In keeping with name of my blog, I used a quick Impro activity with a group before Opening Space on the weekend.
After re listening to this podcast at the 2008 OSonOS confernece, Chris Corrigan and Viv McWaters (and others) took my own understanding of the OS priniciple “Whatever Happens is the Only Thing that Could Have” to a new level.
I have always struggled to articulate the essence of this principle. In the podcast, Viv McWaters explains the importance of using Action Methods to help participants ‘experience’ the principles and not just ‘intellectualize’ them. Viv introduces us to the Impro gift of Yes!And and I decided to apply it on the weekend before Opening Space.
In practice, I simply asked people to form pairs, introduce themselves and then play a quick game. I call it ‘YesBut vs YesAnd’ (and learned it off Viv) …
I invited participants to imagine they were meeting up to quickly work out where they would stage their next work Christmas celebration. Once the first person makes a start on the conversation, I instructed that every subsequent idea had to begin with the words “YesBut” … after a minute or two I interjected and then instructed them to replace YesBut with the words “YesAnd”. A quick group discussion highlighted how much easier, effective and fun the YesAnd option is. In Impro, YesBut is a classic ‘block’ that we often see in our world. YesBut stops the flow of conversations, saps energy and prevents new ideas from emerging.
I ‘forgot’ to re incorporate their experience of Yes!And when introducing the Open Space principle ‘Whatever happens in the only thing that could have happened’ … despite this omission, I think I managed to connect the group to this principle better than I have before. In the closing circle, a participant did it for me and said something like … “My experience of that YesAnd game helped me to understand the power of this space … and of today.”
Another participant approached me at lunch and said that my opening (of space) helped her to reframe many of the negative thoughts she had about events over the past 18 months.
Thanks to Chris for asking the question and recording the responses at OSonOS.