Rachel M. Carmena

Open Space session: Supporters and Detractors game

I would like to propose this session in the next Open Space I participate.

Please, let me know if you try it before in order to know your feedback.

In case you haven’t heard about Open Space, it’s a format for a meeting or conference created by Harrison Owen in the 80s, where schedule is decided on the fly by attendees.

The origin of the idea

When my cousin was afraid to speak in public, my aunt looked for debating lessons. My cousin was 15 years old and she overcame her fear within one year. I watched a video about her last debate competition and I felt very proud after observing her oratory and confidence.

Furthermore, debating lessons are not only useful to speak in public, but also rewarding about:

  • Ability to argue.
  • Being informed about different subjects and news.
  • Being open-minded, because she didn’t always argue in line with her opinions. She found it very difficult at the beginning and she asked for arguments against or in support of different subjects in family WhatsApp group ;) However, she learnt very quickly and it made her mature.

On the other hand, I gave a talk about being open-minded a few months ago, because we tend to have strong views about subjects like TDD, pull requests, pair programming or branching, among others.

We consider them good or bad with no shades of gray, because of the cognitive distortion Polarized Thinking. At that time, I proposed a journey with different perspectives about each subject in order to be open-minded. Now, I’m proposing this game based on debate competition rules with a different format.

Supporters and Detractors game rules

The subject

There are two options:

  • The subject is part of the session proposal. For example: “Supporters and Detractors game about pull requests”.
  • The subject is decided by attendees of the session. In that case, the session proposal will be: “Supporters and Detractors game”.

Participants

  • Moderator: who proposes the session.
  • Supporters team: preferably detractors about the subject in real life.
  • Detractors team: preferably supporters about the subject in real life.
  • Observers: although active participation is encouraged, anyone can decide to be a member of the public.

Materials

  • A board
  • Markers

Plan

  1. Decide the subject among all the session attendees in case it’s not included in the session proposal.
  2. Board. Write the subject on the board and draw 2 columns: IN FAVOUR, AGAINST. Arguments will be written in those columns.
  3. Creation of the teams
  4. Teamwork. 10 minutes to think about:
    • What does that subject mean? Or how does it work? The purpose is to ensure that everybody in a team has the same idea in mind.
    • Arguments in favour in case of supporters team. Arguments against in case of detractors team.
  5. Time of supporters
    1. A supporter explains briefly what the subject means for them (it’s not necessary to stand).
    2. Another supporter gives a convincing argument in favour (it’s not necessary to stand). Detractors can ask for details in case they don’t understand the argument.
    3. Repeat the above step until all the arguments in favour have been explained.
  6. Time of detractors
    1. A detractor explains briefly what the subject means for them (it’s not necessary to stand).
    2. Another detractor gives a convincing argument against (it’s not necessary to stand). Supporters can ask for details in case they don’t understand the argument.
    3. Repeat the above step until all the arguments against have been explained.
  7. Teamwork. 10 minutes to think about more arguments from what each team has presented.
  8. Time of detractors
    1. A detractor gives a new convincing argument against. Supporters can ask for details in case they don’t understand the argument.
    2. Repeat the above step until all the new arguments against have been explained.
  9. Time of supporters
    1. Another supporter gives a new convincing argument in favour. Detractors can ask for details in case they don’t understand the argument.
    2. Repeat the above step until all the new arguments in favour have been explained.
  10. Retrospective about the session

The moderator will try to link arguments in favour and against in case a pair is possible.

There are no winners or losers. Only learners.

Conclusion

I think this game can be useful for:

  • Being open-minded.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Developing empathy.
  • Learning new perspectives and experiences.
  • Realizing about pros and cons.
  • Having a fun time.
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Published: 09 Jan 2019