A group process for organizational change, including productive meetings and resolving major issues involving diversity, complexity, potential or actual conflict, needing immediate results
A means of expanding leadership capabilities and broad-based commitment to and responsibility for results.
A process for planning, dialogue, information gathering and sharing.
An approach that increases access to creativity and passion; it’s like an extended coffee break in terms of real participation, like a retreat in terms of energizing participants, and like a focused meeting in terms of delivering attainable action plans."
1983年，Harrison Owen 籌辦了一個人數多達 500 人的會議，但是他對會議的結果卻非常失望，從這個會議中他發現休息時間是與會者參與討論及精神狀況最佳的時候，於是他決定創造出一種可以延續休息時間且使會議發生效益的會議方式 - 開放空間的會議技巧因而誕生。
In 1983, Harrison Owen organized a conference for 500 people, but he was sorely disappointed with the result. He realized that the highest energy, when people were most productive, was during the breaks. He decided to create an effective meeting structure that maintained the energy of the "coffee break." And so, Open Space Technology was born.
From indigenous people around the globe, Harrison discovered common components in many cultures, for example, meetings happen in a circle where all are given an opportunity to speak. Through trial and error he (re)discovered a meeting format that is now being used successfully in companies, governments, and communities around the world.
An Open Space meeting has two sources of fuel, passion and responsibility. Participants are given full opportunity to follow their passion, rather than a meeting agenda, to determine what they contribute and what they learn. Participants also decide how much responsibility they will take, both during the meeting, and beyond.
Because people follow their passion, and determine their own level of responsibility, commitments made during the meeting have a higher likelihood of being followed through after the meeting. At the end of an Open Space event each participant has a complete document of all the discussions, and clear picture of the next actions.
OPEN SPACE ACROSS THE WORLD
Open Space Technology (OST) is being used more and more often as a process of choice – for conferences, meetings, planning, learning and sharing information; in situations that include diversity, potential conflict, rapid and on-going change, and when there is no clear direction or no one knows the “answer”. OST provides a forum for those people in organizations and communities who are not in positions of power, alongside established leaders, to share critical wisdom and experience, but also to take responsibility for those things they have an interest in and passion for. And it works with groups from 10-1000 participants.
The following examples are representational of non-business programs that have enabled incredible positive change:
An event for 250 local politicians from all over Sweden
A contract for a large group process from the Scottish Parliament, including the Social inclusion, Housing and Voluntary Sector Committee. This first event was held at one of the universities in Glasgow. There were 88 attendees, drawn from a wide range of public, voluntary and community bodies from all over Scotland, helping to form the next two years of agenda for the Social Justice Committee. So the event was to raise issues, not action points. A total of 57 issues was raised and discussed in small groups, and the whole group posted 12 further issues they would have liked to work on, if there had been time.
A group of 550 teachers, parents, local residents and administrators in an American school district met to discuss, and in some cases argue over, how to improve education and deal with the districts budget crisis. Setting their own agenda, topics included the district’s money management, shortening the school week and cutting staff, the food service plan, dealing with unwilling and failing students, even the possibility of closing the school. By the end of the meeting the group had drawn up a list of guidelines for reviewing school closures, including community need, the ability of neighboring schools to absorb additional students, the cost of operations and maintenance, and a list of alternatives to school closings. The proceedings of the meeting were then used by the school board in their restructuring process.
Several divisions of the US National Forest Service used Open Space around issues including recycling and with 224 people representing 65 organizations to meet on the issue of access to public land.
Seventy-two people from local governments, NGOs, medical staff, journalists, users, ex-users etc. in mental health in Brasov, Romania. The event lasted one and half days and the commitment for implementing the priorities was 95%! At last count, the priorities are being realized in five cities and through one steering group on national policy.
A most wonderful OS last year was with 30 student council representatives from a local high school aged 13 through 19 - two and a half days of action planning. They took to it like fish to water. They then invited us to their regular session in their school a week later. And they did it in open space...I have never seen such immediate transfer. Of course, it worked, everyone was flabbergasted...after decades the first productive session: 2 hours total with next steps being reported from 8 issue groups...pretty close to what I think could be an inspired organization. If the kids take to Open Space there may well be hope for our species on this planet.
