Monday, July 14, 2014

Open Space & graphic recording (Lisa Heft, on the OSLIST)

2014-06-18 22:30 GMT+02:00 Lisa Heft -<>:
Hello, Arno and others -

I am one of those who analyzes and reflects about anything that someone (including me) wants to add or adjust in participant-driven dialogue forms, including Open Space.

What of what-we-would-loveto-add might shift the participants’ own dynamics, what looks like it adds but for which there may be an ‘offset’ to consider, what does that then mean and so on.
An Open Space / World Cafe / etc. group is a living system, so I think how that thing-they-or-I-wish-to-add may affect that system. Not that it is good or bad, just that... Even if I or my client like something ourselves, for our own way of working - I feel it is valuable to reflect on why's and what-ifs.

So for example: Here is what I think about when I think about inviting a visual documenter to an Open Space meeting.

- In the Opening Circle / agenda co-creation section, participants are *already* writing topics in their diverse handwriting, in diverse marker colors, and naming in their diverse voices what are their topics, as they post them on the wall (kinesthetic, graphic, relational, other modalities included). So I am imagining that there is not the need for a visual documenter at this point in the meeting. 

- Discussion sessions: A visual documenter cannot hear all the discussions, so would be perhaps a roaming documenter / would document a sample. Is this useful? Does this add? I still would have participants writing their own text as in any process I am using for participant-driven work (Open Space included) - I want documentation to be ‘owned’ by participants - both so it is in their ‘voice’ and so they step up to that wonderful shared co-responsibility. Not a reason to use or not use a visual documenter, just something I would think about. And I always invite participants to document in the way they see things - via text, mapping the conversation, sketching, poetry - whatever they feel best documents their conversations. 

- I have seen people use documentation forms for participants (not in Open Space but in other small group discussion work) that is a visual template for taking notes. Would this be useful, helpful, collect more or deeper documentation than a non-visual template - these are the things I would think about. When I see for example flip-charts used I find that often the images there make more sense to the people who were actually in the group. So even if I had a visual template I was using for the participant groups I might also encourage text. So the knowledge they are sharing would be more universally accessible.

- Am I thinking of using / adding an element just because *I* like it / find it comfortable / think people *should* be enhanced by it? If so, it is oh-so-often about me (and my wishes for them), rather than about them.

- Documentation design: Is the visual report / photos, etc. accessible to all participants? Do they all have access to graphics, or pdf files, or computer time for viewing photos? Can they show those back to their funders / supervisors if needed? Is the information easily in their hands post-event? Does the overall documentation tell the story of the conversations? Do they ‘own’ the creation of it, if possible - do they play a major part in creating it / making sure it says what they meant and said?

- Closing Circle: Here is one of the times when a visual documenter can hear what is happening across the room - as participants reflect upon their experience. I always have someone scribe (capture all of the participants’  exact words, in text) these closing comments as I feel it is incredibly useful to the participants and the client. So I always include that in the documentation design. I say “I” but of course all these things are discussed and reflected upon by myself and my client / client team. Closing Circle is a time when to me it is sometimes also useful for a visual documenter to capture images, patterns, themes - as some really great visual documenters can. And that -plus- the text of the participants’ closing comments and reflections may be a multiple-modaility way of showing participants’ thoughts back to them.

- Resources: A visual documenter deserves to be involved in pre-work meetings (or at least see emails / receive ongoing notes) - instead of simply walking in the room when the meeting starts. They, too are skilled consultants. They see things through a different lens, can add thoughts, and most importantly, their knowledge of the pre-work conversations informs their work at the event. They too deserve payment, and ideally, at market rate. Does the organization have funding to pay them what they deserve for these hours of work, experience and expertise? Something to consider as well.

All of these are things that come to my mind when this possibility or offer comes into discussion with my clients for upcoming dialogue events - Open Space or otherwise.

Thanks for inviting the question…


Thanks once more, Lisa, for your great lessons!

Enjoy life!


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