Retrospective Open Space impressions

I returned home yesterday after attending a get-together of retrospective facilitators. Today my head hurts, and I assume it’s because of the intensity of this experience.
Although a lot of participants had to cancel their trip due to the infamous ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajoekull vulcano, it felt very complete, at least from an outsiders perspective.

I would like to briefly recap what I observed and learned during the past week.

First of all, I (re)learned what an amazing ability it is for humans to participate in a community and share fellowship in shared values and beliefs. Although I’ve seen this happen many times at church or camps, it somehow became very powerful to see it happen in a such a varied and normally very dispersed group of people.

This was also my first experience with the Open Space conference model. And at the opening, the four key principles were reviewed:

  • Who ever comes are the right people.
  • What ever happens, is the only thing that could happen.
  • When it starts, it starts.
  • When it is over, it is over.

Fairly basic stuff, but also very liberating since it places free-will and self organization in the drivers seat. I will definitely try to use Open Space for future workshops and larger retrospectives.

Another topic that I’m going to dive deeper into is the ‘Art of Powerfull Questions’ as presented at the World Café website. This has learned me not to trust initial assumptions, but always try to go ‘behind the curtain’ and ask questions that prompts people to think and question not only the question but also the answer.

I learned a couple of new games which could be fun to try out, perhaps not necessarily only in retrospectives, but whenever there is wisdom to be extracted from collaborative patterns and  joint group settings.

I found it hard not to to become to self-aware in this setting of complete strangers, but a session on bodylanguage actually also helped me to relax more and be more confident in the communication I produce using my body.

Finally…the realization that the topic of retrospectives, which I thought to know fairly well, contains so many levels and related knowledge domains, just make me want to learn so much more in this field. And I hope this nice, warm fuzzy feeling stays with me a long time :-)

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