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From RECL 3P25 Fall 2011 - Group 07 - Open Space Technology

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Open Space Technology

Contents

[edit] Description of the Technique

Open Space Technology was created by Harrison Owen, an Anglican Priest in the early 1980s when he was organizing an international symposium. Harrison Owen discovered the most significant learning happened during coffee breaks...the open spaces in the agenda. Open Space Technology is about creating a space where individuals who feel strongly about an issue can raise it amongst similarly interested people who want to be there and to listen and contribute.[1]


Four Principles: [2]

1.Whoever comes are the right people

2.Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened

3.Whenever it starts is the right time

4.When it is over, it is over


The Law of Two Feet In [3]

“there is a time to talk and a time to walk”

Essentially this law reinforces the fact that participation in Open Space Technology is completely voluntary. Convenors cannot force participants to engage in the discussions that will take place during the meetings.


The Law of Two Feet In
The Law of Two Feet In

Benefits of Open Space Technology

There are many benefits to Open Space Technology. Each individual has the ability to follow their own agenda. There are no set instructions or directions and no two people are required to do the same tasks. Everyone has the power of choice, they can choose to join in with people who have similar interests. In our interview with Michael Herman he stated that Open Space Technology works because people have the power to alter their own experiences, their own learning, their contributions and their own boredom.[4] No one is passively participating. Individuals can join in conversations that interest them rather than passively listening to a speaker. As a result of active participation, all participants have a say throughout the entire process. There is a fun atmosphere that is conducive to learning, because of equal participation. All individuals feel a sense of genuine community. This results because every individual attending the meeting wants to be there, which leads to a positive environment.


Role of the Convenor [5]

The role of the convenor is very important, this individual must know when to intervene and when to step back and observe. Firstly, they must organize the day (this usually takes place before the meeting). Once everything is organized and planned they will brainstorm and create the question for discussion (this is also completed prior to the meeting).They then act as the facilitator, who brings the group together and focuses all participants so the discussion can run smoothly. The convenor provides an explanation and introduces everyone to the process, and how the meeting should run. Once the meeting has started and everyone is up and moving, the convenor will step to the background and observes. The ability to step back is one only a true leader can do. Lastly, the convenor will bring everyone back together and re-focus the group. Provide debriefing points, answering any questions, and creating a final report.

[edit] Applications

Open Space Technology is best used when addressing business issue, for example deciding which printing company to go with. When trying to identify a strategic direction, for example what is the best action plan. While planning for the future of a community and how to allocate resources. When identifying potential issues and opportunities that may occur in the future, such as a lack of funding. Handling conflict resolution, building morale of staff, and transforming an organization from low performing to high performing and learning. [6]

Open Space Technology is the best meeting format when addressing any organizational situation in which there are: [7]

  • Real issues of concern
  • Diverse participants
  • Complex elements or issues
  • Passionate participant
  • Immediate deadlines

Methodology of Open Space [8]

The meeting starts in a circle, the theme is stated and a question is posed. The question is usually something people feel strongly about and want to do something about. All participants generate issues and concerns, and then the convenor announces the topics and posts it in one of the available time slots on the wall. If there are any disagreements they are sorted out by participants themselves. During all of these meetings there is a note taker, because the sharing and distribution of the learning is critical. Lastly all notes are posted on a bulletin board for everyone to read and add comments.

Open Space Report [9]

When completing an open space report there are four steps:

  1. Identify the steps towards the vision
  2. List available resources
  3. Identify follow up persons
  4. Commit to a next meeting


Practical Examples of Open Space Technology

1. Open space technology can be used when handling complex business issue.

  • To see an example of this please click on the link YouTube Video

Image:Hhh.jpg


2. Additionally, Open Space Technology can be used when addressing community mediation programs. It allows for individuals to be engaged in any conversation that they want to be in, and learn about other resources that are available to them. Each individual is given a piece of paper where they can write down their own thought or opinion on an issue. It is then posted on a wall under different alphabet letters, then individuals are asked to join which ever group their point is being discussed under. There is no set agenda, which allows individuals to join in wherever and whenever.

Topics of Discussion could be:

  • The use of resources and how they can be transformed into reusable energy, for example wind
  • How to create sustainable media which focuses on community news
  • How to create informed citizens
  • Advocating for preservation of parks and forests
  • To see an example of this please click on the link YouTube Video


3. Lastly, Open Space Technology can be used in a University Residence Community. It is beneficial to all members in the community because all citizens can participate and have their opinions heard. Some topics for discussion could be, cleanliness, noise levels, recycling, chore charts, garbage removal, vacuuming, and consequences for not completing designated duties, being respectful, activities they would like to participate in i.e. bowling, and expectations of each other and the Residence Life Staff. When Open Space Technology was used at Brock University, by Phillip Jedrzejczak, he was able to learn what activities his students wanted him to run, what they were expecting from him and what his students expected from each other.


Image:OST.jpg

[edit] Procedure

Step 1. The meeting starts in a circle, the theme is stated and a question is posed:

Theme: Recreation and Leisure at Brock University.

Question: Why did you choose to take Recreation and Leisure at Brock University?

Step 2. Something people feel strongly about & want to do something about.

•We assumed that the participants of our practice sessions would feel strongly about Recreation and Leisure at Brock University and would want to help promote the program to others.

Step 3. Participants generate issues.

•Participants would state why they chose to take Recreation and Leisure at Brock University

Step 4. Announce your topic and post it in one of the available time slots on the wall.

•Participants announce why they chose to take Recreation and Leisure at Brock University and post it on the white board

Step 5. Any clashes are sorted out by participants themselves.

