Clean Language And Open Space: Double The Value?

Clean Language and Open Space Technology. Two proven approaches to improve communication “softly” – not by adding more machinery, but by structuring conversations so that they work well.

We’ll be combining the two at Metaphorum 2018 on 3 February. Surely that’ll double the value?

Here’s an introduction to Open Space:

And here’s my latest Clean Language intro:

The two approaches both assume that, given the right circumstances, people do know what works for them, and can take action to achieve what they want.

With both approaches, participants need to set aside their “learned helplessness” and take autonomous action to get the best out of the experience. That does require a bit of courage. But both Clean Language and Open Space facilitators pay attention to setting things up so that they feel safe: this isn’t the Wild West.

When you blend the two approaches, big stuff can happen. You get to talk to the people who have the answers – or the questions – you’re seeking. Strong relationships develop quickly. Ideas flow.

And, let’s mention a little elephant in the corner of this conversation. David Grove, creator of Clean Language, also created another, rather different process called Clean Space. It’s typically used as a coaching or therapy process with a single “client” and a single facilitator. It’s really nothing like Open Space, and doesn’t look or sound much like Clean Language. Clean Language plus Open Space does not equal Clean Space!

  • What do you think about the relationship between Clean Language and Open Space? Please comment below. And do join us for Metaphorum 2018!

3 thoughts on “Clean Language And Open Space: Double The Value?”

  1. The video is great, Judy!
    It’s got the gist of it all. Short, concise, every word in place! Fresh, positive and energizing! And inviting.

  2. Gareth Evans

    Hi Judy,

    This looks really interesting; have you explored using the two approaches in ‘live’ settings, and if so what was the learning?



  3. Thanks @Pirjo! @Gareth, Metaphorum is “live” – everyone’s online at the same time, interacting with each other in real time – “synchronously” as the jargon has it. We’ve done two Metahophorums so far. Here’s a summary of my learning from the first one:

    I’ve not facilitated in-person events combining the two approaches but I have been a participant when that has happened, and I’ve also been at Open Space events without Clean Language. My impression is that at an event with a “Clean” theme, there tended to be a bit of reluctance to say, “I would like X”: everyone was busy asking “What would *you* like to have happen?” But once they got past that, Clean enthusiasts scored well on their ability to ask generative questions and elicit new insights, even in situations which seemed unpromising at first.

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