Friday, June 22, 2007

Open Space Meeting Technique

Follow the link in the title above to visit pages with explanations of this method of running a meeting. Here are some extracts. OST means Open Space Technology:

* OST works best where conflict is present, things are complex, there is huge diversity of players and the answer was needed yesterday. And the more of all of that you have, the better OST works. Go figure.

* what do you really want to do + why don’t you take care of it: The highest form of OST facilitation practice is to turn back everything to the people. When confronted with a question, respond with two: what do you really want to do? and why don't you take of it? Every thing the facilitator does for a group is one less thing the group knows it can do for itself.

* the four principles:
"Whoever comes is the right people" acknowledges that the only people really qualified or able to do great work on any issue are those who really care, and freely choose to be involved.
"Whenever it starts is the right time" recognizes that spirit and creativity don't run on the clock, so while we're here, we'll all keep a vigilant watch for great ideas and new insights, which can happen at anytime.
"Whatever happens is the only thing that could have" allows everyone to let go of the could haves, would haves and should haves, so that we can give our full attention to the reality of what is happening, is working, and is possible right now.
And finally, "When it's over, it's over" acknowledges that you never know just how long it'll take to deal with a given issue, and reminds us that getting the work done is more important than sticking to an arbitrary schedule. Taken together, these principles say "work hard, pay attention, but be prepared to be surprised!"

* The one law is The Law of Two Feet, or in some cases, The Law of Personal Mobility. It says simply that you, and only you, know where you can learn and contribute the most to the work that must take place today. It demands that you use your two feet to go where you need to go and do what you need to do. If at any time today, you find that you are not learning or contributing, you have the right and the responsibility to move... find another breakout session, visit the food table, take a walk in the sunshine, make a phone call -- but DO NOT waste time.

This simple rule makes everyone fully responsible for the quality of their own work and work experience. It creates bumblebees who buzz from session to session, cross-pollinating and connecting pieces of the work. It creates butterflies who may not join any formal sessions, choosing instead to float at the edges. They create the space for everyone to appreciate the energies and synergies unfolding in the work of the conference. Sometimes the most amazing solutions seem to come out of nowhere -- so that's where butterflies tend to look for them.

An interesting simile! How insectile.

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