This is an account of a recent 3-hour gathering of Conscious Business UK in London, UK.
I was the facilitator of the event though aspects of the design of the session were not entirely in my hands. A speaker over-ran by nearly thirty minutes and participants looked tired. It was very interesting content and a very able speaker on “The Future of Technology”. Even so, all of my instincts told me to hand control of the evening to the participants to self-organise.
So, I went for a flash mob open space.
I opened an empty document on my laptop and projected it onto the screen. We quickly made six meeting areas in the large meeting space. We then invited people to offer sessions in an open space format. I skipped over all of the principles except for using two feet to flow between groups in freedom.
Six sessions appeared within five minutes and we took a further ten to allow for clarification.
Then off we went!
The energy rocketed and the six open space sessions ran for forty-five minutes. We then had a twenty-minute closing circle. The closing circle over-ran and felt a bit laboured and some people made “speeches”. There was a bit of “hurrying” people at the end. But the sessions themselves were great and later shared online.
The people coming to the event had been invited to explore conscious business as a theme. They had all volunteered to be there. The agenda had been sent out but it was kept deliberately flexible. There was a high level of permission for the facilitators to change the format on the evening. When we turned the agenda on its head and opened some space,l “flash mob” style, there was a readiness and willingness to go with the flow. It all happened within an hour – opening circle, one set of parallel sessions and a closing circle.
We then went on to a final story sharing session, in a circle, not in open space – back into our original plan. Open space ignited the event. gave the power of self-organisation to the community, and the circle worked a treat. It was all about minimal intervention, not over-elaborating the process, and for the facilitators to get out of the way as quickly as possible.
I love flash mob open space. It’s about spontaneity. It’s about the moment for self-organising emerging as “the obvious thing to do” out of structure that is stuck and stuffed up. It’s about gentleness, suddenness, minimal intervention, and a willingness to not be precious about “open space technology”. Most of all it is about serving needs in the moment and being prepared to let go of fixed plans. Oh, and it’s about having faith in self-organisation. It always works!
Find out more about my colleagues from Conscious Business People who made this event a success.
Visit the Open Space Realm