The 12. International Focusing Conference

Guidelines/ Introduction


Klaus Meyersen







Announcement Text:

We plan a new kind of conference work, called Open Space. The subject will be "The Future". It seems rather simple and promises a new quality of working together and creating new things during the conference. The basic thoughts are: There are coming together a lot of people from different countries; they bring a lot of different experiences, viewpoints, ideas with them. So we want to give time and space to co-operate during the conference to carry forward issues together - not only by sharing already completed presentations, but working in a simple structure to produce new qualities, using also the intercultural diversity of the participants.
"The Future" is held as a keyword for the "New Millennium" Conference, and everybody will be free to make sense of it in any direction "The Future (personal, world, focusing, profession, society, children, seniors, therapy....)". The mini-workshops, 2 h each, will be spread over the whole conference and headed by the participants themselves. The Open Space will start at Thursday morning with a whole group session, and end at Sunday morning with recognizing the "harvest" within the closure time. (Responsible for preparation and organization: Klaus Meyersen and Heijo Feuerstein)  


for the Open Space Workshop

First I would like to point out our general idea and the overall procedure. Later I will fill in some details.

The endeavor is another type of conference, one that forms its own shape, through your participation, your leadership.

There are Open Spaces in the conference program, like this morning in all available rooms/ working places(12 or more), there are no other activities this morning, during the next days besides the classical program, 5 Friday morning and Friday afternoon, 7 Open Spaces on Saturday afternoon.

Altogether that is around 35 opportunities, which can be extended if the dynamics will demand this. These Open Spaces are available for 2h-mini-workshops of your origin/ design. Available for your future topics/ aspect/ issues/ themes.

Who ever wants to initiate such a brief workshop, who ever has an issue near and dear to your heart, a future oriented aspect, that you would like to share and discuss with others, may do so, the floor is yours.

So - whilst I am now briefing you - this may be the time as well for you to search your self and focus on what title you would give to your topic. And I would also like to invite you whilst you are in there, to also look around, look at your colleagues and friends, realize how much energy/ knowledge/ support/ good will is present in this room, present to bring your idea forward. All it needs is a bit of courage. And a first step.

None of us can foresee or even plan what is going to happen in the next hours. It is an experiment. Yet it is an experiment in the World of Focusing. Hence it bears a great potential.

If you are now considering whether to step forward in a few moments with your topic, I would like to give you a word of comfort: It is not necessary that you are in one way or another officially responsible or somehow in charge of this issue, you would like to bring forward. Or that you are an expert in this matter. Perhaps you know very little indeed about this, and all you want is to get together with a few other people who know equally little, but you jointly find out what it is all about. Neither is it required that you present something in the workshop you are going to initiate or give an introductory lecture. On the contrary. However, you may do so, if you like. No topic will be rejected. And in principle anyone may initiate as many workshops as she likes.

Whoever takes the initiative has only two rather simple obligations to fulfill: To open your mini workshop and to make sure that a brief summary report will be created after the workshop.

On the floor are exactly as many DinA4 sheet as there are Open Spaces for 2h mini workshops. They are available on a first come/ first served basis. You pick one up, tell us your name and your topic, write both in large readable letters onto the A4 paper.

When you will be documenting your name and topic in a few moments, then, please, hang it/ glue it into the prepared sheet of brown Kraft paper along these walls, our bulletin board so to say. The various parts of this bulletin board stand for different time intervals, e.g. the sheet to the very left is for this mornings sessions, the one to the far right is for Saturday afternoon.

When you go to the wall, then, please, paste your A4 paper into the corresponding space slot in the packing paper list. These list the time and the location where your meeting will be held, this way people will know where to meet with you. The workshop numbers refer to certain rooms in the room list which is also exhibited.

We would welcome that the workshops will be held in English - if only for the reason that broken English is the true international language in the internet - however, you are free to run your workshop in German, after all it is your workshop. In that case, please, state your topic in German and also fill the A4 in German, this way everybody interested will know.

