Wow thanks everyone contributing in this thread!
I love the examples and learn from them and get strengthened. Often there is
worry of negativity and criticism, but when space is opened passion and
responsibility shows up :) Great example Michael H and Peggy. This keeps
happening, isn't it?!

Birgitt you had some questions about givens. The main purpose with this
initiative is to invite people in the local community to find ways to
support young people to learn more. So the main idea is to start local
initiatives using the passion and responsibility of single persons, parents,
grandparents etc as well as NGOs, companies, other public organizations -
you name it.

I think our pre-process has gotten us on common ground, there is no strong
lobbying group that we think will try to take things over. So we probably go
for organizing the 4 meetings within 2 weeks or so.

So any actions that people can take responsibility for are welcome. My
sponsor is working on clarifying the givens from a list that they created in
our last planning meeting. I am considering to have some kind of converging
activity where input can be given to the school system, complementing the
actions that people can take on directly.

Michael, thanks for your perspectives on givens and follow up. Definitely
learning in that, for me. The handicraft with givens and how they are
communicated is delicate. I like your questions for follow up. Will think
more about that. 

Hilde, I love your idea to define the whole 4 meetings as one OST meeting.
And to see how to hold the space for it!

So again - my BIG thanks to all contributing in this thread!
I will keep you posted on how things move on
Thomas Herrmann

-----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
Från: OSList [] För Michael M
Pannwitz via OSList
Skickat: den 17 september 2016 13:33
Till: Judy Gast <>; World wide Open Space Technology email
list <>; Williams, Birgitt
Ämne: Re: [OSList] [GC] Time challenge - multiple short OSTs? (x-posted

Dear Judy,

in my practice I have always suggested to the sponsor (when that topic came
up) not to make promises regarding the support of any action that arose out
of the ost gathering... other than to provide for what I called "Next
The Next Meeting, 3.5 hours (between 4 and 8 weeks after the ost event),
gives space to

--- visualize the progress to date for each action
--- have an exchange on the progress to date among all present
--- collect and visualise future steps ("And Now?")
--- exchange and add to "And Now?" by everyone present
--- agree to the specific Next Step in each of the action groups
--- have an exchange on the Next Steps and add stuff (ideas, I want to be
part of this, etc.)

This design can be repeated until all actions originally planned are done
with (mostly two such meetings suffice but there have been situations where
up to 4 Next Meetings were needed)... participants together with the
sponsor(s) decide at the end of each Next Meeting whether and when the next
Next Meeting should be.
(A detailed account on this approach can be seen on pages 181 to 192 with
lots of pictures in "Meine open space Praxis"... the photos and German
language skills will help. Its available as hard cover and eBook

This approach ensures that those gathered around an action take the whole
responsibility to actually see the action through. Whatever ressources they
need from the organisation they need to and will acquire themselves. In
other words, stuff happens because originators of actions see it through...
its selforganisation all the way down and if an action is not supported I
have heard of ingenious ways to get approval after all.

This approach is based on various assumptions:

--- participants gathered around an issue that they care/are passionate
about and that they are willing to work/fight for will make progress on that
issue completely irrespective of prior promises of support
--- prior promises by the sponsor reduce either the  passion or
responsibility or both for a particular issue and give rise to a plethora of
--- actions by participants bringing progress to particular issues,
especially sticky ones, will benefit not only a particular issue but will
support the infrastructure for future action in the organisation

Another assumption that I have worked with and which, over the years of
practice has more and more left the realm of assumption is that resilient,
robust action can be expected after an ost event that makes time for a whole
day and a half, with the first day spent in ost and the second in Action
Planning (Action Space)... optimal are 2.5 days (16 hours spread over 3 days
and two nights sleep).
And, following that assumption, I have always informed sponsors of the
givens I just mentioned.
In some cases this led to splitting the event in a 1 day ost gathering and a
half day action planning a week later (this always led to having folks show
up in the Action Space that were not at the ost-day... word spread that
something important is going to happen).