•Participants would be invited to walk around the room and discuss the areas of interest with other participants

Step 6. Note taking is essential because the sharing of the learning is critical.

Step 7. The notes are posted on the Bulletin Board for all to read and add comments.

[10]

Implementation Strategies Learned From Workshop

  • We learned that it was important to give clear instructions to all participants
  • We discovered the importance of when to observe and when to lead
  • The value of enthusiastic and passionate participants regarding the topic of discussion
  • The importance of going with the flow, and allowing whatever happens to happen
  • The usefulness of Open Space Technology, and how it can be catered to many needs and topics
  • Ensuring that all participants have an equal chance to participate
  • Remembering the flexibility of Open Space Technology, and how meetings can take place anywhere and at anytime

[edit] Technique Strengths

“Open Space Technology is fast, economical and effective, but it is more than just a mega-monster-meeting-manager.”[11] With this practice, effectiveness and strengths of the technique are fostered by the following:

  • Energetic performance
  • Advance learning
  • Authentic community
  • Suitable structure

“It has now been used around the world with all types of organizations including corporations, community groups, government agencies, schools, and churches.”[12] These strengths are useful in the manner that it offers approaches to not address the same problem that is happening during the meetings, so it negates all poor conversations and offers to the point learning and no reoccurring themes in a meeting portion within a group of individuals. “Over facilitation is minimal to nonexistent, and preplanning, so far as the agenda is concerned, never happens.”[13]

Ideas that help this occur are as follows:

  • Growth from within
  • Shared leadership
  • High efficiency
  • High productivity
  • Playful involvement

The elimination of barriers and doing a job promptly with quality and satisfaction will aid in the process of making this technique effective. You can take away many outcomes from the practice sessions that occurred throughout this workshop. Most importantly knowing that you can always have a meeting with any set number of individuals anywhere, at any time and about any given topic. This technique when used in a circle, can better impact the results of a meeting that you are trying to have. “The starting point may be better meetings, but the endpoint is richer ways of being together in that wonderful thing we call organization.”[14]

[edit] Technique Limitations

While Open Space Technology has many uses, there are some instances where this is not a suitable option. This technique is not recommended for people who are not comfortable with running meetings. Harrison Owen author of Open Space Technology states, “in the wrong situation, OST may create more problems than it solves” [15] He also shows, in a later work, that if people do not truly care about the issue, than they will put in a lacklustre effort into the planning process [16] Harrison Owen is the expert on this topic, so going back into another issue of his is that “when well done, an OST conference produces long proceedings (100-200 pages) of conferees‘ findings. In my experience, lengthy proceedings are less likely to be useful or used then a skinny set of clear recommendations”[17] Owen also believes that certain aspects can be beneficial in various meeting settings, but for the reasons mentioned above may not be perfect as a whole style for various groups.

[edit] Successful Implementation

Open Space Technology works because it is based on true assumptions, it acknowledges realities like “people are responsible for their own experience, their own learning and contribution, or their own boredom and suffering if that’s what they choose for themselves.” As well, it focuses on the idea that everything is moving, everything is connected, and everyone matters and adds something to the mix. [18]

[edit] External Links

http://www.openspaceworld.org/news/join-us/

http://www.openspaceworld.org/cgi/wiki.cgi?AboutOpenSpace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-space_technology#Law_of_two_feet

http://www.michaelherman.com/cgi/wiki.cgi?OpenSpaceTechnology

http://www.chriscorrigan.com/openspace/

[edit] Authors

  • Stephanie Pavao
  • Brain Dunford
  • Samantha Bruce
  • Sarah Woolcott
  • Graham Anderson
  • Phillip Jedrzejczak

[edit] Notes and References

  1. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  2. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  3. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  4. (Personal Communications, Interview Michael Herman, 2011)
  5. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  6. http://www.openspaceworld.org/tmnfiles/choosingopenspace(Bolton).com
  7. http://www.openspaceworld.org/tmnfiles/choosingopenspace(Bolton).com
  8. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  9. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  10. Varghese, S. (2010). Open Space Technology. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://niagara.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
  11. Harrison, O. (1997). Expanding our now: The story of Open Space Technology. (1 ed., pp. 1-2). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler-Publishers. Inc.
  12. Harrison, O. (1997). Expanding our now: The story of Open Space Technology. (1 ed., pp. 1-2). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler-Publishers. Inc.
  13. Harrison, O. (1997). Expanding our now: The story of Open Space Technology. (1 ed., pp. 1-2). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler-Publishers. Inc.
  14. Harrison, O. (1997). Expanding our now: The story of Open Space Technology. (1 ed., pp. 1-2). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler-Publishers. Inc.
  15. Quality improvement...Cross-work puzzle solved...Engineers getting MBAs...Exploring open-space technology...Mission statements: pious platitudes. (1995).Journal of Management in Engineering, 11(6),
  16. Owen, H. (2008). Open Space Technology: A user's guide. (p. 47). Barret-Kohler Publishers. Retrieved from http://books.google.ca/books?id=UMLjSm6hcZUC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=Open Space Technology negatives&source=bl&ots=dJC0QdvSij&sig=zkL540z_-Zgyya5GXaQQO28eDv4&hl=en&ei=ddjKTt__C- L00gHewpUE&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAQ
  17. Quality improvement...Cross-work puzzle solved...Engineers getting MBAs...Exploring open-space technology...Mission statements: pious platitudes. (1995).Journal of Management in Engineering, 11(6),
  18. (Personal Communications, Interview Michael Herman, 2011)
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