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Interview: Steven "Doc" List About Open Spaces

| by Abel Avram Follow 4 Followers on Nov 11, 2008. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

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 In this interview made by InfoQ's Greg Young, Steven "Doc" List talks about Open Space conferences, a way of running meetings of groups of various sizes by facilitating self organizing the sessions.

Watch: Steven "Doc" List About Open Spaces (10 min)

Steven presents Open Space conferences as:

Open Spaces have become the way to create clever, different, creative solutions that doesn’t involve sitting in preplanned agenda driven talking head presentations.

It’s perfect because the attendees get to choose what is going to be discussed.

The nature of this [Open Space] is such that it’s not really about presentations so much is conversations and so what you get is people who are more invested, more engaged and have more energy about it. In fact two of the buzz words in Open Space are “passion” and “responsibility”.

Open Spaces have four principles and one law, according to Steven:


  1. Whoever comes is the right people
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  3. When it starts it’s the right time
  4. When it’s over, it’s over.

The law of two feet: if at any time you feel like you are not learning or contributing in those current circumstances, go somewhere else; it could be the hallway, it could be another session, it could be go and get a cup of coffee.

Steven also explains the role of an Open Space facilitator which "is to be present without being intrusive. So when I say 'invisible presence', I am there all the time, people know that they can find me for whatever is needed".

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Update on Doc's whereabouts by Doc List

As of July 1, I happily joined the ranks at ThoughtWorks, and am working on organizational transformation. That includes things like organizing Open Spaces, creating workshops, doing coaching and consulting, facilitation and teaching facilitation, and lots of other fun stuff.

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