The conspiracy of Open Space and why it matters to applied improvisers
We’re having four sessions of Open Space during the next Applied Improvisation Network world conference. The basics of OS are explained here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Space_Technology. In this blog, I’m highlighting the improvisational aspects, and the first of these is about Letting Go…
In Open Space, all the participants join an unspoken conspiracy to get the most from their event by letting go of needing to know exactly what’s going to happen in each session or even when each topic may be scheduled. The old fixed timetable is discarded and you can relish instead the freedom to offer your own question or attend whichever session you want, as you go along.
It’s not chaos, but simply a greater degree of freedom within the structures of the conference. The marketplace at the beginning of the Open Space session is an inviting structure, and the participants have the freedom to populate the time and space slots with whatever offers they choose to make. That creates a new structure, with the new corresponding freedom for everyone now to choose which groups to attend (or not).
That produces a very improvisational fee of being in the moment. As a participant, you are encouraged to take responsibility at all times to ensure you are getting or giving value. If you are not, it’s your duty under the ‘Law of Two Feet’ to find some place more useful.
Like advanced improvisers, you get to practice embracing uncertainty. You cannot know how any session will go or how (in advance) you are going to respond. The rules of Open Space confirm that this is not a problem, but precisely how it should be. And so you get to spot successes in your own terms, creating your own track based on what’s working for you.
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