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“With groups of 5 to 2000+ people,  working in one-day workshops, three-day conferences, or the regular weekly staff meeting, the common result is a powerful, effective connecting and strengthening of what’s already happening in the organisation: planning and action, learning and doing, passion and responsibility, participation and performance. “   www.openspaceworkd.org

I’ve been priveledged to use this faclilitation process twice in the last month with client’s teams wanting to engage the whole towards one transformational goal, creatively explore options and identify key action steps to make it all happen.  I have to say, I’m so inspired and excited by the results we’ve achieved.  Although the two groups shared common traits, they differed in the seniority of participants (one was exclusively senior managers while the other was the entire team) and also in their initial agreement on their purpose.  I found that the Open Space process established a fundamental opportunity for everyone to engage at their level of interest (passion) and responsibility, and for disparate views to be aired respectfully and managed by the group.

What was most rewarding for me, as the facilitator, was that both groups came to a shared respect for differences and developed one single focus, despite what seemed to be polar differences at the beginning.  By lunchtime there was lots of informal chatting and laughter – something which only increased as the day went on.  This was a sign that participants were becoming more comfortable with each other – the opportunity to contribute, be heard, and engage on their own terms seemed to be the foundation for forming new respect and understanding for others.

While Open Space may seem a little chaotic at first for the participants, I’m an absolute convert with regards to the outcomes the process achieves.  There is simply no better process in my toolkit to engage teams to creatively resolve “wicked” problems or rally towards a common purpose.

If you want to know more, please check out our strategic planning support page or get in touch!  I’m happy to give you more information….

  1. May 28, 2012

    Hi
    This sounds fascinating.
    Could you share a couple of the outcomes from the meeting?
    Also what technique did you use for the report prep of the day?
    Cheers Louise

  2. May 28, 2012

    Hi Louise,

    Thanks for your questions. It’s always great to chat about what I love doing!

    Firstly – outcomes from the meeting. The tangible outcome for the client is a “Book of Proceedings” that is essentially a summary of all the various issues that were discussed by the group, key themes identified on the day and “next steps” for each of these themes. This captures the group’s expectations and serves as a reference for later review. The other key outcome is a true shared understanding among the group of the team’s vision, and the confidence that comes from having been able to fully explore any issues or concerns associated with implementing the vision.

    Your other question was about how I prepare the report. I do most of this on the day. While the groups are meeting, I’m typing up the notes from the previous round onto a template (or for larger groups I have an administrative assistant do this for me). I then print up each discussion and post them around the room for the group to review in between rounds or during breaks. That way, group members who did not get an opportunity to contribute to a particular topic are able to add any of their own comments. I will later update the document before sending to the client.

    With technology available these days, this could be done by the discussion leaders onto laptops or ipads and then printed. However I prefer letting the discussion groups all have good visual access to the key points by sticking with a flipchart as the recording mechanism. Typically I love making full use of technology however in this case I believe that the old flipchart works best!

    Feel free to send through any other questions, or call me for a chat.

    Regards,

    Natalie

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