Outer Space to Open Space

From outer spaceWe prefer to work in an open space without tables in the room when we run our seminars and facilitation jobs.

The only exception is when we run a strategic planning day, when tables are required for writing on charts. But even then we try find time to either move the tables aside or go to an open space.

We find tables in a room tend to shape the behaviour of our participants in either a formal sense (i.e. a ‘meeting mentality’) or they act as a barrier to open conversation.

A while ago we travelled to Daylesford, in country Victoria, to deliver two workshops, ‘Inspired Performance’ and ‘Humour Adventure’ for school principals on the last day of their four day conference.

We had the ‘graveyard shift’ – the last two sessions of the conference. And we knew participants would be tired from sitting behind tables, as they probably had done for all their other sessions.

We arrived at a grand hotel, where the conference was being held, on the night before we were due to run the workshops. We had just driven from Ballarat after facilitating and MC’ing another two day conference for 165 school SSSO’s.

After we checked in we met the organiser who was with a group of principals in the social room of the hotel. We stayed and had a drink and a chat with him and decided to call it a night.

Sue and I then checked the conference room where our workshops would be held before finding a quiet area to do some last minute planning.

We knew the room was not set up right for our actitvity so we decided to re-arrange it the next day.

The only time we had to re-arrange it was during the morning tea break just before our first workshop. We walked into a room full of tables and chairs. With the help of the staff we quickly moved all the tables out of the room and moved the chairs to the back of the room.

You should have seen the expression on the faces of the principals as they walked into an open room. They looked they were walking onto the moon surface.

A barren space without tables!

Anyway, the open space worked wonders as they had no barriers such as tables to either mentally hide or fall asleep behind.

The open space helped open up the energy and everyone got involved in the activities and shared some wonderful stories.

Well, they had to. There were no tables to hide behind.

They had came from outer space into a welcoming open space.

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