When all open spaces are filled, we will open the "market place", that means it is time for you to sign up with your name for those mini workshops you would like to attend. You may sign up for more workshops then you can attend in reality, since there may be workshops that may get cancelled or combined etc. Or you may be leaving one early, or be late for another. If you find yourself at the wall in a conflict, that you would like to attend two workshops, which are scheduled for the same time, then try to contact the initiator, perhaps it is possible to shift or switch or . . .?

And then: Off we will go! The rest is yours.

The results of the mini open spaces will be published during the 12IFC and on Sunday morning we will have a closing session for this Open Space part.

Now I will explain some simple Open Space Rules and also give you a recommendation/ suggestion on how to start mini workshops with ease and results. But - in principle - that was what to say about Open Space.


4 Principles
perhaps a bit of comfort

Here are first the 4 principles, which might be a bit of help during the next days, good old focusing rules one might say.

The first principle is:

Whoever comes is the right people.

Later in your workshop there may be 3 people or 25. The arithmetic average - at least for this morning - is at about 10. By the way, we recommend that the groups should get much larger then that, just for the facts that larger groups have it normally not as easy to get started and to obtain results in such a short time. But be assured, whoever comes it is the right people. It is the people who are like you interested in this topic. Do not be sad about the one or the other person you may have wished to turn up. Their motivation was not strong enough at this point. It could also be, that nobody signs up. You may feel hurt, get angry, but you can also see it differently. Perhaps your topic was not such a brilliant idea. Then you learned something. Or your idea is great - but comes at the wrong time. Same thing. Or your topic is great, the time is perfect, but you are the only person in the entire conference who has the sight of the future, nobody else. Why do'nt you open a one man/ women workshop on your own, having 2h to formulate and write up your thoughts - to present them to the others.

The second principle is:

Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.

This principle is to remind us, that it is the unplanned, the unexpected things which are the most creative ones. Surprises show us the way pretty often. So be open when your workshop is not running in the direction you wanted it to. Just harvest what is given to you.

Thirdly there is the principle:

Whenever it starts it is the right time.

This sounds like the antithesis to the German cardinal virtue of punctuality. Yet human energy is not ruled by the pointer of a clock. Be patient, the right results will come anyhow.

Fourth and finally:

When it is over, it is over.

If your group has achieved their results, no need to stick together, perhaps you may jeopardize the good and quick results. So just round it up and perhaps there is time to look around and meet some others. Also the reverse is true: When it is not over, it is not over. That means in case you are not thru in 2h, why don’t you agree to extend your work, or meet again next day, or some other time, or in the internet.


1 Law - the only must.

Besides these 4 principles there is only one law for the Open Space:

The Law of Two Feet.

This law says that you are responsible for yourself. You are attending those groups that interest you. And when you realize, that you can not learn or contribute anything in this group, then go and find another one.

You are the only person responsible, if you find yourself being bored.


One recommen-dation on how to start

In a classical way it is not always easy to start a workshop so limited in time. Hence we would like to give a recommendation.

In all rooms there is Metaplan material (brown packing paper, cards, markers, etc.). Experiences gained hundred times prove, that small groups get much better results when they do not (!) start talking about things right away, but give their fellow members an opportunity first to clear their minds individually and to focus their own thoughts and feelings. And - of course - if one has visualized results on a board, it is so much easier to write a report afterwards.

This is way we give the following guidelines for the first 30 min. of the Small Group Work:

· 5min' Find a place, take one stand/ board + one brown chart, chairs, cards, black markers only (!), pins, glue stick, etc. Put a replica of the topic on A4 in center, a brief snappy 1-2 word title in upper left corner, add names of participants upper right corner.

· 5min' of "JOINT SILENCE" for everybody to clear his own thoughts first what this is all about + write 1-2 main aspects on cards (3-10 words)

· 2min' for each participant (one after another) to pin up his cards and say a few sentences what they mean. No (!) discussion at that point until all cards are on the board. Similar cards may be put together closely during the presentation by the presenter.