The US Peace Corps has used Open Space all over the world with its Youth Development programs, and within the span of two years, changed how the Peace Corps helps its volunteers prepare for and organize their work. The training department was responsible for providing technical support to more than 6,500 volunteers in 90 countries. The contrast between Open Space and our traditional meetings was powerful, especially in terms of energy and commitment.
One large Provincial Ministry (in Canada) uses OST for various types of gatherings, from financial planning, IT implementation, cross jurisdictional community building, establishing communities of practice with regard to agility. One group is looking at Open Space every 2 months. Another for forums involving business and government across the Province.
我剛剛在國際引導者協會(International Association of Facilitators)年會前帶完主題為「開放空間如何轉換我們對於團隊引導的了解」的研討會。在主題發展出來之後，整個團隊花了一整個下午和隔天早上運用開放空間做討論。跨夜的時間是突破的關鍵點。隔天早上「啊哈」靈光一閃是整個會議的高潮。
I just completed a pre-conference workshop for the International Association of Facilitators on how Open Space transforms our understanding of facilitation. After developing the theme the group went for an afternoon and the next morning in Open Space. The overnight was critical to the breakthroughs. The ‘ah ha's’ that next morning were the high point.
A program to introduce OS as a planning process in a local government authority in Adelaide, South Australia. The CEO of a planning and architectural firm suggested that OS be used initially to find out what the residents of Marion, a city comprising several suburbs of greater metropolitan Adelaide, making up a population of about 80 000, wished to see happen in their proposed new cultural center. What emerged was a total surprise to the planners and architects. Several components they had deemed to be important, included in their planning document, such as a library and art gallery, were not touched on in the community consultations based on OS. Instead, passion expressed by participants was for elements which could be construed as 'the heart of the cultural center,' such as a performing arts facility, a meeting place for ideas, links with a local Aboriginal center, a drop-in venue for young people, and design of the external environs.
A group in the cardiac surgery section of the Operating Room in a large urban hospital met to explore the issue: "Given our current caseload, how can we increase efficiency so we all get home on time?" This may seem straight forward, but it's a very complex problem involving everyone from cleaning staff to nursing staff to cardiac surgeons to anesthesiologists to equipment attendants. Add to the stew the traditional hierarchy within health care, half a dozen hidden agendas, and the involvement of several layers of self-employed professionals as well as employees from five different unions.
Invitations were extended to 150 administrators, teachers, students, and community leaders (including the Police) on "Safe Schools" and included school board staff, administrators, a few teachers, students, community police, and social service personnel. There is great turmoil between teachers unions, the boards and the government in Ontario, Canada, so the number of teachers was less than hoped for. About 100 came. However, it was a resoundingly successful Open Space, with strong relationships forming, 35 small group session reports shared and distributed to all, high spirits and real sharing of ideas all around.
When to use OS? When not to?
When Open Space is Suitable:
Open Space Technology is appropriate where a diverse group of people must deal with complex and potentially conflicting martial.
Nobody knows the answer.
Ongoing participation is required for success.
Senior management wants to engage the whole system in finding the answer.
Response time is “yesterday”.
When Open Space is NOT suitable：
The answer is already known.
Sponsors think they know the answer.
Sponsors feel that need to be in charge and control.
"The key to a successful Open Space Technology program is not the facilitator, but the pre-requisites. The more suitable factors that are present, the more likely to be successful."
Deliverables Results of Open Space Meeting
By Harrison Owen 何理森‧歐文
Every single issue that anybody cares about enough to raise will be "on the table".
All issues will receive as much discussion as people care to give them.
All discussion will be captured in a book, and made available to the participants.
All issues will be prioritized.
Related issues will be converged.
Responsibility will be taken for next step actions.
Other Benefits of Open Space (what might happen):
Cost efficient method for engaging medium to large sized groups in collective transformation.
Unleashes pent up passion.
Enough structure to release creativity and freedom.
An opportunity for revival of organization’s spirit.
It is easy to prepare.
It can work for any size of group.
In Open Space, without exception, I have witnessed that people demonstrate the ability to listen and truly consider other people’s perspectives
The insight to recognize and accept the solution that best serves the whole
The generating and contributing of ideas that are greater than oneself
The knowledge and attitude that there is always a solution
The concern for all aspects of life
The confidence to discuss mindfully, thoughtfully
Clear of personal agendas
The capability to work in unity toward a common goal
The grace to communicate with respect.