Almada 2008 Open Space

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Preparing for the KM4Dev Almada Open Space

1. What is the key invitation/question of the open space (most important design element)

Peter's suggestion: “What are the issues, challenges, possibilities and strategies I want to explore on further developing know-how and joint learning on knowledge management in development"?

2. a rough outline of the Open Space (e.g. how many 'rounds' in total and per day, how many markets, evening news, documentation moments, and how OS events documentation will be shared (not on paper???)

  • how many sessions
    • [ms] in my experience, it is advisable to have 90min slots. For lunch, add another 60min. For the opening on the first day, calculate another 90 minutes (for opening, the first collection of topics and the first market place. A day plan could look like this: 8:30 - 10:00 - 11:30 - 14:00 - 15:30 - Closing at 17:00 for 30 min. With this we could have easily 8-9 sessions plus 1/2 day for the consolidation.
  • how to open and close each day
    • Day 1 morning: Opening open space + initial collection of topics + market place (90min) + ice breaker/game (30min)
    • Day 1 evening: evening news (30min)
    • Day 2 morning: Opening circle + reconsideration/ recollection of topics (30min)
    • Day 2 evening: Full circle come together (60min)
  • wiki plus what else for documentation
    • every convener is responsible to have report/minutes of her/his session on the wiki by 20:00 of each evening (either they do it themselves or delegate it -> self-organisation); in addition each convener is responsible to hand in a flipchart poster with key points/ measures by evening of day 2, 21:00 -> will hang them up for "OS gallery" on morning of day 3
  • posters of the principles and law
    • will produce that on the spot (I have templates with me, will be done in 30minutes)

Day 1

  • 9am - 11 am Opening, Icebreaker, Marketplace
  • 11 - 12:30 round 1
  • 12:30 - 2:00 lunch (need to talk to Josien re logistics)
  • 2:00- 3:30 session 2
  • 3:30 - 5:00 session 3
  • 5:00 - 6 Evening news, something we do together

Day 2

  • 9 -9:30 Open circle
  • 9:30 - 11 Session 4
  • 11-12'30 Session 5
  • 12:30 - 2 Lunch
  • 2-3:30 session 6
  • 3:30 - 5:00 session 7
  • 5-6 Full Circle come back together

3. inventory of all material and equipment needed

  • Marketplace wall paper
  • pens (markers?)
  • offering paper (is that the coloured paper people write the topics on? never heard that term before)
  • balloons to mark spaces ?
  • I cover the marketplace wall with glue spray/ glue stick (make sure it's re-positionable glue), so people can hang up their session announcements and easily move them (alternatively I use pin boards, but I guess we won't have)
  • Post-its for marketplace sessions (I can bring, I have big ones in many colours -LL)
  • Talking object to circulate in circle (I have a nice mandala, which people really enjoy playing with as they talk :-P... I'll bring it in case it can be useful - LL)
  • Since we don't have (enough) flipcharts, it would be great if we could have Easyflip foil from Leitz (white, static plastic foil to write on)

4. assignment on roles (opener, co-cleaners, documentation advisers)

  • who opens the circle each day - Marc
  • who runs evening news - Nancy
  • the support team (i.e. the cleaners and roamers) - Peter and Lucie
  • who runs icebreakers, games, whatever (we need to find someone... I can do a couple but that is also not my forte! - LL)

5. check with Josien and the guesthouse manager (I guess we can do that at arrival) the Open Space(s) available, documentation support corner(s), etc... Will we have room for a 95 person circle/concentric circles? What wall for Market place.

6. Will we do anything else besides open space (ice breakers, games, etc.) - yes, the start and end of the day

7. What information to send out to participants in advance - the OS question as a blog post

8. Coffee breaks: can we have coffee buffet throughout the days, so people can be butterflies and get whatever they need whenever it's the right time? And have fresh fruit on the buffet!

Previous Conversations about the Open Space


  • Marc: "I suggest we look at 1.5 days of sessions plus 0.5 days to pull stuff together. the 1.5 days (one afternoon and one full day) would allow us for 7 phases, which seems nice and is recommended by the very experienced guys (for those who read German, boscop in Berlin is having a nice website with much background info on OS - besides the main site of OpenSpaceWorld; there is a page on the different effects/ advantages of different durations: The last half day would then be used to review, condense and enrich the results of the working sessions - and if needed to decide on any follow-up steps/ measures/ action plans..."

>>> Peter's comment: one day and one half morning I presume? I would try to have documentation as much as possible on the spot (by the convenor or by delegation): succinct and to the point on a format provided by us and have outcomes displayed at least once at the end of day one, preferrably say for example after 2 rounds. Cause I tend to think (depending on how many parallel events we can have) that 2 rounds per half day = 6 rounds should be enough. The last round could be the 'consolidation/planning' round of those events that really are likely to lead to substantial follow-up (based on commitment of those involved). PS. There shouldn't be 'all participants' decision moments in Open Space, but I think you agree on that? Another thing is whether the core group's meeting takes decisions, but that is separate from the OS, though based on it probably. Unless we make the core group meeting also an OS event !?!?

  • Maarten: "For the open space days I remember from last year that at certain moments it was somewhat complicated to "organise" because every group needed different working time.

>>> Peter's comment: this is exactly why we should not squeeze the events / phases too much. However when time is over, it's over!

The moving too much around from one group to another did not really work and sometimes disturbed the (intense) work of those who were participating actively all the time.

>>> Peter's comment: trust people! and accept each individual's behaviour within the limits of the OS rules of the game.

I have no solution, but it can be complicated if the two days will be fully used for the open space. Anyhow I would suggest to have at least some (little) time for the whole group (remember the wonderful outside sessions?) But anyhow I think that many subjects which will be touched the Wednesday afternoon can be talked and thought through more in depth during these two days."

>>> Peter's comment: lets discuss the need for all participants sessions. Remember that we have the off times (ample lunch break? not too early start in the morning? early evening?). If that is not enough then yes maybe an all participants session at the begin of day 1 and end of day 2 (or early day 3?)

  • Nancy: "The key areas that show up for me are...
  1. Timing of sessions

>>> Peter: probably 1,5 hr each (2 per half day = total of 6)

  1. Who opens the space

>>> Peter: inventory who would like to do it? Nancy: Lucie: Marc: Peter: yes, but happy if someone else insists ;-) Other...:

  1. Ways to support harvest

>>> Peter: crucial if we try to have this done in a smart, speedy and efficient way. Did we ask all participants to come with a laptop? Do we have enough sockets, multiplugs in strategic positions (Josien?)

  1. How to support pre-gathering online conversation that does not foreclose the OS before it happens (in other words, get people thinking but not locked in)

>>> Peter: trust people!!! If anyone wishes to re-market a discussion held previously online: NO PROBLEM!

  1. Ways to integrate w/ remote participants (coord with other working group)

>>> Peter: no idea, ambitious, to we still maintain this objective?

  1. How we want to close and open each day (integrating fun or energizing activities, games, etc to keep our bodies happy and minds alert)

>>> Peter: and what will we offer as permanent 'keep me happy' facilities and services during the OS?

  • Allison: "You had earlier suggested incorporation of reflections/learning during the event instead of at the end a la AAR. I suppose that this could be incorporated in #6 or an area on its own."

>>> Peter: sorry what is #6 referring to? Reflection would be good, what about a permanently available reflection facility (hard or soft) and 4 collective reflection moments: 1. after lunch day 1 2. before evening ending day 1 3. before start day 2 4. after lunch day 2