· After all cards are up the group discussion is open, yet there are certain rules that make that easier: "Written discussion", contributor to write a different size card, e.g. small circle with some keywords; "Visualized Minutes" by somebody of the group to document on the brown paper, using connecting lines, like mind mapping, fishbone diagrams, creativeness unlimited.

· Agree at the end of the session, how to go about the Written Report which is the summarizing document of this work


Reports about the mini workshop

A last request before we start goes to those who will initiate their workshops.

We are asking you to see to it that a report is written about your workshop still during the 12IFC - more precisely as soon as possible (1/2 - 3 pages). We have several notebooks and one desktop plus printer available. Participants who have brought their own notebooks to the conference and are willing to make them also available are more than welcome.

Tobias Müller and myself will look after the notebooks and you, to assist in getting the reports done on the computers.

For the reports we have numbered and formatted diskettes available, which contain a template in which the report shall be typed. Sample of report will be exhibited on a poster near the computers.

Besides the text and the names of participants it will be essential that the groups will state any recommendation/ conclusion, but also invitations to others and of course, whether they agreed to continue their work and how. And last not least, which support they would like to have.

Please, return the diskettes with the reports a.s.a.p. to Tobias Müller to have the reports printed and assembled to the master document.

We will exhibit the reports of the day each evening here in this room, to give everybody a chance to be informed what is going on elsewhere.

These reports will also appear in the internet on our homepage as results from the 12IFC.

At the end of the conference we hope to be in a position to hand over a hard copy of the total results to all of you.


Opportunities for Extensions

As you have a chance to reorganize things jointly in the market place, e.g. shifting, combining, restructuring workshops etc, there is ample opportunity to create new topics or to extend a given theme etc. Initiative and creativity unlimited. We are here to help/ assist/ support your activities. These would have to take place additionally/ parallel to the organized program based on your initiative (e.g. breaks, evenings, mornings, separate meetings, internet etc.)

There are 2 possibilities to organize this: One is, that we will have one of these Metaplan stands where such activities can be announced, same procedure as for the original 2h Open Spaces. But please use red markers in this case, so that everybody can seen from a distance there is something new. And/or these activities can be announced each morning in the plenary meeting when other administrative issues are brought forward.


One last word

Now I come slowly to an end and it will be your turn.

I would just like to remind you: It is an experiment. And it lives from your energy and initiative.

That means also: When you find out on Sunday lunch time, that one very important aspect had not been covered or touched, then is only one person in this room that is responsible for that: You!

Open Space is like swimming. You can read all sorts of books about it, yet there is nothing but the real experience. And once you are in the water, its wonderful. So let us jump. I invite every single one of you: If you have something you would like to bring into the future with others, if there is something you would like to move: Think about a brief title of you topic, step forward, grab a A4 paper, say you name, tell us the topic and off we go together with you! there is no other work in Open Space but the one you will create now!

And now: With go, we go!



Guidelines/ Key Issues for the Market Place

After all the topics are hanging on the wall

· ·Go there, put your name down where and as often as you feel; possibly change time and location

· ·Writing reports on PC; familiarizes with format and template/ indicate once more who will be assisting

· ·Indicate in reports whether group will continue their work after the Min workshop.

· ·Each initiator will get his/her individual diskette

· ·Pointing out the individual locations of the work rooms

· ·Explaining the functions of Bumble Bees and Butterflies

· ·A4s not to be taken off; rather create duplicate

· Better do not to combine/fuse/ merge mini workshop

· ·Large groups to be split up

· ·Participants to note down their own time schedule; it is cumbersome to find out again + again where you wanted to participate

· ·Visualize, Visualize, Visualize !!

· ·We talk about what we can do ourselves

· ·The more concrete you become, the better/ easier the results are to be achieve


Open Space Contact Persons

Klaus Meyersen

is available for Open Space matters throughout the entire 12IFC


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