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Unbound Spiral: Get the Keys - Open the Club

December 5, 2003 11:33 PM

Yesterday I found myself holding the keys to a new "Actionable" jazz club. Thing is I wasn't sure I knew what I'd find in the room. If you have been handed the role of facilitator for an event at the last moment where the room was booked months ago you will know this trepidation. In such a situations in the past I've turned up and found posts in the middle of the room, the room like a corridor with plans to have everyone facing each other like knights at a long table.

So what? Well all these little things can affect the dynamics. You can plan round them, you can have successful session etc. But for that reason I always like to get there a little before. Just long enough to absorb a sense of how the room is going to feel, how might the stage be set. In those fixed events and workshops there is usually a fixed time and the context is very clear for closure. We know our deliverable, we just have to get everyone there.

So I'm holding the keys to a "Actionable Sense" on SocialText. Oh I saw some scaffolding and walked the space long before anything got to this stage. Yesterday the walls were up and yet everywhere was bare. So what does one do when presented with a virtual "workspace" for the first time?

Well I'm trying to share what I did. I had a ready list of individuals who had expressed interest. There is a loose understanding of context between us all and a deeper belief that blogging has brought us to the brink of the next wave.

On reflection I found myself concerned about four things:

  • Building the Agenda
  • Stimulating Input
  • Hygiene Factors
  • Enough or too much?

    First the beauty of a new club is the people are going to make it beautiful. Heck in the real jazz clubs they turn down the lights and up the smoke. It the music that matters, clatter around in the bar too much and the music stops. So I made some noise before inviting the first wave who are also bringing in and suggesting more contacts. For the agenda idea I fell back on Open Space Technology. The difference here is not everyone is present. So I'm hoping we spend this first period to build the agenda. At the moment the posts / pages can be like post-its. The key agenda categories should emerge. We will have to do some sorting and yet that's exactly what we do we do when brainstorming with post-its.

    So brainstorming is something i wanted to seed. It is really the opening stages, a time to open discussion up and capture the suggestions for what we should be working on and what's important about them. Little examples help as they go up. So, I started the "Brainstorming Blog" hoping to start this quick post-it mentality why the early energy and interest is just forming. Brainstorming is also good to get things started. It's not judgemental There are no wrong posts. New items get recognition and can be mulled over and organized later. So in support I also set up a few categories from business idea to hygiene factors. Go for it group!

    And that was the nub of it. Hygiene. I really spent the majority of the time thinking about encouraging participation. The "workspace" on it own helps to accelerate this particularly when participants start posting from e-mail. We got a few going on that yesterday. makes things happen! Still there is a learning curve. Accelerating contributions in that early stage feel important to me. We also started a ChatRap --- quick e-mail posts to capture sidebar and IM exchanges out of the wiki workspace. Another experiment.

    At the end of the day that just leaves one with the questions... enough or too much? Sometimes you just have to assume it is the right amount. I sense that in this wiki. Like the Open Space calling; those that will come come... etc. Something about this group spells "emergent". This morning things started happening and have done thoughout the course of the day.




    Comments (1)

    This may be like the intent of the "Brainstorming Blog" - don't know?

    As I read your post, I noticed in my brain somewhere a twinge of feeling a bit different as I shared with you the images and feelings of planning and preparing for facilitation. The "bit different" feeling came from the sense (on my part) that the intent may be a bit different than for many facilitations (but that's just, as I said, a wee twinge).

    As I read on, I found myself thinking "Open Space". Did you know that there's an Open Space process on-line ? (not that we couldn't carry one out in the many ways available to us), AND there may be some nuances of on-line process structure and flow at www.openspace-online.org that might be useful.

    Posted by: Jon at December 7, 2003 8:37 AM