Open Space (is risky)
In the corporate world there is too much focus on content and too little on interaction. When looking at corporate events across the nation, be it new product introductions or corporate training events, you will usually find a jam packed agenda. The agenda itself is not the issue, it is the lack of open space that worries me. Everyone seems to agree that the best things usually happen during those parts of a session that are less structured. We all agree that it is the power of interaction that justifies the cost of bringing everyone together physically. Still, the majority of sessions continue to be “death by PowerPoint”. Why?
The key reason is that open space is risky. When you lead a session and you have 67 slides for a 90 minute slot, you are safe. At any moment during the session you will have something to say that sounds intelligent. And you are fully in control!
This changes completely once you open it up. Suddenly, you depend on the audience. What if someone sidetracks the conversation, what if someone asks a difficult question or even worse, what if nobody says anything? What if there is this awkward silence? It is the loss of control and the fear of embarrassment that prevents us from building more white space into our events. By the way, the same is true for cadence calls, team meetings, etc..
The next time you plan on bringing people together, be it at a corporate event or over the phone, be courageous! Be courageous by giving up some control. Allow space for something new to be created. That is what happens during interaction. New things are born. New thoughts, new ideas. Open space is where the magic happens, that is where the performance is!