I should not forget to  mention that I often was asked about a 3 or 4 hour
event. Result was always that the sponsor decided to follow my suggestion to
rethink the matter and give me a ring later. That ring always came and more
often than not, the sponsor continued the search for a different design.

And, if someone has a real business issue that requires immediate attention
or hell breaks lose, if chaos and conflict can be seen right in front of
you... even a space of less than 3 hours has to suffice to get actions in
place... albeit, none of my 170 sponsors in the last 20 years faced such
severe conditions but many wanted to reduce the time for a bypass operation
from 7 hours to two.

Greetings from Berlin

On 16.09.2016 20:53, Judy Gast via OSList wrote:
>  To chime in here, I agree with Birgitt.  The key to success is 
> insuring that there is a commitment to follow up through an officially 
> sanctioned and supported process and infrastructure.  And as Michael 
> has said an appropriate communications plan so that everyone who wants 
> to come knows the details with appropriate lead time and 
> accessibility,  including how to get involved in the implementation. 
> And the results are linked back to the meeting, and perhaps even the 
> person or persons who initiated the topic.  This is true for any open 
> space, however these type of "public forum" sessions have more 
> propensity to be seen as an opportunity for people to complain and
grandstand their issues.
> Look forward to reading more about it!
> Judy
> On Sep 16, 2016, at 12:15 PM, Birgitt Williams via OSList 
> < 
> <>>
> wrote:
>> Hi Thomas,
>> I see that you are hoping to use OST and yet not totally sure if it 
>> will be your chosen method. I believe that OST is the only method 
>> that will be sufficient for what you want to accomplish. It meets all 
>> the criteria for when OST works best. The most important factor for 
>> me though, is the Law of Two Feet so that people can choose to stay 
>> or leave if there is hard lobbying for particular issues. I trust 
>> that with the Law of Two Feet and how it is explained, all such 
>> attempts will have only the effect that there is energy for...and no
>> Long ago, Larry Peterson, Judy Gast, and myself were the three 
>> facilitators for three different OST meetings in the same big 
>> building at the same time. It is how the sponsors figured we could 
>> work well with about 600 people in meaningful ways around a very 
>> conflicted issue in the educational sector, in a short time. This 
>> allowed the reports of all three sessions to be available 
>> simultaneously and there were advantages in this for convergence of 
>> themes and the surprise that surfaced at the similarities and also 
>> dissimilarities of what came from the three separate OST meetings. 
>> Despite the conflicted issue and people picketing outside and us 
>> being briefed on the potential for violence and heave lobbying 
>> erupting in our meetings, there was no violence and the Law of Two 
>> Feet took care of the lobbying. I think you get a very different 
>> effect/outcomes if you have three concurrent OST meetings with three 
>> facilitators than you do if you have a sequence of meetings in which 
>> people who really want to get their agenda through go to all of the
>> The givens are very important in relation to outcomes. When I work in 
>> a political context, I negotiate ahead of time with the political 
>> body who must 1. make decisions, 2. assign budget to future action and 3.
>> be held accountable by the public including media. There are endless 
>> stories about successful OST meetings in which people feel so good at 
>> the end of the meeting. However, the more important stories are the 
>> ones in which after some months there was significant positive change.
>> It seems that the job is not only to open space for people to have 
>> conversations and reach agreed upon is more 
>> importantly to open space in a rigid system that is well entrenched, 
>> political, and has certain accountability. I am rather curious about 
>> how you have set up for this.
>> So...when I work in a political context, part of my negotiation is 
>> about whether action items can move forward by anyone in attendance
>> ie: businesses, other organizations, individuals OR if the action 
>> items have to wait for a decision/vote by a particular political body 
>> like  a school board. My favorite and most impactful experiences have 
>> been when the political body says right up front that any agreed on 
>> recommendations that do not need to access extra budget through the 
>> political body can go forward by anyone who has the passion and 
>> resources to do so....without waiting for some agreement on a bigger 
>> plan/budget. I admire political groups who are willing to open that 
