about others or our own pasts--things
that could have been or should have been.
- Whenever it starts is the right time. Give
up rigid adherence to schedules or agendas outside of
the agreed upon focal points. Accept that the creative
spirit has its own time, and our task is to make our
best contribution and enter the flow of creativity when
- When it's over, it's over. Creativity has its
own rhythm. So do groups. This is just a reminder to
pay attention to the flow of creativity instead of the
clock. When you think it is over, ask: Is it over? If
it is, go on to the next thing you have passion for.
If it’s not, make plans for continuing the conversation.
- Everyone who comes must be passionate about the
topic and willing to take responsibility creating things
out of their passion. This will support the health
of the process, respect for all those involved that
share your passion, and the value of all that's offered.
- Every person in every situation is having an impact.
Every action, inaction, body language, thought, behavior,
etc. has some impact on the overall dynamic of the process.
Holding a clear, positive intention on the theme and
release of judgments and negativity will contribute
to the group's success.
- Chaos and business mix well together. New and
creative ideas and approaches usually arise from a breakdown
or shaking up of what exists. Clear intention and desire
has the capacity to assist in the reorganization of
a chaotic system into a higher order of functioning.
out focal points
the theme is established, individuals in the group independently
build the agenda items based on what they are passionate
about. These items might include problems to address,
systems to develop or refine, opportunities to explore,
etc. Participants write down their ideas then present
them to the group one at a time. Once an idea is presented,
check to see if others' ideas are similar and decide
whether they can be incorporated, adapted or nested
into a single focus. These are posted on the wall one
at a time under a particular group and time slot. There
will be 3 to 5 different topics posted to be running
simultaneously under each time slot.
out of the way
the agenda is established, the various groups are identified
in the room and outfitted with flipcharts and markers.
The facilitator's role now is to just stand back and
let the process unfold and people gravitate to the areas
that attract them. The originator of the theme is responsible
for seeing to it that all inputs are documented for
later input into the event document.
Open Space accommodates groups from 5 to 1500 people.
It can be run for a couple of hours to 3 or more days;
consecutively or over time; at one site or at multiple
sites connected by computer and/or phone and video.
The longer the space is open, the more transformative
will adopt different roles and behaviors throughout
this process. Some may resemble Bumblebees as they cross-pollinate
ideas across various groups. Some may "flutter"
like butterflies, observing and focusing on a particular
issue without a lot of fuss or apparent tangible input.
Some may not attend some or all of the sessions and
hang out at the pool or the bar. Some may hog the conversation
and find themselves standing alone depending on the
tolerance of their audience. Small side conversations
may take place outside or between designated groups.
Whatever the behavior, It's important to remember that
all roles are important to the process and contribute
in some way.
After participating in an Open Space process, I felt
that a great deal of work was accomplished with very
little effort or stress on the part of any participant.
I never felt stuck, bored, or frustrated during this
six hour process. Time flew by and a great deal of work
flowed out. I felt energized afterward as did many who
shared their experience with me. I definitely look forward
to trying this with my groups.
An excellent resource for Open Space Technology can
be found at: http://www.openspaceworld.org/wiki/wiki/wiki.cgi?
there an opportunity for you to try out Open Space Technology
in your work with groups? I'd love to hear from you. Please
us your comments.
have you had with Open Space Technology?
We'd love to hear about your insights, perspectives,
and success stories as a result of using this technology.
us your responses. All those who respond will
be sent the entire collection.
Steve Davis is "The Facilitator's Coach," helping
leaders enhance their effectiveness through the application
and perspective of facilitation. Please email
or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session,
or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. I'd
love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful,
please forward it to your friends.
Thanks for reading!
for new facilitators and change agents.
and attitudes for the new facilitator or group
member who wants to get their group into serious
Random Acts of Facilitation, 5-Day Teleclass
This class will meet for five consecutive weekdays September
8-12, 2003 at 10:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM EST (NY Time) to
cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower
and move groups forward. This course is for beginning
facilitators or group members that simply want to know
more about facilitation so that they can make the groups
they are a part of more effective.
the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri)
for a 30-minute focused training segment using a conferencing
2. You work a 25-point checklist during the 5 days (about
an hour a day of study and field work) which you complete
by Friday afternoon, or sooner if you wish.
3. You will have the opportunity to discuss issues on
the subject matter with the instructor and your classmates
via an online discussion forum during the course.
4. During the week, you may access the instructor via
email for help or situational questions.
Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the
Introduction to the Facilitation
and Self Facilitation Skills.
1. Create the Ambience.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
5. Me First.
Relating with compassion
6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.
Dynamics and Facilitation
11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation
and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally,
17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message
Intervening to shift group
22. Tame the Tormentors.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path
to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice
of facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming
a facilitator, team leader, board member, manager, mediator,
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you
come in contact with.
4. Learn skills to help groups make quantum leaps in
5. Be a catalyst for positive change in your community.
with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you
1. Free access to the participant-only website (lots
of resources, forms, etc.).
2. Free access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day
3. Free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).
The full cost of training/access is only $79 for MFJ
readers ($89 for the general public) including a free
copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything
you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed
September 8-12, 2003, 10:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM EST (NY
Time), 45-60 minutes each day.
here to register. Immediately upon completion
of your registration, you will receive an email with
instructions to access the course and free article bank.
This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come,
the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this
package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit
your credit card in the full amount and we will do so
immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor
this in every single case. (Why? Because we are sensitive
to the fact that you are buying an e-course/product
from us and we feel that if this package isn't EXACTLY
what you expected or wanted, that you should be able
to get 100% of your money back. This policy completely
removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction
rates extremely high.)
here for a one-minute audio testimonial from
several participants on the final day of the teleclass.
you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal. Look
for your next issue on August 5, 2003.
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