Open Space Meeting Process
Open Space Technology is a simple and yet profound approach to meeting. The following description skims the surface, but provides some guide to the meeting process. Open Space in Pictures is a presentation that gives you images of a typical Open Space Technology event. Open Space Technology events have been successful with 6 participants or with 2000 (and more connected by the internet).
It is the formal sponsors and those teams designated for planning and logistics that prepare for the event. The outcomes and theme, the time frame and any givens (that set context for action) are discerned or developed by the Sponsors assisted by the facilitator. The planning process also determines what kind of convergence – focusing of actions or plans – will take place during the event. An invitation is developed to both invite participants and to clarify for them the nature of the event and their role in co-creating the Open Space agenda. The invitation also describes what initial commitment the sponsors will make with regard to the results or plans that emerge.
The meeting is as follows:
Time frames for Open Space Technology events range from 4 hours to 3 days depending on group size and the challenge at hand. The facilitator’s role at the event is to open and hold the space for participant initiative, learning and self-organization and to guide the convergence process and then to enable the closing.
Convergence, or giving focus to the ideas and energy that has emerged, varies between events depending on the intent or outcomes sought. If individual learning is the goal, convergence is focused on helping participants identify how they will take ideas forward. If developing organizational or community action or projects is the intent, then planning is required for what happens both during and after the event.
Working groups that form in Open Space will sometimes carry on beyond the event to accomplish the tasks they identified. This action can be shaped by the parameters established by the sponsors before the event. Results focused organization often benefit by an additional full day of convergence to focus the development of projects and the roles of formal sponsors in supporting ongoing initiatives in the organization.
With this “large group method” a surprising sense of the whole organization, its direction and interconnections, emerges for participants. . Because action is chosen and breakthrough learning often occurs, both culture change and performance improvements have been documented. Usually the critical issues and opportunities for change with regard to the theme get on the table, so that they can be pursued. It provides a wonderful real time “survey” if sponsors are willing to learn from that which emerges.
The feedback at the close of an Open Space meeting is often startling and moving. Individual sharing of breakthroughs in thinking and relationships is common. As a "large group" intervention it can shift culture and develop positive momentum. It can enable sponsors and participants to experience the self-organizing processes that take place when organizations work at their best.
PRINCIPLES OF OPEN SPACE
WHOEVER COMES IS THE RIGHT PEOPLE
WHATEVER HAPPENS IS THE ONLY THING THAT
WHENEVER IT STARTS IS THE RIGHT TIME
WHENEVER ITS OVER, ITS OVER
LAW OF TWO FEET
IF YOU ARE NEITHER LEARNING NOR CONTRIBUTING