>> much space in their communities to take action on solutions,
>> Best wishes for a fantastic experience!
>> Birgitt
>> On Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 3:37 AM Thomas Herrmann 
>> < 
>> <>> wrote:
>>     Dear friends in Open Space____
>>     I write to share about an exciting project and to ask to have
>>     feedback/ideas/experiences assisting me to refine/decide on the
>>     design I am working on.____
>>     __ __
>>     The project is in a neighbouring town of about 35 000 inhabitants.
>>     They are inviting everyone living there to explore ways to
>>     contribute to enhance the learning amongst children/youth
>>     complementing/supporting what is happening in the school. The top
>>     politician in the town, responsible for education/schools is my
>>     sponsor. During the spring I had a couple of meetings with the top
>>     politicians and managers for the school system. Then we widened
>>     the circles and had some meetings with other interest parties , to
>>     invite more engagement for this idea. ____
>>     __ __
>>     We have a plan that includes follow up, to support what is
>>     emerging, decide on next steps and make sure there is report back
>>     to what is happening and not.____
>>     __ __
>>     A couple of  days ago we had our “final” planning meeting getting
>>     the theme etc. Still working on wording but something like “For
>>     the future of our children. How do we create conditions for
>>     enhanced learning for pupils in our community?” Of practical
>>     reasons evenings are considered the best options. Parents, pupils,
>>     teachers, business people, public workers etc etc are all busy
>>     daytime and weekends are not considered a good option. “Everyone”
>>     will be invited but it’s hard to say how many will come to each
>>     meeting. I guess between 10-200 J____
>>     Now the plan is to have three 3-hour meetings in three different
>>     parts of the small community. I have suggested a fourth meeting
>>     where all are invited for convergence/action planning. There are
>>     of course several challenges. I am not even sure I will suggest we
>>     use OST even though I’d love to. I think a 3-hour meeting is the
>>     bare minimum for the simplest form of an OST meeting. On the other
>>     hand I see possibilities for this to be looked at like an OST
>>     meeting consisting of three occasions á 3 hours + convergence in a
>>     fourth meeting for another 3 hours… That looks better, ey?____
>>     __ __
>>     There are some opportunities with this:____
>>     __1.       __More time for the divergent process before
>>     converging.____
>>     __2.       __People can choose to join several meetings, deepening
>>     their thinking____
>>     __3.       __People can get access to more ideas/material from the
>>     3 meetings.____
>>     __4.       __There can be continued conversations online in
>>     between meetings and approaching meeting nbr 4.____
>>     __5.       __There will be opportunities for people to create
>>     joint projects over “boundaries” in the community (meeting nbr 4
>>     and online)____
>>     __ __
>>     There are several challenges with this too. ____
>>     __1.       __There will be different people in all of the
>>     __a.       __There needs to be a proper opening each time____
>>     __2.       __3 hours is very short. My plan: Opening/agenda 45
>>     mts. Session 1 (45 mts). Session 2 (45 mts). Individual
>>     reflection/personal commitment (15 mts). Closing 30 mts.____
>>     __a.       __For the actionplanning meeting (meeting nbr 4) I will
>>     probably use re-opening, after a brief opening and reading
>>     reports/reflecting. A couple of action planning sessions, 1 minute
>>     reportback/group and then closing.____
>>     __3.       __How to bind everything together to one whole____
>>     __ __
>>     So far I lean towards this plan but I would love to hear to your
>>     ideas, thoughts, experiences and/or suggestions!____
>>     All the best____
>>     __ __
>>     Thomas Herrmann____
>>     Open Space Consulting AB____
>> <>____
>>     You reach us via phone: +46 (0)709 98 97 81 or email:
>>     <>____
>>     __ __
>>     Open Space Consulting is a small company with BIG ambitions to
>>     assist leaders and organizations as well as local communities to
>>     tap into their full power to achieve their dreams. We bring
>>     practical tools and knowhow to empower you to find your way
>>     forward.____
>>     __ __
>>     *More info____*
>>     LinkedIn profile:
>>     Facebook Company page:
>>     __ __
>>     __ __
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Michael M Pannwitz
Draisweg 1, 12209 Berlin, Germany
++49 - 30-772 8000

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